Open Thread 5

Open Thread 4 is about to spool off the BNC front page, after 700+ comments, so it’s time to kick off a new one.

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

To add some grist to the new discussion mill, I provide three interesting extracts:

On scepticism, from Bertrand Russell, extracted from the ‘Introduction to his ‘Sceptical Essays’ (1928):

I wish to propose for the reader’s favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.

First of all, I wish to guard myself against being thought to take up an extreme position. … [Pyrrho] maintained that we never know enough to be sure that one course of action is wiser than another. In his youth, … he saw his teacher with his head stuck in a ditch, unable to get out. After contemplating him for some time, he walked on, maintaining that there was no sufficient ground for thinking that he would do any good by pulling the old man out. … Now I do not advocate such heroic scepticism as that. I am prepared to admit the ordinary beliefs of common sense, in practice if not in theory. I am prepared to admit any well-established result of science, not as certainly true, but as sufficiently probable to afford a basis for rational action.

There are matters about which those who have investigated them are agreed. There are other matters about which experts are not agreed. Even when experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. …. Nevertheless, the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

On the anti-nuclear movement, from MIT Technology Review:

…asked about nuclear power, Totten invokes the prospect of Chernobyl-style meltdowns and reactors smashed open by terrorist-piloted planes. Reminded that these are technical impossibilities for modern reactor designs, he switches to an economic argument: nuclear plants are so expensive that the industry always requires government subsidies.

But it’s notable that in the 1970s, before regulations made construction costs skyrocket, nuclear energy provided America’s cheapest electricity. Nor should we forget that France gets more than 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, emits two-thirds less carbon dioxide per capita than the United States, and is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity—earning $4 billion annually—thanks to its very low cost of generation.

[Stewart] Brand says it’s entirely predictable that many greens neither know nor are interested in educating themselves about recent developments like new reactors or cleaner fuel cycles: “As far as they’re concerned, nuclear had been stopped, they’re glad it was, and now that it’s happening again, they’re confused and upset.” That observation strikes at the heart of the matter. If today Greenpeace and an entire generation of activists simply can not accept that nuclear power might be the most credible source of carbon-free energy, it’s because doing so would entail an almost unbearable recognition: that a very large part of their life’s work has been fundamentally, disastrously wrong, and that by obstructing the transition to nuclear back in the 1970s, they bear direct responsibility both for global warming and for the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have since resulted from coal-related pollution. It is to Stewart Brand’s credit that he can recognize that disturbing truth.

Finally, since we’ve been having plenty of discussion on costs and nuclear safety, I’d like to highlight the comment Tom Blees made here:

Noonan writes: “There are a number of significant inherent weaknesses in the arguments of nuclear proponents in Australia.”

After struggling through his article packed from end to end with weak and misleading arguments, this was a laugh out loud throwaway line. While it would take another full-length article to deal with the weaknesses of his piece here, I’ll comment on just a couple points.

The Price-Anderson Act is the federal law that covers the costs of any hypothetical nuclear accident whose damages exceed the considerable insurance pool already established by the nuclear power industry. Why don’t opponents ever discuss who would pay for the damages from a breached dam? How about an exploding LNG tanker? Major fiascos resulting from such energy system accidents would likewise be covered by the government. To say that utility companies are “unwilling to pay the real costs of insurance” is disingenuous, since they have already amassed a considerable insurance pool themselves. Since federal law is in place to pay anything else, what sensible company/industry would volunteer to dismiss that federal guarantee in order to spend more of their money on insurance?

As for the costs of the two AP-1000 reactors proposed to be built in Georgia, those costs of $6.5 billion per reactor can be compared to the first-of-a-kind AP-1000s being built now in China. The FOAK construction of any such major project is normally considerably higher than follow-on units, and indeed the Chinese expect that this modular reactor cost will soon be lowered to nearly half of what these first reactors are costing them, yet even the first ones are estimated to cost $1.9 billion each. So why should they cost more than three times that much in the USA? No, it’s not because of low Chinese labor costs. Japan was able to build US-designed ABWR reactors for about $1.4 billion per gigawatt, and they import virtually all the materials and pay their workers very well, higher than the USA in general. The truth is that much of the cost built into nuclear power plants in the USA is the cost of uncertainty because of past experience. No company can be sure that a bunch of protestors with signs might not shut down their project when it’s half-built, as happened too often in the past. That and other weaknesses in the US nuclear power arena inflate prices to these ridiculous levels (compared to Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea). It’s not a weakness in the economics of nuclear power per se. Otherwise we would see it everywhere. Are Australians doomed to create the same sort of dysfunctional climate for nuclear power in their own country? If so, then maybe they should stick to coal. But don’t pretend it’s because nuclear power plants can’t be built economically.

As for nuclear power projects not providing enough jobs compared to renewables, there’s perhaps a point there though I suspect it’s a weak one.

Chew on that, folks…

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  1. I think it is worth reminding ourselves that while we talk about 50 grams CO2 per kwh for local electrical generation we merrily export vast amounts of fossil carbon. Recalling a Crikey article to which Peter Lang referred I think the figures were coal exports ~ 260 Mt , domestic thermal black coal 50 Mt (which seems low) and brown coal 70 Mt. I believe LNG exports are now around the 20 Mt figure. Future fossil fuel exports include liquefied coal seam gas (surely not called LNG but LCSG) and pelletised brown coal. I understand we also export refined fuels to the Pacific islands and elsewhere.

    My point is why do we analyse domestic emissions at excruciating length then ignore the bonfire foreigners make with our fossil carbon? I note Chinese coal imports have doubled in the last year, see today’s TOD Drumbeat. Surely Australia is complicit in emissions by proxy the same as selling alcohol to minors. Those countries who put their hand up to cut emissions must be the same countries buying more coal and LNG.

    Thus I propose that future fossil carbon exports be capped on a net CO2 basis. That is less coal in future but maybe a bit more LNG. Note that could also affect iron ore demand. Subject to nonproliferation checks sell other countries all the yellowcake they want. If Australia has to show carbon restraint then other countries should as well. If capping carbon exports is too vexing then we should revise our emissions figures to include proxy CO2 with adjustments for amounts embodied in manufactured goods. I suggest Australia’s complicit CO2 will be double the official figure.


  2. A reminder, if you’re in Adelaide, the first in the Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy seminar series kicks off tonight at the RiAus. There are still plenty of seats available, so come along and bring your friends.

    Part 1: Fossil Fuel Future (6 — 7:30 pm, Wed 7 July 2010)

    Fossil fuels have a high energy density and provide an excellent source of energy when burned. However during the combustion process a number of pollutants are released such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and carbon dioxide. Can we continue to burn fossil fuels and hope to cut the emissions of these environmentally damaging by-products? How far advanced are carbon capture technologies and are they a viable means of reducing carbon emissions in the face of climate change? Join Professor Barry Brook as he invites his expert panel to discuss our fossil fuel future. Professor Bassam Dally will discuss the potential for the next generation combustion systems that burn fossil fuels in cleaner and more efficient ways how they can be integrated into our existing systems. Likewise, Professor John Kaldi, will explain the various options available for the geosequestration of CO2 and how these carbon capture and storages mechanisms will work within our existing infrastructure. This event is one of six public forums aimed at providing a comprehensive examination of sustainable energy technologies and critical evaluation of their potential for reducing carbon emissions. Come along, hear what the experts think and ask your own questions about our fossil fuel future.


  3. A question folks:

    How long have the “Ads by Google” been appearing at the bottom of my posts? I only realised this was happening tonight, when I went to BNC without being logged into WordPress — when I’m logged in, they do not appear!

    I don’t get any revenue from these ads and indeed, on principle, refuse to make any money out of this website, so I find this unrequested intrusion very offensive. My question is, has anyone else seen this happen on other blogs and do they know what the fix is?

    I note that Corey Bradshaw over at ConservationBytes also seems to be suffering from this problem. This post, for instance, has the ads and this one doesn’t. All of mine seem afflicted. Weird.

    Update Seems like the answer is here.
    Just let it be known that I don’t make any money out of this — indeed, it is a net cost to me to run it, and I’m doing it out of a sense of giving to the community (and because I enjoy it).


  4. quick question for Peter Lang, Eugene, Barry, whomever:

    I have read several times about wind’s great EROEI. articles pushing this position usually offer numbers around 36 for wind and 5 for nuclear. Now I know the nuke numbers here are low. The studies I have looked at (thanks to Peter Lang’s sources) suggest more like 16 EROEI (obviously orders of magnitude higher with gen four).

    That aside, and questioning the meaningfulness of the relatively hi EROEI of wind due to the problems it encounters that have been examined here, IS THIS REALLY TRUE? How can wind have a high EROEI if backup and transmission costs are included? or massive amounts of dumped power (are they included in arriving at this number?)

    so in short: is the number true? if true, does it have the slightest significance? any articles addressing the EROEI claim directly? wouldn’t useless power still push the EROEI number for wind higher, thus pointing to the uselessness of the concept of hi EROEI in this context?

    I may need to revisit some old BNC articles on this. which ones?


  5. to put the above point another way, isn’t there something awfully suspicious in claiming a high EROEI number for a form of power that gives you a capacity credit (if scaled enough to make that number meaningful) of 12 % or so?


  6. It is ridiculous for pro nuclear advocates to write as if the type of reasoning the Bertrand Russell quote comments on is not a common thing to be found in their own ranks.

    Take a look at Rod Adam’s display of ignorance about ozone depletion. Rod is a very prominent pro nuclear advocate in the US and on the internet.

    If you drop in on Rod’s ozone blog, you’ll see he invokes the name of Rickover, who Rod says instructed his “leaders” to maintain a questioning attitude, which, we must assume, Rod thinks his rejection of ozone science is. (Rod was interviewed by Rickover and was accepted by Rickover on his way to becoming an engineer on a US nuclear submarine, which in the US is a badge of honor.)

    If any group of scientists could ever be said to be “unanimous” in the sense Bertrand Russell is using in the quote you are using, atmospheric scientists who studied ozone are that group.

    Rod asserts that they all didn’t know the most elementary thing about what happens to gases in the atmosphere, citing his observations inside a confined space, i.e. a submarine. He rejects the thousands of actual observations made in Earth’s open atmosphere by many groups of scientists from all over the world published in the peer reviewed literature as either in error or as lies. He states that the Nobel prize awarded to Rowland, Molina and Crutzen for their work on ozone science was awarded in error. (Incidentally, this is the only Nobel prize ever awarded to anyone for studying the atmosphere, including the study of climate change).

    Scientists are suspect in Rod’s mind – why Amory Lovins calls himself a scientist, Joe Romm is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, why, people who call themselves scientists lie about what is known about nuclear power all the time. Therefore….

    Rod has bought into a number of lies, such as the ozone hole was discovered by Dobson, well before it was first announced to exist in 1985 by Joe Farman of the British Antarctic Survey, that CFCs can be destroyed in places other than the stratosphere in meaningful quantities such that they can not be responsible for any ozone loss, that CFCs can’t in fact be transported to the stratosphere, because they are heavier than air, in quantities sufficient to cause any problem, that the members of an entire scientific discipline worldwide, i.e. scientists studying the atmosphere who had an interest in ozone depletion, are all corrupt or stupid, no one ever attempted to measure CFCs in the atmosphere, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    Rod digs up scientific papers published in the peer reviewed literature about the behavior of gases in confined spaces and presents them as evidence that backs up his assertion that everyone who ever studied the behavior of CFCs in unconfined spaces, i.e. the open atmosphere, got it wrong, but it fails to dawn on him that because he offers nothing to guide anyone else in their search for non stupid non lying scientists who publish in the peer reviewed literature along with all the stupid liars, whatever he says he finds in the literature must be suspected as well.

    For a discussion of the lies Rod has bought into, delivered by the discoverer of ozone depletion, Sherwood Rowland, given in a speech he delivered as “The President’s Lecture: The Need for Scientific Communication with the Public”, when he was President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, look up Science; Jun 11, 1993; 260, 5114; Platinum Peridicals pg. 1571. For a detailed, extensively footnoted history of the campaign to undermine public perception of ozone science, (as well as climate, acid rain, cancer caused by tobacco), see Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway.

    In the US, pro nuclear types tend to be of the right wing political persuasion, and it is elements of the right wing establishment that have been conducting a decades long serious campaign to discredit any scientific discovery that might cause civilization to restrict the activities of private industry in any way. Hence, the attack on ozone science and climate science, and science itself. This campaign has had a significant effect on stopping meaningful US action to put a price on carbon. Pro nuclear types in the US have bought into the attack on climate science in some numbers.

    It is a bit astonishing to see pro nuclear types staunchly backing up the claimed right of their chief competitor, i.e. fossil fuel users, who wish to continue to freely emit the wastes their fossil fuels produce no matter what the scientific evidence that civilization itself is at risk as this continues, even as the nuclear industry has had to contain all its waste from day one.

    This assumption in pro nuclear circles in the US and elsewhere that pro nuclear people understand what science is, that their beliefs are backed by scientific discoveries, that they argue using facts and logic based on science, as opposed to their opponents the anti nuclear people, is ridiculous.

    Just look at the way Rod Adams argues to defend the lies he’s bought into. He’s very far from being alone among nuclear advocates. I used to post comments on his The Atomic Show blog, until I was repeatedly ridiculed as some kind of religious freak for pointing out, for instance, that the President of the National Academy of Sciences in the US published an editorial in Science that “our understanding is undiminished”, in the wake of the “climategate” affair. Rod “moderates” the blog – I was astonished, and stopped visiting.


  7. @ greg m an article discussing problems with wind EROEI is here. You’d think the EROEI for an integrated system could be approximated by a weighted average. Suppose the figure for wind was indeed 36 but at 25% capacity. If that was exclusively shadowed by gas turbines (open cycle) with an EROEI of 8 then we get
    (.25)36 + (.75)8 = 15 much lower than wind alone. A whole system approach would include investment in new transmission to get life cycle (energy out)/(energy in).

    Wind enthusiasts say that when gas is gone then physical or chemical energy storage can compensate for lulls. The low return on storage will weight that average even lower.


  8. Well, we don’t have an exact quote of Rickover in re questioning attitude. Maybe, after “Maintain a questioning attitude”, there was a stern injunction: And don’t listen to
    the answers
    . Maybe Rod got laterally promoted out of the navy after a boat under his management had only six inches of non-freon near the ceiling, and everyone had to stand on tiptoe.

    The promotion of famine, bloodshed, and the extinction of liberty aren’t all that left-wing, so progressives would do well to abandon it by ceasing to prefer natural gas, sorry, renewablesandconservation, over nuclear energy. A pro-nuclear stance is very attractive to those voters who don’t keep their puppies and kittens in the freezer. Progressives can make the issue their own.

    (How fire can be domesticated)


  9. thanks john for that example:

    so wind EROEI numbers are as misleading as wind nameplate numbers.

    I’ll read that article.

    David Lewis: you’re overgeneralizing about “pro nukes.”

    “merchants of doubt” is a great book, though.


  10. Greg Meyerson, the EROEI for nuclear is somewhere in the tens to hundreds.

    E.g. here’s the Environmental Product Declaration for Forsmark NPP in Sweden:; it’s representative of the other swedish nuclear power plants. Click EPD content-> 3.4 Environmental Information – Results from LCA to get the resource(including energy broken down into sources of energy).

    I’ve said this before and I feel obliged to do the drudgery of repeating it again; EROEI is ill-defined and near meaningless.

    Different forms of energy; e.g. potential energy, chemical energy, electrical energy or heat; have vastly different ability to perform some function for a particular task. The fact that humans are so eager to convert chemical energy in the form of coal to 1/3 as much energy in the form of electricity should serve as a sufficient demonstration that a lot of information is lost when you sum different energies, of different kinds, at different times and in different places into a single number.

    There’s also the problem of drawing system boundaries. In a gas turbine something like a third of the mechanical energy produced by the expanding gas is used, via a shaft, to compress air into the combustion chamber. If this all happens within the system boundaries the EROEI of a gas turbine can be very high, and is primarily limited by the use of energy to get natural gas. If the system boundary is drawn such that the mechanical energy is the output, then the power required to compress the air incomming air is suddenly taken from the output of the gas turbine and the EROEI cannot exceed ~3.

    Similarly, in coal and nuclear plants something like 5-10% of the electricity produced is used to drive the various pumps that move coolant around the coolant loops. This is why gross and net capacity differ slightly. Whether the EROEI of a coal or nuclear plant is at most 10-20 or much higher depends on whether you count the gross or net production as the output of the system.

    EROEI tells you nothing about carbon intensity, cost, scalability, geographical availability, suitability for any particular task, resource constraints, aesthetics, environmental damage of some specific kind(mercury pollution is qualitatively different than leveling a patch of desert, spraying binder and pesticides and putting up arrays of solar panels or creating an artificial lake to serve as coolant pond for a nuclear plant), geopolitical stability(if Russia has yet another of their semi-regular political and economic hick-ups can I assure myself of a stable gas supply when I can’t store appreciable amounts of it?). EROEI is almost entirely useless.


  11. David Lewis, if you want to attack Rod Adams, go and do it over on his blog — he is quite able to defend himself, but I won’t have BNC used as a platform for attacking the motives of others who are not engaging here and therefore are not in a position to defend themselves.

    Further, I don’t see why you are bothering with this rant here, unless it is that you are particularly rankled to see that there are pro-nuclear people who ARE scientists and ARE deeply concerned about anthropogenic climate change. As such, I refer you to the 2nd quote, from Brand, which it seems applies to you.


  12. greg meyerson, the EREOI thread on BNC is here:
    TCASE 8: Estimating EROEI from LCA

    Nuclear power is about 100. EROEI is a different concept to backup — it usually refers to the embodied energy and direct fuel use etc. The backup for wind, in the EROEI context, would be assigned to the gas turbines. Still, your point about dumped/used power is a good one, I’m just not sure how to work it properly into the EROEI. Maybe we need a new concept — NEREOI (that is ‘net’ added on the front).


  13. Tom Blees said (above) “As for nuclear power projects not providing enough jobs compared to renewables, there’s perhaps a point there though I suspect it’s a weak one.”

    The information on the jobs issue is coming in and it seems pretty clear that renewables tend to kill more jobs than they create. Take a look at a recent draft report by Dr. Gabriel Calzada Álvarez at the Rey Juan Carlos university:

    Click to access 090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf

    This report concludes that 2.2 jobs are lost in Spain for every “green” job created.


  14. GC

    While I accept the substantive proposition that renewables are not a feasible solution for an industrial scale energy system, I think we should be cautious in advancing claims that are the subject of serious demur. The study you cite is of at best, doubtful worth.


  15. Has anyone read In Mortal Hands by Stephanie Cooke? I had a quick flip through it in the bookshop but did not judge it worthy of my money.

    It seems like it’s 20% of excellent, rich historical content cited from Richard Rhodes’ brilliant works, and 80% Helen Caldicott style crap.


  16. At the risk of appearing insufferably egotistical, let me explain to those that are expressing concern that I am taking a break from commenting in all nuclear forums on the net for at least a few months.

    In general I feel I need a break from the nuclear debate, as it seems as if we are going in circles at the moment. This is not something particular to BNC, but it seems to be the case in most forums that I have been posting in. I’m just getting a bit tired of rehashing the same topics, with the same people over and over. I need to stop and look at my own focus, and ask myself if my time and efforts would be better spent elsewhere than the on the net, advancing the cause of nuclear energy.

    I’ll probable return to commenting again, but not for awhile. Please don’t take this as a criticism of any of you on BNC; it is me that needs to think about other things for a bit.


  17. thanks barry and soylent:

    it was my sense that EROEI was a concept only to be used with much scrutiny–easy to manipulate depending on your assumptions.

    barry: here, do you draw the boundaries around the concept a bit differently from how it’s drawn in the EROEI article you cite (thanks. read it before but needed the reminder)?

    your definition includes indirect energy inputs (so why exclude backup from wind eroei, attributing the backup to natural gas only?) and in your discussion of wind, you note that the wind number excludes backup, as if to suggest this is misleading, which indeed it would be if we include “indirect” input, a category, it would seem, especially open to abuse so I appreciate Soylent’s comments about drawing system boundaries (if I understand that idea).

    Soylent, I went to the Swedish site and followed your instructions, but couldn’t get all of the relevant info.

    anyway, thanks again. as I said, the other day, and I forget the site (it wasn’t obviously pro renewables), I came across these EROEI numbers of 4.5 and 36 for nukes and wind and knew something was fishy.

    How do we get in touch with DV if we have an important question only he can answer? DV needs to put up an FAQ on his website for concerned citizens like myself.


  18. Good one DV8. I’ve done very little by way of posting on BNC but I’ve done a hell of a lot of badgering the public and the politicians, in fact 12 years of it. My hard copy file is 60cm high. I’ve made a bit of progress over that time but a break from that could be a good thing to do. Perhaps I should make a return visit to Canada and you and I could “chew the fat” DV8. Thanks for all of your past very helpful comments. Cheers, Terry.


  19. David Lewis – – The consensus among most knowledgeable scientists familiar with nuclear issues is that nuclear is a valuable option for dealing with energy, air emissions, and climate challenges. A good number believe it is the most valuable option and some have become passionate about it.

    The consensus among most scientists who have studied the ozone depletion problem is that CFC’s have been definitively implicated as the key cause.

    Rod Adams is aligned with the consensus on one issue, but apparently not the other (I don’t know what his current view is). In this characteristic – – seeming to pick and choose among scientific consensus’ – – he is no different from environmentalists who accept the general scientific consensus on climate change and reject the one on nuclear energy.

    Now, picking and choosing which general scientific consensus one will accept or reject seems to me to be unwise unless one has made a really deep study of the subject and is equipped to understand it.

    Supporters of nuclear energy run the ideological gamut. As Bernard Cohen noted in his writing in the 1990’s most Scientists who he knows tend to have a liberal bent, including the nuclear ones. This is my experience as well. Rod Adams, btw, characterizes himself as being on the left of the political spectrum, as do many pro-nuclear bloggers.

    You write that “pro nuclear types tend to be of the right wing political persuasion.” I think a fairer statement is that right-leaners tend, as a group, to be reflexively pro-nuclear, without the level of thought of most participants on this blog. Similarly, left-leaners tend, as a group, to be reflexively anti-nuclear, also without very much thought. People are unable to be masters of all subjects and consequently form opinions by looking to the norm among people with whom they generally identify. This is a problem for nuclear, but is becoming less so, I hope.

    This blog, in my experience, is about moving beyond reflexive responses and into thinking responses through an iterative and thoughtful process. Doing that – – moving beyond reflexive thinking by reading and evaluating the statements and analyses of knowledgeable scientists – – moved me from the anti-nuclear to the pro-nuclear side.

    Last, Barry is right. This is really not the right location to argue or vent about Rod’s excursion into thought experiments about research on CFCs/Ozone.


  20. “I think a fairer statement is that right-leaners tend, as a group, to be reflexively pro-nuclear, without the level of thought of most participants on this blog. Similarly, left-leaners tend, as a group, to be reflexively anti-nuclear, also without very much thought.”

    Excellently summed up, Frank.


  21. Under a blog post claiming to have room for a comment from anyone to talk about “anything they like”, it seems odd to read that according to Barry, “I won’t have BNC used as a platform for attacking the motives of others”.

    Perhaps Barry could explain to me, just this once, where I did that, before he “moderates” my comments right out of existence, as this statement seems to indicate he will. I don’t see where I attacked Rod’s motives – what I attacked was his denial of science. I supplied links to Rod’s own published words for reference, as well as describing where in the peer reviewed scientific literature anyone could look to find a Nobel laureate going over the arguments Rod has used in his denial.

    Because I commented here, under the “anything you like” section, on a perceived tendency to deny climate science among pro nuclear advocates and nuclear industry insiders in the US, Barry seems to have decided that I must be opposed to nuclear power in the way that Stewart Brand describes in the second quote above, i.e.:

    ” because doing so would entail an almost unbearable recognition: that a very large part of their life’s work has been fundamentally, disastrously wrong, and that by obstructing the transition to nuclear back in the 1970s, they bear direct responsibility both for global warming and for the hundreds of thousands of deaths that have since resulted from coal-related pollution”

    In fact, I have been advocating in favor of the most rapid nuclear power expansion possible for some time.

    I was formerly an activist in what many think they understand as the “environmental” movement, on ozone depletion in the late 1980s, climate change from 1988 to now, and in politics, I was a leader in Canada and British Columbia in the Green Party for a period in the early late 1980s and early 1990s, remaining a voice some pay attention to to this day. One founder of Greenpeace told me, around 1990, I was the strongest voice to that date the Green Party had seen in Canada.

    I have been arguing for decisive action on climate change since I discovered the issue in 1988. I called for restoring the composition of the atmosphere to the preindustrial composition at that time, putting a clause to that effect into the adopted policy of the Green Party of British Columbia.

    I then went out into politics, committing political suicide most political observers would say, by staking my political success on trying to lead public opinion on what I saw as a fundamentally important issue, rather than only proposing policy calculated to play to what public opinion would support. I didn’t see how civilization could expand from its then 1 billion people using 80% of all resources available to the projected by 2050 ten billion people all aspiring to that same standard of living without drastic changes in almost all areas of life, and said so and called for such changes everywhere I went. Obviously, I went nowhere.

    I note that this call I made to stabilize and return the atmosphere to a previous composition, predates that of James Hansen, who first publicly called for stabilizing the composition of the atmosphere at a CO2 level of less than it is now in December 2007.

    I first decided to educate myself about nuclear power after reading one of James Hansen’s trip reports where he described himself as “agnostic” about nuclear, but changing his mind as he digested what he had read in Tom Blees’ book. I immediately read Blees book myself, and many more besides.

    I would describe my nuclear views, up until I started educating myself after being inspired by Hansen’s example, as perhaps similar to Hansen’s – agnostic. Although I had been advocating action on climate for a period of time almost as long as he has, I too had not twigged to the idea that nuclear advocates might be right that their favored power source was the answer to climate change.

    I also went to the trouble of visiting an operating reactor.

    It has become increasingly apparent to me that a large number of nuclear advocates and industry insiders in the US at least, are climate science deniers.

    This is the crucial debate of our times, I feel, i.e. should civilization respond to the evidence that climate scientists are presenting to us, and I find it very strange that the industry that claims to be the solution to the problem is so full of deniers that there is a problem in the first place. Again, I speak from the U.S., as an observer of the American scene.

    After having spent so much energy educating myself about nuclear power that I now feel myself to be part of the nuclear community in my own tiny way, I am speaking out as a pro nuclear advocate about this disturbing tendency to deny climate science that I am seeing in some fellow nuclear advocates.

    It is from this perspective that I view arguments such as Cohen’s who tells anyone why they should accept what science has discovered about radiation and nuclear power in general, i.e. basically because in a scientific discipline, a strong consensus eventually develops about basic issues such as how dangerous radiation is, which are periodically assessed by such as the National Academy of Sciences, and people should feel comfortable in trusting what these authorities say. I say, nuclear advocates can’t point to such as Cohen, or to Russell as you have done, as long as there are so many who ignore the wisdom Cohen and Russell express when it comes to climate science. At least, there should be room for someone like me who says, duh, what about your denial of science?

    How can you expect opponents of the nuclear industry to accept the findings of science when you refuse to accept what you don’t want to believe yourself?

    I find it preposterous that some of the same individuals who point to Cohen saying everyone should believe him about radiation, then point to entire scientific disciplines such as ozone science or climate science and say its all junk.

    Because I sometimes read what is in your blog, I then post periodically what I think about what I’ve read. I used Adams as an example of the kind of thinking I’m running into in the nuclear community because he put his thoughts on a discipline of science other than anything to do with nuclear in public view that I could refer people to easily to illustrate what I’m concerned about, because you posted the Russell quote about how it is that anyone should decide what to believe when it comes to scientific information.

    I find your reaction unwarranted. I will be happy to refrain from posting my thoughts here if this suits you.


  22. PS. a very recent example that illustrates my observation that there is widespread denial of climate science among US nuclear advocates and US nuclear industry insiders is seen in this open letter to President Obama, which calls on the President to clear away obstacles and support the rapid development of the nuclear power industry:

    (Unfortunately, a Google search on this shows Rod Adams’ presentation of this letter at the top of the list, and digging down didn’t reveal any other source for it, so there it is. Rod is a signatory to this letter, but that is somewhat incidental to my observation at this moment.)

    I state my thoughts on why this letter says something about widespread denial of climate science among US nuclear insiders and advocates as a comment on Rod’s post the above link goes to.

    Here, I would point out that these nuclear advocates and nuclear industry insiders couldn’t bring themselves to mention the issue of climate change in their open letter to Obama.

    The nuke advocates wrote in support of the so called Nuke Group of 11 US Senators who also wrote to the President recently.

    Now the Nuke Group of 11 Senators includes the notorious to all those who want to see action on climate Senator Inhofe. This is the dismaying Senator who once stood on the floor of the Senate to proclaim that climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”.

    Yet the Nuke Group, when writing to Obama, called on him to act to help the nuclear industry because: “as nuclear energy supplies more than 70 percent of the electricity generated by sources that do not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we agree with you that safe nuclear power must play an increasingly important role” blah blah blah. Inhofe had to sign this.

    My point? The Nuke Group of 11 Senators which Inhofe wants to be a part of, wouldn’t let him get away with censoring all mention of climate change out of their appeal for support for nuclear power, yet the Independence Day letter, signed mostly by nuclear industry insiders and pro nuclear advocates managed to completely avoid the topic of climate. Yet Obama, when setting up the Blue Ribbon panel on America’s Nuclear Future, specifically named climate change as his number one reason for backing nuclear expansion.

    The nuclear insiders and advocates even dug up and included as one of their co signers, Fred Singer, well known for decades for his opportunistic science denial which has extended to ozone science, climate science and whether tobacco causes cancer, who is continuing to provide the “intellectual” cover for people such as many in the news media who want to pretend there is some great big debate over fundamentals in the scientific community studying such questions, such as will the Earth warm up in response to a rapid accumulation of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.

    Rod Adams even described all the signatories to the Independence Day letter, i.e. Fred Singer, as “distinguished and dedicated energy experts”.


  23. The nuclear insiders and advocates even
    dug up … Fred Singer …

    In 50 or fewer words, what does David Lewis want me
    to do about it? He has managed to get the questioning-attitude thing to be one of BNC’s “Top Clicks”.

    I commented there that I wasn’t on top of the extent to which a system of dense gas pooled underneath gas of lower molecular weight reduces its energy through the upward diffusion of the dense gas, but according to this, I was.

    (How fire can be domesticated)


  24. I’m not sure why you raise this here David.

    The blog host and the vast majority of contributors here regard the IPCC consensus as a starting point for discussion of these matters.

    Fred Singer is, as is well known, a charlatan for hire by some of the most pernicious and venal elements in the US boss class, and if people are citing him, it is to their discredit.

    Why you need to point that out here is hard to say.


  25. I get the impression the underlying motive for all Fran’s activism is to try to impose her Marxist beliefs on Australian society. She gets involved in any activist cause that she can use as a platform to propogate her beliefs; this is a typical example of what she espouses:

    a charlatan for hire by some of the most pernicious and venal elements in the US boss class

    If this is typical of the reason Lefties are advocating for “nuclear to stop climate change”, then a lot of people will be turned off. There will be a real push back.

    I think others here should take this seriously.


  26. Peter Lang:

    Read Naomi Oreskes and Conway’s’ book Merchants of Doubt on Fred Singer.

    Their description is not far from Fran’s. They are liberals, though their argument is a good one, whatever their politics.

    Now, if david is questioning rod adams’ motives, peter is certainly questioning fran’s.

    btw, the claim that some people want to impose their views on others is almost always offered with no evidence; worse, it’s not even clear what is meant by the claim. it’s built into the very concept of a public belief that you think it ought to be shared. what is the difference between holding a belief in the ordinary sense and wanting to impose it? how is it that fran wants to impose her beliefs but others do not?

    david L: in the u.s., there is a definite tendency for pro nuke views to align with denialism and for those concerned about climate change to be anti nuke. we have to change that and i share your urgency.


  27. David L.: I appreciate your journey from anti- (my presumption) to pro- nuclear, but I think you make a mistake when you posit, for example, the following:

    “I say, nuclear advocates can’t point to such as Cohen, or to Russell as you have done, as long as there are so many who ignore the wisdom Cohen and Russell express when it comes to climate science.”

    My response: sure we can, AND, if we believe we are right on climate AND nuclear, then we certainly will.

    We can point to scientists who express the generally shared consensus (among knowledgeable scientists) on nuclear energy while, simultaneously, working to advance nuclear with people who share our general views on nuclear (we like it) but not on climate.

    In my view, pro-nuclear people who find no convincing reason to reject the general scientific consensus on climate cannot delay forming pro-nuclear coalitions with people who share our views on nuclear but not on climate. To do so would be foolish because it is important to bring about change in nuclear energy policy in the developed world that has so much influence on energy policy and climate impacts.

    We do not have time to convince everybody on everything we believe before we move forward. It is a messy, complicated world, and we have to navigate forward within its messiness. To insist on full consistency across the coalition with which one is willing to work is to make oneself, as a practical matter, irrelevant.

    If the climate crisis is as serious as the general consensus of knowledgeable scientists indicate it is, then I would submit that requiring all potential allies on nuclear to also adopt our views on climate is an indulgence that we cannot responsibly accommodate.


  28. While I agree with you Frank — that we shouldn’t insist everyone agree with us on everything that is kind of relevant to nuclear power. There’s lots of reasons for having nuclear power that don’t have anything serious to do with climate change.

    ‘Course that’s not the same thing as saying that guys who say stupid stuff about cliimate change and other environmental things should be presented as if they weren’t stupid. Maybe we just don’t mention them?


  29. David Lewis said

    “It has become increasingly apparent to me that a large number of nuclear advocates and industry insiders in the US at least, are climate science deniers.”

    I know, isn’t it great! We can get on with fixing the climate problem without further opposition from the people who have delayed climate action the most. Everyone wins.


  30. Fast charge is here! The Better Place battery swap system has a real contender.

    “Japanese based JFE Engineering has released its ultra-fast charge station. Designed to comply with the CHAdeMo standard developed by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota, the system is capable of charging a 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev from empty to 50% full in just three minutes. Even just three minutes plugged into the fast-charge station was enough to enable a standard 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev to travel a further 50 miles before further charging was required.”

    As the video below demonstrates, it’s far cheaper than oil, and after a bacon-buttie and cup-o-tea, you’re back to full charge.


  31. EN the driver of the electric car asked why there weren’t more fast charging stations. Perhaps this is the reason. When EVs routinely drive from Sydney to Perth we’ll know they are making progress. As someone who drives on biodiesel my tip for the vehicle fuel of the future is natural gas, a hydrocarbon Australia currently has in plenty. That’s unless we flog too much of it overseas or burn it in baseload power stations.


  32. James Hansen is listed along with Fred Singer as a signer of the “Independence Day letter to President Obama” I mentioned previously. I wrote Jim mentioning this, on the off chance he is not aware.

    I suggested to Jim that one day, those who spread lies and disinformation about climate science will be regarded as as socially acceptable as those who spread hatred toward Jews now are in Germany. This will be because, after it is too late, it will be seen that the deniers and disinformers share a great responsibility for what by then will have happened, and after the fact, as in Germany for Jews today, it will not be possible to pretend that free speech rights should allow activities and speech that lead where all this is going.


  33. Greg Meyerson said:

    how is it that fran wants to impose her beliefs but others do not?

    Quite right with one amendment. Anyone who thinks public policy is important wants to have others share their views about public policy and having achieved the requisite consensus impose these policies on others. Peter Lang certainly does. He says he wants to ignore the anti-nuclear fringe so that what needs to be done can get done. That’s imposing his view onto them, if he is successful. That’s implicit in the idea of democracy.

    My Marxist views will probably never be accepted by most people in my lifetime. Merely arguing for them is not an imposition on anyone. People can and mostly do ignore them. But if most people came to find them persuasive and sought to instantiate them in public policy, then that would be no greater an imposition than anything Peter might have public policy do.

    I should add that it is not and never will be my intention to force anyone to share my view of any matter, whatever direction public policy takes. And as to what lawful activity consenting adults do within their own private lives, I will always regard that as none of my business, however offensive I might find it, were I to know of it.


  34. @ John,
    that stupid Energy Bulletin piece ignores the fact that most cars can and will charge from home and at work.

    Most cars just sit still 22 hours a day and can be plugged in sucking down juice where-ever they are.

    So put just one fast-charge point in each servo because I won’t be using them, I’ll just be driving to a friend’s house, plugging in while BBQing there, and then driving back home on a full tank.

    And if fast-charging isn’t good enough, what about the Better Place battery swap? Electric transport: it’s all good.


  35. Another example of government intervening in the market to try to pick, or make, winners. The government;s $1.1 billion subsidy to the car industry to get Toyota to make a hybrid car in Australia. They reckoned they’d sell 10,000 this year, but so far have sold 2950, of which most are to government departments or registered by the car yards as ‘demonstrator’ cars; i.e. they haven’t been sold at all.

    This is another example of the incompetence of governments who think they can pick winners or make winners. Meanwhile they prevent the real winners, for example by banning nuclear power. Even if they did remove the ban, they’d probably want to impose “safety” regulations the most restrictive in the world. What how do we have with this sort of ongoing incompetence by our elected government?


  36. FYI, my letter to all MPs today

    No ETS, stop wasting tax payer funds on renewable energy. Here is how to cut CO2 emissions …

    Dear MP,

    Other countries are realising that renewable energy is a massive waste of tax payer funds and has no, or negligible, effect on CO2 emissions [Note 1].

    Just when Australia decides to increase giving consumer and taxpayers money to the wind industry, governments around the world have decided enough’s enough and are cutting or eliminating subsidies to the grossly inefficient green power generators. Here are some recently reported examples:

    Spain cuts subsidies to wind and solar

    Italy cuts subsidies to wind and solar

    Germany cuts subsidies to solar

    Denmark to cut subsidies to wind

    France to slash solar subsidies

    Ontario cuts incentives for solar

    If we want to cut CO2 emissions, renewable energy is not the way to do it. Nor is an ETS or price on carbon.

    What we need to do to cut CO2 emissions is to remove all the impediments on nuclear energy. If we did remove all the impediments, electricity fro nuclear would be cheaper than from coal. Yes! Even in Australia.

    This article describes the sort of regulatory impediments that make nuclear expensive where the regulatory environment is inappropriate. These are what we must avoid.

    Add to this list the many Australian Government imposed impediments and market distortions such as:

    • Bans on nuclear energy

    • Renewable Energy Target

    • Renewable Energy Certificates

    • Feed in Tariffs

    • Direct government subsidies for renewable energy

    • Tax incentives and other incentives for coal, gas and renewable energy

    • Cost of enhancements to the electricity grid that are needed to accommodate the disruptive, erratic renewable energy generators is shared by everyone instead of being attributed to the renewable energy generators

    • Sovereign risk caused by the government’s signals that it is opposed to nuclear, and also that when governments change, they renege on previously made agreements with investors (e.g. Telstra, Gunns Pulp Mill, Resource Super Profits Tax, intention to shut down, or in other ways disadvantage, coal fired power plants without fair compensation for the investors, and many others examples)

    Note 1: Wind power does not reduce CO2 emissions:


  37. David Lewis, Everyone, including both you and Rod Adams, makes mistakes. I certainly have my disagreements with Rod, but I regard him as a generally reliable source of information. You – well you seem to have caught the Stalinist bug.
    You want to turn scientific consensus into a party line, and anyone who disagrees with even a single scientific consensus is guilty of rightest deviation.

    i am not saying that Rod right, most likely he is not. Does being wrong on a single issue make Rod a right winger in your book? If you do, think you sir that you might be mistaken.


  38. Well said Charles. But the prize for well said in this thread certainly goes to Tom Keen — brilliant, and something we should all bear in mind:

    Tom Keen said:
    David Lewis said
    “It has become increasingly apparent to me that a large number of nuclear advocates and industry insiders in the US at least, are climate science deniers.”

    I know, isn’t it great! We can get on with fixing the climate problem without further opposition from the people who have delayed climate action the most. Everyone wins.


  39. As a lay person I am pretty confident that climate scientists know what they are doing. Climate models, though highly imperfect, are based on sound physics and give us a reasonable sense of how GHG emissions are likely to impact climate. (I read The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart.)

    But, when it comes to mitigation efforts, I do not see why I should have any confidence in what the economists say. By and large they argue that a carbon cap and trade system would have only a small negative impact on economic growth. If they are right, then this cost is small compared to the likely costs of climate change even if the odds catastrophic climate change are modest. But, why on earth should I accept the results of economic models? What principles are they based on and how are they validated? Any references aimed at the general reader would be appreciated.


  40. Sorry all, with sick kids and holidays etc we didn’t get to the next poster. Marion’s idea for a nuclear V renewables poster was very simple and easy to read, and really works. But we got busy.

    One thing I did enjoy on the weekend was watching this TED talk on the growth of New Urbanism.

    As I say on the blog post:

    “The best thing about this talk is that it shows how it can happen in small stages. New Urbanism can grow in pockets without bulldozing the whole suburb first. Thinking about it after the talk, it occurs to me that this is only logical. Suburbia is characterised by vast areas of wasted space. New Urbanism is incredibly dense. Pockets can grow which soak up the populations of suburbia, and then suburbia can be gradually replaced through the normal household life cycle. Suburban blandness is gradually transformed into dense and diverse urbanism with forests and farmlands.

    I can’t wait to watch it unfold!”


  41. Eclipse … I was passing North Epping shops so I took a look at the ntoice board there. The poster was being partly obscured by another (on dog grooming I think) so I repositioned the rival. Two tear offs were there.

    It’s not an exceptionally prominent location, despite being a notice board. Somewhere directly opposite where most cars park — and perhaps in that bottle shop across the road adjacent to the service station would be better, probably. Amidst all the other clutter, it doesn’t stand out much. It needs clear space around it in a context where people who have already decided they aren’t interested in notice board items aren’t averting their eyes. It doesn’t cost much to laminate these days, and if you did that and punched a couple of holes in it and stuck it somewhere at eye level where people aren’t expecting to see it, maybe that would work better. The tear-offs don’t really help because all they say is “” and people can recall that without a tiny chit which will get lost. Just some thoughts, from a marketing POV.

    According to Mike:

    But, when it comes to mitigation efforts, I do not see why I should have any confidence in what the economists say. By and large they argue that a carbon cap and trade system would have only a small negative impact on economic growth. If they are right, then this cost is small compared to the likely costs of climate change even if the odds catastrophic climate change are modest. But, why on earth should I accept the results of economic models? What principles are they based on and how are they validated?

    Well the Garnaut Report was a good discussion of these matters in an Australian economic context, so you could start there. In the US, cap and trade worked well for Bush snr. for SO2 and in fact the targets for reductions were realised ahead of time, even though they only applied to a limited number of states. The sky didn’t fall in as a result.

    The principle is simple enough. One sets a quota and allows people to bid for portions of it. Those who cannot achieve reductions in ways that are too expensive to be justified or too disruptive buy shares of the quota at the going market price. If after they have bought them they discover ways to avoid emissions for which they have already paid for the rights that are cheaper than simply using their entitlement, they sell the entitlement to offset the costs of the measures and wind up ahead, or less behind. So they have a market incentive to keep looking at ways to reduce emissions that is not disruptive. Overall, the total emissions of industry are capped at a precise level. Those holding adequate permits have an interest in others not free-riding, or the cap being raised or in free permits being issued, since this diminishes the value of their asset in the market. In fact, if they become less Co2-intensive, they have an interest in a more ambitious cap and tighter enforcement, since this pushes up the value of the asset.

    At the same time, an increased commercial interest in CO2-efficiency spurs business innovation and various kinds of BPR (business procfess re-engineering), and the funds raised can be used to compensate the end users of products who purchase products and services with these new CO2 costs internalised.

    Of course, at the base of the system, if we are to get cheap CO2 reductions, we need cheap low carbon energy. Simply encouraging householders to buy less stuff (including energy) or choosing stuff with low CO2 intensity isn’t going to get us there. Hence our focus on nuclear power here. This is absolutely the cheapest way to get low CO2 intensity energy everywhere in the quantities we need it.


  42. Hi Ewen,
    thanks for your feedback. I might talk to Darren at the bottle-shop about putting up a poster. Although he’s a climate sceptic he also loves the idea of nuclear power.

    (We chat about peak oil and climate change. He introduced himself to me years ago as “Crazy Darren” and I of course replied, “Great to meet you, because I’m crazy Dave!”)

    Now to remembering the BNC address. I think some people would remember it if they saw it frequently enough, but others just visiting the area might not. The tab is also about reminding them that they were going to look it up. The tabs also tell people that others are interested in this topic, and so once the first few tabs go others tend to go faster.

    But I agree that a well positioned and attractive poster without tabs is worth more than a poorly positioned poster with tabs.


  43. @ John Newlands (and all interested in Electric Vehicles.)

    When EVs routinely drive from Sydney to Perth

    Is this a good test of electric vehicles? I don’t think so. I think EV’s will cater to 95% of our city driving.

    A busy enough highway route like Brisbane to Melbourne might have enough fast-charge or battery swap stations to make the trip doable. I’m just not convinced that Sydney to Perth is a fair request. Surely people who actually drive the Nullabor are doing so for reasons other than ‘normal’ commuting.

    I wonder about that trip anyway. Anyone hear the old news report about the truck of tomato’s driving from Melbourne to Perth, and the other truck of tomato’s coming back the other way? There was a bush fire somewhere in the middle that held up the trucks for a few days. In the end, all the tomato’s spoiled. It was all in the name of ‘free trade’. Is that the kind of nonsensical ‘free market’ messing about that we want to encourage?

    No, I’m not convinced Melbourne to Perth is a fair test.


  44. Ewen: Thanks. I have read CBO reports. I just wish I understood the economic models they use.

    On nuclear power: I am generally pro-nuclear power. I am also a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and have been disappointed in their analysis of nuclear power. I mention this here because they are hiring a Energy Analyst. See:

    Maybe someone here would like to apply.

    BTW, my area is pure math, nothing directly applied.


  45. Let’s not call them climate sceptics, Crazy Dave. They aren’t the least bit sceptical of any slander hurled at well-credentialled scientists. They don’t even understand what it is they declare themselves to be sceptical of. They don’t understand and can’t explain radiative forcing. Ask them about radiation budgets and what ERBE measures and they look at you blankly. Mention stratospheric cooling and they think you are supporting claims about a coming ice age, and can’t see why saying that and asserting that warming will be good for us are in conflict.

    These people are the intellectual heirs of the kids at the back of the classroom who understand no more than that what they are supposed to be learning is of no value to them because they are going to get a job with their uncle selling tyres, and who, accordingly, spend their time making fart noises and wondering how long it will be before they can play Halo.

    By the time they have become chronologically, adults they have decided that the world is not to be trusted, and that what is true is local and certainly, that anyone using big words is to be treated with extreme caution.

    They are not sceptics. They hold the truths of their tribe to be self-evident. They are reactionary culture warriors, uttering any nonsense that eases the pain of feeling perpetually marginalised and denied access to the benefits acquired by those who sat at the front of the classroom and paid attention.


  46. I agree with everything you say Fran. Well put. I guess I was just being polite, which is unlike me when it comes to this subject!

    I’m not that technical, but even I understood most of what you were referring to because I bothered to read what the climate scientists were actually publishing and saying, rather than limiting my reading to the likes of “Durkin just jerkin his gherkin!” (My favourite line against the so called “Great Global Warming Swindle”).


  47. Pingback: A fair test of Electric cars? | Eclipse Now

  48. Is this the way most people see jet fuels and maybe agricultural fuels being manufactured?


    Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a low-risk, transformational concept, called Green Freedom™, for large-scale production of carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuels and organic chemicals from air and water.

    Currently, the principal market for the Green Freedom production concept is fuel for vehicles and aircraft.

    At the heart of the technology is a new process for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making it available for fuel production using a new form of electrochemical separation. By integrating this electrochemical process with existing technology, researchers have developed a new, practical approach to producing fuels and organic chemicals that permits continued use of existing industrial and transportation infrastructure. Fuel production is driven by carbon-neutral power.

    via Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Synthetic Fuel Concept to Steal CO2 From Air.


  49. EN re synfuels I think it may be better to start with already concentrated CO2 that is free of nitrogen and sulphur. Like 99% pure not .04% as in air. Then for example combine with nuclear hydrogen under pressure and catalysts to get methane. That methane will work in any engine or device that runs on natural gas and is easy to store and distribute. The cost of a premium hydrogenated synfuel either gas or liquid would need to get down to say $2 per kg, have low toxicity and not add to net fossil carbon extraction. Thus if concentrated CO2 chemically recovered from coal flue gas was converted to fuel then two revenue streams (stationary generation and vehicle fuel) could pay for any carbon tax. Better still start with carbon from biomass.


  50. You must be doing something right Barry.

    As I regularly do, I visited, and today found this article by Bernard Keane:

    No carbon price? You’re being conned

    Most odf the article was pretty good — a fairly straightforward defence of carbon pricing. It did however contain the following claim:

    Greg Hunt, who abandoned his decades-long support for an emissions trading scheme to keep his shadow ministry job following the right-wing putsch last year, is revealing more than he perhaps thinks now that he’s spruiking nuclear power, at least to Coalition attack grub Glenn Milne in today’s Australian. […] The Coalition is dead keen on nuclear but won’t ever move without Labor giving them cover. But as Crikey showed in November last year, nuclear power is ludicrously expensive and needs massive taxpayer support, otherwise it costs a lot more to build and more to operate than renewables. And that’s before you figure out where to park the waste for a few hundreds of thousands of years or decommission reactors. Maybe if you call it “Green Waste” it’d be easier to deal with.

    Naturally I set about responding, but while I was doing so, three other posters: John Bennetts; ShowsOn; Mark Duffett; replied rejecting the claims. Two of them besides me mentioned this blog specifically. I offered a link to the TCASE series.

    I promise I didn’t know that that would happen, but I daresay that Bernard probably thinks we’re spamming his site.


  51. It’s rather odd that a pile of “Labor party propaganda” (typo corrected) is attacking the ALP position on carbon pricing, which is to defer puttng a price on carbon, and is affirming the Turnbull position, which was to have one.


  52. It’s clear which parties have been blocking real action to reduce CO2 emissions – Labor and Greens! And they have been for decades!

    No matter how obvious it is, some who are blinkered by ideological beliefs, just can’t accept the obvious. “They turn their heads sideways and clamp their teeth like a child refusing to swallow medicine”.


  53. No matter how obvious it is, some who are blinkered by ideological beliefs, just can’t accept the obvious. “They turn their heads sideways and clamp their teeth like a child refusing to swallow medicine”.

    I’m glad that you have remembered at least one thing I pointed out to you. As a teacher, I count that as a success.

    Now it’s time for you to take the next step and relegate your ideological baggage to a place where it doesn’t get in the way of thinking straight.


  54. Peter,
    I wish you could show a little more respect to another pro-nuclear campaigner. I’m really sick of discussing politics on BNC and seeing other nukies under attack, especially when it gets personal.

    I think we should try to stick to promoting what we know the science to be, and being fairly tolerant of various political approaches as to how to get there.

    EG: I can tolerate people arguing for some sort of ETS, if it eventually gets the job done. But I’m no fan of an over-complicated ETS. It could be prone to all the financial wizardry of derivatives trading and who knows what other pyramid schemes of unaccountable money making on the market?

    Yet other political persuasions talk about a straight tax on carbon. Again, if other cheaper means could get the job done I’d be for that, but hey? A carbon tax might kick start the stuff we need to get done, so I’d rather vote for that than against action, if that were the choice at the next election.

    Now if we move into extreme lefty territory and I ran the world, maybe I’d be tempted to OUTLAW any new coal plants. Maybe I’d also outlaw any aging plants being renovated for a longer life, and give all ‘newish’ plants a maximum 20 year lifespan while looking to ramp up an incredible S-PRISM production line. I can dream on about running the world.

    My point is that not everything has to be achieved through market mechanisms. The blunt hammer of law can change things, and has changed things in the past.

    EG: Witness the war-time switching of something like 4% of the economy to the military to about 40% of the economy, with American motor industry being ordered to produce ONLY tanks. In a climate emergency, anything can happen. Your fears of safety talk driving up prices would vanish along with the need for nukie activists. The job would get done.

    I’m sick to death of nukies indulging in character attacks over who they vote for. Society oscillates from the left to the right and back again from the right to the left, and who can tell the difference most of the time?

    Ironically sometimes we see smaller lefty governments swinging to right big-government in times of war! “Right” does not always equate with small government! Witness which governments have run wars. Witness the incredible stuffing up of the American economy by arguably the worst government intervention in that economy EVER by George W Bush. Whether or not it was officially a ‘big government’ based on various welfare department statistics, the intervention in the economy was enormous as they shrunk the taxation base while borrowing to fund the ‘war on terror’ on 2 fronts!

    So unless you really want to get into debating the political economy of the welfare state, Max Weber, Karl Marx and the whole kit and caboodle, can we leave politics out of it? I’m so OVER it! I mean, next thing you know we’ll have Peter Lalor in here hyperventilating over something totally incomprehensible and off topic.

    Fran is a fellow nukie. Try and tolerate her leftiness and I’ll try and ignore your recent right-wing diatribes.


  55. As this says:
    an ETS is an irrational policy. I tend to believe this analysis. It makes sense to me.

    If we want to cut emissions we have a rational, ‘no-regrets’ way to do it. But it does required removing one hell of a lot of irrational, ideologically based polices. I’ve pointed out how to achieve it on several other posts including:

    and many others. And this is a short ten point description of why:
    Following on from this are the international consequences of rolling out clean electricity to the world, faster and thus reducing world CO2 emissions faster. I must have posted it a dozen times, but those with their heads cricked to the left and teeth clenched shut just don’t want to consider it.

    Get over your ideological obsession with Marxism, and get some realistic understanding the real world we live in. Otherwise, stick with coal, gas and CO2 emissions. It is the policies of the ideologues you support that prevent forward progress on just about everything.


  56. I don’t think you have a clue what my political orientation is. I indulged the game of being ‘world dictator’ to illustrate how the blunt force of legislation concerning power sources can affect markets overnight, in contrast to messing around with ETS or taxation schemes.

    (Let alone positively scandalously BAD ETS schemes like the CPRS. I’m with Barry on that one: may as well wave the white flag now).

    I was listing a policy menu that, in best case examples, could see the same objectives achieved by a variety of political persuasions. Yours is not the ONLY means of getting to a low Co2 economy. EG: How did France get there? Please do tell! ;-)


  57. @ all on COSTS:

    It seems the UCS has been affected by the myth of expense.

    “Nuclear Power: A Resurgence We Can’t Afford (2009)
    A new UCS analysis finds that the U.S. does not need to significantly expand its reliance on nuclear power to make dramatic cuts in power plant carbon emissions through 2030—and that doing so would be uneconomical.”

    Other negative articles here.

    If we can’t influence the likes of the UCS, surely that means game over?


  58. Check this debate out at TED

    If only he’d had my Nuclear waste worth $30 trillion? poster! He could have presented nuclear waste as running the world for 500 years and nuclear waste being the SOLUTION not the problem.

    Anyway, it’s frustrating to see the renewable guy gain a few fans, but in California it seems the nuclear guy still won at *about* 65% of the vote.


  59. A bit blunt. ;-)

    Most people ‘know’ that they DO work, that they DO produce power at or below the price of coal. People like Lester Brown have told them so.

    What they don’t know is how stuffed the grid would be if they were ALL we had. ;-)

    So I’m looking for a quick easy way to explain that. “These things don’t work” might form the heading, but it needs a bit more than that. ;-)


  60. Re wind poster. How about :

    Utility Scale Wind Energy : A Summary for Policy Makers

    Increases GHG emissions
    Requires Fossil Fuel Backup
    Highly Volatile
    No security of supply
    Destabilises Grid
    Increases electricity cost for consumers
    Huge resources required for construction
    Divides communities
    Health Risks
    Noise Pollution
    Loss of Visual Amenity
    Loss of property value
    Loss of tourism
    Environmentally destructive
    Mangles the birds that cats can’t reach
    Kills bats
    Alters local climate
    No decommissioning funds = future problems and potential bankruptcy for turbine hosts
    Gag clauses for turbine hosts

    etc. etc. etc. might require a very tall poster…


  61. eclipsenow asked: “If we can’t influence the likes of the UCS, surely that means game over?”

    I think the Union of Concerned Scientists is open to dialog on the nuclear power issue. They are an important part of the environment movement is the U.S. and one of the few run by scientists. I wasn’t joking when I suggested someone here apply for their Energy Analyst position, but you can probably find other ways to engage them. Read their anti-nuclear stuff and write up a response – maybe a few of you could get together to do this. I did a quick search of this site and only found two posts that mention U.C.S.


  62. With apologies to The Bard … (The Tempest)

    Blow blow thou winter wind
    thou art not so refined
    as energy forgot
    and power delivered not
    So say heigh ho, heigh ho unto the green holly
    Most solar is feigning
    Most wind but mere folly


  63. Electricity – Social Service or Market Comodity?

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

    Read the report here:


  64. For a back drop for a poster, one of these of the abandoned renewable energy projects might get the message across – e.g. Tehachapi Wind Farms – Southern California, USA, or one of the solar farms.


  65. Some classic photo’s of abandoned renewable energy projects left to rot & pollute, which highlights the issue of the requriement for proper decommissioning laws (*currently not in place for renewables) :

    (note in this story the bit about California turbines being shut off for 4 months of the year because of their atrocious bird kill rate…)



    this is the tour guide of the Tehachapi area, note this part of the tour guide :

    Throughout the Tehachapi-Mojave area look for turbines without nose cones, turbines without nacelles (blown off and not replaced), oil leaking from blade-pitch seals, oil leaking from gearboxes, road cuts in steep terrain, erosion gullies, non-operating turbines, and “bone piles” of junk parts.


  67. Marion,

    You may have suggested that with tongue in cheek, but my take on that photo is “David an Golliath”; i.e. David (the wind turbine” trying to battle Golliath (the coal plants). It reinforces the message that wind power is good.

    I might mention that in German, nuclear power is being taxed a super tax to subsidise wind power AND coal mining.


  68. **WARNING : some of the pics / vids linked below may well upset the sensitive.

    This is a video of something a cat couldn’t ever do, taking out a large vulture. however, with a wind turbine its easy :

    the next time somebody says that cats kill more birds, ask them what species of bird does a wind turbine kill, and whether a cat has ever killed a single bird of that species. then go to your favourite windustry site and see what they have to say on the matter…

    Here’s what scientists have to say about Spanish vulture deaths :

    Carrete, M et al (2009) “Large Scale Risk-Assessment of Wind-Farms on Population Viability of a Globally Endangered Long-Lived Raptor”, Biological Conservation doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.07.027

    Recent research paper looking at effects of wind turbines on endangered long-lived raptors. Calls for more research on long term effects of wind farms on wildlife populations. Research in this particular study shows that wind farms decrease survival rates and hence significantly increases extinction probability. This research also suggests that short term monitoring of wildlife impacts is not adequate to assess actual impacts of wind farms on wildlife. The negative effects of wind farms could result in major impacts in a few decades and jeopordize wildlife conservation worldwide. Requests that turbines in risk zones should be located further than 15km away from nests.

    ***Remember, the wind industry continually denies this a problem, and they try and perpetuate the cats & birds nonsense… what does this tell you about their environmental credentials….***

    More on eagles and wind farms here :

    I highly recommend this link for anyone who wants to see the reality of windfarms and eagles. For Australia and the Wedge-Tail Eagle this is a major concern.

    A useful conference on wind and wildlife is here :


  69. bryen when the coastline is dotted with NPP-desals people will complain that warmer and saltier water is harming the marine life. Therefore we may have to accept some wildlife mortality. Conceivably natural selection could favour raptors who keep well away from wind farms if other factors help survivors to breed up. I note ‘wedgies’ can also be rebound roadkill; recall TV footage of David Attenborough nearly running over a WTE feeding on a skittled kangaroo.


  70. John,

    Fair comment, and I agree with your comment re wildlife mortality, some will have to be accepted. NPP-desal’s will be just as accountable for any environmental problems they may cause.

    My point really though is that the wind industry sweeps it under the rug as if it doesn’t happen. There are many wildlife professionals around the world who are really concerned. Its a legitimate issue, and something most renewables advocates choose to ignore or put down with the cat kills comment, or are completely unaware of.

    The truth is that with proper planning and honest environmental assessments by the wind industry much of it could easily be avoided. But avoidance costs money, which they dont like. Instead, as Save the Eagles International have pointed out, they falsify environmental assessments and put out industry spin.

    I just want to make people aware the issue is real , some of these birds are endangered species after all, not your run of the mill crow (sorry crow’s).

    This comment you made : “Conceivably natural selection could favour raptors who keep well away from wind farms if other factors help survivors to breed up.”

    This doesn’t really happen. You should read the comments on Woolnorth, and the other links. The hills, ridges and mountains are their natural habitat. Wind farms are an intrusion on their existing habitat, which is becoming more and more fragmented. The wind farms currently in planing or mooted by such plans as BZE are truly enormous areas of land. Avoidance of large scale areas, such as wind farms also contributes to reduction in mortality, because of extra energy expended in habitat avoidance, **its not just being hit by turbine blades**. I cant emphasis this last point enough. The other issue is that raptors and other long lived birds have smaller reproductive cycles, hence mortality becomes significant a lot quicker.

    Also bats are being killed in alarming and significant numbers. They are actually attracted to turbines, no one knows why definatively, cause of death is from barotrauma from the air around the blades.

    Baerwald et al (2008) “Barotrauma is a Significant Cause of Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines” Current Biology Vol18 No.16 pages R695-R696

    Arnett, E, et al (2008) “Patterns of Bat Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities in North America”, Journal Of Wildlife Management 72(1) pages 61–78

    Kunz, T et al (2007) “Ecological Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Bats: Questions, Research, Needs, and Hypotheses”, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment Vol 5 No:6 pages 315-324

    Kunz, T et al (2007) “Assessing Impacts of Wind-Energy Development on Nocturnally Active Birds and Bats: A Guidance Document”, Journal of Wildlife Management 71(8) pages 2449–2486
    Kuvlesky, W et. al. (2007) “Wind Energy Development and Wildlife Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities”, Journal of Wildlife Management 71(8) pages 2487-2498

    A case in point in Oz, the Yass Valley wind farm : a section of the windfarm was cut from the application & environmental assessment because they found that endangered species of bats nest within the section (Carrolls Ridge). They didn’t want to bugger up the chances of the entire wind farm being refused permission, so Epuron/Origin are going to apply for that section separately, perhaps… In my opinion Yass Valley windfarm shouldn’t be built at all anyway, it is situated in an area of national & internationally recognised critically endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodland eco-system. The “development envelope” is about 7000 hectares, to give you an idea of how far and wide it will stretch for eagles trying to avoid the area. Of this area about 24 hectares of critically endangered woodlands will be removed (doesn’t sound like much, but there ain’t much left in NSW!).

    The environmental assessment for Yass Valley WF really is a shocker, and I’ve seen some pretty bad ones by wind farm developers. If you can, take some time to look at the extensive environmental assessment documents the public had 30 days to prepare submissions on :–communications–energy—water/generation-of-electricity-or-heat-or-co-generation/?action=view_job&job_id=2765

    Anyway, flora & fauna, thats just one issue with windfarm’s, there are plenty of others of course. I’ll be looking forward to reading the Beyond Zero Emissions Zero Carbon Australia plan tomorrow and seeing where they intend to put the 48GW of wind farms their plan proposes, and how they have addressed the flora, fauna and other environmental issues that such a large scale plan throws up. Not to mention the technical / planning / timeframe aspects I mention on the TCASE 12 thread.

    Sorry for the long comment / reply John, but I felt the point I was making did need to be clarified.


  71. eclipsenow, I like blunt. Blunt confronts. Blunt cuts through. One of the single greatest advertising slogans of all time is “Raid: Kills bugs dead.” You can’t get much blunter.

    Most people seem to believe these things work. A direct, graceless challenge to that idea might be just the slap in the face they need.


  72. Correction: Above I stated that UCS was “run by scientists.” After going through their “Meet our UCS Experts” page ( I see that this is not so. Most of them seem to have degrees is policy fields and although some do have PhD’s in science, they went into policy anaylsis early in their careers. You might look up their Nuclear Power experts.

    The UCS, to its credit, has long been very active in non-proliferation efforts. I think this may color their thinking. But I do think they are open minded. One thing to keep in mind is that in the U.S. the nuclear power industry was entangled with the nuclear arms industry via their suppliers of enriched uranium and their was always been a strong overlap between the peace and environmental movements.


  73. I just noticed Barry has put a link in the top left corner of the home page to vote for hiim as Australia’s “Best Science Blogger”. Since he’s obviously too modest to do so, I’ll pimp it for him. Go vote!


  74. This is great: just have to share. It will probably drive Peter Lang nuts, and make Peter Lalor start foaming at the mouth about *something* (but what we all ask?) But here goes.


    Say No to Socialism

    This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

    At the appropriate time, as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door, I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

    After work, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads to my house, which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshall’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

    I then log on to the internet, which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on and fox news forums about how socialism in medicine is bad because the government can’t do anything right.



    Con with the Wind is a passionate and inspirational look at the myths, facts and lies surrounding big business interests in the Wind Farm Goldrush.

    Filmmaker and director Nigel Spence’s gripping documentary, shot in 15 countries over 3 years, exposes the truth and the real human, environmental and subsidy costs of wind turbines; a cost that the youth of today will be paying for the next 25 years.


  76. There’s a new form of wind turbine that compresses air first, then uses the compressed air to generate electricity. It reminds me a bit of CETO, only instead of compressed sea-water it compresses air. These turbines float out in the deep ocean and when there’s peak wind supply compress extra air into balloons deep under water, which can be built far cheaper than metal tanks to store compressed air on the surface. (The balloon uses the ocean).

    Links are provided here. For what it’s worth I made a few comments on my blog to the effect of building out nuclear now until such time as a demonstrated new power source arrives, and not delaying nukes on rumour and whimsy and wishful thinking.


  77. I made a few comments on my blog to the effect of building out nuclear now until such time as a demonstrated new power source arrives

    I think this is a very sensible approach to responding to the renewable energy advocates. Positive and non-threatening.


  78. eclipsenow@13:26

    Anyone pro-nuke I can vote for?

    An excellent question. I can’t remember ever finding the voting options so unsatisfactory as at this election, and not just on the climate/energy issue.

    However, I did see this reported today:

    Western Australian Senator Mathias Cormann today called for political discussion to be opened up to include a bipartisan debate “based on the facts” on the potential for nuclear energy to be used in Australia.

    The Liberal senator criticised the current Labor government for shying away from serious consideration of nuclear power for political reasons…

    Cormann backed away from openly expressing support for nuclear power, however, saying…“We’re not prepared to go down that path [alone] and expose ourselves to a fear campaign”

    But Cormann echoed calls from other senior Liberal figures that nuclear power should be given serious consideration in the debate about Australia’s future energy needs.

    Sorry the original source is behind a paywall; hopefully I’m staying within the bounds of copyright in posting these slightly edited excerpts.

    Is this enough to warrant an editorial endorsement of the Coalition from BNC? Or would this be a step too alienating for someone like Fran Barlow? (In light of the above, Fran, I’d love to know how you’re voting, if you don’t mind me asking).

    The only other alternative I’m aware of is Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy – Australia”, but sadly they seem to be struggling; I don’t know that they’re even fielding any candidates.


  79. An excellent question. I can’t remember ever finding the voting options so unsatisfactory as at this election, and not just on the climate/energy issue.

    I know passionately Labor people, as in life-time members of the party, who are planning to Donkey vote in protest.

    I used to vote Green but now that I’m pro-nuclear… ?

    Being the ‘Watermelon’ that I am, I’d only vote Liberal if they were definitely going to roll out a large nuclear plan overnight. I haven’t heard anything that strong from them yet, so I’m not voting on a whimsical statement.


  80. The article in the Mercury suggests that dwindling hydro should be reserved for peaking power, not baseload. It should also be pointed out that since the Basslink underwater HVDC cable commenced in 2006 over 25% of the State’s electricity needs have been imported, probably attributable to brown coal. However the cable can only import or export 500 MW at a time.

    I live in the southern part of Tas and I’d happily have an AP1000 next door rather than logging. I’m not sure about the argument for heat co-generation for the Bell Bay aluminium smelter. Gas for the nearby Bell Bay combined and open cycle plant comes from wells just off the Victorian coast. When they run out we’ll be in strife. Ditto climate change.


  81. Mark

    I see no reason for giving effective preferences to either major party. I will be giving both the same number on my ballot, which will probably make my vote informal. In short, my voting practice will be what it has been in every (local, state and federal) election since 1977.

    I will vote 1 to the Greens despite being seriously opposed to ther policy on nuclear power. On every other issue (asylum seekers, Afghanistan, carbon price, mining resource sharing, environment general, IR, education, infrastructure, urban planning, welfare policy, tax policy general, civil rights, internet filter, gay marriage, euthanasia) they are positively distinguished from the majors.

    Self-evidently, I could not advocate a vote to the coalition unless they were to at least become a liberal party in these other areas.

    It’s just a shame that our system makes voting for one of the majors compulsory if you want it to be counted.


  82. As to the possibility of BNC endorsing one of the majors (or indeed any party) I think this would be most unwise. The strength of this site is its focus on policy and its desire to avoid becoming entangled in partisan argy bargy.

    One cannot serve two masters and were this site to see its interests in backing one party, the question would inevitably arise — what does Professor Brook believe about [list other policy areas]? What mkind of policy tradeoffs for supporting Party X is he willing to make? That would take the focus of this site off what it does most usefully.

    If one of the parties were to explicitly endorse a viable transition timeline and policy for the roll out of nuclear power, then it would be appropriate to endorse that policy. I certainly would argue earnestly for it, even if it were the coalition proposing it. Just recently for example, when the coalition proposed abandoning funding for global carbon capture, I endorsed it. If the coalition were to propose abandonment of MRET and FiTs and subsidies for rooftop solar or other renwewables, I’d back that too. Mind you, I’d be wanting to see other subsidies for fossil thermal removed as well. I’m against subsidising LPG conversions for cars too.

    People have to make up their minds about these things and vote accordingly.


  83. So, Scott Ludlam likes to carry on with scary-nooklear rhetoric, even when we’re discussing nuclear medicine.

    So, okay, a vial of Mo-99 was dropped inside the hot cell, but it wasn’t even broken. This has nothing to do with the HIFAR reactor and certainly has nothing to do with nuclear power, it occurred during packaging or processing of the Mo-99 to be sent to a hospital where it would be used as a source of Tc-99m.

    Perhaps Ludlam would like to clarify his position on radiopharmaceuticals or nuclear medicine?

    Even if such radionuclides were imported (which burdens other countries with the supposed grave risks and dangers associated with research reactors while we take the benefits), such radiochemistry, processing, packaging and handling of the radionuclides still needs to be done in Australia.


  84. “I will vote 1 to the Greens despite being seriously opposed to ther policy on nuclear power”

    I agree. While I disagree strongly with their energy mantra, at least a vote for them might get the major parties (mostly Labor, who end up getting the Green votes anyway) at least TALKING about climate and energy again. Both of these issues have dropped off the radar in this years election campaigning. Pretty disheartening.

    I think Green’s stance on GM is a bit neo-luddite too…


  85. Tom said:

    I think Green’s stance on GM is a bit neo-luddite too

    I agree. There’s nothing wrong in principle with GM crops. Whether any particular GM crop ought to be taken up is something one should decide having regard to all the salient data in context.

    It seems to me that the most troubling generic problem with GM may be a commercial one — that those producing non-GM crops remain able to sue when harmed by cross contamination, instead of themselves being sued for patent breach.

    Another indirect problem (which goes to competitiveness) is about tailoring crops to resist application of particular pesticides, which obviously puts agricultural producers at a disadvantage when new and perhaps better pesticides emerge.

    Still … slightly off topic …

    More on topic, if The Greens could be persuaded to drop their anti-nuclear mantra in favour of “a level playing field based on sound evidence” we would have taken a huge step forward in this country. I think we are some way from achieving this, but the people I talk to are now a lot less unsympathetic and hysterical. Some Greens I speak to say they think the case can be made. I always get a better hearing when I point out that the big coal and petro-chemical companies would hate it and that electric vehicles would then become a lot cleaner.


  86. A Greens vote this time around could be regarded as work experience or probation. Screw up and they’ll never get hired again. For all I know the Greens might be right about policies like free heroin. The idea is to punish the Liberals for denial and Labor for dithering.

    A couple of times in recent weeks I’ve dropped in on the logging protest camp in Tasmania’s Florentine Valley. Some of the bedraggled protesters living under tarpaulins strike me as more rational than their city counterparts who never move an inch outside their mental or physical comfort zone. It seems some greenies do have an open mind. If not it may be a long wait to the next chance. Deniers and do-nothings have already had their chance and blown it.


  87. Heads Up All!

    Attention: Enigma, John Morgan and Ewen especially

    On Sat 31 July in Epping, Sydney at the Boronia Grove Epping (behind the Epping Club), The Greens are holding a climate change forum.

    12:30 – 1:35 Future Makers — Australian Innovations in Energy, Jonathan Jutsen (Executive Director Business Development at Energetics)


    2:00 — 3:30 Lee Rhiannon, CPRS & carbon tax
    Mark Diesendorf, 100% R.E. Economy

    Q& A

    I have a family commitment in Newcastle, so sadly, I can’t make it … but others might.


  88. I suppose I shouldn’t need to add this but I will anyway …

    If some of us do attend, I think we should be determined to stay on message and not become frustrated, rise to bait or allow any reasonable person to see us as ranting trolls with an agenda. Above all we should resist personalising the issue or attacking the Greens or calling their supporters “woolly headed” or similar. Nobody can accept that, and the onjly people we will impress will be ourselves and the one or two others that might already dislike the Greens.

    BNC folk should go there apparently to seek a satisfactory answer to one basic question:

    What suite of solutions is most likely to provide Australia and the world with cost-acceptable, timely, irreversible, low environmental footprint, industrial scale and quality energy?

    We are keen to move beyond slogans and feel good. The sitation is too urgent for that. We want solutions that can meet these criteria in an acceptable time frame.

    Just my opinion …


  89. Huw Jones asks,

    Can you ask Tom Blees … if there is any mention (or if he knows ) of any way in which air transport could be powered using Boron?

    If Blees were to choose to respond, he probably would refer the question to me.

    The heavy alkanes, IIRC approximately C10H22 through C20H42, that are burned by existing jet engines can be provided for them by nuclear kerosene plants. If coastal, these might extract CO2 from limestone and disperse the leftover CaO into offshore winds, so that it reuptook CO2 from the air and the surface waters.

    The CO2 might be reacted with hydrogen produced by water electrolysis. Look up Fischer-Tropsch, which turns synthesis gas — CO plus H2 — into any desired linear alkane and water, and methanol-to-gasoline, MTG, since with appropriate catalysis H2 and CO2 go to methanol and water in one step, and the methanol can, like synthesis gas, be further turned into liquid hydrocarbon and water by well-developed methods.

    Since this would be carbon-neutral, the only remaining climate-related difficulty would be the deposition of water vapour in the stratosphere, which in its natural state is very dry. Pure liquid hydrogen propulsion seems to offer some advantages, but is at a disadvantage with respect to sogging up the stratosphere, since of course it yields more water per joule than a hydrocarbon does.

    For boron to serve in aircraft propulsion, there would have to be advantages that would justify trailing large amounts of B2O3 in the air behind the craft. This may be all right, over the ocean anyway:

    … the estimated boron influx to the global ocean is 4.47–5.97 million tonnes per year and the boron outflux from the global ocean as 0.86–2.88 million tonnes per year.

    That’s mostly natural, and works out as 25.6-to-34.1 million tonnes of boric acid annually. (A B2O3 dust trail would quickly take water out of the air it was in, forming boric acid.)

    The boric acid concentration in the ocean is such that the theoretical minimum energy cost of extracting this oxidized boron is 0.05 of the energy that can then be stored by deoxidizing it. Real energy costs of extraction tend to be much higher than theoretical minima, but if an exception can be developed for B, it may yet fly. (One always spends several units of primary energy at a fuel-making plant to get one unit in the fuel. Another few-times-0.05 units might be OK.)

    These considerations of the energy cost of recovering B2O3 from dispersal in the environment don’t apply to land transport, where there is no need to let it disperse in the first place.

    (Who has a job for me?)


  90. Thank you very much G.R.L. Cowan! I had studied the Fisher-Tropsch process before, and was unsure if it could be used in conjunction with Nuclear Power – I’m very interested to hear that it can.

    Do you know if this has ever been tried?


  91. Thank you very much G.R.L. Cowan! I had studied the Fisher-Tropsch process before, and was unsure if it could be used in conjunction with Nuclear Power – I’m very interested to hear that it can.

    Do you know if this has ever been tried?

    I suspect it has not. But a nuclear reactor takes cool fluid in and sends hot fluid out. If you tell it you’re putting the hot fluid into a Foscher-Tripsch cyclone, it won’t know any better.

    (How fire can be domesticated)


  92. @a Barlow: your Growth Cornucopian support of GMOs, supported also by the now defunct Canadian Rye Drinker AKA DV8XL is at variance for economic incentive reasons with the “terra preta” biochar and other similar Soil Carbon Sink arguments.

    As propounded by Australia’s own Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (permaculture) and Vananda Shiva, the Indian radical ecologist who as atomic physicist worked inside India’s CANDU (sic), enriching soil C02 content via biochar or permacultural no-till soil building counteracts global warming.

    Irrespective of whether Shiva’s recent claim that such methods can absorb 40% of current atmospheric C02 inside 3 years stands up in its entirety, your naive agribusiness-friendly support of GMOs counteracts all this.

    Because no farmer planting GMOs has any incentive to enrich soil quality: he focusses on yield, his whiz-bang farm machines and his pesticides/fungicides.

    Your GMO Brave New Worldism reminds me of the Soviet scientists who wanted to reverse the flow of the rivers in the USSR: check out the Aral Sea cotton-growing disaster.

    Are you related to Lysenko by any chance?


  93. peter lalor: take a look at stewart brand’s book.

    he’s got an interesting discussion of gmo/organic farming convergence.

    He cites a book, Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchuk.

    The latter is an organic farmer who thinks genetic engineering (which is pretty much what crossing plants is, btw) can and should be integrated into sustainable farming practices, and prized apart from corporate ag.

    It seems to me reductionist to associate a technology with the social relations embedding that technology. GMO is not intrinsically “corporate” anymore than nuclear is intrinsically tied to “free markets” or solar is tied to peace and love economies.


  94. It seems to me reductionist to associate a technology with the social relations embedding that technology. GMO is not intrinsically “corporate” anymore than nuclear is intrinsically tied to “free markets” or solar is tied to peace and love economies



  95. And one might add, Greg, that the reductio ad absurdum is to see all instantiations of bourgeois rule as anathema and to iterate Year Zero, Democratic Kampuchea, (post-April 1975)

    Rational humans take from the past that which is valuable.


  96. Yes, Fran. Among other things, I’m okay with the traditional calendar.

    As Ben Kiernan shows, the KR gang actually looted and sold off C’s natural resources.

    GRL, if the Lysenko comment is a Lamarck joke, good one.


  97. On the series of papers on Victoria’s clean energy future I’ve looked at some of the smaller pdf files and they appear to be mostly platitudes. On ABC ‘Q&A’ last night the issue was raised of replacing Hazelwood brown coal fired station with gas so I looked at the paper on gas. Well duh it said it would be more expensive. I believe the fuel cost could be 10X as expensive as brown coal even without CO2 penalties.

    The other issue completely overlooked in the smaller papers is the longevity of Victoria’s gas reserves. Note that Adelaide’s 1.28 GW baseload closed cycle power station draws on Victoria’s Otway Basin as well as the Moomba SA pipeline. Tasmania’s increasingly necessary gas fired generation draws on Bass Strait. Note Tas hydro dams are just 34% full as of mid winter.

    Not that I want to be critical of Melbourne but it got by for nearly 200 years before drawing water from the Murray Darling system. Add Australia’s largest desal at Wonthaggi with no pretence yet of a windpower ‘offset’ . I guess you can’t help progress. Right now it looks like Victoria will keep Hazelwood going until retirement in 2030. Just keep bamboozling the public with platitudes.


  98. USA electric power statistics —
    Gneration by type:
    Coal 22.87-2.01
    nuclear 8.13
    natgas 5.99
    hydro 2.71
    biomass 0.53
    geothermal 0.28
    wind 0.15
    solar 0.006
    petroleum — not stated

    totaling 38.0 of which 25.54 goes to electrical generation, transmission and distribution losses, leaving but 12.46 for distributed electircity.

    That a lotta loss!


  99. David Benson,

    You’ve misunderstood something there. The loss would be around 3% for transmission and 5% for distribution – ie around 8% total.

    By the way, the losses would be higher with distributed generation.


  100. @Leftoids Meyerson and Barlow:

    So it is time for you two to get out to Haiti to lecture the peasants on their “false consciousness”. Good luck, watch out for the machetes, y’all hear me now?

    Meyerson, your comprehension of genetic plant engineering is less than zero. Quit citing me ex- US paratrooper and Californian liberal corporate shill Stewart Brand, check out Vananda Shiva instead.

    Your appreciation of global power relations is lamentable: GMOs, which are annuals, are de facto a rich US man’s cash-crop-for-export weapon to destroy food security in the South based inter alia on permaculture-style perennials. But do you know what a perennial is? Did you ever read Marxist Mike Davis on the 19th century famines caused by the British cash-cropping in South Asia?

    Roll on US agribusiness and its local GMO compradors (joke).

    In closing it is striking that you and Barlow ignore the postulated short-term carbon sink benefits of rebuilding global soils. That rebuilding is utterly inimical to the agribusiness for which you are apologists.

    @Barlow: your farcical insinuation that anti-GMO = “Pol Pot anti-urbanism anno Cambodia 1975” is naturally refuted by the millions of organic food security farmers in the world who you and your (presumably ) Leninist ilk need to destroy for your democratic centralism. Time to collectivise the kolchose again, Ukraine 1930s?


  101. Peter Lang, on 27 July 2010 at 12.24 — Perhaps you are right, once you have electricity. Now include the loss in going from thermal to electricity.

    Considering my reference source, the numbers have to be % of total in joules.


  102. Here in the PNW there is currently installed about 3 MW of wind with trasmission capacity of 4 MW; more transmission lines are in the works. The power so produced costs 8–12 cents/kWh (retail I assume).

    That is expensive since my electirc utility bill consists of a US$6/month basic change plus 6+ cents/kWh. That consits of about 50% jydro and the rest some natgas and lotsa coal.


  103. I’m having a debate on fuel reprocessing on another website…

    I seem to remember a link posted here a while back that linked to a study showing the overall public dose caused by La Hague and Sellafield. If anyone can link that to me that would be great…



  104. Apologies if this has already been pointed out elsewhere on BNC, but this analysis of the current prospects for solar thermal on Climate Spectator today (free registration required) is well worth a read. It uses phrases like needing to ‘shave costs’, but reading between the lines and joining the dots, you get a picture of a technology that is still a very long way from commercial practicality.


  105. scott:

    from Lovelock, quoted in Brand:

    “Sandy and I stood on all the French high-level nuclear waste at La Hague in Normandy. The radiation level on my own monitor was only 0.25 microsieverts an hour, which is about 20 times less than you’d find in any long-distance passenger plane.” (106, Brand)

    so that’s 6 microsieverts/day; 2190/year, which means 2.190 millisieverts, which means 219 mrems.



  106. yeah Peter Lalor:

    I’ve read Mike Davis’ Late Victorian Holocausts (and every other book he has written) and Vandana Shiva (water wars etc). You act like you’re 25.

    You’re conflating a technology and the social relations under which it would operate. You don’t think, Peter. You engage in guilt by association. I’ve known and made your arguments about corporate export ag for 30 years.

    Organic farming can be, has been and will be corporatized. It’s still a good idea.

    Developing flood resistant rice thru genetic engineering seems like a good thing to me. can it be used by agribusiness to drive small farmers out of business? yes, of course. It’s not inevitable that technologies be used by Monsanto, ala “terminator seed” infamy.

    Your political description of Brand is fairly accurate. But he says many true things (and many false things–as do you), as does Peter Lang when he does energy budgets.

    No one is ignoring rebuilding soil, you idiot. I do it in my own garden. Just because we didn’t discuss it in one single post does not mean we’re “ignoring it,” or it’s a “blind spot.”


  107. Calling all Sydney NUKIES! Just got this in my email. Anyone up for some Sydney Argie-bargie at this event?


    Dear All

    This is an Epping event that you may be interested in attending (sorry about the short notice).

    Ryde Epping Greens – Climate Solutions Forum
    Saturday 31 July, 12.30 – 3.30pm

    Join us to discuss the Greens’ carbon tax proposal and solutions to climate change.

    12.30 to 1.15pm – Showing of the film ’The Future Makers’
    1.15 to 1.30pm – Jonathan Jutsen – on tackling energy efficiency
    1.30 to 2.00pm – Break for tea, coffee & sandwiches
    2.00 to 2.15pm – Lee Rhiannon – on why the Greens opposed Labor’s CPRS and the Greens carbon tax proposal etc.
    2.15 to 2.45pm – Mark Diesendorf – on why there are no technical barriers stopping Australia from making the transition from a fossil-fuelled economy to a 100% renewable energy economy within a few decades.
    2.45 to 3.30pm – Q&A session with Lee Rhiannon, Mark Diesendorf and Jonathan Jutsen

    Venue: Boronia Grove Function Centre, 49 Rawson St, Epping 2121. (Behind the Epping Club — parking next to Coles)

    Speakers: Lee Rhiannon (Greens Senate candidate), Mark Diesendorf (Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW) & Jonathan Jutsen (Energetics). RSVP for catering. For more info call 0429 872 525 or


  108. @ Greg

    Organic farming can be, has been and will be corporatized. It’s still a good idea.

    Either that or taken over by the State if GreenLeft get their way and usher in a socialist utopia. ;-)

    But I take your point: it will have to become large scale and systematised as only 5% of the western world work in producing our food. Peak phosphorus and peak oil are on the way, so the challenges to traditional big-ag are on. The pressure to change is there.

    My concern is that Departments of waste management and sewerage need to be co-ordinating everything from where our sewerage goes to what happens to our green-bin biowaste, and how is it all going to get back to our farms? Because it needs to. Somehow, someway, it needs to. If I ran the world I’d put all council green waste through biochar cookers and train it out to the farms, and have departments of waste and town planning talking to each other about how to produce food more locally.


  109. I don’t think I can make it EN. Just as well since I’d probably start a fight. And since I’ve just spent the last hour bare knuckle fighting and have a couple of dislocated fingers strapped, its probably best that way.


  110. eclipse, my point, a small one, was that practices like organic farming and even GE take their meaning from their context. we should be careful not to condemn a practice or technology outright, unless there’s good evidence that it is harmful.

    and right now, coal is harmful. On the other hand, GE that confers “submergence tolerance” is not a bad thing, though as I noted even this can be used to drive small farmers out of business or to suicide.


  111. Here’s a dreamer for you! I wish his dream all the luck in the world.

    From Sciam

    “Hoff, an impassioned climate evangelist, published a book in 2008 titled “CO2: A Gift From Heaven,” which argues that policymakers should leave the climate debate aside and focus on planting trees. Planting 5 billion acres of trees — about 2.5 times the surface area of Canada — would be enough to offset annual emissions of 10 billion metric tons of CO2, he calculates.”


  112. I went along as an observer but there wasn’t a lot of scope to ask questions. I got a chance during the break to chat to a few people and at least some did seem open to nuclear being on the table.

    Diesendorf and Jutsen made much of energy efficiency and Diesendorf of CST. Some guy there was going on about Australia being a “coal mule” and another older woman seemed to be fussed about how useful her CFLs were.

    Typically, nobody on the panel talked installed or connection costs and seemed to be arguing that connection costs ought to be borne by the state.

    Hmmm ….


  113. “I’m having a debate on fuel reprocessing on another website…

    I seem to remember a link posted here a while back that linked to a study showing the overall public dose caused by La Hague and Sellafield. If anyone can link that to me that would be great…”

    “from Lovelock, quoted in Brand:

    “Sandy and I stood on all the French high-level nuclear waste at La Hague in Normandy. The radiation level on my own monitor was only 0.25 microsieverts an hour, which is about 20 times less than you’d find in any long-distance passenger plane.” (106, Brand)

    so that’s 6 microsieverts/day; 2190/year, which means 2.190 millisieverts, which means 219 mrems.


    I think Scott is referring to the maximum dose contribution that an outside member of the public could possibly get – this is a very small figure, and it’s related to how much radioactivity could be released into the air and water.

    Nobody stands in the rooms where the entirety of France’s vitrified fission product waste is stored for a whole year, certainly not a member of the public.

    Unfortunately, no, I don’t have any relevant data on possible off-site public dose from La Hague.


  114. to luke weston:

    terrific piece rebutting Ludlam. I hope it’s read widely.

    and barry, you’re posting great material in twitter.

    I’d like to hear your response to the smil piece you posted:

    which makes many of the arguments (albeit from a different political/economic perspective) that I have tried to make about speed of energy transition.

    Smil takes world markets for granted:

    This is useful for it raises a huge challenge for any market based energy transition.

    If smil is right (and Robert Bryce bases his argument largely on smil), what implications does this have for addressing climate change in time?



  115. Yes, fantastic piece Luke.

    I just posted a link to the article on the Greensblog website discussion of Ludlum’s article. The anti spam captcha text I had to enter to register my comment was:

    “curses Luke”



  116. Why such high cost estimates on the nuclear cost wiki?

    April 2008 — Georgia Power Company reached a contract agreement for two AP1000 reactors to be built at Vogtle,[17] at an estimated final cost of $14 billion plus $3 billion for necessary transmission upgrades.[18]

    VERY depressing! If I limit my reading diet to only here, I get the picture that every-thing’s rosy on costs.


  117. greg, I think the implication of Smil’s piece, accepting it as basically correct, is clear:

    1. We are in for pain, climatically speaking, as the transition away from fossil fuels will take decades even in the best-case scenario.

    2. We must build HUNDREDS (or 1000s) of Gen III thermal nuclear plants NOW (within the next 2 decades) whilst also actively pursuing Gen IV so that it is the principal option by about 2030.


  118. EN, the Georgia AP1000 estimate is inflated by US risk uncertainty. It is extreme FOAK pricing. But even at that cost, which includes full balance of plant costs and transmission upgrades (usually left out of price quotes for solar and wind), the cost is about $8,000 / kWave, which is cheaper than wind with backup and far cheaper than CSP or PV.


  119. Malcolm Fraser, in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning:

    The plea to end nuclear weapons should not be confused with the need to rely to a much greater extent on nuclear based power for peaceful purposes. The scientific reality is this represents an essential part to combat global warming.

    Australia began its trade in uranium for peaceful purposes under stringent safeguards. Making the rules more rigorous is an essential part of the work that lies ahead.

    Abolishing nuclear weapons and the necessary use of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes are two separate questions that should not be confused.


  120. A couple of questions about global warming still stick out in my mind. I’m pretty sure it’s true, but I haven’t able to find any way to explain this… What caused the warming between 1900-1940 and why did temperature drop from 1940-1970 when humans started to burn hydrocarbons in vast quantities?

    Thanks in advance.


  121. Short answer: global dimming.

    Global dimming started to decline as clean coal laws came into place back in the 1970’s. Clean coal is nothing to do with greenhouse emissions but rather sulphur emissions. Acid rain and pollution was a real problem.

    The interesting thing is this is a geoengineering solution if global warming starts to run away from us. The wiki explains it would only cost $50 billion a year to fly jets full of sulphur 10 k up, dump it up there, where it would ‘shield’ the earth of a tiny fraction of the sunlight, effectively cooling the earth. See more here.


  122. Here they go! The official launch of the Renewable energy plan occurs this Thursday night in Sydney.

    It’s one great big credible sounding promo, and if I was just an outsider to the energy discussion looking in, it would make sense to me. Anyone going? (Thursday nights are out for me).

    Or does anyone get a right of response in various media situations this might throw open?

    Hosted by the journalist and broadcaster, Quentin Dempster, the speakers will include:

    · Malcolm Turnbull, MP for Wentworth
    · Bob Carr, former NSW State Premier
    · Scott Ludlam, Greens Senator for WA
    · Matthew Wright, Executive Director, Beyond Zero Emissions
    · Allan Jones, Sustainability Expert, City of Sydney
    · A technical panel including Keith Lovegrove (Solar Thermal Group Leader, ANU), Lane Crockett (General Manager, Pacific Hydro), and Roger Dargaville (Energy Systems Analyst, Melbourne Energy Institute)


  123. Review of the German press, eg has 500+ News stories on this at present:

    There is currently the fact that Greenpeace Moscow among others is warning against playing down the effects of Russian wildfires having reached the Brjansk region contaminated in 1986: German Weather Service has been monitoring wind direction from Russia to the order of German Federal Ministry of Radiation protection and Ministry of Interior for days.

    Russia Ministry for Catastrophe Protection apparently addressed this last week.

    BNC geeks are called upon to go into anti-Caldicott mode so as to explain that even if Caesium bound up in Russian birch bark has a half life of 30 yrs, it doesn’ t mean Chernobyl II.

    By the way, compare also T Blees statement about not needing a nuclear accident at present.

    Thinking further: if extreme AGW dryness mean more bushfires of this type, the relationship of NPPs to such fires needs review, not that countries that could roll out NPPs have 1986 fallout lying around the “bush” like Russia does.


  124. The following slashdot will probably need some follow up. Seems like there’s some big claims for how Portugal’s doing.

    “It appears that some countries in oil-poor Europe are making a successful transition to renewable energy at a fast and steady pace. This article talks about the small country of Portugal on the West Coast of Europe, known for its white sand beaches, oranges, fish, and wines. Portugal has no oil, but lots of sun and wind. Five years ago, the government decided, against many dissenting voices, to invest massively in taking advantage of the country’s natural resources in clean energy. The results are here. It used to be a heavy energy importer, but now it exports it.”


  125. I think I’m already seeing where the answer to this conundrum is: the kind of renewbles. Their lights stay on when the wind dies because they have hydropower! Most good sites for large scale hydro-power have been used, and the ones that are left probably have more value as national parks and ecosystem services.

    In making the shift, Portugal has overcome longstanding concerns about reliability and high cost. The lights go on in Lisbon even when the wind dies down at the vast two-year-old Alto Minho wind farm. The country’s electricity production costs and consumer electricity rates — including the premium prices paid for power from renewable sources — are about average for Europe, but still higher than those in China or the United States, countries that rely on cheap coal.

    Portugal says it has kept costs down by focusing heavily on the cheapest forms of renewable energy — wind and hydropower — and ratcheting down the premium prices it pays to lure companies to build new plants.


  126. eclipsenow it could be Portugal has learnt something from Basil Fawlty namely ‘don’t mention the energy imports’ which are a mere 83.6% of consumption. Source. Could be the special deals they offer to heavy industry are based on repackaged coal and nuclear imported from neighbouring countries perhaps wangled with a few carbon credits.

    The fudges don’t end there since they don’t split ‘renewables’ between wind, solar and hydro though we may suspect the latter predominates. The key question is whether they increase electricity consumption without importing any more.


  127. According to Crikey the new baseload power plants for NSW will be air cooled and ‘carbon capture ready’. The hot bits will be either black coal heating supercritical water or combined cycle gas. The gas presumably will be from coal seams not natgas.

    Given that I recall ACIL Tasman said that air cooling erased the 20% efficiency gain of supercritical at Kogan Ck Qld (now solar ‘boosted’) I wonder just what the effect would be of the triple whammy of new burning technology, air cooling and CCS. In the case of supercritical coal the CCS energy penalty is 24-40%
    Does that mean we can add another 20% for air cooling? That is for supercritical coal with air cooling and CCS the energy penalty could go as high as 60%?

    It’s not gonna happen. If/when these new fossil power stations are built they will remain ‘capture ready’ for decades and somehow never get around to actual CCS. Another stalling tactic by Big Coal and their partners in crime the Federal and State governments.


  128. Ian Macfarlane (Liberal) canned carbon capture at the Liberal mining and resource announcement today, saying it had taken too long and simply not produced results. These links doesn’t have the transcript but it lays out some of the details. I listened to the announcement on ABC News Radio.

    Macfarlane had been well known as a climate skeptic and coal supporter but seems to have had conversion on the way to Damascus some year in the last couple of years.


  129. In the case of supercritical coal the CCS energy penalty is 24-40%
    Does that mean we can add another 20% for air cooling? That is for supercritical coal with air cooling and CCS the energy penalty could go as high as 60%?

    It’s not gonna happen. If/when these new fossil power stations are built they will remain ‘capture ready’ for decades and somehow never get around to actual CCS.

    Carbon capture and sequestration as part of a coal-fired plant are, as John Newlands says, sham. However, the energy cost of capture from air is significantly less, and unlike electricity plants, a peridotite strewing plant can be scaled up far beyond 1 GW.

    Finely divided M2SiO4 (M=Mg, Ca) is the only thing that has been demonstrated to take large amounts of CO2 from air permanently and cheaply, but if, during the construction of a coal-fired power plant on peridotite terrain, a huge pit were made in the peridotite, with the waste pipe being laid so as to dump at the pit bottom, and the removed rock put back in in coarse chunks and heaped up above, the much higher concentration of CO2 in the waste, compared to air, would make the reaction quicker, and its heat could accumulate under all the gravel and eventually be used. n

    That is to say, the electricity yield per unit coal could be more than if the waste gas were just dumped. Some of my recent notes on this:

    How big a pile of peridotite? For 30 gigawatt-years of electricity output from a power station burning pure carbon and converting 40 percent of its heat to electricity? That takes 7.20681297525e+10 kg C, yielding 2.640666e+11 kg CO2. Masses, g/mol, neglecting the possibility of bicarbonate formation, and treating the peridotite as pure forsterite,

    Mg2SiO4 + 2 CO2 → 2 MgCO3 + SiO2
    140.6931 88.0196 168.6284 60.0843

    Per mass of carbon dioxide, 1.598429 masses of base, so 422.09177 million tonnes of it, 131.49276 million m^3 at the 3.21-g/mL density the CRC gives for forsterite. Say a 63 percent non-void fraction in the pile and you’re at 208.71867 million m^3.

    Divide by pi to get cube of height for a 30° pile, 66437217 m^3, height is 405.0 m.

    Volumes of solids, mL/mol,

    Mg2SiO4 + 2 CO2 → 2 MgCO3 + SiO2
    43.83 57.01 22.69

    The right side is 1.8184 times as voluminous as the left, so at 0.63 non-void, we haven’t left room for this expansion. The flue gas from the carbon-burner should still be able to get through the expanded stuff to get to unreacted forsterite, which will of course be farther away.

    (How fire can be domesticated)


  130. @Cowan: you state that M2 Si 04 is the only thing demonstrated to take large amounts of C02 from the air cheaply.

    James Lovelock and Indian ex-CANDU worker and physicist Vananda Shiva refer to terra preta/biochar as an effective carbon sink. No-till agriculture/permaculture of any variety is a carbon sink.

    While this is admittedly not a technofix such as may provide jobs to power engineers made redundant by the move away from FF, it appears tried and tested, unlike CCS.

    Only land ownership by monoculture and GMO corporate pushers (favoured by BNC by default or explicitly) appear to stand in the way of this.


  131. GRL Cowan as it happens I just got back from a ramble over large piles of crushed peridotite excavated in the 1970s in the search for platinum group elements. The geology report says it is layered harzburgite-dunite with 87% forsterite. My impression is that the reaction rate is far too slow to absorb significant atmospheric CO2. Cracks in the rock show minor infilling of carbonate minerals like magnesite some of which may have been washed into the creeks. When I can quantify the reaction rate I’ll report back but my impression is that even rain affected pulverised peridotite won’t weather quickly. Whether flue gas with 13% w/w CO2 would react quicker I can’t say.

    FWIW I don’t think much of biochar either. I think a good way to reduce CO2 is to not burn coal.


  132. GRL Cowan as it happens I just got back from a ramble over large piles of crushed peridotite excavated in the 1970s in the search for platinum group elements. The geology report says it is layered harzburgite-dunite with 87% forsterite. My impression is that the reaction rate is far too slow to absorb significant atmospheric CO2. Cracks in the rock show minor infilling of carbonate minerals like magnesite some of which may have been washed into the creeks. When I can quantify the reaction rate I’ll report back but my impression is that even rain affected pulverised peridotite won’t weather quickly.

    See Air Capture, especially the comments. There are about 237 of them. I did a noise-reduction and got my copy down to 58. Email me if you would like me to send it to you.

    Lalor quotes me inexactly, and leaves out the significant word permanently. The “Blockquote” tag is your friend.

    (How fire can be domesticated)


  133. Election rant: there’s no one to vote for!

    The “L’s” are almost exactly the same. They’re 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other. Sickening. There’s no choice. They’re running to the cowardly middle so fast that they are are sickeningly similar. What a cowardly election this is! Spend a bit here, save a bit there, it’s all the same rubbish to me.

    The Greens don’t support nuclear power, and don’t talk about peak oil or population anywhere near as much as they should. At least Dick Smith stirred up the population debate last week!

    With peak oil bearing down on us, I just feel sick in my guts when I look at the sheer blandness of this election. It’s like grabbing that coffee you’ve been looking forward to, taking a sip and gagging because it’s cold.


  134. Sometimes doomers are just too funny! I’ve had a bad run in with doomers lately, but this book just makes me laugh. The cover looks like Eric Bana dressed as a caveman.

    Thing is, I probably should get this book sometime as I’m thinking of writing a Steampunk post-apocalypse novel for kids. Kind of like Harry Potter meets Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang 20 years after the super-virus wipes 98% of the population out.

    But I can’t say any more… it might give away my trade secrets! ;-)

    Now, over to “Be ready when the Sh*t goes down!”


  135. Someone has posted here a while back on the load following ability of the French power reactors. Possibly it was DV82XL. Can anyone locate that post or inform me what the ramp rate is?

    (For the purposes of dealing with this argument from an editorialist at Climate Spectator.)


  136. The editors at Climate Spectator have deleted my following post:

    ‘Jeremiah Blogger’ has misattributed some of John Morgan’s commentary to me. A forgivable error, but interesting, as the same habit of misattribution of a debate opponent’s quotes has also been one of Carlo’s idiosyncrasies.

    Dude, if you’re going to employ a sock puppet, you need to look out for giveaways like that.


  137. Sorry, that should be:

    The editors at Climate Spectator have deleted my following post:

    ‘Jeremiah Blogger’ has misattributed some of John Morgan’s commentary to me. A forgivable error, but interesting, as the same habit of misattribution of a debate opponent’s quotes has also been one of Carlo’s idiosyncrasies.

    Dude, if you’re going to employ a sock puppet, you need to look out for giveaways like that.


  138. I have no idea even now who I am going to vote for. This is probably the first time in my life I’ve been in this position. I don’t like it. Here is my proposed alternative:

    We are poorly served by our present political class. We need very large decisions to be made. This is most effectively achieved by a benevolent dictator. We do not have a dictator now, and our Constitution does not allow for one. Therefore, we should invite tenders from interested nations for invasion. There would be a number of serious proposals, probably China and Indonesia, and others as well. To ensure the widest range of possible submissions we should therefore make available our own armed forces on contract to assist the invading party if they cannot field their own invasion force in this theatre. That way New Zealand, for instance, should be able to present a competitive tender. Or Switzerland.

    I will not entertain any suggestion that this is worse than the way we propose to do things tomorrow


  139. This is most effectively achieved by a benevolent dictator.

    We could form the Australian Nuclear Green Revolutionary Front. It’ll be benevolent because we’ll be in charge. We’re a pretty benevolent bunch.


  140. Greens have blocked nuclear at every chance.

    Labor has sided with green leaning voters for Labor’s electoral advantage at every election for the past 2 decades. Labor has run anti-nuclear policies to win the green vote.

    This has delayed CO2 emissions reduction for 20 years at least.

    Work it out who are causing the problem.


  141. Coalition energy policy for the 1993 Election:

    The Coalitions’ Energy Policy for the 1993 Election contained extensive content on how GHG emissions would be reduced, including specific and practical policies. The reduction of GHG emissions was one of five main objectives, and strategies, throughout the Energy Policy. The Coalition’s policy on nuclear energy was an key part of achieving the objectives and was explicitly laid out. I include one of many sections below.

    In short the five major objectives of the Energy Policy were:
    • Ensure energy security
    • Reduce energy costs
    • Reduce adverse environmental impacts
    – Greenhouse gas emissions (the longest section of any in the policy)
    • Maximise export earnings
    • Maximise capital investment in energy systems

    Below are some quotes from the Coalition’s 1993 Energy Policy:

    The adverse environmental impacts of Australia’s energy production, distribution and use will be addressed by:
    • Establishing a policy, for energy derived greenhouse gas emissions, that addresses the ‘Ultimate Objective’ of the United Nations’ “Framework Convention on Climate Change

    At present consumption rates we have
    • virtually unlimited supplies of uranium Development of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

    The selection of electricity generation
    technologies is currently the jurisdiction of the
    State and Territory Governments’ electricity
    utilities. When AUSELGRID is operational
    private generators will be encouraged. At no
    stage will the Commonwealth Government be
    involved in selecting the type of generation plant.
    On this basis the Coalition, in Government, will
    remove Federal legislation and policies that
    preclude any particular type of generation from
    being considered and assessed in a fair and
    balanced way with all other generation methods.
    The Federal Government would not, therefore,
    oppose the development of the nuclear fuel cycle
    in Australia. However, any new generating
    station, of any type, will have to pass strict
    environmental, health and safety, and heritage
    requirements. Consistent with world trends,
    these requirements will be more stringent than
    present requirements. The world wide trend has
    been towards more stringent environmental
    controls, and this trend is expected to continue.

    This explicitly pro-nuclear policy had to be removed from the Coalition’s policy for the 2006 election for obvious reasons (Labor runs scare campaigns against any sign of a pro-clean-energy policy from the Coalition; Labor has continued to do this at every election since.) However, whether explicitly stated or not, the Coalition is fundamentally pro-nuclear.

    The Coalition supported nuclear power for the 2007 election and prepared the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy” policy paper to educate the voters. Unfortunately, as always, Labor ran a strong scare campaign against it and the Coalition had to water down their policy statements in the immediate lead up to the election. Unfortunately, once again the voters voted for spin rather than substance. And look what we got!


  142. What a dilemma! The House of Reps ALP sitting member is a time server who doesn’t deserve any more stress free employment. I’ve never heard a single utterance from the Liberal candidate. The Greens candidate probably has no practical experience of renewable energy but just knows it’s all good.

    At least with the Senate polling slip I gather we can number them 1 to 26 as opposed to a party vote. Pundits reckon Greens will control the Senate regardless next year. Note the Greens in coalition with the ALP in Tasmania have caved in on poker machines and old growth logging. Thus it is quite possible the $23 carbon tax will never happen on the national scene. Conversely imagine if the $23/t CO2 tax did get up but nuclear was prohibited. Bizarro.

    It’s not all bad; at least I can get some milk from the shop next to the polling booth.


  143. I suggest:

    Vote for the party, not the local member;

    Vote for substance, not spin;

    Vote for the real, underlying, long-term policies, not what is being spun in the election campaign (for the benefit of those who make up their mind on the basis of spin and nonsense before the election).


  144. @Morgan: you suggest at in your quite funny proposed tender that AU be invaded by eg Switzerland.

    You can read in French however that all Swiss citizens within 20 km radius of one of the ca 6 Swiss NPPs are given potassium iodide to protect their thyroids against I 131:

    Others outside that radius have their daily tablets (130 Ug, sorry, no micro-symbol) stored at the local army barracks, as I recall. Germany and Austria have comparable arrangements, whereby the latter has no NPPs by popular referendum written into the Constitution . Easy for them, you will say, they have 70% hydro.

    Anyway, you might have to agree with the invading Swiss Army that their troops stationed in AU be allotted potassium iodide for the duration, along with fondue and raclette and free ski passes for Thredbo, etc.


  145. “Sea transportation should be by sail. The big clippers were the finest ships ever built and sufficient to our needs. Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary.

    Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans.”

    And now we know where the environmentalist stereotype comes from, and why global warming isn’t treated seriously.


  146. @Scott: global warming denialism has nothing to do with Sea Shepherd activities to successfully reduce Jap whale killing, as recently outlined by the head of Sea Shepherd on Russia TV’s Internet Keiser Report in an interview.

    Instead, as has been documented by various US authors, AGW denialism has been orchestrated by FF interests through paid PR firms.

    The elephant in the BNC room is corporate interests, which in turn enhance net worth from Double Bay to Vaucluse but not in Parramatta.

    If you know what the Gini coefficient is, look at it from 1980 onwards, QED. Or have a chat to Coal King Clive Palmer and Macquarie Bank, who funds him.


  147. “It provides some idea about what Australia is in for with the Greens-Communists in control of the senate”

    That article doesn’t really give us any insight. It certainly doesn’t make Green’s party politics any more dubious than that of the major parties.


  148. What happens to carbon pricing and nuclear policy now the election has been run?
    Case A ALP control Reps, Greens control Senate
    Case B Libs control Reps, Greens control Senate

    The Greens have said they will bring in a $23/tCO2 carbon tax which would strongly favour low carbon technology except nuclear would be prohibited. The Libs would have no carbon pricing but there would be no perceived need for nuclear since we have lots of perfectly lovely coal. If Case A eventuates then carbon tax would seem to be part of any deal. I’d imagine there would be colourful scenes in Parliament perhaps with some conservative ALP lower house members threatening to cross the floor. Conversely Lib Turnbull who romped home demands climate action.

    Expect pandemonium as all this is sorted out in the next few months. I don’t think the Greens can back down from a carbon tax as part of any deal.


  149. Hi guys,

    I’m writing my undergraduate dissertation on how Nuclear Power can be implemented in my home country. I was wondering if the energy experts on this forum could tell me about all and any research papers I could use as resources/references.

    Stuff on various designs of reactors (i’m planning to do a section on FBR), proliferation stuff, waste management etc would be great.

    My email address is


  150. John Newlands,

    You seem to be displaying your own personal bias against Conservatives with this statement:

    The Libs would have no carbon pricing but there would be no perceived need for nuclear since we have lots of perfectly lovely coal.

    Did you read see my post at 20 August 2010 at 20.33 ?

    If you read this and follow through the history of what has been happening it should be pretty clear where the block is coming from – hint: it is not the Conservatives.

    I am surprised you stick so rigidly to wanting a price on carbon, as if you think that will give us clean energy.

    As long as the fanatics continue to insist on raising the price of electricity, as opposed to allowing clean electricity to be cheap, the strugle will be long and difficult.

    My interpretation of the result last night is Australia wants the government to stop the waste! Australians recognises the Labor government was grossly incompetent. The ETS/CPRS contributed to this impression, (as did MRRT, NBN (nationalised broadband for $2000 per person plus $3000- $4000 per house and $200 per month thereafter), bad Health agreement with state governments, Building Education Revolution fiasco, Pink Bats insulation fiasco and many more).

    My suggestion is we should change tack away from trying to force through ETS and carbon tax – yet!!. We should focus on explaining to people that there is a way we can have clean energy AND low cost electricity as well.


  151. John Newlands

    You said:

    The Greens have said they will bring in a $23/tCO2 carbon tax which would strongly favour low carbon technology except nuclear would be prohibited.

    I’d word that a different way. I’d say:

    The Greens have said they will bring in a $23/tCO2 carbon tax which would strongly favour massive waste of money with no real gains for the environment.

    I’d add, the carbon tax would favour more waste on programs like those proposed in the ZCA2020 plan and the ‘Pink Bats’ insulation fiasco. Remember that the Government promoted the Pink Bats insulation program as the lowest of the low hanging fruit for reducing CO2 emissions. Yet the actual cost works out at $200 per tonne CO2 avoided – about ten times the avoidance cost of nuclear.

    Renewable energy, government mandated energy efficiency improvements and smart grids are very high cost ways to reduce emissions compared with replacing fossil fuels with nuclear.

    Stop the waste


  152. @Peter without giving away my biases I am troubled by Case B which sees Australia with a PM who says ‘climate change is crap’. The generation industry says it needs to know whether carbon pricing is on or off for the next 40 years. Thus I concede even if Abbott can form a government it doesn’t mean new coal stations will be built. I also agree with Abbott that the NBN budget is too lavish. Cut it in half and buy two AP 1000s with the savings.

    Like it not the Greens will be a major force for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to see yer Ludlams etc having a change of heart on nuclear. A sizeable chunk of the Australian public seem to be saying they are prepared to pay an extra 2c per kwh on electricity and 5c a litre on petrol. On the other hand yer Bob Katters etc might go into a rage over coal industry jobs and the cost of running cattle trucks.

    A compromise deal might be no carbon tax if new generation is less than say 100 kgs of CO2 per Mwh. The Greens might agree to it thinking the wind/gas combination can achieve that but they are in for a shock. Then they’d have to rethink.


  153. Peter Lang & John Newlands,

    Do you think this scenario is plausible? :

    An ETS or carbon tax is implemented now, with no cheap electricty generating alternatives available. This, combined with more renewable infrastructure, leads to a rising cost in electricity over the next few years. Society views these costs as intolerable. Realising that renewable technologies are unable to provide the cheaper electricity that society demands, the Government in one of the next few terms (whoever is elected in e.g. 2013, 2016, 2019) are forced to lift bans on the only electricity generating technology which can lower the price of electricity (that is, nuclear), and provide subsidies for its immediate implementation (say, equal to that which renewables have received by that time).

    It’s a cost, for sure, but it won’t be as high as the cost of not adopting nuclear energy (e.g. more climate change, ongoing health effects from burning more coal).


  154. Tom Keen,


    I think it is stupid, naive idea.

    Why would you want to do that?

    Why, if you know your idea is going to cost a mint and achieve nothing, would you advocate wasting the country’s wealth and the world’s wealth on such an irrational idea?

    The only people that would advocate such irrational policies are those who are impressed by more stunts – more spin, no substance.

    You asked, what do I think. That’s what I think!

    There is no point at all, in fact it is really bad policy, IMO, to implement a price on carbon until after we have removed all the impediments on nuclear power.

    We’ve been doing what you advocate for at least 20 years. It gets us nowhere. We’ll keep on building things like the ZCA Plan (even little bits of it like wind farms) at enormous cost if we don’t bite the bullet on nuclear. We need to address that issue. Every other top 20 economy has nuclear already or is moving to embrace it as fast as they can – except us.


  155. Tom Williams,

    I say no to tax breaks too. I wonder why you and others keep advocating government interventions to distort the market.

    All we have to do is to remove all the market impediments that prevent low cost, clean electricity competing on a level playing field. If we did removal all the distortions, nuclear would be a ‘shoe in’!.

    Before some here jump up too high about it is too high cost now, we have forced that by our interventions and regulations over the past 40 years, and by blocking it in Australia. Part of removing the impediements is to facilitate the removal of all that burden.

    We can have low cost, clean electricity. But it will never happen if we continually try now fudges through government imposed market distortions.


  156. Peter Lang,

    Thank you for your response, but I wasn’t asking whether you thought it was a good idea, but whether you see it as plausible. I wasn’t advocating anything. The “idea” is merely a perceived scenario IF a carbon price is implemented in Australia soon.

    You keep saying “All we have to do is to remove all the market impediments that prevent low cost, clean electricity competing on a level playing field”. I agree, but HOW are is this going to come about? I see no evidence to suggest this will happen in the near future, given the current climate of debate. I’m just looking at the Australian public’s attitude to nuclear at the moment and thinking that perhaps there needs to be something to trigger the idea that it is a necessity, before it happens.

    And I don’t understand what you meant by “We’ve been doing what you advocate for at least 20 years”, as we haven’t had a carbon price before. And I don’t know what you think I’m advocating.


  157. Many scenarios could be imagined but business-as-usual for the next decade seems unlikely. With or without climate nasties we are facing more expensive food and then fuel. Overseas demand for our LNG and black thermal coal is likely to drive up domestic energy prices even without extra charges. Our oil import dependence will increase. Desal and water costs will increase… see SBS One at 6pm tonight.

    Under Abbott I presume there will be neither an ETS nor RET. However generators will want to know what happens when he is no longer PM. If any of the 20 million new trees he wants planted succumb to drought, dieback or fire I guess we just start again.

    Tom W full pricing of energy is preferable to subsidies. I believe the Greens were foolishly talking about feed-in tariffs for wind and commercial solar. That’s on top of quotas. I like the idea of CO2 caps (excluding bogus carbon credits) that keep everybody’s eye on the ball. The carbon price doesn’t have to be explicit as in the case of a carbon tax but it can be implicit such as a portfolio emissions standard. That is the generators cannot put too much cheap coal in the mix. The customer ends up paying either way via taxes or power bills but assured subsidies don’t encourage efficiency.


  158. John Newlands,

    Many scenarios could be imagined but business-as-usual for the next decade seems unlikely.

    I think you may misunderstand what “Business as Usual” means. It includes the sorts of efficency improvements, fuel switching, and changes in technology that go on continually, year after year, decade after decade.

    I say “Business as Unsual” is what will continue. History demonstrates that this is what will happen. Government imposts to change the market will have only a fringe effect on consumptions, but at high cost – just as they have in the past.

    The new post, just posted, shows this to be true. For the past 20 years, despite all the market interventions we have tried – and there have been an enormous number of them – we have deviated little from the BAU projections ABARE made in 1990.

    There is no reason to believe that will change in the future. Of course there will be many unforseeable changes in the future, but history suggests they will roughly balance out.

    Learning from this experience, what we can and should do to allw clean energy, i s to remove the government imposed impediments to cheap, clean electricity.


  159. Watching the TV interviews with the ‘kingmaker’ independents MPs it has struck me that most of them at some point mention renewable energy. Whatever happens it seems like we will get both a carbon price (probably trivial) and more subsidies for renewables. What I fear is
    Mistake 1 Feed-in tariffs for commercial wind and solar as flagged a couple of months ago. That’s on top of a carbon tax.
    Mistake 2 Rural pork barrelling NZ style whereby farmers get well paid for practices that save tiny unverifiable amounts of CH4 and CO2.

    Thus I’m not confident that any real GHG mitigation will occur, just delusion and dithering with high power bills.


  160. boy: talk about cherry picking. I haven’t looked into the TVA situation but it’s possible that nukes on rivers with low flow during hot summers could have real problems.

    it’s really dishonest to suggest this is nuclear’s main problem. that this problem is generalized. and then leave out the renewables “cost” problems. and of course, they leave out china. s. korea, examples that don’t fit their argument.

    Let’s always try to do better here. Cherry picking is the problem, coupled with people who cherry pick accusing others of cherry picking.

    This TVA point is the caldicott point that she makes in her book, Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. she gives the example of the shutting down of certain french nuke plants due to low river output. and the conclusion is that global warming is bad for nukes.

    I made this argument in an article I wrote before I knew what I was talking about.


  161. From the climateprogress link

    ” Kaj Luukko says:
    August 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Rising temparetures are affecting concentrated solar power in the same way. They need a heat sink for the Rankine-cycle, just as nuclear and coal plants.”

    Well said, Kaj Luukko :)

    One might even say that because CSP more or less has to be built in areas that receive a lot of sun light (the deserts of Australia for example), they are far more burdened by this problem. What a patently dishonest argument. Some anti-nukes will stop at nothing.


  162. Peter Lang’s medication mustn’t have kicked in recently.

    Most of his contributions on this thread have been either political or personally abusive.

    Like a broken record we get three themes:
    1. Look at me! I once had a thought and wrote about at at !
    2. , NO!! I think it is a stupid, naive idea. Why would you want to do that?
    3. Politics, of the style “waste is bad, tax is waste, left is worse”.

    I wonder how many other BNC readers find this repetition both boring and offensive?


  163. The Times August 28 2010

    Carbon capture companies want protection if acid leaks into the sea.

    Robin Pagnamenta Energy Editor

    The energy industry wants the British taxpayer to shield it from the risk of new North Sea carbon capture and storage projects leaking and producing carbonic acid that could kill fish and other marine life at a catastrophic level.

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set out new guidelines yesterday on how it intended to license CCS projects, which it hopes will play a significant role in cutting UK emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

    However, the document also revealed that some of Britain s biggest energy companies have expressed concern about who would be held responsible in the event of a devastating leak of the gas into the sea.

    The Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), whose members include BP, Shell, EDF Energy and E.ON, have been pressing for a bailout clause in new legislation governing the arrangements that would force the Government to step in during the aftermath of an environmental disaster.

    If you put CO2 into the marine environment, it can cause very significant problems, said Jerry Blackford of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, who is conducting a three-year research project on the subject. The issue is how much you put in and how quickly. He said that a massive leak of carbon dioxide into the North Sea would lower the pH of the waters, which would damage the ability of sea creatures to build shells.

    The DECC declined to say which of the companies had sought the bailout clause, but noted that 19 groups had responded to a consultation exercise. It acknowledged that some of them viewed the issue as a potential showstopper.

    The authorities should indemnify the operator for unexpected and very high cost exposures ‹ avoiding an economic barrier for initial projects, the document read.

    CCS technology is designed to lock away carbon dioxide permanently by stripping out emissions from power stations and converting them into a liquid. It can then be piped out to sea for storage in rock formations deep beneath the seabed ‹ mostly former gas fields.

    Carbon capture and storage is essential for mitigating climate change while maintaining energy security, Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, said. There is enough potential under the North Sea to store more than 100 years of carbon dioxide emissions from the UK s power fleet, and we need to make the most of that.

    The CCSA is also concerned about another aspect of the financial implications of an accidental release of carbon dioxide, which, under present rules, would force the operator of a storage project to buy emissions permits for the gas.

    A leak may be very unlikely but it exposes developers to a huge openended liability, an industry insider said.

    Yesterday the Government brushed aside calls for it to underwrite the projects by acting as an insurer of last resort. It suggested that developers be held solely responsible for any leaks, a responsibility that would include full liability for remedial measures in the event of environmental damage. But it also signalled some flexibility, declining to specify who would be responsible once a temporary permit for a CCS project expired. It also emphasised that it wanted to hear more views from industry on the issue.

    Concerns over the risk of a CO2 leak into the North Sea from a carbon storage project have been compounded by BP s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, Andy Chadwick, an expert on CCS at the British Geological Survey, said that the risk of a marine leak was extremely low.

    He said: The risk from any leak of CO2 into the seas would be infinitely lower than the risk of climate change.


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