Open Thread 9 – technosolar catastrophe?

This is the first Open Thread of 2011.

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 cascading menu under the “Home” tab.


Technosolar’s Chernobyl?

I like to kick of with a conversation starter on these threads. One ‘argument’ that is often pushed when anti-nuclear activists protest against the deployment of nuclear energy is that there is a risk, however minute, of some catastrophe. A recent example comes from the painfully unoriginal regurgitation of memes that was posted on Climate Spectator last week, “Behind’s Nuclear’s New Face“, where the author said:

One 1000 MW reactor generates about 20 tonnes of spent fuel every year. This is enough to poison millions of people, and will remain deadly for over 100,000 years.

One can only presume that she imagines this might occur via some magical intervention that allows for the complete aerosolation and dispersion of the fuel — a super-Chernobyl perhaps? The mind boggles…

But what caught my eye was one of the comments in response, where commenter “Maxwell Smith” said:

Julie is happy to put all eggs in the one basket, or maybe two baskets (solar and wind power). Another volcanic explosion the size of the Tambora (Indonesia) volcanic expolsion would virtually shutdown solar power generation for 2-3 years.

It’s an interesting take — especially because it’s a sound bite, and in debating situations, they are very useful. After all, if we relied largely on nuclear energy and intensive food production via mega-greenhouses etc. in the future (powered by nuclear heat, electricity, synthetic fuels and desalinated water), we’d have a much greater chance of getting through another such ‘supervolcano’ event with most of the human population intact.

Anyway, look forward to the comments on this, and just about anything else you want to raise, on climate change or sustainable energy…


  1. Another sound bite: Nuclear power is the only energy source that the non-human natural world doesn’t need.
    We certainly need to make much more preparation for a big volcano blow. Currently staple food prices have doubled because of a 5% shortfall in production. Another soundbite: people are starving because of corn ethanol production.


  2. Carbon pricing, what is the cost to the country?

    Treasury analysis of the CPRS says the cost of pricing carbon to achieve the Government’s target of 5% reduction below 2000 emissions by 2020 would be acceptable. But their assumptions were highly optimistic when they were done, and have been proven wrong by subsequent events. This analysis cannot be trusted.

    The Grattan Institute also says that the cost to the country of pricing carbon would be small.

    This article, “Reality Check” by Roger Pielke, jr. tells a very different story.
    It does not have the authority of the Treasury or the Grattan Institute reports, but it is interesting and worth considering.

    The Australian targets imply that Australia would have to achieve the 2006 emissions intensity of Japan … by 2020 for a 5% reduction target. Japan has a highly efficient economy on several small islands with almost no domestic energy resources. Japan also operates the third most nuclear power plants after the United States and France. In other words, in many important respects Japan could not be more different than Australia in terms of the role of emissions in its economy. To think that Australia could achieve Japanese levels of decarbonization within the next decade strains credulity.

    The Grattan Institute’s solution is to implement a carbon price so we move carbon intensive industries offshore. That exports the emissions elsewhere and also exports jobs and export income. This is what Europe did with its carbon trading scheme. Now their broke. Do we really want to follow that bad example.

    There is a better way, in my opinion. The better way is to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear to allow nuclear to be cheaper than coal. We are going to have to tackle this issues of the impediments to low cost nuclear sometime, so why not do it before we wreck our economy for no gain – no reduction in world emissions?


  3. > “One 1000 MW reactor generates about 20 tonnes of spent fuel every year. This is enough to poison millions of people, and will remain deadly for over 100,000 years.”

    Tactic is called hyperbole, where a trusting listener picks the tone before realising the exaggeration.
    Response might best be ridicule, mocking the ignorance of the statement.

    Example: “There is enough lead in my car battery to poison a million people too. But in both cases, it would take a large team of surgeons to insert it into the vulnerable organs.”

    Or: “We’ve lived with lots of things that have been poisonous for the previous 100,000 years, like drinking seawater”.


  4. Forget volcanic ash plain old La Nina cloud cover can kill PV output. Those with grid tied PV hope to erase winter deficits by a good number of surplus kwh over summer. If there is rain and cloud all that summer the surplus doesn’t eventuate. Those who think the desert is a good place to locate large solar thermal or PV should watch ABC1 tonight and see how Lake Eyre had a ‘once in a hundred year flood’ two years running.

    There is a symmetry to Peter Lang’s argument about bureaucratic incompetence making nuclear unnecessarily expensive in Australia. I’m almost certain the carbon pricing scheme will be a dog’s breakfast of conflicting objectives and perverse outcomes due to too many escape clauses. While I support carbon pricing it has to be done right or not all. I think they’ll make a mess of it at both ends, both nuclear approvals (if they happen) and carbon disincentives. More as sketchy details emerge.


  5. I support the use of nuclear power generation in Australia. It might not be the long term solution but it seems to be the best method for the next 50 years or so and the Thorium reactor sounds very promising. It seems to me that there is no rational argument against it and if you really want to reduce CO2 emissions, it fits the bill. I am strongly against any form of carbon tax in Aus as it will achieve no measurable change to the rate of climate change and it will likely effect our economy very badly. The retail price of electricity in Aus is the same as France and twice that of the USA so we don’t need a tax to make nuclear power price competitive.


  6. John Newlands,it takes extremely heavy cloud cover to “kill” PV output entirely.My 5.4 kw system will usually generate between 5 and 15 kwh/day in overcast conditions.Over the last 12 months,which have been unusually wet for SE Qld I have only seen an output of less than 5 kwh on no more than 3 or 4 days.

    Conversely,extremely hot and windless conditions can reduce output due to the panels getting too warm.It has been 38 degrees celcius here today with little or no wind and virtually no cloud. The output was 31.86 kwh.With windy and/or cooler conditions the output would have been >34 kwh.

    A solar thermal generating plant would have revelled in these conditions today.

    This is not to say that either solar PV or thermal is suitable for base load power.They are suitable for niche applications.Trying to force these technologies into applications for which they are not suited is a mugs game.


  7. Fashion,aka conventional wisdom,has a strong influence on the direction taken by Homo Saps.

    I am struck by the similarity of the reigning economic “wisdom” – ie: neoclassical economics – and the mindless opposition to nuclear power.
    Both became the fashion about 30 or 40 years ago and both have caused enormous damage to Western civilization.

    It is well past time for some drastic rethinking of our direction and the mode of travel.In my minds eye I keep seeing those huge red signs facing up freeway off ramps – WRONG WAY GO BACK.


  8. a comment by davewmart on seekingalpha seems worth repeating:
    Wind turbines use around 600kg of rare earths for every MW of nominal capacity.
    It is not clear how the US and European industries would get hold of that with China tightening export restrictions.
    They could move to a different design not using rare earths, but doing so is not trivial, and ought to be thoroughly tested before mass production.
    In reality the heavily subsidised wind industry has skimped testing, leaving huge potential liabilities, presumably to the general public.
    In the UK for instance the ‘cunning plan’ to build 33GW of wind by 2020, 27GW offshore, would use around 20,000 tons of rare earths, and huge fleets are being deployed at sea based on the extraordinary assumption that they can last 20 years before major servicing.
    The best they do on land is 9 years, and then you have to be right there straight away in the event of any problem to rectify it.
    How is this going to happen in a seaway in a storm in winter?
    The problem is analogous to repairing and aircraft wing in flight.

    Sooner or later scams and ponzi schemes are exposed. A few locations such as the Cascades in the US have genuine potential to provide power at economic rates, providing you don’t try to use it for too large a proportion of power as that causes other problems.
    However grandiose schemes to run any substantial proportion of our economy on wind are a sham, reliant on deceiving the public and hiding most of the true costs by means of mandates, feed-in tariffs etc.


  9. We need to unite all who can be united to move the government to regulate the fossil fuel industry. I am worried that at the moment there is too much focus on for or
    against nuclear rather than a united push to make the government take strong action to reduce CO2 emissions


  10. Brook cites a commenter on Climate Spectator saying that a Tambora-size eruption would halt PV generation for 2-3 years. Plausible, but where are the calculations?

    However what bothers me and NASA/Academy of sciences is March or September 2012 in regard of coronal mass ejections, CMEs. The relevant grid-protecting US bill seems to have died in Congress because of horsetrading.

    2 days ago we had the strongest solar activity for 4 years incl. a CME (not the same as a solar flare) , http://www.solarweather com. It caused classifiable G1 activity on earth, on the scale up to G5.

    Some months back the omniscient Quebec Rye Fancier on this blog belittled my approach to the problem of nuclear power plants having to distribute power across high-voltage transmission lines which, in an earlier “incarnation” as telegraph lines underwent the (Carrington Event) solar storm of 1859. Be that as it may.

    Ice-core proxy indicators appear to show that this incident strength occurs every 500 years on average.

    It is not clear if 1. subterranean, as opposed to abovr-ground, high-voltage lines. 2. line lengths between power station and endpoint of <10 km 3. timely shutdown of all stepdown transformers can avoid severe transformer damage in solar storms equivalent to Carrington. The Academy of Sciences workshop report of 2008 forecast power outage for much of the USA for years, as transformers are not kept in stock but made to order.

    The foregoing naturally applies to long-distance above-ground lines carrying any power at all eg PV-derived, as in the Desertec Sahara-to-plan.

    But an-all electric nuclear Earth economy has to take geomagnetism into account.


  11. A CdTe PV module will use about 7-9 grams/m2 of CdTe per m^2; i.e. 3-4 g/m^2 of cadmium.

    A 1 GW average CdTe array in a 300 W/m^2 average insolation area(think California) would contain 100-130 tonnes of cadmium.

    In a major technosolar disaster such a CdTe plant can kill up to 1 million people directly from accute toxicity alone; but cadmium is forever, and can keep on killing via cancer at doses which are far below accutely toxic, can keep on causing birth defects, can keep on causing a variety of impairements forever.

    Cadmium from used solar panels must be stored for billions of years in some kind of leak-proof, geological repository, until the sun engulfs the Earth and life on Earth ends.

    It is critical that we ban any use of technosolar in order that no more cadmium be produced, beyond the dangerous stockpiles of this most heinous element we have already acquired.

    Recycling of used panels cannot be allowed. It turns the cadmium into a concentrated form that is both more mobile in the environment and an attractive terrorist targets for those wishing to build cadmium dispersal bombs, so called ‘dirty bombs’ that can produce mass panics and render land uninhabitable forever.


  12. hey soylent:

    I know you’re engaging in parody, but is there any grain of truth here, along the lines of the parody that giant wind farms would fan drought induced wildfires, which would engulf natural gas plants, so all this must be taken into account in our lifecycle analyses and Environmental Impact Assessments?

    I’m really thinking of the “1 million people” figure from acute toxicity.

    the cadmium dispersal bomb is a good one and certainly as plausible as Jacobson’s npp caused 30 year bomb.


  13. If, using some deus ex machina, you can take the entire 100-130 tonnes of cadmium and convert it into fine grains of cadmium metal and have people ingest an LD50 dose(half of people die; extrapolated from LD50 in mice, which is 890 mg of metal per kg of mouse); yes, you could have up to a million deaths.

    In any conceivable real world scenario you would get few if any deaths; just like LWRs. There’s no mechanism to vapourise and disperse it; there’s no mechanism to prevent most of the material plating out in the local vicinity, there’s no mechanism to get more than even a tiny fraction of the material into people and the material would get isolated from people pretty quickly; it would end up forming some insoluble mineral on time scales much shorter than billions of years; if that weren’t true we would not be able to find cadmium deposits in the first place, it’d all be in the sea water, salt domes and those kinds of places.


  14. Podargus,
    Your PV sounds promising. Like you I am in favor of nuclear but am still interested in local generation of electric power.

    Can you provide a few technical details and cost estimates? Can recommend some relevant web links?

    Florida Power & Light has a 75 MW PV visible from a road near my home but thus far the company has refused to allow me to visit it.


  15. Talking about really toxic stuff. One of my chemistry professors was Dr. Saunders who co-wrote “Practical Organic Chemistry” (Mann & Saunders).

    Dr. Saunders spent WWII developing toxins for military use including Botulinus toxin. According to Dr. Saunders who tested the stuff on himself, 50 gallons of the toxin would be sufficient to kill at least a billion humans.

    To distribute the correct dosage Soylent’s “deus ex machina” would have to work overtime.


  16. Why the quotation marks around deus ex machina? It’s a perfectly common term used to describe an artificial or improbable plot device used to solve an otherwise inextricable problem.

    It’s a mainstay of bad sci-fi and religious scriptures everywhere.


  17. It is preposterous to talk about nuclear waste remaining toxic for tens of thousands of years. It is preposterous to talk about tens of thousands of deaths from a nuclear accident. Those analyses are based upon a laughable error. If one person eats 200 aspirin, he will die. These people figure that if 200 people eat one aspirin each, there will be one death. If two million people are exposed to a dose rate of one aspirin per person, there will be 20,000 deaths. In fact one aspirin is beneficial, and low levels of radiation are beneficial. Geographical areas with higher background radiation have lower levels of cancer.

    Chernobyl proved just how safe nuclear power is. There was no containment vessel. All radiation was released to the environment. There were less than 200 deaths, all among on-site personnel. An exhaustive international inquiry under the UN found no documented health damage beyond the immediate vicinity (except for a slight increase in thyroid cancer among children, which can be completely prevented by taking inexpensive iodine supplements in the event of a nuclear accident). The area around Chernobyl has been declared a radioactive dead zone at radiation levels about the same as downtown Warsaw, Poland, and five times lower than Grand Central Station in New York City. Plants and animals flourish in the region, showing no ill effects. It is stark raving mad.


  18. unclepete a place called Dakar is in North Africa. Every year they had a car rally ending there except that repeated attacks forced them to relocate to South America.

    I wonder if an HVDC cable beneath the Mediterranean will repeat the experience of our Basslink. The North Africans could decide they want electric heaters at night. Rather than simply exporting renewable energy it ends up increasing the import of electricity generated by burning lignite. CO2 increases whatever the original intention.


  19. Gordon,

    The National Ignition Facility is not a fusion power station nor is it really convincingly something that’s on a technology development roadmap towards being a fusion power station.

    What NIF is, what it is specifically designed to be, is a small-scale, controlled laboratory model of the physics of a Teller-Ulam bomb.


  20. @ John Newlands . Sorry , that was supposed to be sovereign risk. As far as the Dakar rally goes, yes that is an eyeopener. If the North Africans ever get their act together, and that is a big IF, even then nobody with half a brain and responsible to shareholders will invest a dime in that region. The Russians so far have only held the Europeans for ransom once over their NG supply, imagine Kadaffi and a motley crew of tyrants controlling the electricity switch !!!


  21. Gordon,
    I started making instruments for fusion research 40 years ago. Back then we were confident that there would be fusion power plants today.

    Now it is hard to find a respected scientist who thinks that large scale fusion power plants will be built within the next 60 years.


  22. @ Camel,
    really? You worked in fusion? Cool. You might be interested in this podcast by the Long Now foundation.

    Clean Fusion Power This Decade

    The logistics of creating all those tiny balls to run the firing mechanism sounds a little far out to my layman’s ears, but then again IFR’s caught me totally off guard as well. So who *really* knows re: fusion, as there appear to be so many approaches being studied?


  23. @Luke Weston & @GG

    I don’t doubt the main reason of NIF is to improve Nuclear Weapon Design but if the NIF is sucessful in it’s LIFE program then we will see a demonstration of net energy gain from fusion fuel in 2012. According to NIF they will be the first fusion facility to demonstrate ignition and self-sustaining burn, as required for a power station.

    Their timeline has a demonstration plant proposed for the 2020’s and a Commercial plant in the 2030’s.


  24. Luke, it seems like Bandt wanted the usual bureaucratic 1000-page diatribe that nobody read, and which was delivered right on the deadline. Sheesh.

    It had chosen to deliver an “astonishingly brief report” three months before it was required.

    Anyway, fine. Let’s leave the spent fuel stored at Lucas Heights and in various hospitals etc. spread around the country, mostly in the capital cities. If that’s what he, Jim Green and others want, that’s fine by me. It’s quite safe there.


  25. I agree with the Greens that we don’t need a remote radwaste dump established in the middle of nowhere, but I suspect my reasoning leading to that conclusion is diametrically opposed to theirs. They want to make out that radioactive materials are so hazardous that they cannot be safely stored even in such a remote location. I hold that the logical place to store radwaste is in central repositories close to or within major population centres, to ensure ease of access by emergency services and regular maintenance crews.


  26. The Greens are getting what they want. They’re getting the opportunity to turn what should be a straightforward regulatory process into a protracted, problematic political struggle intended to make the issue of radioactive waste appear virtually intractable. So long as they can keep this going for long enough, it matters little which actual solution is eventually implimented. All that really matters to them is the negative public perception they can create of anything connected with nuclear technology.


  27. Eclipse Now,
    Thanks for the Ed Moses link. He is saying exactly what so many of us said 40 years ago!

    In 1973 Lawrence Livermore bought one of my streak cameras (2 pS temporal resolution) for an earlier version of the NIF that used 6″ Neodymium doped glass disks in the final amplifiers. Today the disks have been scaled up to 42 kg “slabs”.

    While I am still an advocate of fusion power, I am less optimistic than Ed Moses. My guess is that by the time he retires full scale fusion power plants will still be 50 years in the future.

    The #1 problem if we are to maintain an advanced civilisation with a growing population is sustainable energy. The only practical approach given the reserves of fossil fuel will be based on nuclear fission and this is the #1 web site delivering that message to the general public.


  28. Eclipse Now,
    With regard to different approaches to fusion power, most of the research is government funded so a great deal depends on politics. I for one was sorry to see the Princeton Tokamak lose its funding.

    Likewise I was disappointed when Fleishman & Pons failed to demonstrate “Cold Fusion”. This line of research no longer gets much funding but it is not totally dead:


  29. The following about CO2 is listed as fact on the website

    “At any given time, according to agencies such as the USGS, there are about 13-17 volcanoes erupting somewhere on Earth. This means that yearly, volcanoes spew out hundreds or even thousands of times more carbon dioxide than man is capable of producing, even if he tried. Man is actually an insignificant producer of CO2, though he is prideful enough to think he is a major player.”

    Does the part 100’s or even 1000’s sound accurate to you? and why can’t they be more accurate? that’s a huge gap in factual information.

    And while I’m asking questions here’s another one. Fracking as it’s called loosens up CO2 and Natural Gas to the atmosphere in the current methods of getting Natural Gas from shale in the US and I presume other places. Any idea how much? And how harmful is Natural Gas to the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas?


  30. The last part of the same website page says “The largest emitters of carbon dioxide are volcanic eruptions, forest and wild fires, and natural decomposition of plants and animals. This is a good thing, since there is a relatively stable and finite amount of both oxygen and carbon on this planet. If it weren’t for carbon dioxide, the earth could well be a frozen ball in space, and life, as we know it, would probably not be able to survive.”

    This makes a case for absolving responsibility from man made CO2. It also raises the question should we be cremated or buried when we die?


  31. I like this piece:

    It’s a common catch phrase from Australia’s usual band of anti-nuclear activists – Ludlam, Diesendorf, Green etc. – that uranium supposedly accounts for less than one-third of one percent of Australia’s export revenue – significantly less than the export revenue from cheese.

    I’m not completely sure that that’s true – I haven’t independently looked up the basic figures myself. But let’s just give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s true.

    In 2008-2009, Australia’s total exports of thermal coal were 132 million tonnes, according to the Australian Coal Association.

    The primary energy content of typical black coal is approximately 24 megajoules (thermal) per kilogram; so Australia’s total coal exports, measured in terms of their energy content, were approximately 3.2 * 10^18 J.

    In 2008-2009, Australia’s uranium production was 10,278 tonnes of uranium oxide.

    Approximately 180 tonnes of natural uranium oxide goes into the nuclear fuel cycle for the generation of one gigawatt-year of electrical energy from a nuclear reactor, assuming a typical, existing, presently operating LWR is operated with typical burnup.

    (This is based on assumptions that there is only once-through use of the LEU, and no reprocessing, no fast reactors, no IFR or LFTR or re-enrichment or use of the DU, etc. Just your old-fashioned, established, widely used LWR once-through model.)

    One gigawatt-year of electrical energy corresponds to about 3 gigawatt-years of primary thermal energy, since typical Rankine-cycle thermodynamic efficiency is approximately 1/3,

    Therefore, Australia’s uranium exports in 2008-2009 correspond to a primary energy content of about 5.4 * 10^18 J.

    So, Australia’s exports of uranium, measured in units of energy, were 1.7 times Australia’s total exports of thermal coal.

    In fact, when you add up the natural gas and petroleum and coal and uranium, uranium accounts for approximately half of Australia’s total exports of energy resources at the present time, measured as actual energy content, not as dollars.

    It’s true that as the Greenies point out, the uranium accounts for a very small portion of the overall dollar value of those fuels – but so what? This simply points out that the cost of mined uranium is a negligible contribution to the overall cost of a nuclear kilowatt-hour, but fossil-fuel energy systems are much more sensitive to the market prices for those raw fuels.


  32. The link I tried to post is simply not being accepted by this site. I have no idea why.

    It links to a site called Green Prophet and an article with the title ” Nuclear Power Continues World Dependence on Middle East Oil”. The author uses StormSmaith to back up her claims. Check it out if you can get to it. Lotsa fun for everyone.


  33. @Finrod “check out this URL”

    If you want us to read some anti-nuclear propaganda, please put it in your own words, with URL, in your comment, where we can delete it in a blink. If we are patient enough to persuade you of the facts, appending a URL does help us to see how you have been misled. Otherwise it’s unsolicited homework, provoking apoplexy.


  34. C’mon Finrod, we all know that deep, deep down, there’s a raving anti-nuclear activist in you just screaming (silently) to get out…

    I can understand how people might think that. It’s my wishy-washy vagueness and inveterate fence-sitting on the subject. No doubt this has fostered much confusion in people reading my stuff over the internet concerning my real feelings about nuclear power. “Why won’t Finrod just come out and say what he thinks? Why all this evasive shilly-shallying? Can’t the man just reach a position and be done with it? What, if any, are his convictions on nuclear power?”

    Well enough is enough, I say. I hereby apologise to all those who have been left up in the air trying to figure out where I stand on the issue of nuclear power. I hereby declare myself to be (somewhat) in favour of nuclear power, and shall support it more forthrightly in my comments from now on.

    A new day dawns!


  35. Ha ha ha! @ Roger, our friend Finrod was posting the example of anti-activism to get our blood up and rally the troops for war!

    Indeed Finrod has written some interesting material on nuclear power, including this one on just how long we could run nukes with the low grade uranium and thorium reserves on earth.

    But not only that, if we get to extracting it from seawater the land will top it up at about 30 thousand tons / year according to Barry. But this is where we start to get into *geological* time frames in which continents have moved, continental plates have brought up new material from inside the planet, and even new species have evolved!

    Who know — by then we may have even cracked fusion!


  36. @Eclipse – thank you for your explanation and link to Finrod’s article on the (vast) sustainability of uranium and thorium. What a splendid article! It is intelligible particularly as it uses plain English and International units. I shall have to study Finrod’s postings more carefully!

    Investigation into the extractability of uranium from seawater is a peculiarly Japanese concern, as they have little geology and lots of ocean. However even though the Japanese can extract uranium from seawater, uranium has a low concentration there (3 ppb) as it is relatively insoluble in this oxidised, mildly alkaline environment.

    Uranium does escape from weathering rock and travel through groundwater into rivers, where it is transported in solution and on colloids. As I understand it, it is mostly deposited in the delta when it meets seawater. So ancient deltas represent a target for uranium explorers.

    When uranium is subducted with the ocean crust, it is one of the earlier elements to be mobilised from the sinking crust and gets underplated on the continental crust above. Uranium is already more concentrated in the continental crust, so the process of underplating may well be adding uranium faster than we can deplete it.


  37. @ Roger and Camel,
    yeah, it was a good link hey? Written so that even artsy fartsy non-technical people like myself could understand it.

    Roger said:

    ////As I understand it, it is mostly deposited in the delta when it meets seawater. So ancient deltas represent a target for uranium explorers.////

    I’m fine with that as long as future technology allows a thorough inventory of the biodiversity in the area. Deltas are important ecosystems in their own right, and have incredible biodiversity. We’re not talking about anything we’ll have to do in the next 30 or so millennia, so hopefully by then we’ll have the wisdom and technology to completely move and ‘store’ ecosystems somewhere else in some future zoo. Then we can strip out the uranium, clean up the site, and put nature back the way it was meant to be! But this is a long way off. As Barry keeps saying, we’ve got enough *waste* to run the world for 500 to 1000 years.


  38. Keith Orchisons says:

    And still no-one among the heavy hitters seems interested in challenging Prime Minister Julia Gillard on what carbon price will be needed to actually achieve the 2020 national abatement target.

    Keith Orchison’s heart has always been in oil and gas since he was CEO of APEA (Australian Petroleum Exploration Association). He has also become a supporter of renewable energy. He has never supported nuclear energy (despite what he might say sometimes in comments that are really faint praise).

    He goes on, in this article, to say he expects the carbon price would have to be at least twice what we are being told. I think it won’t matter how high the carbon price goes, it will be impossible to achieve the 2020 targets we have committed to without a deep, long depression. There is a rational alternative to pricing carbon. We just need to take a serious look at it. (see more on this in recent comments on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.


  39. Thanks for the link,Mark.It is likely that the Greenland icecap along with Arctic sea ice is the canary in the coal mine re accelerating sea level rise and increased methane emissions from tundra.

    Unfortunately,many people in positions of power are tone deaf as far as canaries are concerned.
    Then we have the common,garden variety canary denier whose imbecile squawking drowns out the canary.


  40. @Mark Duffett, thank you for the link.

    The mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet is ~200 Gt/a according to the data from the Grace satellites:

    Taking the area of the Earth’s oceans as 360 Mm2, that makes Greenland’s contribution to mean sea level rise as 0.56 mm/a.

    The steady increase visible in the graph is probably shared with West Antarctica too, but it is not quite enough to drown our cities.

    Rather, the danger of melt water inland is that is denser than the ice and sinks through it. If it reaches the bottom without refreezing, it further softens the cheesy ice there that is warmed by the geothermal gradient. I believe that there are river systems under some ice caps that may well remove the new lubricant. However the increased presence of cheese or meltwater does indicate increased probability of catastrophic acceleration of an ice stream.

    How fast would sea level rise then?


  41. Podargus,
    Sea levels have been rising for the last 10,000 years. The rate of rise has averaged over 1 meter per century so the current rate of rise is relatively slow.

    When the next major glaciation hits, sea levels will fall ~130 meters. When this happens your ancestors will long for the present climate which will look like the “Good Old Days” from their perspective.


  42. Mark Duffett,
    The GISP data was gathered from a location in Greenland that has been covered in ice for over 50,000 years. See:

    Have you ever stopped to think what the global temperature was when the GISP site was ice free? Certainly it was much warmer than today. Currently, the ice there is 2,000 meters thick and the average annual surface temperature is -29 degrees Centigrade.

    It will have to get much warmer in Greenland to melt the ice at the GISP site down to the bed rock.


  43. It amazes me that Camel can be so smart in some tiny little fields and so *deliberately* blind in others. Never underestimate the power of political bias to warp science.

    At least I’m *wise* enough to listen to the peer-reviewed experts in a given field. Climatologists know about the past sea-level rising, if that’s OK with you Camel, so please stop acting like they’re leaving something out of the picture or you know better than them?

    The next glacial period doesn’t hit for about 30,000 years on the Milancovitch scale. So how’s that theory working for ya? (I’m cranky that you still spread that right-wing denialist crap!)


  44. @Gallopingcamel – 1 m/100a ? Er, not so.

    Sea level has been rising since the ice age simply because the ice has taken this long to melt this far. CSIRO has measured the historical rise at 1.7 mm per year. However the current rate of change, due to global warming, has been accelerating and is currently 3.2 mm per year. So far, that is.

    That’s the global sealevel increase. Locally, the land rises or falls. Scandinavia is still rising, having been depressed by the ice cap, so that it has been rising at 1 m per century, but that is the land that is rising, not the sea. On the other hand, as groundwater is removed by its occupants, many an island is sinking into the sea.

    Yes, sea levels are depressed during ice ages, exposing coastal plains everywhere. They may have been the means by which our ancestors spread around the globe.


  45. @gallopingcamel: I suggest having a read of this paper by Hansen & Sato – it has a very good discussion of sea level rise in the past (it looks at records going back ~60 million years or so).
    I sincerely hope this is one of those papers that turns out to have gotten things wrong – they’re predicting 5m (or more) sea level rise by the end of the century, and 25m or more by the time it stops rising, based on what it did in past interglacials that were slightly (1-2ºC) warmer than the present.
    The big kicker from that paper is that they think sea level rise is an exponential response – the higher the sea level, the faster the ice sheets lose mass. They’re talking about 1metre per decade rates of rise by the end of the century.


  46. @Bern: “.. paper by Hansen & Sato … has a very good discussion of sea level rise”

    Thank you for the link! It is an excellent argument for the urgency of eliminating CO2 emissions, backed by hard scientific evidence from the heart of NASA itself. They use recent Grace data to demonstrate clearly that the contribution of ice melt to sea level rise is accelerating. Their attempts to measure the rate of acceleration, the doubling time, give us a ballpark of only one or two decades.

    Extrapolation from a noisy sample is unreliable, so inevitably they cannot give activists a hard prediction to write on the subway walls. Perhaps more effective would be: movie footage of ice sheets calving, with James Hansen’s message of runaway melting in the voice-over.

    BTW, they spoke of a disastrous level of 2° relative to the Holocene, which (correct me!) I think we already exceed by 0.8°.


  47. gallopingcamel, on 24 February 2011 at 4:56 PM — Many peoples ived quite well during the last glacial. On example is the
    of the loer Amur River and on Hokkaido. Another is the recently discovered site in norther Jordan from 17–16 millennia ago. A third is generally the sea coast of southernmost Africa. A fourth is
    whch demonstrates that life was quite comfortable only ~100 km south of the ice front.


  48. @Roger Clifton: yes, the predictions in that paper are worrying, if they turn out to be correct (and Hansen has a bad habit of calling it correctly!). However, they freely admit in that paper that there’s not enough data to make a firm call yet.

    If you’re after videos of ice sheet calving, I recommend the Extreme Ice Survey. Some of their timelapse videos are astounding.
    This one of the Ilulissat glacier on the western side of Greenland is just amazing, particularly the way you can see the ice flowing down from the ice sheet in the background.


  49. @David Benson – thanks for those links – fascinating stuff. I recall an article I read recently – unfortunately I don’t remember any details – where the authors were suggesting that there may be large settlements on the bed of the northern Persian gulf, an area that was a fertile river valley during the last ice age, but has since been drowned by the 100m+ sea level rise that occurred about 8-10,000 years ago.


  50. galloping camel @5:09pm

    Have you ever stopped to think what the global temperature was when the GISP site was ice free? Certainly it was much warmer than today.

    Not necessarily. Bedrock under the ice sheet (actually over 3000 m thick at GISP2, not 2000 m) is pretty close to sea level across most of Greenland’s interior. Even allowing for isostatic depression in the meantime, the GISP2 site elevation would have been a good 2000 m lower than today’s 3200 m. Depending on what is the appropriate lapse rate, the change in elevation alone means it would have been 13-20C warmer, and other factors (e.g. more proximal water bodies) may have made it milder still.


  51. Eclipse Now,
    I don’t think we have a disagreement as I said nothing about the timing of the next Ice Age.

    I was trying to point out that sea levels during glacial periods can be 130 meters lower than present. That might sound like a good thing until you consider the downside which is glaciers extending all the way to where New York city is today.

    When the glaciers return it will greatly reduce the land area available for agriculture and the length of the growing season. These factors have dire consequences for plants and animals.


  52. gallopingcamel,

    That’s true, cooler conditions will have dire consequences. However, naturally-occurring ice ages take some time (measured in 10s of 1000s of years) to get established. That’s probably enough time for most animals & even plants to migrate to appropriate climatic zones. Yes, it would mean upheaval to human society (half a mile of ice over most of canada, siberia, and northern europe!), but it would be a pretty gradual upheaval, certainly less disruptive than human activities over, say, the last century. (not talking about AGW, here, purely other human activities like wars & financial crashes)
    In any event, I believe there was a paper that suggested that, with the amount of CO2 we’re putting into the atmosphere, the next ice age may not happen for several hundred thousand years, now…


  53. Roger Clifton & Bern,

    According to Peltier (2001) the sea level during the last glacial maximum, 22,000 years ago was ~130 meters below present. The level rose about 20 meters over the next 7,000 years and then rose about 100 meters from 15,000 to 6,000 B.P. (Before Present.
    Over the last 6,000 years the sea level rise was ~4 meters.

    Thus there was an extended period of rapid sea level rise, averaging about 1 meter per century but during the last 60 centuries the rise has averaged only 0.1 meter/century.

    Satellite measurements show sea levels rising by 0.17 meter/century. Even if this estimate turns out to be correct and the rate of rise is maintained, the rate of increase is much lower than for most of the Holocene.

    One million years ago there was no permanent ice cap at the south pole and sea levels were ~75 meters higher than today. Hansen uses this fact to predict a “Catastrophic” rise in sea level. What he fails to admit is that ice caps melt slowly so at the present rate of rise it would take more than 4,000 years for the sea level to rise by 75 meters. How likely is it that the current rate of sea level rise will be maintained over such a long period?


  54. gallopingcamel,

    The problem isn’t the ice *melting*, it’s the ice sheet breaking up. That can result in an awful lot of ice falling into the ocean long before it melts. In fact, that Hansen paper points out that at certain stages during this process, it will actually cause a net cooling of the rest of the planet, because there will be so much ice melting in the oceans. But this is not estimated to happen until the sea level rise reaches rates of about 1m per decade.

    Those sea level rise rates you quote tell me one thing – prior to the last century or two, conditions were asymptotically approaching equilibrium. Disturb the equilibrium, and you might see some rapid changes before things steady out again.

    In any event – I’m pretty sure the current rate of rise is closer to 0.35m/century – it’s accelerated quite dramatically over the past few decades. And it’s this acceleration that has Hansen & others concerned, thinking we could be looking at non-linear responses to the warming.


  55. Mark Duffett,
    Thanks for your reasoned response. The ice thickness in central Greenland is quite variable. The GISP drilling started in 1971 and ten years later they hit bedrock at 2,037 meters. See:

    My point was that relatively recently (~80,000 years Before Present), central Greenland was free of major ice accumulation. Clearly this implies a warmer regional climate than today either due to a generally warmer planet or local factors such as warm ocean currents or a combination of factors.


  56. Bern,
    I agree that adaptation to rising sea levels will be difficult. Having lived in Holland I am well aware of what is involved in keeping the sea out. If global temperatures continue to increase, your 0.35 meters/century rise in sea level may happen.

    Adapting to lower temperatures will be difficult too.

    You mention “Non-linear Responses”. There is plenty of evidence in the ice core records to suggest that climate change often occurs abruptly. Could non-linear effects such as positive feed backs or “tipping points” contribute?


  57. Bern,
    Let’s hope you are right about the next Ice Age being postponed by putting more CO2 into the atmosphere. If I believed that I would increase my carbon footprint as much as possible. It would take it as a sacred duty to drive the largest gas guzzler available.

    As I don’t believe it I am about to trade in one of my gas guzzlers for a Toyota Leaf.

    Probably you are aware of David Archer’s long term climate models:

    Click to access archer.2005.trigger.pdf


  58. The last ice-free planetary conditions, with sea level 75 m above present, was ~35 million years ago, not 1 ma. In the mid-Pliocene, ~2.5 ma, SL was ~30 m above present.

    Greenland was not ice free at 70 ka. Its lowest recent ice conditions prior to the present was the Eemian interglacial, about 130 ka, with SL 4-6 m above current. Greenland still had a substantial ice sheet, perhaps half the size/coverage of its current condition.


  59. By my opinion the Holocene Period is culminating and that is the reason of melted ice more then any time before. Obviously, human’s activity develops more influence on the natural phenomenon like this one. Nuclear power might be one of the solutions but with usage of more sophisticated technologies.


  60. DV and Luke and anyone else:

    I wonder if you could help me critically assess this TMI scare story.

    It bears a certain similarity to the recent scare stories around chernobyl. that much more radiation was released than admitted, etc.

    I recall Luke making the point that the kind of releases (and they do distinguish between inert gases and I 131) of the magnitude discussed in article would have left their traces of rolls of film.

    anyway, the high estimate in this story is something like one billion curies. I don’t take any of this fully seriously but would like a firmer basis for critique.

    I know that there have been many studies that have found no evidence of significant impact.


  61. Gregory Meyerson – The article in question is pure drivel. The hallmarks, that it shares with other material of the same type, are: reliance on anecdotal evidence, lack of supporting hard data, hyperbole, and claims of a cover-up.

    It also relies on the myth of the powerful and evil ‘nuclear industry’ in league with a corrupt government agency. This hardly explains why no new nuclear builds have been licensed since then in the States, or why the NRC is so anal you can’t pull a pin out.

    Nuclear energy has enough enemies in the fossil-fuel industry, that had something of the magnitude suggested happened, there would be more than enough hard evidence made available, that there would be no doubts.


  62. Bern, on 25 February 2011 at 2:14 PM — Surely before the SLR from LGM to Holocene people lived in what is now the Persian Gulf. If you can locate the article again, plase post a link.

    gallopingcamel, on 25 February 2011 at 4:18 PM — The massive ice sheets of LGM actually made little difference to the amunt of land available for agriculture. A mjor difference was how dry it was; here is a vegetation type map from LGM:

    Click to access ray_adams_2001.pdf

    Despite all that, during the

    Click to access ray_adams_2001.pdf

    proto-agriculture was practiced; it appears the same was true in northern Jordan even earlier.


  63. Thanks DV:

    Here’s a wiki discussion about the reliability of Randall Thompson, the main source in article. It’s kind of interesting. One snippet:

    Thompson is a real person who actually worked at TMI, but being real and being reliable are two different things. What is most troubling to me is that his most serious charges are unverified. He has a history of making claims with a conspiratorial nuance that can not be supported with solid evidence and have not been corroborated by others working at TMI. We are supposed to believe that only he and the corrupt overlords at the plant knew of the alleged schenanigans (and they supposedly aren’t talking). He alleges very large releases from TMI but extensive monitoring in the area around the plant by several independent groups in the days following failed to detect anything, including the local community college where they had radiation detectors sensitive enough to catch the faint whiff of radiation blown in from Chinese weapons testing from half way around the world.

    (there’s more stuff on guy’s penchant for conspiracy)

    Luke, I reread your excellent piece. So the anti nukes continued claims that “no one knows how much radiation was released” (and therefore it must be one billion curies) is B.S. in your estimation?


  64. A new paper in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences estimates the full cost of coal power generation.

    Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal (with open access for all to read).

    Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive. We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.

    (emphasis mine).


  65. Barry,
    Thanks for your corrections to my time scales. I was getting sloppy by depending too much on my unreliable memory.

    That said, the deepest GISP2 drilling went down 3,053 meters from the drill site located at 3,203 meters, which implies that the land surface is about 150 meters above sea level. According to Suwa, M., et al. 2006 & 2007, the oldest ice found was from 237 ka ago.

    The age of the Greenland ice sheet is still in dispute but I hope we can agree there was no ice at the GISP2 location sometime during the last 300,000 years. The climate must have been warmer back then given that the ice sheet is several kilometers deep today.


  66. David Benson,
    I agree with you when you say that cold periods are relatively dry. The Greenland and Vostok ice cores show a strong correlation between temperature and ice accumulation. As temperature increases, precipitation increases and therefore the accumulation rate in ice sheets.

    Conversely, I would expect the world to get much wetter if temperatures continue to increase.


  67. David Benson,
    Thanks for those maps, although I don’t agree with your comment that the LGM ice sheets made “little difference to the land available for agriculture”.

    From a modern perspective, losing 90% of Canada and 45% of the USA to glaciers sounds quite significant (Fig 4.). Likewise having all of Holland, Belgium and Switzerland beneath the ice sheet plus half of Germany might cause major problems!

    On the positive side it was possible to walk from Asia to North America and from England to France.


  68. Has it occurred to anyone that nukes save on the cost of power lines, pipelines and roads?

    Consider the (quite frequent) event that a mineral explorer has found an economic deposit off the beaten track, and then draws up plans for a long powerline to the nearest grid, a pipeline for water, and a road to truck out the unprocessed ore. The public purse is (of course) invited to subsidise development.

    A nuke on site can save him the powerline. Combined with a desalination plant, it saves him the pipeline. With all that excess power available he can now add value to the ore, at least to enrich it so that he only has to track out 10 or 20% of the mass, thus saving on roads.

    One could even argue that it has saved on transport fuel, both in the trucking and on the mine site, which is now (of course) crisscrossed with power lines and conveyor belts.

    When the deposit has been worked down to its economic limit, the mine site itself is mothballed, but the area now has a township with a power plant, water supply and a road leading to the rest of the world. At a net saving to the taxpayer… Of course.


  69. @ Roger
    Good point. Not only that, imagine all the solar PV and wind farms busted up by Cyclone Yasi. Nukes are in concrete bunkers and if I worked in one, would probably be where I sheltered my family when threatened by Cyclones/Hurricanes/Typhoons.

    After the storm tropical areas would just have to replace the much smaller, more robust powerlines, and you’d be back on line.

    I mean, how many KM’s of high-power transmission lines had to be replaced in Queensland?

    Maybe after Yasi we need “Nukes are Yasi-proof” posters everywhere! ;-)
    (NO! It would be seen as political advantage of disaster. I was joking.)


  70. Maybe after Yasi we need “Nukes are Yasi-proof” posters everywhere! ;-)
    (NO! It would be seen as political advantage of disaster. I was joking.)

    It would be true nonetheless.

    In the wake of Katrina, the nukes were available immediately to support the recovery of the region.


  71. Tom Keen,

    The source of your paper is Greenpeace with contributions from Mark Jacobson. So, that is where you draw your authoritative info from, eh?

    The authors would like to acknowledge Amy Larkin of Greenpeace, who commissioned Kevin Eckerle, then an independent consultant, to perform work similar to this that is currently unpublished, and subsequently gave permission to make use of their work for this report. We would also like to thank James Hansen, Mark Jacobson, Jonathan Levy, John Evans, and Joel Schwartz for their helpful comments throughout the course of this work.


  72. Peter,

    I did not read the acknowledgements. I did go back and have a look at the paper though and found this information about the authors in the PDF version:

    Paul R. Epstein,1 Jonathan J. Buonocore,2 Kevin Eckerle,3 Michael Hendryx,4 Benjamin M. Stout III,5 Richard Heinberg,6 Richard W. Clapp,7 Beverly May,8 Nancy L. Reinhart,8 Melissa M. Ahern,9 Samir K. Doshi,10 and Leslie Glustrom11

    1Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. 2Environmental Science and
    Risk Management Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
    3Accenture, Sustainability Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 4Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia
    University, Morgantown, West Virginia. 5Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, West Virginia. 6Post Carbon Institute, Santa
    Rosa, California. 7Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. 8Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,
    London, Kentucky 9Department of Pharmacotherapy, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington. 10Gund Institute for
    Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. 11Clean Energy Action, Boulder, Colorado

    Looks like a fairly academically robust team, and the paper is published in a reputable journal. However, I don’t think it matters who wrote the paper. Rather, the content is what is important. So if you’re going to criticise the paper because you don’t trust the source, play the ball and criticise the findings (it is open access, after all).

    Note that even if you omit climate damage costs, their estimates for total cost still range from 8.3 (low) to 16.19 (high) US¢/kWh, or 14.69 US¢/kWh for their best estimate.


  73. @Eclipse Now, you are so right!

    No one seems to comment on the essential fragility of the renewables technology.

    It is ironic that a community claiming to most understand the environment are themselves most vulnerable to it.


  74. Another instance where NP helped in disaster relief was when the USS Carl Vinson supplied desalinated water after the Haiti earthquake

    Some very large desals may have to be on the coast since local brackish groundwater won’t be enough. A standalone NPP might need diesel generator backup if it is off the national grid. See the discussion of electricity and water supply to Prominent Hill mine.


  75. @ Greg Meyerson:

    Ah, yes, the old conspiracy theory that there was actually an enormous amount of radioactivity released into the environment at TMI but there was actually a big conspiratorial coverup.

    That doesn’t get discussed very much; basically because it’s absolutely nuts.

    You simply cannot ever, in any context, release a very large amount of radioactivity into the atmosphere and cover it up or keep it quiet.

    Look at Chernobyl for example. The Soviets didn’t tell the West about it immediately – they didn’t even tell their own nuclear scientists. Soviet nuclear experts found about it when radiation sensors at nuclear research sites and nuclear power plants (eg. the Ignalina plant in what is now Lithuania) across the eastern USSR started going off, and the West found out about it when radiation sensors at Sweden’s Forsmark NPP and other Swedish nuclear engineering facilities started going off. (For more on this note, see the first chapter of Richard Rhodes’ “Arsenals of Folly”.)

    Nuclear power plants and other facilities that use radioactive materials are all over the place in our society, and they all have sensors and instruments to make sure everything is safe and radioactive contamination does not occur. If a Chernobyl-style event occurs, you will detect it at any such site. Any nearby NPP. Any nearby molecular biology lab working with radiolabels. Any nearby physics lab. Any nearby clinic working with X-rays or medical imaging. Anyone nearby developing photo film.

    If a person who has recently had a radiopharmaceutical medical imaging procedure walks into a nuclear power plant or physics lab, or a radiation detector installed at a border crossing or port around the USA, they’ll set off alarms.

    Radioactivity is so easy to detect that in 1896 Becquerel discovered it accidentally.

    I remember that there was a case, last year I think, where a little bit of radioactive xenon was vented from the ANSTO Lucas Heights facility… this was quickly detected in Melbourne by the atmospheric radiochemistry monitoring station used by the UN for NNPT verification… one of a large network of such sites, which are extremely sensitive, all around the world which are used to detect any possible nuclear weapon test.

    How many nuclear power stations are there in the United States that are located relatively close to TMI, in the states geographically around TMI? What did their radiological monitors show? Anything? Photographic films from everyone around the area was collected and looked at – no radiation was recorded.

    When significant amounts of ionising radiation exposure occur, that radiation is recorded in common building materials like concrete, glass, ceramic and stone. These materials trap energy in displaced color centers in their crystal lattices – just like makeshift ad hoc MacGyver versions of thermoluminescent dosimeter crystals – and you can collect the samples later and analyse thermoluminescence in the materials to see if there has been any radiation dose. Not sure if anything like this was ever done at TMI, though.

    Basically, the whole idea of such an enormous cover up is just an enormous, impractical conspiracy theory – which would need to involve the state government, the federal government, the nuclear energy industry, and huge numbers of the public and huge numbers of scientists and industries – like an Apollo hoax conspiracy theory.


  76. Regular BNC contributors have made comments in the past that the economic aspects of AGW policies and of electricity generation alternatives, e.g. nuclear power, are not important; one contributor said “never have been and never will be”.

    The response to PM Julia Gillards’ announcement of a carbon tax shows this is not the case. A sample of articles in today’s Australian shows it is the main argument the government is using to justify implementing a carbon tax and the main reason the voters are concerned. The economic consequences (the hip pocket nerve) is alive and well. Online voting on web sites and talk back radio responses, including on Left leaning sites like ABC, are overwhelming against the carbon tax. Of course, it is recognised this is early days and it is recognised the government can spend virtually unlimited funds on advertising and public spin campaigns to try to convince the public to support its policy.

    Here is a sample from today’s Australian:

    Tax could double price of power

    Calculations by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal reveal the carbon tax floated by the government in 2008 would more than double the price of power within three years.

    The federal Treasury claimed at the time that households would pay just $6 a week more in electricity and gas for a carbon tax set at $23 per tonne, or $7 a week more for a $32 per tonne tax.

    The NSW modellings — which have been requested by the federal Treasury — are based on a carbon tax of $10 per tonne in the first year, rising to $28 per tonne. They show the annual power bill for a typical small business would rise from $9432 per year to $15,091.

    Full cost would cripple companies

    Airwaves fill with sound of fury

    TALKBACK has erupted in fury at Julia Gillard’s broken promise on a carbon tax.
    Media Monitors Australia reports that just 38 per cent of the talkback calls nationwide on the subject, made by mid-afternoon yesterday, were favourable.
    “Anything below 43 would generally be considered highly unfavourable,” group communications manager Patrick Baume explained. “It’s roughly equal to about the lowest point in Kevin Rudd’s personal standing.”
    But Mr Baume points out that the talkback response measured by Media Monitors includes calls made to ABC shows with a very different demographic to Jones’s.
    “While they aren’t as heavily unfavourable, they are still unfavourable overall,” Mr Baume said. He said 53.2 per cent of ABC callers opposed the Prime Minister’s plan.
    An online poll on the Left-leaning Melbourne Age website showed opposition for a carbon tax running at 57 per cent late yesterday.
    A YouTube video of Ms Gillard telling television during last year’s election campaign, “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, posted by Liberal senator Scott Ryan, clocked up close to 4000 views.
    Also circulating was a second YouTube recording from the campaign with Wayne Swan denying carbon tax plans as “a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the Coalition”.

    It is pretty clear to me that the economics is the fundamental issue in voters mind. For many it is the short term economics, but don’t dismiss the many thinking people who are just as concerned about the long term future as the single issue, CAGW alarmists say they are.

    Gillard facing double trouble

    Gillard has been branded a liar for breaking a forthright and unambiguous election undertaking. Her declaration that there would be no carbon tax under a government led by her — a declaration endorsed and underwritten by Wayne Swan — has been ditched.

    Gillard now faces the double trouble of trying to argue she is not a liar, hasn’t broken a promise and has a mandate to introduce a new tax, while defending a complex system that is going to push up power and energy prices.

    Carbon tax a pledge of suicide


  77. Tom Keen,

    However, I don’t think it matters who wrote the paper. Rather, the content is what is important.

    Based on your many previous comments it would seem that your statement only applies if the article supports your beliefs. If it doesn’t, then you are more interested in who wrote it, what is their background and where was it published.


  78. Barry,

    Garnaut report is certainly not due dilligence. Nothing like it. To suggest such shows a lack of understanding of what due dilligence involves.

    Furthermore, Garnaut is a political appointment by the Labor government. He was appointed because he would give the answer wanted by his client. His work cannot pass as impartial.

    He didn’t even analyse alternatives to carbon pricing:

    Also see: “Climate Adviser misses the point”


  79. He was appointed because he would give the answer wanted by his client. His work cannot pass as impartial.

    That is your opinion, but it is not backed up by the facts. He stated that a simple carbon tax would be preferable to a heavily compromised ETS — which is exactly what the CPRS turned out to be. Then Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, when asked about his report, tried to avoid commenting (who would have guessed, eh?) and when pressed, dismissed Garnaut and his report as ‘just another opinion’. So it’s hardly a matter of delivering the answer his client wanted…

    More here, from Giles Parkinson:


  80. ////Garnaut report is certainly not due dilligence. Nothing like it. To suggest such shows a lack of understanding of what due dilligence involves.////
    Ha ha ha! He’s got the gall, doesn’t he Barry?

    Anything that is not laissez faire right wing isn’t ‘due diligence’ to this character!


  81. Luke: thanks very much.

    question: it is commonly admitted that there were 13 million curies of noble gases released after TMI (and that this was harmless).

    We know that this registered here and there in soil samples (the local community college’s soil samples for example). what amount of radioactivity would be required to leave traces on film etc? 13 million curies did not obviously.

    (I’m giving a talk soon which partly involves anti nuclear falsification so precision is useful to me!)


  82. Barry,

    Give me a break. How can your statement possbly be objective? Garnaut was Senior Economic Adviser to Bob Hawke, ex Labor Prime MInsiter of Australia. He is clearly partisan (perhaps Labor supporters cannot recognise this). He would not have been appointed by the Labor premiers and Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to do the job if they had not been confident he would give them the answers they wanted. It was pure politics. Just as Stern was appointed by Tony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of UK.

    And as for Giles Parkinson, give me a double break. Just look at waht he argues for – incessantly. That is hardly the sort of reference you’d want to give if you want to get through to people outside the Alarmist camp.


  83. Barry,

    By the way, my recollection (without going back and finding supporting references) was that Garnaut was doing exactly what the Labor Premiers and Labor Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, wanted leading up to the 2007 election and throughout most of the period Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister. It was only near the end when the public perception was turning against the CPRS that Wong then started back tracking.


  84. Peter, as usual you are just blowing hot air. Indeed, I detest your constant accusations, leveled at me and just about everyone else on this website and beyond, about our ‘political motivations and biases’. How the hell do you know what people think, or on what basis they make their judgements? Your unjustified arrogance is simply breathtaking. There is an old rule of thumb: the scoundrel constantly accuses other of that which he is most guilty. Why? Because he understands what his motivations and actions are, and cannot believe (or imagine) that anyone could (or would) act any differently. Which is of course why you’ll probably just get angry and offended by my comment. Reality bites. But frankly, I no longer give a toss.

    These days the majority of your comments come across as either juvenile taunts, repetitive ideological rants, or and highly unimaginative ‘motive probes’. What a bland and blinkered world you live in. No wonder virtually everyone has stopped listening to you. You manage to offend everyone at some point. Well, for as for me, you are now on my ‘ignore list’.


  85. As a final bit of once-friendly advice Peter. I really enjoyed your comment yesterday about EGS rock fracturing issues. It was great to have this sort of geological insight. I strongly suggest you stick to what you are good at, and people might actually start to listen to you once again. As it stands, you managed, over the last year, to erode a huge amount of intellectual capital you once had with readers of this site. Time to start mountain building again, methinks.


  86. @John Newlands: “the nuclear waste fund levy is 0.1c per kwh. Here Hazelwood can dump 17 million tonnes a year of CO2 into the communal atmosphere with absolute impunity”

    Allow me to agree solidly. However, when rolling John’s sharp poetry over in my mind, it strikes me that our soundbites would be more powerful if the word “waste” in the bogey phrase “nuclear waste” were reiterated in “waste CO2”. Thus:

    “Each tonne of nuclear waste has to pay whereas a million tonnes of waste CO2 gets dumped for free.”

    As such it might be a useful retort when the fearful are invoking the bogey:
    “What about the waste? Wha’ abaht t’ nuclear waste!


  87. It’s a rare person who does not on occasion allow their political views to color their interactions with the world, via net or other means. And it’s an even rarer person who, upon recieving an ideology-based critique, will do anything other than blank it out and put it down to the political motives of the attacker.

    Science and engineering details provide a much more solid footing for our respective cases, far more difficult to dismiss or ignore, far more likely to make inroads into the thinking of the opposition if they are deilivered in understandable terms. But a political diatribe directed against an opposing faction will most likely just reinforce them in their ways. Shifting a battle over engineering and science to the realm of politics is a really bad idea if the engineering and science is on your side (the converse, shifting a battle over engineering and science to the realm of politics when the science is against you being a good idea is also true, of course).


  88. Well said Finrod! I left this site for months because of Peter’s constant diatribes. They’re just plain BORING!

    You guys won me over on the science but that seems to have indicated to Peter that everyone here is also fair game for his politics.

    But as you suggest, political viewpoints become more emotional and entrenched than even scientific preferences such as where our energy comes from!

    I am proud to be in the “Social Liberalism” army: Civil rights, Social Justice and State funded welfare in a Market Economy. That allows the tax-dial to go up and down across a variety of industries in a very flexible way. Social liberalism is such a broad term I’d apply it to half of Europe. But as America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right, they are looking further and further like a failed state. It won’t be long.

    Laissez-faire sounds like a light and fluffy mousse, but rather than being a desert it is a disaster.

    “This political rant was brought to you by Peter Lang: political diatribes that alienate activists. Peter Lang, the name you can trust to deliver alienating arguments.”


  89. Thanks for the endorsement, EN. I would however point out that I mentioned no names in my post, and intended it to be general advice on how everyone could best proceed.

    Given his excellent contributions in the past, I am sure it lies within Peter’s capability to return to a more successful formula for getting his views accross.


  90. Wow Gregory… have you got a link for that one?

    The frightening zealousness of the Christian right in America scares me. I have a church background and hate the idea of abortion in my personal life, but public policy is a different thing. I wish more Christians could see that.

    @ Finrod: agreed. I too hope Peter can take a few deep breaths and contribute more solid work without all the boring political lectures. I’m sick of him attacking everyone’s character — especially Barry’s — all while Peter demonstrates his own character flaws in the process. But hopefully he’ll get back to the science of things, but even here I have trouble. I don’t trust him any more. Having seen how strong his interpretive grid is, I’m just not sure of his personal objectivity any more. I don’t trust him.


  91. Barry,

    Peter, as usual you are just blowing hot air. Indeed, I detest your constant accusations, leveled at me and just about everyone else on this website and beyond, about our ‘political motivations and biases’. How the hell do you know what people think, or on what basis they make their judgements? Your unjustified arrogance is simply breathtaking. There is an old rule of thumb: the scoundrel constantly accuses other of that which he is most guilty. Why? Because he understands what his motivations and actions are, and cannot believe (or imagine) that anyone could (or would) act any differently. Which is of course why you’ll probably just get angry and offended by my comment. Reality bites. But frankly, I no longer give a toss.

    These days the majority of your comments come across as either juvenile taunts, repetitive ideological rants, or and highly unimaginative ‘motive probes’. What a bland and blinkered world you live in. No wonder virtually everyone has stopped listening to you. You manage to offend everyone at some point. Well, for as for me, you are now on my ‘ignore list.

    I think that is pretty rude coming from someone who continually uses ‘name calling’, derogatory comments and juvenile comments like “Denier”, “Crock of the Week”, “silliness” and more to abuse all those who do not hold to the same views or ideologfical persuasion as you do.

    You made this comment a day or two ago:

    Energy ideologies can be every bit as fervent as those of religion,

    This is equally true of the ‘catastrophic climate change’ ideology. But you don’t even realise it.

    Here is some advice in return:

    A lot of what you say and are doing is excellent, except for the silliness about catastrophic consequences of global warming. I’d urge you to tone down your message on this part so it is more balanced rather than coming across as extreme, alarmist spin and hype. The excesses turn me right off and makes me question the objectivity and veracity of all following statements.


  92. Barry,

    I am wondering why you chose to provide what seems like a silly answer to one of the quotes in my post to John Newlands but did not answer the questions I put to you @ ? You would understand that this looks like obfuscation. Which is what you accuse me and others of. The questions I put to you were:

    1. How high will the carbon price have to go to achieve the 2020 emissions targets (5% below 2000 emissions levels, which amounts to a cut of 160 Mt/a)?

    2. What would be the effect on the economy?

    3. Where will the emissions cuts come from (e.g. 12 Mt/a from replacing Hazelwood Power Stations with combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and wind power from the total cuts required of 160 Mt/a to achieve the 2020 target)?

    4. By how much would world emissions be cut if Australia achieved the 2020 targets?

    5. By how much would this change the climate?

    6. Would our trajectory of emissions cuts (and other benefits to society) be better served (i.e. deeper emissions cuts attained by 2030 and beyond) by taking the policy decision to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear now, so we can rollout nuclear earlier, faster and cheaper?

    7. Should all potentially viable alternatives be analysed, in a proper option analysis, before deciding on and committing to a policy and legislation?

    These are intended to be sensible, responsible questions, not intended to be rhetorical. I suggest, and I presume you would agree, it would be negligent to support carbon pricing if you cannot answer these questions quantitatively.

    I hope you will answer these, sensibly and without obfuscation and with supportable answers.

    Preferably on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

    By the way, one of the reasons people are not discussing the alternative to carbon pricing is because of the many comments showing you are not supportive of getting into this. This was the case from the very start of that thread. Yet it is clearly the most important issue this year, and the policy that is legislated will set the agenda for decades ahead.


  93. Eclipse Now,
    Your opinion about the USA could not be further from the truth. I was born in Wales and worked in over 50 countries before relocating to the USA in 1982.

    This is what you said about the USA:
    “I am proud to be in the “Social Liberalism” army: Civil rights, Social Justice and State funded welfare in a Market Economy. That allows the tax-dial to go up and down across a variety of industries in a very flexible way. Social liberalism is such a broad term I’d apply it to half of Europe. But as America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right, they are looking further and further like a failed state. It won’t be long.”

    The USA that accepted me in 1982 was still afflicted with the quaint idea that the government serves the people. The personal freedoms that flow from this made USA the best country in modern times; maybe the best country that ever was.

    You may be right when you say that the USA is in danger of becoming a “Failed State” but you are wrong to suggest that “America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right”.

    The USA is actually becoming a “Welfare State” comparable with the European democracies. Individual freedoms are being surrendered in exchange for a “Safety Net”.


  94. @ Barry,
    make sure you keep up the good work on the known physics and chemistry and probable consequences of climate change! Peter obviously thinks you’re putty in his hand the way he doles out his anti-left theology. It’s beyond politics with him. The way he speaks down to you about climate science reminds me of the way an old bard or magician like Merlin might speak down to an apprentice. All that was missing was “there’s a good boy” when he was done!

    Peter, please head your own medicine!
    //// The excesses turn me right off and makes me question the objectivity and veracity of all following statements.////
    Ya think?


  95. Galloping Camel:

    if what you said about the U.S. was true, the gini coefficient (index of inequality) would be heading downwards; unionization rates would be high; and there would be no movement among governors to eliminate collective bargaining among the few strong unions left in the U.S.

    The gini coefficient is high (likely higher than any European country and far higher than Aus); unionization rates are lower than any European country; collective bargaining is under siege.

    The right wing fantasy that liberals will use the “global warming hoax” to impose business destroying carbon taxes–on top of business destroying social safety nets– is clearly not playing out.

    The main safety net is the safety net bailing out the banks. And feeding the pentagon–all in all, military keynesianism and socialism for the bankers, who are sitting on their money, not loaning it out as the theory is supposed to go

    The flipside of the bailout is that, for example, my state of N.C. is cutting its University budgets by 15-20 %, leading to hiring freezes, pay freezes and massive layoffs. This is happening in many states across the nation.

    So I don’t know what Nation you’re living in. The safety net is being surrendered and has been surrendering for 30 years. and individual freedoms are being lost. both.

    Eclipse: you can find links yourself about the South Dakota controvery. Here’s one. This bill won’t pass, he says confidently.–bill-would-make-killing-to-save-fetus-a-justifiable-homicide


  96. Greg Myerson,
    You missed the “Big Picture”; I was talking about personal freedoms. In that context, coercion from the Right is as obnoxious as coercion from the Left. Governments, regardless of the Left/Right labels attached to them, inexorably extend their control over us, on the pretext that it is “for our own good”.

    Governments that try to serve the people are very rare indeed as Lincoln reminded us when he closed his Gettysburg address:
    “….. and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    Thus it is that the 10th amendment to the US constitution has been overwhelmed by the “General Welfare” and “Commerce” clauses, allowing the power of the federal government to grow at the expense of the states and the people.

    Turning to the “Small Picture”:
    The bailouts for banks and large corporations that occurred here is socialism for capitalists, which I prefer to call “Crony Capitalism”. It rewards failure and reckless behaviour, while stealing from the thrifty.


  97. GC:

    EXCEPT THAT VIRTUALLY ALL THE CAPITALISTS CONNECTED TO FINANCE WERE CRONY CAPITALISTS. check out Fool’s Gold and All the Devils Are Here. these are mainstream books on financial crisis.

    I merely wanted to suggest that posing a significant “safety net” for ordinary people against personal freedom was a bit of a false dichotomy. In the u.s., both have declined.


  98. ////Give me a break. How can your statement possbly be objective? Garnaut was Senior Economic Adviser to Bob Hawke, ex Labor Prime MInsiter of Australia. He is clearly partisan (perhaps Labor supporters cannot recognise this). He would not have been appointed by the Labor premiers and Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to do the job if they had not been confident he would give them the answers they wanted. It was pure politics. Just as Stern was appointed by Tony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of UK.////

    As the nurse in Cuckoo’s nest kept calling:

    “Medication… Medication… it’s time for your medication….”


  99. Happy Birthday Barry.Have a good one.
    As for PL – I suggest we all, henceforth, ignore him and his diatribes (as Barry is apparently going to do). We are just lowering the tone of BNC by continuing to engage with him.


  100. Luke Weston, on 28 February 2011 at 1:01 PM — Not directly. Indeed, at great expense, the claim is true in a way. However, Peter Lang has rather amply demonstrated just how great that expense is in a series of threads here on BNC. I’m not sure where to find them, but I suggest beginning with the TCASE threads, linked on the sidebar.


  101. @Luke Weston: rebuttal… of “renewables can do everything!”

    Curiously one of the most powerful rebuttals was by renewables campaigner Mark Diesendorf himself, saying that renewables will prevail “with a little help from gas”. Coming from that source, the comment amounted to an admission that renewables is nothing more than a smile on the face of the tiger.

    More comprehensively, John Bennett (in Crikey threads at least) has demonstrated that everywhere renewables contributes, it is always backed up by a conventional source of the total capacity required. In this analysis, renewables can only offset the cost of fuel.

    You will find a wealth of no-go analyses if you browse for a combination of “renewables” and “storage”, where conclusions repeat that you would have to have either massive investment in idle renewables when their input does not renew, or in idle storage when it does.

    Requiring renewables to pay for their power lines to the main grid is avoided by their proponents and often forgotten by their critics. Similarly carbon sequestration proponents neglect the cost of thousands of kilometres of corrosion-resistant pipelines from the power stations to the many candidate reservoirs.

    In the thread above, EclipseNow (26 Feb, 16:25) points out that the fragility of renewables adds significantly to the cost of recovery from a climatic disaster.


  102. Roger Clifton, on 28 February 2011 at 2:26 PM — Quite good, except for ‘corrosion-resistent’.. Carbon dioxide is already fully oxidized and won’t corrode anything. There is already some sort of pipeline out to the Sleipner oil field in the North Sea and also anothr from southwest Colorado to west Texas both of which carry carbon dioxide without any problems (so far).


  103. @David B Benson challenged the need for corrosion-resistant pipelines for CO2

    The two pipelines quoted carry CO2 which has been separated from gas (methane) extractions, so that it is clean of pretty well anything else. However the gas extracted from the exhaust of coal-powered stations is going to contain an unknown proportion of all the other constituents of that exhaust, including water, SOx and NOx, fly ash and traces of the solvent used for the extraction.

    I hardly need to point out the corrosive capacity of water saturated with more than 5 atm of CO2.


  104. Geez Barry, thank goodness you weren’t born on the 29th Feb. Otherwise you’d be only 9 years old. Anyway, happy birthday. I hope you cream Lowe but I’m not putting money on it. Cheers,Terry who is now exactly double your age.


  105. Anyone ever wonder how we’re going to produce the volumes of steel we need once we’ve burnt through all the fossil fuels? Where’s all that carbon going to come from in the volumes we need it? I guess biochar will have competition for agriwaste!


  106. @David B Benson: “to economically sequester CO2…”

    Thank you for the link, it shows an energy penalty of between 10 and 20% and a cost penalty of around two cents per kilowatt hour. That implies a ballpark of 2 c/kg, or $20 per tonne on-site. It also shows their “economic” customers as oil recovery, production of soda ash, and water carbonation etc, not a carbon price. However, even if a stream of pure liquid CO2 could be produced for no on-site cost at all, CCS would still need a special pipeline. Currently the mass produced pipelines for the relatively inert methane cost about four million dollars per kilometre. Thousands of kilometres would be required! That gigabuck cost does not appear in the CCS promotional literature.

    @Eclipse asks: how are we going to make steel without carbon?

    Electrolysis of iron oxide (perhaps via chloride in a “pyro” process) would not essentially need carbon. Theoretically at least, you could plate out solid iron. If an electrolytic process was required to produce liquid iron, melting would be assisted by the presence of almost any of its additives. Cast iron with 4.3% carbon has a eutectic at 1147°C . That isn’t much carbon.

    We ain’t gonna run out of hydrocarbon. We’ve already run out of anywhere to dump its waste.


  107. John Newlands,

    This article addresses some of the points you’ve been making on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

    unilateral action creates costs without benefits
    “HAWKE and Keating floated the dollar; we will price carbon,” Julia Gillard said just prior to last week’s deal with the Greens.

    The comparison is inaccurate, however, for floating the dollar, like cutting tariffs, was desirable even if Australia acted alone; in contrast, a carbon tax can only yield benefits if major emitting countries do the same.

    Moreover, the Hawke-Keating reforms, including floating the dollar and reducing protection, enhanced our long-standing comparative advantage, which is based on our resource wealth. So did those of the Howard government. This policy undermines it.
    Indeed, in terms of Australia’s national interest, it is difficult to think of a policy more harmful than such a unilateral tax.

    This is because a high share of Australia’s emissions are accounted for by export-oriented activities: some 33 per cent, compared with 8 per cent for the US. These activities include mining, where large fugitive emissions occur as resources are extracted.

    Given the ready availability of alternative sources of supply, including Canada, the US and Brazil, a unilateral tax on these exports cannot cut global emissions: it merely alters their location.

    But it would reduce Australian incomes, transferring overseas gains we would otherwise obtain from the resources boom. This policy therefore imposes costs without any obvious benefits.


    Given how pronounced our comparative advantage is in mining, shifting resources to other activities must make us substantially poorer. The claim that jobs tending windmills or speculating on emissions permits could offset those losses is implausible.

    It is especially implausible as our pattern of comparative advantage is becoming more pronounced: in the nine years from June 2000, the net present value of Australia’s mineral assets more than trebled. With the world placing ever higher value on our natural resources, relative to our other factor endowments (such as capital and labour), the income loss from unilaterally taxing mining exports must rise.


    The third claim defenders of the tax make is that by acting now, we increase the prospects of global agreement. That claim is also implausible. It accords Australia an influence at odds with the experience of international negotiations, not least at Copenhagen. Additionally and importantly, it ignores the fact that by undermining our own exports we make preventing agreement even more profitable for our rivals.

    That the government has no plan for repealing the tax should international agreement not eventuate in a set time frame makes our rivals’ incentive to delay even greater. To believe altruism will trump self-interest in determining their negotiating stance involves a considerable leap of faith.

    Fourth and last, supporters of a unilateral carbon tax claim it will bring certainty.

    read the article here:


  108. Peter can you take your ‘points’ and ‘shove’ it
    (to the thread where it belongs)

    There were a number of scientific discussions here and you’ve gone and retarded it with Gillard and politics. You’ll get your chance to vote on this issue with Abbott hypocritically foaming at the mouth about it. Here’s boy wonder recommending a Carbon Tax himself!

    At 9 minutes he says sometime like “Why not just introduce a simple tax”?


  109. AP1000 safety concerns on the wiki? Anyone got an update on these? If it’s verifiable data you’ve obtained from industry sources, why not learn how to edit the wiki?

    Safety concerns

    The AP1000 design has an unusual containment structure and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is “not convinced that the shield building would survive earthquakes and other natural hazards”.[9] As of June 2010, Westinghouse is doing new analytical work to try to convince the commission staff of its safety.[9]

    In April 2010, Arnold Gundersen, a nuclear engineer commissioned by several anti-nuclear groups, released a report which explored a hazard associated with the possible rusting through of the containment structure steel liner. In the AP1000 design, the liner and the concrete are separated, and if the steel rusts through, “there is no backup containment behind it” according to Gundersen.[10] If the dome rusted through the design would expel radioactive contaminants and the plant “could deliver a dose of radiation to the public that is 10 times higher than the N.R.C. limit” according to Gundersen. Vaughn Gilbert, a spokesman for Westinghouse, has disputed Gundersen’s assessment.[10]


  110. Eclipse Now, some time ago Barry did an interesting post on the topic of using nuclear thermal generated hydrogen in steel production, replacing coke as the reductant that turns iron oxide into iron. Its a pretty interesting idea, and not insignificant given that steel making apparently accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions.


  111. Given that metallurgical coke costs maybe 20c a kg and hydrogen cost perhaps $2 that will change the economics of steel production. I believe steel recycling rates are improving due to recent price increases.

    A baseload NPP could turn any excess output to hydrogen production by electrolysis rather than thermal methods. The hydrogen could be transmitted via plastic lined pipes to large gasometer style low pressure tanks. Don’t even think about the Hindenburg. I don’t like the idea of a dusty steel furnace being close to a gleaming NPP but some distance away. This would be a world of very high cost energy and I’m not sure how we would get there from here.


  112. [1] ’Former Telstra boss and nuclear power advocate Ziggy Switkowski wants broader energy plan’

    Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson … reiterated that nuclear power was off the agenda.


    Switkowski says carbon price would have to rise to well over $50/tonne

    Dr Switkowski said …warned that to drive the take-up of alternative energy the price would have to rise substantially from the $20-$30 a tonne being speculated to more than $50 a tonne.


    Switkowski says: government doesn’t have a technological solution.[1]

    He also says the correct order to establish policy to cut emissions is:

    1. get mandate to cut emissions
    2. decide how we can cut emissions (i.e. define the technological solutions)
    3. Then carbon pricing

    I agree with 1 and 2 and want to wait and see the answer to 2 before I decide if 3 is the optimal approach.

    “The first thing we need to do is get a mandate for widespread reductions in greenhouse gases and fossil fuel usage, and then point to how that is going to happen in terms of the sort of technologies that are going to become available over the next several decades,” Dr Switkowski told The Australian.

    “Then we can use an emissions trading scheme and a price on carbon to drive behaviour in that direction.

    “At this stage, the government is putting in place an emissions trading scheme, but without being clear what people are meant to do if we start discouraging the use of petrol.”


    Industry says: government doesn’t have a technological solution, and the proposed policy, given its timing, threatens Australia’s economy.

    [2] ‘Labor loses key carbon supporter’

    But Ms Ridout, the Australian Industry Group chief executive, last night declined to back Ms Gillard’s proposal to introduce a fixed carbon price from July 1 next year and an emissions trading scheme three to five years later.

    “The jury is very much still out on the introduction of a carbon price in Australia, with industry very concerned about the competitive impacts,” Ms Ridout said.

    “In this regard, all options should still be on the table, including that of rollback until the final shape of the government’s proposal is clear.

    “While certainty is important for decision-making around major long-term investments, this certainty should not come at the cost of a loss of competitiveness that sends jobs and emissions offshore or risks the continuity of energy supply.”


    Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry economics director Greg Evans said the group’s position was, “We don’t think there should be any action from Australia until there is international movement, as it is conferring a major competitive disadvantage on competitive industry”.

    “Until we have agreed action we should not penalise domestic industry and the future government should not be constrained from unravelling any carbon regime that is adopted,” Mr Evans said.


    Business Council of Australia said “We call on the government and Coalition to come together with business to develop an approach that is economically and environmentally responsible, and able to provide a gradual transition of Australia’s economy in the context of international developments.”



  113. If the NPP is producing $0.05/kwh electricity, then hydrogen @ ~40 kwh/kg is indeed $2/kg. However, it on;y needs 2 g of hydrogen, rather than 12 g of carbon, to pick up each 16 g of oxygen, so $2/kg hydrogen is equivalent to $0.33/kg coke. Bad, but not as bad as the weight/weight cost comparison would suggest.

    Even so, this is clearly something to look at only after coal has been removed from electricity generation, and probably after electrifying transport as well.


  114. ////I agree with 1 and 2 and want to wait and see the answer to 2 before I decide if 3 is the optimal approach.////

    Everyone, Peter Lang has approved of options 1 and 2!!!!!

    I *must* get this down in case I forget what PETER has said! Oh where’s my diary when I REALLY need it, PETER has spoken!


  115. I wonder if Ms Ridout is contradicting the views of some of her industry association members. BHP Billiton, AGL, Origin Energy and General Motors Holden have all said they can live with carbon tax. I suspect what the Chamber of Commerce really wants is a stiff tariff on goods made in China and India. If that happened perhaps they’d drop their objections to carbon pricing.

    It seems Ferguson has gone back into wind-and-solar-will-save-us mode. Switkowski says all options should be discussed first but it’s been on the table since 2007 and we must do something soon. Carbon tax is still 15 months away and I suspect it will be watered down to near irrelevance.

    Apart from metal smelting hydrogen will be needed for synfuel when oil is prohibitive. One approach hydrogenates black sludge from rendered wastes.
    I doubt that will replace 90 million barrels of oil a day.


  116. Hi John,
    how about discovering negabarrels rather than megabarrels?

    Please watch my favourite New Urbanism video “Built to last” which is more like a music video than lecture. (4 minutes — you’ve probably already seen it)

    We could forget energy efficient cars and start building energy efficient cities, but my guess is there will be some electric car clubs where you can hire them on occasion.

    Also extremely thought provoking is this fantastic article “My other car is a Bright Green city!.” Grab a coffee! Alex Steffen shows how in just 20 years we could drastically reduce oil dependency by clever city rezoning.

    Lastly, trolley buses go up 5 times cheaper and faster than trams.


  117. John,

    I suspect each of the representative Industry groups would have canvassed their members, discussed policy and received broad support from its members before making the sorts of statements they are making. It is also well recognised that various industries have a lot to gain from a carbon Tax and ETS (eg gas, renewables, banks, financial industry, accountants, lawyers and many more). Also, some businesses are playing politics have other agendas. I answered you often repeated statement about Marius Kloppers (BHP CEO) several times on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread. No point repeating it again, since you didn’t respond to any of the previous times I’ve done so.

    John your other points have been well and truly put to bed on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread. Carbon tax is very bad policy for the reasons already stated. It is another bad policy by the same groups who blocked nuclear for 40 years.


  118. EN, I realise you hate any discussion relating to rational economics and rational policies. But, luckily, not everyone has such a closed mind.

    Many people, perhaps most, do try to understand what is motivating those who oppose them. It is good business to understand the opposition. It is good engineering and good practice for developing policy to consider all options. That is something that is not being done, as I have clearly demonstrated over the past year on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread, whether you choose to admit it or not. What I have been saying for over a year is supported by the quotes I provided yesterday and today from the leaders of Australia’s business and industry representatives.

    I get the impression you are one of those people who would like to say “Now Choir, stick your fingers in your ears and scream La La La La La at the top of your voice”.


  119. Peter Lang,
    you know nothing about me. Many years ago I won the First Place prize in my Advanced Diploma in Political Economy of the Welfare State. We could talk Marx, Weber, Keynsian, Austrian, or even extreme local economies if you want. Not that I’m an economist, but more viewing it from a more sociological viewpoint. Economics does interest me, and I love the creativity of the free market. I also have a mate who *is* an economist and we bat ideas around quite a bit, such as systems for money creation, total employment, price stability, etc. It’s my area of speciality, but it is an area of interest.

    So it’s not so much the *subject* but your attitude that turns me off. This blog would frankly improve 500% if simply stopped sulking at everyone in the comments. It’s not as if this is your blog.


  120. BNCers will be pleased to know that Barry “won” the debate against Ian Lowe yesterday, Result after the debate, on an electronic telephone poll, was 54% of the audience were now for nuclear power. The electronic poll faltered initially and a show of hands gave Barry the win by an even greater margin. Maybe not everyone had their phones with them or turned on to vote when asked.This was a Green conference remember – so a great result! Barry was verycompelling and convincing and instilled great confidence, in the audience,that he knew the subject. I think the tide has turned in the community.


  121. Hi all,
    this interesting comment in from an American Pastor who was in a nuclear sub when Chernobyl blew.

    “I remember when it happened. I was in the Navy. I was stationed on a sub that was in the Med at the time. I remember it set off our air particulate detectors and we were hundreds of miles south and a little west. We actually had to close up the boat in the port because there was more radioactivity in the outside air than the inside air up against the reactor compartment bulkhead. Ha.”


  122. Government’s carbon plan causing confusion

    … the desire to “do something” has been substantially replaced by puzzlement about just why Australia needs to move in the direction of more taxes, especially when its major trading partners are not. To the extent that countries are investing in clean energy — as China so determinedly is, for example — most are closer to the direct action model advocated by the Liberals than to imposing a price on carbon. And the importance of coal-powered Chinese growth to the economy has only reinforced the message that what Australia does is effectively irrelevant to any global change to carbon emissions.

    I think the article is worth reading.


  123. Look on the bright side Peter. By the time we get the nuclear message out there, people will be so sick of paying so much for their juice and oil they’ll welcome the idea of cheaper nukes. And after taking all that money off us for so long, the government won’t have an excuse to not fast-track a nuke assembly line when the true dimensions of the final oil crisis kick in.

    We’ll need abundant clean electricity from nuclear power quick smart as we try to offset peak oil and build up EV’s, fast rail, and trolley buses.

    But as you don’t believe in global warming OR peak oil — despite the cutting edge science converging around these topics — then your opinion here is just so much Laissez-Faire ranting. One wonders why you’re even really interested in nuclear power if you don’t give a stuff about climate change? Oh, that’s right, those Lefty Greenie bastards might wreck your precious ‘economy’ if they got their pesky tax through. No wonder you’re ranting. This for you is judgment day.

    But don’t worry Pete old boy old chap, it won’t hurt as much as if we let the many climate feedbacks run away. I don’t understand why you foam at the mouth so about a few taxes when Barry’s the one that should be foaming at the mouth about what we’re doing to the climate and he best — on this list anyway — can visualise the hellish pathway we might be on. So again, as you don’t believe all that, why do you keep coming back?

    Oh yeah. That silly little tax is going to wreck your whole day.

    See, it’s not that I don’t care or think about economic arguments and structures and wonder at the diversity of economic systems across the world. It’s that in comparison to the real world of the physics of global warming and peak oil, it just all seems so *petty*. Who really cares? If the American Joint Forces command is right, we’re probably in for a Great Depression by 2015 anyway!


  124. Carbon Tax = Recession. Much deeper than “The Recession we had to have”

    Carbon pricing cannot achieve the 2020 emissions targets without causing a deep, sustained recession – much deeper than Paul Keating’s “Recession we had to have”.

    Emissions are dependent on population, per capita GDP, energy intensity and carbon intensity. Population is growing and energy intensity and carbon intensity cannot be cut sufficiently by 2020. Therefore, to achieve the 2020 emissions targets we’d have to cut GDP.

    Australia’s targets mean we must cut emissions by 160 million tonnes per year (Mt/a) by 2020. Replacing Hazelwood coal power station with gas would save about 12 Mt/a and may be complete by perhaps 2017. Where would the remaining 148 Mt/a come from? Efficiency improvements cannot achieve much and, with higher electricity prices, electricity will not replace fossil fuels for transport or direct combustion (e.g. gas for heating).

    So what is left? The only way we could achieve the targets is with a deep, long depression. GDP would have to be cut back to well below 2000 levels. That is, GDP would have to be cut back far worse than in the depths of Paul Keating’s recession.

    More here:
    and subsequent comments


  125. It’s all part of a deeply sinister PLAN Peter.

    I’m sure Julia has not thought that far ahead. She is just hoping the ‘magic of the marketplace’ will work wonders and come up with ‘something’ once carbon is priced. It will cost more, so something else will replace carbon. And as everyone on this list knows that’s impossible because the only answer is illegal.

    It will take some time to break that message out into the community. Barry’s doing a great job, and all you can do is fart in his general direction because of your precious economic theories!

    Your post above is foaming-at-the-mouth material. You seem to believe the Labor government is PLANNING on a Depression, and I think that’s as hysterical as some of the 9/11 Troofer stuff! “Big Bad Labor is planning a Great Depression! Peters’ got the numbers! News at 7.”

    We’ll probably hit the Greater Depression this decade, but as I said that will happen if the likes of the American JFC are proved right.


  126. And, if I’m right, it won’t be as a result of any ‘plan’. It will be sheer stupid ignorance that throws us into a peak oil Depression.

    Peter, if a carbon tax is coming do you think ranting about it helps? Don’t you think backing nuclear activists like Barry is more important? Can you get off your friggin high horse for once and control your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder need to scream “Laissez-Faire ROCKS and is the ONLY WAY TO GO!” at everyone who pops in here for more than 5 seconds?

    Or for another example, how’s your “We need cheaper, far less safer nuclear power plants” campaign going? If people disagree, I Peter Lang will just hit them over the head with my indestructible Nerf Gun of truth until they agree! ;-) Yeah, that was going to sell.

    Try being human for once.


  127. Sorry there’s been no new posts on BNC for the past 5 days – I’ve been pretty flat out on my trip to Tasmania and Melbourne over the last week. I hope to get something up on recent global temperatures tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!

    I had a pretty good event here in Melbourne tonight, apart from the opening guy in question time who said (in caricature) that everything I said on the IFR was nonsense and that I should crawl back under my shell and stick to biology!


  128. @Eclipsenow
    Although I agree with most of your political positions, I hope you will refrain from posting them so much on here. It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

    Energy is unavoidably political, as it is regarded as too important to be left to the engineers, but it doesn’t have to be a shouting match. We need to do several things in parallel

    Convince the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right, that pollution in general and CO2 emission in particular are a significant threat to their/their children’s health and prosperity, and that it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

    Convince those who are concerned about climate change, most of whom are on the political left, that nuclear is already safer than coal, and is unavoidable if you want to make a serious dent in emissions. This seems to be happening already.

    Convince the moderate majority in the centre of the political spectrum that if you are going to cut emissions, nuclear is the cheapest supply-side measure available, provided that you don’t tie up the whole process in knots with the wrong regulations. Most important is probably a process that gets all the hearings/appeals over before construction starts, but which can be accepted by most as thorough and fair. Suggestions welcome!

    It is always easier to convince someone close to ones own outlook than to reach across the aisle to someone who will likely dismiss all you say as simply serving your evil agenda. Pro-nuclear environmentalists (Stewart Brand, Barry….) make a much bigger impression on anti-nuclear sentiment than anything from industry executives who will simply be dismissed as wanting to make money without regard to public safety. Who is there who can do the reverse job, speak convincingly to conservatives about the economic costs of pollution? That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?


  129. I would have liked it if there were some more of your typical anti-nuclear greenies in the audience watching that excellent lecture from Barry Brook in Melbourne tonight, because they would just have to sit there and squirm, and there would be nothing they could argue about, nothing they could challenge and nothing they could say.

    It’s kind of a shame there didn’t seem to be any such persons there.

    I’m certain they would have had no choice but to watch and learn something. Then maybe they would get the point and go off and learn your basic nuclear engineering literacy.

    There was absolutely no room for rhetoric or drama or the usual scientifically illiterate nonsense and vapid questions and claims from anti-nuclearists, just a seriously technical discussion that is seriously persuasive, seriously educational, and is pitched at exactly the technically respectable, scientifically respectable level of discussion that we need more of in this country.

    Excellent stuff.


  130. Well, he didn’t actually explain anything of any substance, and didn’t even give us the opportunity to try to take him seriously, because he didn’t present any substance. But he wasn’t your typical anti-nuclear activist.

    Barry explained that he should come here and post a comment elucidating his concerns with some actual explanation and detail of what he’s talking about. That would be just fine, I would encourage it.

    But I doubt it will actually happen.


  131. The term ‘forgetting cycle’ has been applied when countries embark upon yet another unwinnable war. The term could easily apply to oil prices and extreme weather events as well. Both are reasons to replace carbon as soon as possible. It was only 2008 when $150 oil triggered the global financial crisis. It was only 2009 when Melbourne hit 48C and 173 people were incinerated in fire storms. Now we are in a temporary La Nina the presumption seems to be things will remain this way. Melburnians are complaining of the multibillion dollar cost of the desal plant since it is no longer needed they reckon. What if $150 oil and extreme hot weather make a comeback?

    I would be gobsmacked by the short term thinking if these conditions returned yet a blinkered minority had decided either it was not a problem or not their problem. The do-nothing camp should worry that the mob will be looking for someone to blame. Even if major carbon mitigation won’t make much difference medium term at least we’ll feel we are making an effort. If Hansen is right that El Nino is returning in the next couple of years and the oil pundits have correctly predicted another price shock in that time then the politics will be charged. The do-nothing camp represented by Tony Abbott would be wise to hedge their bets.


  132. ////That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?////
    If convincing Peter is your aim, forget it.

    @ John Newlands, so true. How easily we forget!


  133. Luke_UK.
    @ 1 March 2011 at 11:12 PM

    The comment you addressed to EclipseNow is a good. I do understand your point, and I hope you and others can understand and accept there is an alternative perspective. I’ll go through your comment bit by bit to try to show there is an equally valid alternative point of view (I realise some regulars will refute most of this just on principle without even considering it).

    Although I agree with most of your political positions, I hope you will refrain from posting them so much on here. It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

    Several points come out of this first paragraph: The congregation here is almost entirely of the same political ideology as yourself and EclipseNow. The “repel borders” and “don’t blaspheme in our church” type of reaction has been going on and vicious since I started posting on BNC. It is throughout many comments including many by the host. After a while it becomes very tiresome, and I responded. After a while (a long while) and following one of many long Howard-hater rants by Fran, I responded. We’ll the derision and vilification started in earnest after that, and has never stopped. This is an example of how a congregation of zealots behaves when they do not like what is being said by an outsider. As Barry said “the truth hurts”. This statement is typical: “It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

    Convince the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right, that pollution in general and CO2 emission in particular are a significant threat to their/their children’s health and prosperity, and that it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

    … the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right,
    This statement is correct. The reverse is equally true. The climate alarmists are on the political left. They are economically irrational and their policies and what they advocate have done enormous damage in the past (like anti-nuclear, bio-fuels, renewable energy, DDT ban, etc). The conservatives and climate sceptics are rightly concerned that climate alarmism is based on the same sorts of irrational and irresponsible ideologies that have done so much harm in the past. So the conservatives do not trust what the Left is trying to sell. There is little point in continually repeating the Alarmist mantra. The correct approach should be for the buyer to conduct proper, impartial, due diligence. Due diligence means the buyer does a proper, thorough investigation of what the seller is offering. This has not been done and it is being blocked by the Alarmists. Getting Labour/Labor party supporters like Stern and Garnaut to do economic modelling simply increases scepticism because they are partial. They support the Left side of politics. If Left is so confident that its ideological beliefs will stand up to proper due diligence scrutiny then they should not be opposed to proper due diligence.

    it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

    This statement is correct. But it is simplistic because it says a “small cost”. That is pure spin. It is the sort of misleading and dishonest statement that discredits the Left’s whole argument. Many conservatives believe that the Left don’t give a damn about cost or economics and basically haven’t got a clue about it. TheLeft do not realise, or do not care, about the consequences of recession or depression for example. So when the Left say “a small cost”, conservatives whjince and think, what would they know; what would they care. The conservatives don’t trust them (and rightly so on economics). EclipseNow’s responses to my comments, about the deep recession that would be needed to achieve the 2020 targets in the absence of technological solutions for fuel switching, are a typical answer from the Left. It is an example of Left denying what they don’t want to hear. Then, when we do adopt the Left’s policies, we get ourselves into serious trouble, as has happened so many times before.

    There are several alternatives approachs that could achieve what both the Left and right want but they are opposed by the Left, in principle; some examples are:

    1. conduct due diligence
    2. allow economically rational solutions
    3. Left totally remove its opposition to nuclear and become strong advocates for rapid roll out of low cost nuclear – it is hypocritical for the Left to be blaming the Conservatives for opposing the Left’s irrational policies when the Left has opposed nuclear and blocked development for 50 years
    4. remove the impediments to-low cost nuclear
    5. remove the requirements that nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer than coal

    Convince the moderate majority in the centre of the political spectrum that if you are going to cut emissions, nuclear is the cheapest supply-side measure available, provided that you don’t tie up the whole process in knots with the wrong regulations.

    I agree with this. But there is more to it than what you’ve stated here. If we are going to implement the same sorts of regulations as apply in USA, Canada, UK, Europe there is no way that nuclear can be economically viable in Australia. So we need to investigate what are the impediments to implementing low cost nuclear in Australia. That is clearly being avoided by BNCers and by Garnaut and by the Government and by all the government departments. That is another example of the sort of avoidance, spin and mischief that makes the Conservatives distrust what the Left is arguing for.

    Most important is probably a process that gets all the hearings/appeals over before construction starts, but which can be accepted by most as thorough and fair. Suggestions welcome!

    This is important, but comes later. More important, and urgent, is to determine what are the impediments to low cost nuclear, what is their quantum, if they were removed what would be the cost of nuclear compared with new entrant coal, and how could the impediments be removed? What would we have to do to get nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. That is the first priority.

    It is always easier to convince someone close to ones own outlook than to reach across the aisle to someone who will likely dismiss all you say as simply serving your evil agenda.

    That is true! That is true! If you and others here would apply that in your writings you would stop the continual stream of venom, bile, name calling, derision, vilification of those who do not share your ideological beliefs. Then you would be more persuasive and less antagonistic. You also need to be prepared to listen to the Conservative’s objections about what you are advocating. And be prepared to acknowledge their concerns and consider how they could be incorporated in a plan to achieve the Left’s and the Right’s objectives. There is little sign of that on BNC.

    Pro-nuclear environmentalists (Stewart Brand, Barry….) make a much bigger impression on anti-nuclear sentiment than anything from industry executives who will simply be dismissed as wanting to make money without regard to public safety.

    True. But likewise, conservatives and those who understand the economic repercussions of bad economic policy make a much bigger impression on those who do understand the consequences of bad economic polices.

    Who is there who can do the reverse job, speak convincingly to conservatives about the economic costs of pollution? That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?

    Luke, Wrong question! You are trying to preach your belief instead of asking questions, listening and learning. You believe you are correct and Conservatives are wrong or ignorant. But to those who you are trying to reach, the opposite is the case. The conservatives have a much greater awareness, overall, of all the components that go to make for better and improving conditions for humanity. They are not ignorant about the environmental component. They just see it in balance, whereas the Left doesn’t.

    In answer to your question, here is one (but it is more about energy than about CAGW):


  134. ////”EclipseNow’s responses to my comments, about the deep recession that would be needed to achieve the 2020 targets in the absence of technological solutions for fuel switching, are a typical answer from the Left.”////
    Oooh, please demonstrate:
    * That I’m from the “Left” — ha ha! — I’m in the middle. You’re just so far “Right” from the mainstream that anything different looks like it’s from Communist Russia!
    * That my comment is typical of the Left. Can you please show where the average Lefty politician says their Carbon Tax is not going to fix global warming without nuclear power, that it will just raise costs to little effect without nukes, and that it is just wishful thinking hoping the marketplace will ‘come up with something’? Please also demonstrate which Lefty politicians accuse Labor of not having a plan for peak oil and that this will probably crash us back to a Greater Depression because they’ve left adjusting too late.


    ////”The congregation here”////
    Why how patronising of you PL, but I guess that’s what we’ve come to expect and why you are on everyone’s ignore list.

    ////“don’t blaspheme in our church”////
    That’s not the reaction at all Peter. Go back and read Barry’s post.He is more concerned about your attitude, not your politics. To paraphrase Barry without any reference to politics at all so you might have a chance of understanding it: “Stop being such a rude, patronising bastard and stop nagging us to death!” There’s a difference between having a polite discussion about political differences and being such a nagging old bitch about it. You’re simply delusional if you think you’ve alienated even Barry with mere ‘political differences’.

    ////”long Howard-hater rants by Fran”////
    Maybe she started something, maybe she didn’t. I wouldn’t put it past you to just flat out *lie* that ‘Fran started it’. Incidentally, where is Fran? Didn’t you alienate her to the point of practically leaving this blog? If Fran has left, why do you still keep on going?

    Anyway, due to a severe attack of nausea I couldn’t be bothered reading past the first third of your rant. Give up.


  135. Pete, I’ve examined the available evidence, and concluded CAGW is real, therefore I am an “alarmist”.
    On the other hand I consider myself an economic rationalist and politically a libertarian. Care to tell me which pigeonhole you want to put me in ?


  136. Why is Peter Lang even *talking* about DDT on this blog? Could it be more off-topic?

    Personally, I’m rather surprised that Barry hasn’t already swung the banhammer multiple times – he’s amazingly tolerant of disparate viewpoints on this blog.

    Peter, quick question (and I’d like a short answer, please): do you reject AGW because “it’s a lefty plot” you read about on a denialist blog (that seems to be the origin of the ‘CAGW’ acronym you use), or because you’ve extensively reviewed & evaluated the scientific literature and disagree with the findings of the world’s foremost experts in the field?
    Ok, well, not such a short question. I’d still like a brief, honest answer.
    Because if it’s the former, then I’ll not pay any attention to you again. If it’s the latter, then there’s some scope for serious discussion about what you think the experts got wrong.
    On the other hand, I actually left one important option out: that you *do* think AGW is a problem, but you strongly disagree with how it’s being dealt with.


  137. re: 9/11 and the nuclear movement.

    upthread, Eclipse Now acted as what is known as a left-wing gatekeeper by referring contemptuously to “troofers” ie 9-11 truth movement people.

    as John Pilger might say, it is indeed a back-handed compliment to the strength of the mainstream (anti-Chinese? anti-Indonesian? post-British Empire?) Americanism in the South Pacific branch office that this gatekeeping persists in the Feral Murdochracy (NB: Murdoch is the owner of Fox News in the USA and 70% of the Australian press).

    Three comments are in order:

    1. Given the hundreds of discrepancies between the official US govt. version of what happened on 9-11 and observable facts, it was likely a false flag attack designed to justify the subsequent US expansion into Central and South Asia. As Energy is All, Eclipse Now might like to review known and unproven reserves/estimates of fossil fuels in that area, which China or India “must not be allowed” to access uncontrolled by US and NATO. Writings on geopolitics prior to 9-11 by e.g. Zelikow and Brzezinski indicate this strongly. The former then became the fox guarding the hen coop when allowed to whitewash 9-11 in the Commission’s report which he wrote/perpetrated himself.

    Actually, all BNC bloggers should be 9-11 Truthers, because exposing Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan as a fossil fuel grab vis-a-vis local Asian rivals can only underpin the case for nuclear.

    Unless of course BNC worships at the altar of the US military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned in 1961?

    2. BNC is a blog conspicuous for its adherents’ claims to numeracy, rationality, objectivity. Now public supporters of 9-11 Truth include, apart from many chemists and physicists, i.e. Superior Beings in the eyes of BNC, ca. 1,500 engineers and architects. If they are all mad for being “troofers”, as implied by Eclipse Now, the construction safety of e.g. many US buildings and the quality of US tertiary education needs to be looked at, because they have been built and designed by people who are graduates of that system. But I do not see any call by Eclipse and his ilk to criticise that tertiary system for not having sieved out such “lunatics”. Why is that?

    Incidentally, given that BNC people will likely admire past “humanitarian interventions” eg the one in Yugoslavia against Serbia, note that Gen. Wesley Clark is a public 9-11 Truther calling for an independent investigation.

    3. CSIRO is the local Australian equivalent of the US government’s NIST. BNC hosts any and all criticism of CSIRO, as far as I can see – and rightly so in my view – including entries by Geoff, who has published (a) book(s) attacking CSIRO. How is that therefore that the demonstrably unscientific NIST statements on 9-11 are swallowed whole on BNC? Especially given the enormous implications (see above) for global warming once Central Asian fossil fuels come on tap more and more?
    If there is one ideology that is paramount on BNC it is the self-proclamation of Non-Ideology. But is is risibly evident that this is hollow.


  138. Actually, all BNC bloggers should be 9-11 Truthers, because exposing Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan as a fossil fuel grab vis-a-vis local Asian rivals can only underpin the case for nuclear.

    Unless of course BNC worships at the altar of the US military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned in 1961?

    No Mr. Lalor. It’s not like that at all.


  139. How is that therefore that the demonstrably unscientific NIST statements on 9-11 are swallowed whole on BNC?

    When did 9/11 ever get discussed enough (or at all) on BNC to come to that conclusion?


  140. Peter Lalor,

    upthread, Eclipse Now acted as what is known as a left-wing gatekeeper

    I’m intrigued. Known as such by whom, and signifying what exactly?

    Unless of course BNC worships at the altar of the US military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned in 1961?

    Indeed so, thrice daily with blood supplications on feast days.


  141. @Morgan: the term “left wing gatekeeper” has 4,000 Google hits currently; I realise it may be more current outside South Pacific-brand English, so you may like to peruse some of those hits.

    As also with Finrod and Brook, your preferred rejoinder appears to be ridicule. Your loyalty to the Great and the Good knows no bounds, does it? Still, your salaries (on trend,) do depend on it, I realise that.

    After all, we have the consultant to the Swiss govt. on Peak Oil, Daniele Ganser of Uni Basle. He recentlxy polled ca. 200 fellow pol. scientists across Europe, asking why, if they thought that 9-11 needed a new investigation, they did not publish papers on it. He reported in a radio interview that they all told him they were scared for their jobs.

    Suffice it to say, the more Central Asian oil/natgas comes on stream under NATO control, the worse it looks for nuclear in the rich high-C02, i.e. NATO countries, wouldn’t you say?

    Unless the deprivation of said resources compels China to accelerate its nuclear programme, in which case that would be a nice irony of the 9-11 false flag attack.

    Please mentally add whatever figures (tonnes, MW, cubic feet, km.of pipeline, KWh, etc.) you might find necessary to lend my purely verbal argument that special BNC certificate of approval (humour)


  142. One comment on this 9-11 business (I’ll probably regret this):

    That the 9-11 commission was a whitewash is probably or flat out true. It does not follow that 9-11 was an “inside job.”

    Read James Ridgeway’s book, Five Unanswered Questions about 9-11, a very good book, and compare it with a conspiracy theory book by Chossudovsky or Michael Ruppert (I read them all–and many others as part of a research project part of whose purpose was to analyze the difference between good explanations and conspiracy theory explanations–which are usually, though not always, bogus).

    Especially look at the way RIdgeway and Chossudovsky handle the U.S. ISI (pakistani intelligence service) connection. The latter simply assumes that the ISI is a CIA “asset” pure and simple. As R shows, it was not simply this but was divided, containing both U.S. allies and U.S. enemies.

    Figures in the ISI almost surely knew about 9-11 and the ISI chief of Intelligence was meeting with u.s. congress people the day of the attack.

    Conspiracy theorists assume that they were “all in on it.”

    But this is false. The ISI chief who met with congresspeople, Ahmed, on the morning of 9-11 did apparently fund one of the 9-11 bombers, but the U.S. (including those who met with Ahmed that morning like Joseph Biden, Bob Graham and George Tenet) did not know about it until later (perhaps they should have known).

    Ahmed was REMOVED FROM HIS POST 3 WEEKS AFTER 9-11. Chossudovsky, the conspiracy theorist, FAILS TO MENTION THIS AND UNFORTUNATELY, THESE DETAILS MEAN EVERYTHING. They mean the difference between a declining power that cannot control former “assets,” and paranoid assumptions about a totalitarian u.s. government, that is somehow at once all knowing and incredibly incompetent.

    I think the 9-11 truth people have gone off the deep end, which they perhaps wouldn’t have done had there been a more serious investigation of 9-11. On the other hand, it really is hard to see the conspiracy theorists as more out to lunch than people who just take the government’s word for granted. WHAT’S REALLY DISTURBING IS THIS DICHOTOMY BETWEEN ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICIAL STORY ON ONE HAND AND CONSPIRACY ON THE OTHER. But in order to avoid both camps, you have to read a bunch of stuff that ordinary people simply do not have time to do, and read it critically.

    As far as engineers for 9-11 truth (1500, whatever), that’s no more convincing than the Oregon Petition. National Geographic actually took 9-11 truth engineer Richard Gage seriously and subjected his claims (demolition etc) to scrutiny. I doubt many have an interest, but you can google this.

    Former Nation columnist alexander cockburn, now infamous for his global warming denialism, is a staunch opponent of conspiracy theories like 9-11. George Monbiot had a great piece showing how similar denialist reasoning is to 9-11 conspiracy theory, in order to suggest that Cockburn was off his rocker.

    Also: if you’re a conspiracy theorist, think for a damn moment. why have your “asset” in the ISI pay off someone to fly a jet into the twin towers while also paying off “insiders” to do controlled demolition? Talk about damn Ockham’s Razor?!!!

    Peter Lalor: you don’t know what you’re talking about when you claim the NIST analysis is demonstrably false, do you?


  143. BTW, David Benson has mentioned Pigliucci’s very interesting book (got it on kindle) Nonsense on Stilts numerous times.

    While it does discuss–subjecting to true skepticism– both creationism and global warming denial, I wish it had actually gone into the “scientific” debates around 9-11, as it would have been educational.


  144. @Meyerson: concerning my mention of NIST, it has to do with the WTC 7 collapse and free fall, among other things, but as you are a self-educated nukie coming from Humanities, I am sure you know all about that, so why ask me? Scared of the answer?

    The rest of what you wrote is classic Straw Man. As if Prof Jones, Kevin Ryan, Chandler et. al. and David Griffin did not exist and the correct interpretation of 9-11 turns on Pakistan alone.

    Next thing you’ll be saying that the misguided Truthers who claim no plane hit the Pentagon are the “essential” Truthers, so all WTC controlled demolition evidence is “irrelevant.” Hint: WTC were in NY; the Pentagon is not, how about that?!

    You cite National Geographic? its role as US cheerleader in the Vietnam war? Now quote me Michael Chertoff’s cousin “debunking” 911 Truth in “Popular Mechanics” as well, and make my day.

    Still, it is probably true that the entire destruction of a war effort justified by a false flag attack, in this case Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan, is needed before the US gullible, in this case left-wing gate keepers, will admit it was a false flag attack.

    That is, if Germany had not been defeated and taken under US tutelage as anti-Soviet bulwark in 1945, Germans would still believe that live Poles, and not carefully-arranged corpses in Polish uniforms, had attacked the radio mast at Gleiwitz/Silesia in 1939, this being Hitler’s casus belli to invade. But at Nuremberg, the Nazi general who had set up the Gleiwitz show spilled the beans during his trial, so it became quite OK for ex-Nazis to see Gleiwitz as “false flag”, provided they kept loving Harry S. Truman and Ike and dancing to Glenn Miller, etc.

    The relevance to nukies is as I said before:

    9-11 has enabled many to feel moral about attempted NATO control of Central Asian oil/natgas. This can occur either through direct occupation by NATO armies or mercenaries, or by inserting nearby military bases vis-a-vis China/India, at a time when those commodities should be going offline rather than becoming more plentiful. The reason is called global warming.

    (Let’s see if Brook, who is a gatekeeper alright but not a left wing one, now “bans my arse”, on this topic, as he threatened to do months ago. That would be cute, given the intricate link between 9-11 and NATO access to fossil fuels in Central Asia.)


  145. You don’t read sources carefully. You judge their politics before you look at evidence–rampant guilt by association.

    I’ve read David Griffin, three of his books (so your name dropping makes no sense as usual). I was open to the argument but it’s not convincing when you read Manuel Garcia or the latest NIST or natl geo.

    M. Garcia is a leftist but he agrees with National Geographic. if you condemn the latter in knee jerk fashion because they supported the vietnam war, what to do with Garcia, who did not?

    You reduce evidence to political interest in a way which makes you look like a parody of a bad poststructuralist.

    Incredible that you take yourself seriously. Instead of looking at the multi part series by National Geographic that responds directly to Gage, you pull the Vietnam war line?

    would you like it if I smeared you ala guilt by association with some of the truthers racist views about immigrants (not Griffin but alex jones, say)?

    or associated you with Charlie Sheen?

    The pakistani example is no straw man: it’s a clear indication that the conspiracy theorists are either dishonest or lack care.

    Don’t pull your B.S. with me. I’ve actually read Ruppert, Griffin, Chossudovsky, Loehr, etc. etc.

    and their critics.


  146. ////Eclipse, noooooo! You said the word “Truther” in a previous comment. Don’t you realise, you madman, that this is akin to tossing a bucket of blood burley in off the side of the boat and then waiting for the triangular Laloric dorsal fin to arrive?////
    Ha ha ha!

    On no, what have I done? I see a “Great White Lalor” closing in for the kill!

    ///The correct spelling for this usage is “troofer”.///
    Ha ha ha, the ripping and tearing and munching begins.

    @ Tom Keen,
    I think I like where that paper is probably heading.

    @ John Morgan
    ///Indeed so, thrice daily with blood supplications on feast days.///
    I toss around chicken entrails to appease the lesser gods of 9/11, but each to their own.

    @ Barry Brook
    ///What is C02? Some new NATO code word?///
    Ha ha, it’s like some James Bond code word sequence.
    Bond: “What is Co2?”
    Contact: “Only a product we exhale”
    Bond: “So, what is it you contacted me about?”
    Contact: “The troofers are on to us!”

    @ Barry
    Peter Lalor said:
    ///(Let’s see if Brook, who is a gatekeeper alright but not a left wing one, now “bans my arse”, on this topic, as he threatened to do months ago. That would be cute, given the intricate link between 9-11 and NATO access to fossil fuels in Central Asia.)///
    Dang, Barry, he’s onto us! Call Central Asia and Nato and tell them the whole game is off — we can’t even ban Lalor now or we will confirm his hypothesis. By the way, when is our next cheque due to come through from Nato? I’m broke!

    @ Finrod
    ///Indeed, all history has been unfolding towards this epic moment of the banning of Peter Lalor from BNC. It’s a pivotal element of God’s plan.///
    The sharks Finrod, the sharks!

    @ ALL,


  147. Vaguely on topic, though admittedly parochial…. The UK government is proposing to dispose of our ~100 tonne stockpile of reactor grade plutonium by converting it to MOX fuel, at a an estimated cost of $8-10 billion, according to a WNN article. They have invited public comments, in particular answers to a set of questions, the fist of which is

    Do you agree that it is not realistic for the Government to wait until fast breeder reactor technology is commercially available before taking a decision on how to manage plutonium stocks?

    Is there any interest – particularly from the rest of the poms-in putting a reply in? Even if we won’t do any reactor development ourselves, and giving the Pu to India, where they are desperate for fast reactor start charges, is politically impossible, building another MOX plant seems a particularly bad idea. The US facility will only be used for downblending weapons Pu, after that it will have nothing to do. Paying them to keep the plant running to deal with our Pu must surely be cheaper..


  148. As Mike Williamson said, I tipped this.

    In Nature today, Mark Serreze does a News & Views piece ‘Rethinking the sea-ice tipping point’ on work by Tietsche et al just published in GRL. In a nutshell, it’s good news – the Arctic sea ice is not quite the climate ‘tipping point’ it had been thought to be. Here’s Serreze as to why:

    The crux is winter. Initially, with ice-free summers, the ocean picks up a great deal of extra heat, delaying autumn ice growth. If there was a tipping point, this summer heat gain would lead to ice cover the following spring being thin enough to completely melt out over the following summer. Instead, so much ocean heat is lost during the darkness of the polar winter that enough ice grows to survive the next summer’s melt.

    Compare with what I wrote on the A catastrophe in slow motion – sea ice updates thread back in 2008:

    …there’s another parameter I’d like to throw into a back-of-envelope calculation – the thermal conductivity and other insulating properties of ice w.r.t. open water. Everyone goes on about the positive feedback effects of the albedo drop from ice to water, but what about the half of the year when there’s little or no sun? Presumably the ocean will give up more of its stored heat more readily during the polar night without an initial ice cap than with one. Surely this constitutes a significant negative feedback process?

    Remember, you read it on BNC first!


  149. Hi Gordon,
    You forgot to look under “False flag” operations.

    Where it says:
    Many 9/11 conspiracy theories[citation needed]
    And the link takes us to

    Whereas all it says for “Peak Oil” is:

    Peak oil

    ///There are theories that the “peak oil” concept is a fraud concocted by the oil industries to increase prices amid concerns about future supplies. The oil industry is aware of vast reserves of untapped oil, according to these theories, but it deliberately refuses to utilize them in order to maintain the illusion of scarcity.///
    and then has a poor comparison to the diamond trade and a bit about ‘abiogenic oil’.

    All of this flies in the face of the peer reviewed geologist literature by the hard-nosed old boys of the industry. In other words, the wikipedia ‘peak oil’ conspiracy is to geology as the Ian Plimer is to real climate science. It’s denialism, pure and simple.

    Now *that’s* food for thought.


  150. Even past Labor Government ministers recognise that the Carbon Tax is a dud. Here Gary Johns, Minister in the Hawke-Keating government, explains why:

    For those who do not wish to read the article but would like a few snippets, see below:

    For droughts we build dams, for floods we build levees, for cyclones we rebuild stronger houses and replant crops. We have no option but to do these things. Indeed, when non-climate tragedies occur, such as earthquakes, we have no option but to rebuild. All of these things require energy. All of these things become more difficult if the price of energy rises.

    For the carbon tax to work, the price of carbon emissions will need to continue to rise, which means future governments will have to raise the tax. This is unlikely to occur. Certainty cannot be delivered under these circumstances.

    I sympathise with economists that a price on carbon emissions would deliver the electricity industry and their customers secure power generation.

    These things are not going to happen with a pricing mechanism that requires future governments to change the tax or the cap. Even with a carbon tax and a successful transition to a cap and trade system and future lowering of the cap, the likely medium-term changes to the Australian economy will be one or two power plants fired by gas and the de-commissioning of one or two coal-fired plants. Some reform, some abatement.

    I sympathise entirely with economists that a price would work best, in lieu of subsidies for renewables. Linking solar and wind generation to the grid is proving a real headache. But a pricing mechanism will not solve the inadequacy of these technologies.

    Australia’s mitigation strategy has no hope of doing other than lining the pockets of gas and nonrenewable energy producers and risking any number of Australia’s internationally competitive producers. The impact on global temperature will be nil.

    There are no benefits in adopting low-emission energy production early, because we can easily pick up on what others do at a later time.


    Tony Abbott’s promise to overturn a carbon tax means a price mechanism is no longer an option. Of course, it never was an option because for the tax and-or the cap and trade to work effectively future governments would have to continue to raise the price of carbon emissions, which is a bit like asking them to raise the GST on a regular basis. It simply will not happen.

    But do not despair. There is an economically rational solution to cutting emissions. It is explained in numerous comments on the BNC “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.


  151. Who are the real “deniers”? I’d argue many here are displaying just that trait. They deny the economically rational arguments without making an attempt to understand them. And by so doing they cast doubt on whether they have the capacity to be objective about any of their beliefs.

    In earlier discussions on other threads the same people who are warmists also argue that the Australian government should encourage (i.e. subsidise, mandate, regu;late) industries to force more ‘value adding’ in Australia. (e.g. uranium processing and many other examples). However, they also argue for a carbon tax which will have the exact opposite effect. Here is one example.

    Another example of the effect of a carbon tax is that Australian grown foods would be impacted and their price would increase, but the cost of imported foods would not increase. So adding a carbon price would favour imported foods over Australian grown foods. The effect would be to drive more Australian food growers out of business.


  152. Peter Lang starts off on a rant about economic Denialism and then says:

    ////who are warmists////

    “Oh the humanity!”

    You’re as consumed by dreams of a Laissez-Faire state as Peter Lalor is consumed by nightmares of NATO conspiracies controlling BNC and Barry through the use of Martian wacky tobaccy… or something, I could never quite tell WHAT Lalor was on about.

    //// You mean getting nice safe Gen3 nukes approved in Australia?

    My bad, I was being ironic only. I should have said something like:

    “You mean the solution might actually have something to do with NUCLEAR POWER? What kind of suggestion is that — isn’t this your economics blog? Why on earth would we discuss ENERGY SYSTEMS here at Brave New Capitalism?”

    See, I think the problem here is that you thought I cared what you thought? I don’t. And I think you knew that.

    Any excuse to point to your favourite thread on BNC hey? (Nudge nudge wink wink)

    The reason I said “nice safe Gen3 nukes” is of course — and you knew this — in contrast to your “cheaper, crapper, less safe nuclear power for Australia!” Why, I didn’t know you were a protagonist for the Greens? That’s a bumper sticker even Bob Brown would be happy with!

    No, I’d rather see us choose the RIGHT kind of nuclear power. If it needs a little subsidy, Carbon Tax or whatever, I don’t really care. Fossil fuels are already subsidised to the tune of $10 billion a year in Australia!

    SMH says:

    ///Subsidies to fossil fuel energies, worth close to $10 billion, result in a serious market distortion, create an unfair disadvantage to renewable energy, and help increase greenhouse gas pollution, says the report, written by the institute’s research principal, Chris Riedy, and commissioned by Greenpeace.///

    Check out the EU!

    ///Conventional energies are politically privileged everywhere in the world by large amounts of public money for research and development; by military protection costs; by 300 billion Dollar of subsidies annually and by the energy laws tailored on them. In contrast to this, Renewable Energies are politically discriminated. Less than a total of 50 billion Dollars public money worldwide were spent in the last 20 years to promote Renewable Energy.
    (Footnote 5: Herman Scheer’s ACRE address point 11.)////


  153. Perhaps we need a new thread ‘why gas may not replace coal’. Here’s why I doubt the world’s dirtiest power station Hazelwood will ever be fully replaced by combined cycle gas, carbon tax or not. The reasons are
    1) gas will soon be needed to replace oil
    2) key States don’t have long term gas.

    Australia consumes about 50 Mt a year of oil now mostly imported. We consume about 20 Mt of domestic gas and export another 20 Mt or so. Thus oil is currently ‘bigger’ than gas though allowance should be made for heating value after conversion and suitability for various chemical feedstocks.

    Several mature gas basins supply Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. While reserve to production ratios look OK there are hints of long term plans. Adelaide is connected both to Queensland via Moomba and to Victoria via Pt Campbell. Tasmania has an undersea gas pipe to Longford Victoria. Conceivably then after a flow reversal in the SA-Vic segment Queensland gas could augment dwindling resources in the other three States.

    Thus replacement of Hazelwood with combined cycle will enormously increase electricity costs not just now but particularly into the future due to competition for distant gas. Either the pesky carbon tax will be watered down or we will pretend that baby trees and less flatulent sheep have fixed the problem. Most likely Hazelwood will still be there puffing away in 2030. Whether this applies to new baseload stations in NSW is less clear.


  154. Fossil fuels are already subsidised to the tune of $10 billion a year in Australia!

    I think this is baloney. As I’ve written elsewhere, the lion’s share of those apparently huge fossil fuel subsidies is in the form of various rebates and exemptions from fuel taxes and excises. But surely the fact that we have fuel taxes and excises at all counts against the ‘subsidies’. This isn’t taken into account by the ‘$10 billion’ figure.

    The other reason I don’t trust Greenpeace’s figures on this is exactly illustrated by the last part of EN’s post @ 10:14pm. They are interested in inflating fossil fuel ‘subsidy’ figures so that they can put them against the (genuine) subsidies received by renewables, then use the (spurious) comparison as an excuse for the woeful underperformance of the latter.


  155. I don’t care what *form* the subsidies are in Mark, and I’m not using it the way Herman Scheer was in recommending renewables. I’m just pointing out that I’d rather see some of those subsidies going to something that would WORK such as Gen3 nukes! I should have quoted Scheer with a clarifying comment to that regard. But still, 300 billion worldwide in subsidies to DIRTY fossil fuels is not a statistic to sneeze at. Just imagine what we would be getting if they put that kind of money into assembling a few state of the art S-PRISM modular factories to shoot S-PRISMS’s off the assembly line!


  156. I don’t know that you’re fully grasping my point, EN. I’m saying that, to the extent governments derive revenue from fossil fuel taxes, excises and the like, figures for fossil fuel subsidies like ‘$300 billion’ (EU) and ‘$10 billion’ (Australia) are way overstated. Some sort of net figure would be a truer indication, IMHO. It might even be negative.


  157. I share Mark’s concern that the subject of subsidies has been hijacked by ACF and others. Even the Wikipedia entry has been totally rewritten
    so that it no longer includes direct mention of the diesel rebate for example.

    On which I could point out the OECD has asked Australia to drop the rebate. From the top of my head the rebate is 18c/L but the fuel tax is 38c so the govt still pockets 20c net. Note if they did drop the diesel rebate a sudden switch by truckers to CNG would make gas prices uneconomic for stationary generation with or without carbon tax. The quantities are given in an earlier post.

    If ACFs new tack is that feed-in tariffs are peanuts compared to fossil subsidies it’s not only a porky but both Gillard and Garnaut have said carbon pricing should mean renewables don’t need subsidies. Make it the same deal for everybody, say carbon pricing plus loan guarantees but not subsidies or mandates.


  158. @ Meyerson:

    You order me there not “to pull b.s. on you”.

    Extending your rural metaphor, you and fellow Coincidence Theorist Manuel Garcia are cherry-pickers (NB: please do not spread your own bullshit under cherry trees, Sanitation Dept. don’t like it; rough mulch is better, but do a soil pH test first and please practise no-till; as they say in your Deep South, “chop and drop”

    Your coincidence theorist National Geographic, which you cite as some sort of “refutation” of 9-11 Truth is 67% owned by Fox Newsman Murdoch, never mind what it did as cheerleader in the Vietnam War. Like all NATO-aligned State and private commercial media in Anglo countries (USA, Aust., UK; NZ; Canada) it is gatekeeping for US power, cf. Project for New American Century PNAC; Brzezinski, Feith, Perle, Zelikow etc..

    The Nat. Geog. hit piece, as also the BBC one, has been admirably dissected already, as you are well aware.

    Then we have the hundreds of 9-11 evidence discrepancies which are not directly in the realm of natural science eg Newtonian physics/engineering and which you “debunkers” suppress, e.g. COG, Continuity of Government planning by /Rumsfeld/Cheney, as described by Peter Dale Scott.

    Call yourself a Marxist of some sort, do you, Meyerson? Hell’s Teeth, at least your country has Michael Parenti and James Petras. Better you stick to your favoured Stewart Brand and his paeans of praise to GMO.

    Concluding, 911 was a false flag attack by persons/States unproven but suspected (by Pres. Cossiga, Gen, Hamid Gul) which is making the prospects for nuclear worse and worse by bringing more fossil fuel under NATO i.e. high carbon, state control via Iraq/Pakistan/Afghanistan. Unless China speeds up its NPP programme as a result of NATO occupying Central Asia and cutting it off from, or threatening to interdict, natgas and oil.

    But apparently the Kremlin has the majority stake in BP which is the main oil supplier to the US army, so we live in hope.


  159. Here is a short comment I had published in The Advertiser today, and sums up my position in <300 words:

    The largest source of Australia's emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases is coal combustion to generate electricity. As long as coal represents the cheapest source of energy, it will continue to be used. There are only two real options for altering this current reality. One is to put a price on carbon emissions, to drive up the cost of coal and other fossil fuels. The other is to drive down the cost of alternative energy sources through new technology and more targeted investments to bring scale and focus to energy planning.

    I'd argue that both approaches are necessary and vital.

    A steadily rising carbon price, either via a simple tax or a more elaborate emissions trading system, is critical for triggering change and driving novel strategic planning. If it is certain that energy costs will rise under a business-as-usual scenario, then governments, markets and individual consumers will all seek lower-cost alternatives. Without it, we will simply default to the devil we know (coal and gas). The starting carbon price need not be high, but it must form a long-term commitment and it must be known that it will rise over time.

    With a carbon price in place — or indeed before, if possible — we must clear the floor for all alternative energy technologies to compete, on a fair and level playing field. This means including nuclear power in addition to renewables, in the commercial portfolio of options. With a price on carbon in place, it is essential that we seek lowest-cost abatement, and have available to us proven energy sources for delivering low-carbon, baseload electricity.


  160. It’s amusing that Australia can introduce a value-added tax (the G&ST) of 10% and not be down the toilet 10 years later, but a similar style of charge gathering a quarter of the amount of the G&ST for possibly 3 years, with compensation in a period of a tight employment market and with full compensation will lead to ruin, according to resident let-the biosphere-be-industry’s-free-sewer activist Peter Lang.

    Why is he more bothered by a small rebated VAT than a large unrebated biospheric sewer?


  161. I prefer the term ‘FCOAD fee’ as comprehensively discriptive:

    Fossil Carbon Open Air Disposal

    I suppose regualrs here already know about my preference, so I’ll try not to repeat it again, at least not in the near future.


  162. Wow — you must not have a cable modem! OK, that’s *another* reason to build an NBN! ;-)

    (Ducks for cover as a *new* storm breaks in the Open Thread! Ha ha! Sorry about the shark attack that mentioning 9/xx. caused.)


  163. David Benson said:

    I prefer the term ‘FCOAD fee’ as comprehensively descriptive: Fossil Carbon Open Air Disposal

    Someone a few years back coined the phrase “living tissue sequestration” for the contemporary system of dealing with industrial pollution. I regard that as apt.


  164. I personally take heart that with the rise of all our silly iPad styled toys, we are slowly seeing a new breed of e-toys that might actually help monitor the worldwide environment. Imagine every future iPad/iPhone operates as a Star Trek Tri-corder, sniffing the air for pollutants, temperature, humidity, Co2 levels, and whatever else you can think of. Think of really cheap Tri-corder chips being planted in trees and running off the ambient energy there. (I can’t quite grasp it but there’s a tiny voltage or something in trees they’re looking at using?????? Sounds like something from Avatar, but there you are.)

    Now image this kind of environmental monitoring going global, and reporting to new interacting net based databases.

    I also take heart that Tom Blees Plasma burner technology — or ‘atomic recycler’ that recycles all old landfill into useful products — is finally looking economic.

    That is AWESOME news!


  165. New battery double the power and 10 times cheaper by 2015? Imagine EV’s that can go twice as far but instead of costing $4000 per battery only cost $400?

    ///The new battery uses sodium-containing substances melted at a high temperature. The technology has been around for decades, but existing molten-salt batteries require keeping the electrolyte in a liquid state at a temperature higher than 300 C. Sumitomo Electric worked with researchers at Kyoto University to develop a sodium material that melts at 57 C.

    Having roughly double the energy density of a typical lithium ion battery, the new battery would let an electric vehicle travel twice as far as a lithium ion battery of the same size. Automakers would be able to reduce the space taken up by batteries in their EVs. Molten-salt batteries also boast high heat and impact resistance and are said to be less susceptible to igniting than lithium ion batteries.

    Sodium is cheaper than lithium because it is in abundant supply. The new battery is expected to be priced at about Y20,000 per kilowatt-hour–about 10% as much as domestic lithium ion batteries and one-fifth as much as Chinese products.

    But unlike a room-temperature lithium ion battery, the new battery must be kept at 80 C to output power. So for the time being, Sumitomo Electric envisions it being used in applications where it is operating continuously, such as homes and electric buses. The company and the university have applied to have the battery patented.////


  166. @Richard Smart (1152 5 March) linked us to a Wikipedia map of non/nuclear countries , saying soon Australia will look like it is the only non-nuclear country on the planet.

    In fact there are many other non-nuclear countries on the map including Nepal, Laos, Chad and Burkina Faso, so we would hardly be alone. However it is the map which is in error, because it should show Australia as one of the very few countries where nuclear is ILLEGAL.

    There is a single Act of Parliament which must be set aside before conservative business planners can put nuclear on their list of options. Similarly Chambers of Commerce could then lobby their various state governments for nuclear as a reliable power supply which will never suffer from escalating carbon tax.

    Perhaps someone is in a position to advise Wikipedia, with a respectable reference?


  167. FB my satellite internet gives me 4 Mbps with say 99% availability. Therefore if the NBN saves a lazy $20 bill on fibre cables we could buy some AP1000s. That thread you mention now seems immune to reasoning and perhaps is best avoided anyway.

    EN what if the sodium car gets T-boned? Worse still the fire brigade hoses water over the wreck. Adelaide’s Tindo bus which I presume is still running must be either in discharge or recharge (ie not simply parked) so the Zebra batteries don’t freeze.


  168. Really? So when our little nation of 21 million people has a government that ‘gives’ them $10 billion annually in various rebates and tax discounts, why don’t you think that the world total of rebates and discounts to big oil, gas, and coal could read $300 billion?


  169. @ John,
    ///EN what if the sodium car gets T-boned? Worse still the fire brigade hoses water over the wreck. Adelaide’s Tindo bus which I presume is still running must be either in discharge or recharge (ie not simply parked) so the Zebra batteries don’t freeze.///
    We already drive cars full of explosive petroleum. Is that a good idea? It seems we’re more addicted to the car than common sense. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’d rather buy a nice pair of shoes than a nasty car — IF I lived in a walkable city.

    But check out the stats for that battery again. If it’s true, does a battery system twice as powerful and 10 times cheaper than today’s make renewable energy possible? Think of massive battery banks near wind farms and that sort of thing.


  170. PS: I’ve already thought of Barry’s earlier comment on the giant ‘gravel battery’ story about a year back. If any new super-batteries are only incrementally better, they would probably best be used to store energy for peaking power on a baseload nuclear grid. But are *these* batteries cheap enough to make renewables baseload with roughly today’s / tomorrow’s electricity prices? Now that would be interesting, especially if we did the Ian Lowe / Diesendorf ‘mixed grid’ analysis of multiple sources of electricity… say third wave, third wind, third solar thermal.


  171. @EN “‘gives’ them $10 billion annually in various rebates and tax discounts”

    Ah, but when you put ‘gives’ in quotes and put it in terms of rebates and tax discounts, then you’re talking about something different to what you said further up, at least in my book. My point is that if you want to count rebates, tax discounts etc. as ‘gives’, then in this instance (talking about government assistance to fossil fuels) you also need to take into account governments ‘takes’ in the form of fuel taxes, excise etc. The ‘$10 billion’ and ‘$300 billion’ estimates do not.


  172. EN as it happens the ever reliable Mythbusters have covered both sodium fires and petrol fires. If I recall a petrol fire from a collision was fairly difficult to simulate.

    Sodium batteries would have to be at the wind farm or transformer station to reduce accidents. To understand the economics we’d need to know how big the batteries would need to be and how often they would need backup. It would be weird if nuke critics said IFRs were bad because of sodium coolant but wind farms with sodium batteries are OK. Kinda like granite geothermal; fission is bad but radioactive decay is good.


  173. @ Mark,
    I’m still struggling to understand what you’re saying. Are you really trying to justify the government ‘discounts’ to fossil fuel companies? Are you trying to assert that they pay more tax on their fuel than the rest of us? Are they taxed at a higher rate or something? Do they pay the same rate of tax that we do on a per litre basis? If not, why not? Why do THEY qualify for a discount when I don’t? I’d love someone to explain that to me.


  174. There’s an absolutely delicious article just put up on Climate Spectator by Italian ‘renewables’ snake oil salesman Carlo Ombello, mourning the immanent demise of the Italian solar industry:

    Long time BNCers may recall Ombello’s prior boasts about how much the cost of solar power was coming down so quickly, and how nuclear power had absolutely no future because it was much too expensive, or something.

    I’ve made a comment on the article, but I’m not confident it will be there very long, so I’m placing it here for posterity.

    Well that certainly is bad news for the ‘renewables’ sector, Carlo. It looks like the mass outbreak of common sense about energy policy which has swept across Western Europe in the last year or two is intensifying, and developing into a full scale epidemic in Italy. You’d better hurry up and rally all your midgets, jugglers, elephants and dancing girls, and do it quick, or there’s no telling how bad things could get.


  175. @EN, no to pretty much all your questions. In fact, I’m on the record as saying the removal of indexation from fuel excise was a massive mistake. I’d like to think that I’m merely interested in the truth about the level of effective, net government assistance to the fossil fuel industry, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Since fuel taxes, excise etc. are a direct impost on that industry, it seems to me they are an ‘anti-subsidy’, and should be taken into account as such when assessing just how much assistance fossil fuels are getting.

    My other motivation for pointing this out is what I mentioned above: the use of grossly over-inflated fossil subsidy figures by renewables advocates to argue that similar amounts should be genuinely given to them.


  176. Well that didn’t take long. By the time I’d published my second comment, they’d already deleted the first. No doubt the deletion of the second will follow swiftly. So here it is!

    Cheer up, Carlo. With the glut of unsaleable PV panels resulting from this episode, you can go back to claiming that the firesale prices bankrupted manufacturers will be flogging these baubles off for represents the long-prophecised drop in manufacturing costs you lot keep amusing the rest of us with, just like you did after the Spanish debacle.


  177. @Mark Duffett: if you want to be fair, you’d also note that the taxes & fuel excise are 100% passed on to customers (i.e. us), while the rebates & tax breaks are 100% kept by the fossil fuel industry…

    I don’t doubt that, if those rebates & tax breaks ended, that prices would immediately go up to maintain the profitability of the fossil fuel companies.

    In some respects, that would be a good thing, much like pricing carbon. I don’t doubt it might have some economic impacts, though (like banks cranking up fees & interest rates in the midst of the global financial crisis so as to maintain their profits, while the rest of the economy was struggling).


  178. Reminder if you’re in Adelaide, don’t miss this event tomorrow night!

    Ben Heard is really great – I a good chat with him about the event over coffee on Friday, and he’s got a great slideshow lined up (I’ll also be speaking).

    If you didn’t see the media release on this, here it is:

    Have we been Misled about Nuclear Power Benefits

    Calls for Australia to embrace a low-carbon nuclear energy future are escalating, with two South Australian environmentalists shining a light on the issue and calling for a change in Australia’s energy policy. Professor Barry Brook of the University of Adelaide, and Ben Heard, Director of Adelaide-based consultancy ThinkClimate, announced today that they will deliver presentations to raise the profile of nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

    Earlier this month an update by the federal government’s top climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut revealed nuclear power is a proven source of clean energy and that there is evidence overseas that the cost of nuclear power is falling. This was in contrast to the Greens’ nuclear spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam who says the government should not only rule out nuclear power but also uranium mining, which he said threatened mine workers, local communities and water courses.

    So who is right and why is nuclear power such a hot topic in 2011?

    TIA CEO, Steve Adcock commented today on the huge swing towards cleantech initiatives in South Australia and how this has ignited interest in the nuclear power debate. “Cleantech issues have become increasingly important to South Australian technology companies who aim to reduce their carbon footprint,” stated Mr Adcock.

    “Parallel issues such as the benefits of nuclear power are therefore of extreme interest to the South Australian technology industry from a business sustainability point of view,” added Mr Adcock.

    For TIA member Ben Heard, supporting nuclear power is something new. “I was a long time opponent of nuclear power, believing it to be costly, dirty and dangerous. But my work exposed me every day to the massive scale of the climate crisis, and it demanded a rethink on nuclear power,” said Mr Heard.

    “I challenged all my preconceptions, and what I learned astonished me. Nuclear is not just acceptable. It’s a vastly preferable way to deliver energy, and the only solution that can be rolled out at a meaningful national scale,” explained Mr Heard.

    Professor Barry Brook is a prominent nuclear advocate, and also holds the position of Director of Climate Science at the University’s Environment Institute. For Professor Brook, current 3rd generation nuclear power is a critical stepping stone to the introduction of generation 4 technology, which provides the promise of inexhaustible, clean and sustainable energy for the whole world.

    “For too long Australia been an energy production backwater, satisfied with old-style technology based on burning cheap coal and natural gas,” said Professor Brook.

    “But as societal concerns over pollution, climate change, price of electricity and future energy security rise, nuclear energy – the only proven and most cost-effective baseload low-carbon energy source – is now looking like a really sensible option. And rightly so. If we are really serious about addressing Australia’s future clean energy needs, we need to rationally consider all the alternatives, nuclear and renewable,” Professor Brook added.

    For these two environmentalists, the obstacle to nuclear power in Australia isn’t scientific or economic, it’s social and political. “I think a lot of Australians are beginning to suspect that we have been misled on nuclear power by the traditional environmental movement,” said Mr Heard.

    “However shifting position from anti nuclear to pro-nuclear is a big ask! That’s why I’ve created this presentation. It’s to show people that nuclear makes sense for the environment, and that it’s ok to change your mind,” Mr Heard went on to say.

    “Nuclear power is employed by over 30 countries worldwide, with several nations pursuing nuclear power for the first time. But in Australia, with some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, we are stuck debating about whether or not to open a debate! This has to change, and change quickly.”

    “Public understanding of the technology is now absolutely crucial” Brook adds. “Only that way will a groundswell of support for nuclear power emerge, and in doing so give politicians and other key decision makers the confidence to put this critical issue firmly on the policy planning agenda.”

    Those interested in attending this stimulating and controversial seminar (Powering a Cleaner Australia) can book online at the TIA website via Powering a Cleaner Australia will be staged at the Education Development Centre, Milner Street Hindmarsh, Tuesday 8th March, (off Port Road) from 4.00pm to 6.00pm for a nominal attendance fee of $10.00.


  179. Today in Ontario one out of two homes, schools, hospitals, farms, factories and businesses is powered by nuclear. Ontario’s energy plan is counting on nuclear for half of our province’s power – now and for decades to come.

    One of the biggest issues on the minds of people in Ontario today is electricity. With Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan released last November the issues of our electricity supply mix, infrastructure renewal and the cost to consumers is bringing this important policy issue to the forefront.

    That’s why a coalition of organizations from across Ontario, who have all be instrumental on the renewal of the Bruce Power Site over the last 10 years, are coming together to launch a major communications effort in the coming weeks and months on the critical role nuclear power and specifically our site plays in the province’s Long Term Energy Plan to provide dependable, affordable power.

    A website http:// and an extensive radio and print advertising campaign have been launched to ensure continued strong public support for the significant role identified for the Bruce Power Site in providing affordable, dependable electricity.

    The communications effort is focused on simple, yet factual, messages we believe are important so people understand our story, from us, about what we do everyday and plan to do for many decades to come. It also builds on our previous efforts to communicate more effectively as an industry directly to the public.

    The communications effort will also involve an extensive social media outreach effort with the goal of attracting people to the website allowing people to view the facts for themselves.


  180. Many BNCers will disagree with most of what appears at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog, but there is much (not complete, but much) truth here:

    Reading between the lines, there’s a fair bit of low-hanging efficiency fruit to be picked, but the magnitude of retrofitting required to allow anything like the demand reductions, er, demanded by renewables advocates must not be underestimated.


  181. Reading articles written by non-experts on the subject of baseload, (or anything else about the electric power network) reminds me of listening to someone that has no idea of the intricacies of a complex game like baseball, or cricket hold forth about yesterdays game. The shallowness of their understanding, to which they are oblivious, is glaring to any true fan, or student of the game, but often, to the group these idiots are addressing, what they are saying sounds plausible.


  182. Some readers might be interested to look at the contents of this link: sim/2050 sim.aspx

    It is, admittedly, a UK relevant exercise, but could still be of interest. There has been an “expert led” ongoing debate about possible energy and supply side pathways that could achieve 80% emissions reduction by 2050. The energy calculator itself can also be accessed such that one can make one’s own pathway. Currently, the economic costs of the possible pathways have not been addressed – all that is currently claimed is that the choices are, at least, theoretically possible in the technical sense were money to be no object. Apparently the calculator is going to be developed and enhanced so that the economic implicationsof the competing choices involved in the differing pathways can be considered. It would seem that this whole exercise is an extension of the approach laid out in David MacKay’s book, “Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air”

    PS: I have copied my own link to this source but have noticed spaces between 2050 and sim in two places which may need eliminating. However, it works for me as I have written it.


  183. David Benson: thanks for the engineering article on the tower collapse. wonder if Lalor read this before he got banned.

    I have a question. A portion of the abstract is as follows:

    “The air ejected from the building by gravitational collapse must have attained, near the ground, the speed of almost 500 mph (or 223 m/s, or 803 km/h) on the average, and fluctuations must have reached the speed of sound.

    This explains the loud booms and wide spreading of pulverized concrete and other fragments, and
    shows that the lower margin of the dust cloud could not have coincided with the crushing front. The
    resisting upward forces due to pulverization and to ejection of air, dust and solid fragments, neglected
    in previous studies, are found to be indeed negligible during the first few seconds of collapse but not insignificant near the end of crush-down. The calculated crush-down duration is found to match a
    logical interpretation of seismic record, while the free fall duration grossly disagrees with this record.”

    My question is just a vocabulary question. does “crush front” refer to the start of the process (near impact point) and “crush down” to the collapse as it unfolds, with “end of the crush down” referring obviously to the …end of the collapse?

    i also assume that the demolition thesis would expect the “lower margin of the dust cloud” to coincide with the crushing front…?

    But your article shows this to be not just false but clearly false.

    To banned Lalor: I teach Parenti and Petras and have cited them in articles.


  184. David Benson:

    Thanks once again for that Collapse article. It ‘s really interesting, though I’ll need some assistance with the math–my science/math for dummies reading has paid off but … still.

    Since you have mentioned “Nonsense on Stilts,” it strikes me as a good idea to discuss the demarcation line between science and pseudo science using the “demolition thesis” as an example of the latter.

    For one, most of the “demolition” people just take for granted that a collapse like that of the towers required temperatures near the melting point of steel. But your article shows that the “initial speculation” that the collapse required very high temperatures does not hold up to further scrutiny.

    And you cite a recent study (fire tests) “which showed that structural steel columns under a sustained load of 50% to 70% of their cold strength collapse when heated to 250◦ C.”

    It simply does not occur to the conspiracy theorists to test some of the cardinal assumptions about temperature that were important to the conspiracy narrative in the first place. The above experiment utterly demolishes (pun intended) all that david ray griffin (a theologian, not a structural engineer) has written.

    anyhow, in this particular example, you can see how the “theory” depended upon taking out of context a taken for granted scientific assumption about temperature.

    This was all the science that was needed for the conspiracy theory to “look scientific.”

    Anyway, David, you have the makings of a good philosophy of science article.

    Btw, I got my doctorate from Northwestern (the article comes from NU’s civil engineering dept) where I did a dissertation critiquing the postmodern stuff that is the focus of Piggliucci’s last (or near last) chapter.

    P.S: in above note, I did not appreciate yet the “crush down” “crush up” distinction. Haven’t read far enough and am, as usual, grading papers.


  185. @ DV8,
    ////Reading articles written by non-experts on the subject of baseload, (or anything else about the electric power network) reminds me of listening to someone that has no idea of the intricacies of a complex game like baseball, or cricket hold forth about yesterdays game. The shallowness of their understanding, to which they are oblivious, is glaring to any true fan, or student of the game, but often, to the group these idiots are addressing, what they are saying sounds plausible.////
    That’s all probably true DV8 — I wouldn’t know as I’m one of ‘them’. This is all the more reason for being able to debunk the Diesendorf sound-bytes with 10 word sound-bytes of our own and create catchy, self-propagating meme’s that move both throughout the internet and also spread in the real world via eye-catching posters.

    (Although I admit, to my shame, that I haven’t put any up since before Christmas. I must get back on that — especially at Epping library where High School and Uni kids hang out).


  186. Gregory Meyerson, on 10 March 2011 at 2:15 AM — See Figure 2. In mid-crush-down-collapse, Portion A is still undamaged, portion B is crushed and portion C is riding down on top. Eventually portion A is all crushed (the mass then being considred part of portion B). At that time crush-down ends. Now portion C is descending at a good clip and crushes up against the rubble below; that phase is crush-up.

    The crushing front is the border between portion A and portion B during crush-down. It was never observed because the flow of dirty air out of the tower occurs before the impact, i.e. from the story or stories immediately below the crushing front.

    Since that paper it has become clearer that the collpase of WTC 1 (North Tower) ought to be intuitively viewed as a vertical avalanche; different resistive force than in the cited paper but the distinction probably only matters to specialists.

    As for a philosophy of science paper, be my guest; I’ll not write it. But if you have further questions, do ask.


  187. Mark, I was also passed this paper. It gels with what Allekett and others have been saying, but I think the coal story is more complex, especially when new underground gasification methods are considered — this is the potential monster lurking in the shadows. But either way, when it be motivated by climate change mitigation or energy security, the path of nuclear + renewables to replace fossil fuels as soon as is feasible remains a critical end goal.


  188. FWIW, I agree with Barry, particularly with regards to coal. As I’ve written before (possibly in these very pages; can’t find it now), I think there is still great global scope for more coal discovery, which the assessments canvassed in the Ward et al paper don’t adequately allow for. Let alone the new extraction technologies that Barry mentions.


  189. I’ll re-read the U of SA paper which could do with some graphs. Every region seems to have large low grade outback coal deposits. SA for example has Arckaringa Basin north of Olympic Dam.

    However the energy return (on energy invested) doesn’t merely have to be >1 but perhaps >8 about where Brazilian cane ethanol and Canadian tar sands sit. On The Oil Drum commentators like Euan Mearns and Ugo Bardi argue that primary energy sources need high EROEI to keep services happening like restaurants and recreational travel. Therefore these big deep remote coal deposits may be irrelevant. Clearly NP with EROEI of say 80 is more reward for effort.


  190. @Barry: “new underground gasification methods… lurking” Lurking is a good term for it.

    More than 30 years ago, the British tried to extend their coalfields downward with experiments in underground gasification. As I remember the NS reports, when their air injections did actually manage to maintain a fire underground, all they got out was nitrogen, minority of methane and traces of CO2 etc. Basically, all they were getting back was the air they had put in, minus its oxygen. The methane arose from the collapse of the cavities, the fresh fractures leaking pre-existing methane into the extraction lines.

    Nowadays, UG operations in Australia inject oxygen, rather than air, and their yield is mainly methane. By calling the method “underground gasification”, the public is already being misled. The impression being cultivated is of a dry, insulated retort where coal would be raised to high pyrolysis temperatures, yielding hydrogen, carbon monoxide and traces of methane. Instead, they are burning a highly oxidised, cold fire in water-saturated coal, leaving a halo of pyrolysis products (smoke) of tar and acids. CO2 and water from the heart of the fire absorb into the wet coal. Since the cavity collapses inevitably include the roof, the freshly created chemicals convect with the heated water into the aquifer or groundwater above.

    It also follows that “underground gasification” is a particularly carbon-inefficient method of extracting old gas. The CO2 created is unlikely to remain underground.


  191. Barry:

    I have to say I’m going to miss Peter Lang’s informative posts (contrasted with his other posts on low cost nuclear, etc. that tend toward the ad hominem).

    Did you consider limiting his low cost nuclear posts to once a week? or once a month (probably a better idea)? This way, he won’t disrupt the functioning of the blog–which is to attract people who want to inform and be informed on energy and environment questions.

    Funny thing is I agree with Peter Lang that a carbon price won’t work–not without a global enforcement mechanism so powerful that it would hardly be different from just plain ole regulation. Except that plain ole regulation has been heretofore only at state and national levels, never at global scales where capital as a whole–intrinsically competitive, intrinsically connected to competitive nation states–would have to be regulated like it never has been: and probably cannot be.

    Rod Adams had an interesting post on John Hofmeister’s “why we hate the oil companies.” Rod highlighted chapter seven, whose title is “the industry is parochial, surprised?” i.e. ruthlessly competitive (so competitive they cannot solve the energy crisis), as are oil’s competitors. This suggests that the only firms or nations that would agree to a carbon price are ones competitively positioned to do so already.


  192. GM perhaps a new thread is needed on arguments for and against carbon pricing. Frankly what went on before was more like Monty Python’s Argument Booth. If you say there are reasons A, B and C for carbon pricing all you got was ‘no it’s not’. Given that eminent scientists and Noble laureates support carbon pricing perhaps the arguments were incomplete. These people invoke concepts like first mover advantage but it never got to that level here.

    However logic may not come into it. It struck me watching some street interviews on TV that the stronger the evidence for CC the greater the denial. If 2013 is unambiguously hotter than 1998 vast numbers of people will convince themselves there is no problem.


  193. I think Garnaut has seriously blundered in suggesting not only nice green farming but now 60s era hydro should earn carbon credits
    Note that renewables built before 1997 are excluded from the RET. It makes more sense to assume there is zero entitlement to emissions. On that basis a coal fired generator can’t buy credits from a hydro because they haven’t used their presumed entitlement. There is no entitlement. Sale of the credit then excuses continued coal burning which we want to reduce. Perversely coal burning could increase because it has been ‘cancelled out’ whereas that was not the case before carbon credits.

    IMO Garnaut is undermining his credibility by flogging the offsets horse. If hydro can sell credits then so can nuclear. I could have driven to the shop to buy a newspaper but I’m reading BNC on the interwebs instead, Therefore I have a carbon credit to sell also.

    I suggest Garnaut puts it to Bob Brown that nuclear power should earn carbon credits.


  194. Finrod: I agree, carbon credits for uranium exports is one of those ideas that, on the surface, sounds quite reasonable, and as a result would be relatively easily ‘sold’ to those without a thorough understanding of the issues (well, if you can get past the “nuclear is bad” bogeyman…)

    Personally, I still think all offsets are bad. Carbon emissions are bad, whether they’re offset or not!


  195. I seem to recall Alexander Downer a minister in the Howard years saying we should get a carbon credit for uranium exports. It all starts to get complicated; if yellowcake had a CO2-avoided credit it assumes the overseas customer was entitled to burn coal instead whether they have coal facilities or not. Some customers like Japan do consume both Australian coal and uranium. We’d have to subtract a carbon debit from the credit. Anything is possible when there are no rules.


  196. what’s the first mover argument, John? I assume it refers to a firm that makes the first move to cut carbon emissions and capture carbon credits, yes?

    Of course, one irony with that is that there would be an incentive to create barriers to entry against other firms so that the first mover can continue to pocket the profits. Without such barriers, the advantage of moving first would be lost: or counterproductive since the sizeable investments undertaken to get there first would be devalued when rivals decided to enter that market at a later time when the technology had come down in price.

    I’d like to hear what David Walters has to say on this. I’d also like to hear from Tom Blees. I on the one hand really liked his idea for coordinating nuclear technology transfer: GREAT.

    But I don’t think the powers that be on a global scale can bring their divergent interests into coordination to the degree required by the plan.

    I know GREAT isn’t a carbon price but to me the two things are related. They both require a global regulatory environment, one with a very different effect on large capitals compared to global regulations that major players can agree on: WTO trade rules concerning capital mobility, etc. The latter rules work to their advantage; the former decidedly do not, which is why, with all the talk of carbon pricing going on for years, we’ve got little in the way of results, to put it mildly.


  197. Moreover John:

    M: (Knock)
    A: Come in.
    M: Ah, Is this the right room for an argument?
    A: I told you once.
    M: No you haven’t.
    A: Yes I have.
    M: When?
    A: Just now.
    M: No you didn’t.
    A: Yes I did.
    M: You didn’t
    A: I did!
    M: You didn’t!
    A: I’m telling you I did!
    M: You did not!!
    A: Is this a five minute argument or the full half hour?
    M: Oh, just the five minutes.
    A: Ah, thank you. Anyway, I did.
    M: You most certainly did not.
    A: Look, let’s get this thing clear; I quite definitely told you.
    M: No you did not.
    A: Yes I did.
    M: No you didn’t.
    A: Yes I did.
    M: No you didn’t.
    A: Yes I did.
    M: No you didn’t.
    A: Yes I did.
    M: You didn’t.
    A: Did.
    M: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
    A: Yes it is.
    M: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.
    A: No it isn’t.
    M: It is!
    A: It is not.
    M: Look, you just contradicted me.
    A: I did not.
    M: Oh you did!!
    A: No, no, no.


  198. Senator Ludlam is loosing the plot completely. He’s becoming a complete joke.

    Senator Ludlam’s knowledge of nuclear energy is just like Senator Fielding’s knowledge of evolutionary biology.

    “Without nuclear power stations – there can be no nuclear weapons…”

    “…no possibility of fuels being stolen to build ‘dirty bombs’…”

    “…no possibility of a nuclear power station being hit by a conventional bomb and setting off a nuclear explosion.”


  199. Senator Ludlam’s knowledge of nuclear energy is just like Senator Fielding’s knowledge of evolutionary biology.

    I have a suspicion Ludlam knows considerably more about nuclear power than his public utterances suggest. He very likely knows that his contentions are nonsense. He’s counting on his intended audience not knowing this. This is a real race between education and propaganda.


  200. He’s lying to people deliberately?

    The alternative is that one of the most senior and powerful Green politicians in Australia knows virtually nothing about a field he has set out to prognosticate upon at every opportunity. But ultimately it probably doesn’t matter whether or not he actually believes what he’s saying.


  201. GM the first mover advantage comes up in game theory whereby one player has the jump in terms of brand loyalty or learning compared to later movers. The archetypal example is eBay whose competitors struggle for market share. I suggest Europe does indeed have an early mover advantage over the US in oil consumption. This may be attributable to fuel taxes rather than an explicit carbon price. The next oil price shock will hurt Europe less than the US because they are further along the energy frugality learning curve. Doing it tough for a while can pay off sooner rather than later.

    Rather than the gamut of usual reasons I’ll mention an odd one, namely ‘fighting spirit’. If anybody says there is nothing we can do about any bad situation then they are not trying. Don’t ever take them on a camping trip. This is why I think history will be kinder to Gillard than Obama since she’s a fighter. Obama has wimped out.


  202. The alternative is that one of the most senior and powerful Green politicians in Australia knows virtually nothing about a field he has set out to prognosticate upon at every opportunity.

    This reminds me a bit of academics who study religion – the theist types, that is. They spend their life studying whatever scripture(s) it is that they happen to believe in, in great depth. They must realise at some point that the vast majority is rubbish, but they somehow retain the original belief anyway. Orwell’s “doublethink” seems an accurate description here.

    Luke – I like your analogy of Ludlam to Fielding.


  203. There’s a bit of hysteria and FUD that is starting to flow around the social networks, related the idea that the recent earthquake and tsunami could cause catastrophic nuclear disasters in the Japanese nuclear energy industry.

    Despite lots of fear, uncertainty and doubt flying around to the contrary, I would put money on it that nothing adverse will happen to any Japanese nuclear power station as a result of the recent earthquake that will have any adverse effect on any person’s health or on the environment.


  204. Well, my 10 year old daughter has just come home with a school assignment (year 5 primary school) to produce a poster on nuclear power – how it works, its advantages, and disadvantages. Her classmates have likewise been assigned various forms of renewable energy.

    I am delighted by the opportunity this presents!

    She has just suffered at my hands a two hour lecture on nuclear physics and reactor engineering. Actually, she stayed interested and engaged the whole way through.

    We got out the coloured pens (everyone knows protons are blue, neutrons are red and electrons are yellow), started out with the periodic table and elements, the atomic structure of hydrogen, the light elements, nuclei and electrons, then the heavy elements, and what keeps all those positively charged protons from flying apart.

    “They must be just about bursting!” she said, when I showed her the uranium nucleus, and went on to explain how they do burst when they get hit by a neutron, and talked about alpha and beta decay, and neutron capture and fission.

    That led on to chain reactions and heat, then boiling water to drive turbines to crank generators to make electricity, all being sketched on paper as we talked.

    She knows about carbon dioxide, burning coal, and global warming, so I was able to explain that nuclear power doesn’t create co2. She thought that was pretty good.

    I then emphasized how concentrated nuclear power was,. She asked me what I meant, so I talked about how many thousands of tonnes of coal she would use in her life, having her picture how much that would be, and the mountains of ash and the co2 going into the air. Drawings of coal trains and ash piles, etc. Then I gave her the golf-ball of uranium in the hand image of energy equivalence. You should have seen her jaw drop and her eyes go wide!

    With that grounding, we could then talk about the relative environmental impacts and the scale of the nuclear waste problem. I explained the waste was radioactive and dangerous for tens of thousands of years, but because the power was so concentrated there was very little of it. I sketched Barry’s image of a two story structure on a basketball court for the whole world’s cumulative spent fuel, and again the jaw dropped (literally). She observed that her grandmother lived in a 12 story apartment, which she estimated could hold 180 years of power waste (she came up with that herself – I’d told her we’d had nuclear power for 30 years).

    She actually asked, “Isn’t there something useful you could use this stuff for?” I’m so glad you asked. I talked a bit about nuclear medicine, then explained that the waste was mostly unburned fuel. The image I used was wet firewood – perfectly good fuel, just spoiled by a small amount of neutron poisons, and explained some of the fission products were like water in firewood.

    That let me talk about fast reactors and high burnup. I suggested she should email George Stanford, who invented a kind of reactor that can burn this “wet” fuel thirty years ago. I said there were only a couple of reactors like this. She said “It must be very disappointing for him to have invented this thing and not have it being built.” No doubt.

    She thought it was pretty amazing that we could wring out so much energy from the nuclear waste, and drop the sequestration time down to a few hundred years.

    I explained people worried about nuclear accidents, and talked about Chernobyl. I told her it was a terrible accident that killed about sixty people, and made a few thousand sick, and frightened many more. But I also explained how we don’t make reactors like that any more. I mentioned Three Mile Island and how it overheated and melted, but was contained and no one was hurt or got sick, and that that was how reactors we build now work. I also mentioned Mr Stanford’s reactor was much safer and this couldn’t happen.

    Then we talked about was nuclear bombs, and how the isotope mixtures in reactor material can’t be used to make them. We also talked a bit about cost and build times.

    She brought up renewable energy and how solar energy didn’t work at night so we also talked a bit about the intermittency problem and the reliability of nuclear power. I described nuclear synfuels for non-electric applications.

    The last thing we talked about was really about values – mine being strongly based in the values of wilderness and ecology, I emphasized my own belief that nuclear power is critical to sustaining our natural environment and averting the worst impacts of climate change, and in fact ultimately continuing our human civilzation, and that it is worth the effort to work convince people of this.

    She really followed all this – it wasn’t a one-way harangue, she was fully engaged and asking next-step questions or drawing sensible conclusions the whole time. I was struck by how easy it was to communicate the basic ideas to an intelligent non-expert. I’m a strong believer in the idea that there are few complicated ideas in science, only complicated explanations, and that if you can’t communicate some aspect of science to an intelligent child, you’re doing it wrong.

    I was also struck by how straightforward and obvious this all was to someone who has not been subject to a lifetime of antinuclear propaganda. The contrast with Luke and Finrod’s comments above on Scott Ludlum is stark.

    Anyway, it was a very enjoyable and stimulating discussion. Her assignment’s due in a week, so I’ll point her to Barry’s poster, Marion’s pamphlet and EclipseNow’s designs, and various other resources here.


  205. Luke:

    what I heard was that there may have been a failure of the cooling system in an npp and that they evacuated the area on precautionary grounds. No radiation leak yet.

    Meanwhile, oil refineries were in flames.

    What would happen to an npp under conditions described above? I guess it’s hard to tell without more info.

    am going to reread cohen, chap. 6.

    John: looks like I got it about right on the first mover.

    Europe’s susceptibility to oil shocks are certainly way less than u.s. because of much better public transport, many fewer cars per capita or otherwise, etc.

    Gas was four times as expensive there even in 1979 when I lived in France. I never wanted to get in a car.


  206. Luke: read wall street journal article on the plant.

    No radiation leak, precautionary evac of 2000 people.

    Backup Diesel generators out.

    Plants automatically shut down in an earthquake.

    any notion what will be done to prevent heat buildup?

    ps: I facebooked the natural gas pic.


  207. Worth reading:

    HPCI is powered by steam from the still-hot reactor itself, and is not dependent on off-site power or the backup diesel generator power supply.

    RCIC is powered by battery power, and is not dependent on generator power or off-site grid power, either, and the LPCI is driven by diesel-driven backup pumps which is also completely redundant itself.

    The RPS/ECCS is made up of layers and layers and layers of completely independent, redundant systems, and running without off-site power and without the auxiliary diesel generators is certainly one scenario that it’s designed to handle.


  208. luke: the reactors in question are boiling water reactors?

    I figure the answer is yes; otherwise, you would not have posted the link, which is really excellent.

    what this means is that the reporters are not familiar with the defense in depth systems?



    Please note that there are two nuclear plants that have been affected by the quake. Fukushima Daini and Fukushima Daiichi.

    Fukushima Daini are using RCIC for all 4 units. ECCS was started (initially?) for unit 1 because of increase in containment pressure assumed to be from leak.

    Fukushima Daiichi lost off-site power from one of two sources and the emergency diesel generators (all of them) stopped working. Not sure what they’re doing now. I presume RCIC or HPCI?

    All BWRs.



  210. From marketwatch, I found the following, which given what you say above indicates ignorance of full defense in depth?

    Electrical systems that provide power to cool the reactor were knocked out in the earthquake, and a diesel-powered backup system also failed, leaving the utility short of the coolant necessary to keep the reactor at a safe temperature, according to a news reports.


  211. scott:

    sounds like the situation is under control but it also sounds like the daiichi plant lacks the backup of the other plant.

    The article makes it sound like the diesel generator was last backup and crews then had to be sent in.

    anyway, with the mishaps, looks like a ringing endorsement of nuclear power to me. Imagine if they had gotten their power from offshore wind.


  212. Sadly, if this next story is for real, that ‘one more accident will set our cause back decades’ phenomenon may have just occurred. I thought they built these things 9/11 and earthquake proof!

    ///Japan safety panel says radiation at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima is 1,000 times normal levels.

    Residents within 10km of the plant have been told they must evacuate.


  213. But if it is real, the alternative — just giving up because it’s a little bit dangerous and going without energy — is so much worse. I’m using this as an opportunity to explore the ‘what if’ scenario and talk about 13 thousand reactor years with only 1 really STUPID AVOIDABLE accident that even Professor Ian Lowe says was tantamount to sabotage, 1 accident where the containment dome worked exactly as it was meant to, and now this.

    I’ve also highlighted that burning coal in the Hunter Valley has raised lung cancer rates there 3 times that of the “Big Smoke” in Sydney due to the particulate radiation released.

    I see this as an opportunity to explore the risks. That way if it IS real we’re at least having the conversation about how ALL energy types involve risk — the modern world simply depends on energy or we’re going Mad Max — and if it ISN’T we get to put up load headlines after the event and all the dust and propaganda has settled down.


  214. @ John,
    sounds like a great discussion and I like the ‘wet firewood’ analogy. I wish you could sit down with every concerned grandma, frightened kid, and anti-nuclear politician and have the same chat.

    (I would spare you the angst from anti-nukie activists like Peter Lalor. No one needs that.)


  215. I read the abc report.

    They cited one anti nuclear activist who made what is almost surely a hysterical claim, but the claim was not refuted directly even though the on site reports suggested nothing apocalyptic. This activist claim by Kevin Kamps has led to headlines like the following:

    As an ABC report explains, overheating fuel could lead to a meltdown, and in turn to a large release of radioactive Cesium-137 into the environment, dwarfing even the Chernobyl disaster.

    If you read the article, the ABC report does not “explain” anything of the sort, as this claim is made by the activist.


  216. It’s taken its time, but I finally got around to finishing my blog on Chernobyl (Third year at university is taking its toll on my heavily).

    Please Tweet, repost elsewhere etc. after a good peer review by you guys :) Anyway let me know what you think.

    Sorry I haven’t had a chance to post in ages (not that my contribution was ever amazing).

    In other news, my friend Tom who posted on this forum ages ago with his dilemma of if he should take a career in renewables or Nuclear , is currently studying reactor tech as a Masters degree. He’s already been offered a job with Westinghouse. Barry and others here should be proud that the website has resulted in at least one person contributing to the success of the nuclear industry in a real way.


  217. Looks like the situation in Japan is getting worse:

    “The amount of radiation has reached about 1000 times the normal level in the control room of the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.”

    Can’t wait to see what Giles Parkinson will say about this over at Climate Spectator.


  218. New to your site, found it looking for nuclear-supporting response to events in Japan.

    Not a supporter of nuclear power and have one comment and one question.

    Seems that human perception of risk is not based on statistical risk. Otherwise lots of people would be afraid to get in a car and few would be afraid to fly. This is why the airline industry accepts intrusive regulation – because they need to have this public perception of incredible safety – which over time they have earned.

    I’m not sure if the nuclear power industry and it’s supporters understand this (easier to blame anti- activists), but since a worst case accident (such as has not happened yet [or maybe happened once] but is at some level plausible) is far worse than the worst plausible airline crash, the burden on nuclear in dealing with real-life human risk perception will always be enormous. Anti-nuclear political movements may magnify this, but they didn’t create it.

    That comment (for those who agree) leads to this question. If a country with the experience, expertise, and with a culture attuned to detail like Japan can face a situation like this, what would it be like if there were orders of magnitude more reactors around the world, in places with a lot less attention to detail and less expertise, both technically and managerially. After all, commonality and familiarity tend to breed carelessness a lot of the time.

    In other words, while I hope and expect that Japan will avoid the worst case and end up with some low-to-moderate level radioactive releases, I would imagine many other places where, if there were many thousands more reactors in the world, it would be much worse.

    After all, to use my previous example, airline safety varies quite a bit around the world. Wouldn’t we expect the same if nuclear energy facilities start getting built that widely?


  219. Hi Dean,
    my understanding (from the more technically informed people on this site) is that the real revolution that is coming in nuclear power is standardisation. Nukes today are built roughly akin to cars before Henry Ford invented the assembly line. The goal with Gen3 and eventually Gen4 reactors will be to make nukes that are built off the assembly line, trucked to site in components, and then assembled on site.

    We are not just talking about volume which will bring prices right down, but standardisation of technologies, installation procedures, and even standardisation of the maintenance personal and international fuel supply organisations that run these systems. Best practice safety systems will be built into these standards along with the rules and regulations for maintaining these systems.

    When word gets out that renewables just can’t do the job (yet) of providing baseload power, people will simply have to re-evaluate the risks. Without abundant energy the modern world will simply collapse. When the grid goes down, water stops coming out of the tap, food goes off in the fridge, and agriculture collapses. We need energy and lots of it or we’re talking Mad Max.

    Renewables advocates simply will not admit the problems and honestly answer the questions Barry and friends put to them.


  220. Eclipse – I’m a renewables advocate who admits the limitations. I live in a place where they dominate electrical generation (PNW – within site of the Columbia River from my porch). Their limitations are both technological and political. There is an enormous amount of wind generation around here as well, though it’s all sold to Calif. So we’re getting into integration issues. These are serious but by no means unsolvable.

    Although the specifics are different, nuclear also faces both technological and political limitations. For example, you say that standardization is a key aspect for nuclear, but it seems I’ve been reading about that for many years, just as I’ve been reading that some innovation or another is imminent for wind or solar that would put them over the edge as to viability. In the mean time, both live on due to various types of subsidies.

    I don’t want to get into a long-winded debate about why this or that power generation system is preferred or feasible, mostly because I don’t have the time and it isn’t why I came here. But I will add that many people seem to be technological optimists for one type of generation and technological pessimists for another. Funny how ideology seems to determine in what field somebody is an optimist.

    But the key issue is your claim/hope regarding “people will simply have to re-evaluate the risks”. When I see people now opposing smart meters due to a fear of their EM fields among other things, I am skeptical about any rational debate on risks. Otoh, people frequently ignore much more real but long-term risks for short-term gains. The process strikes as virtually the definition of irrational, and on which side something like nuclear ends up falling is probably close to a random toss. Whether one supports nuclear energy (or smart meters for that matter), it’s a pretty disheartening state of affairs.


  221. Also, given the planned rolling blackouts now scheduled for Japan, I wonder if you really can claim nuclear as a good way for reliable power. Sure, 8.9s are very rare. But are any other power generation systems in Japan so affected?


  222. Dean said:

    ////I don’t want to get into a long-winded debate about why this or that power generation system is preferred or feasible, mostly because I don’t have the time and it isn’t why I came here. But I will add that many people seem to be technological optimists for one type of generation and technological pessimists for another. Funny how ideology seems to determine in what field somebody is an optimist.////
    This is a cheap argument and logical fallacy called Bulverism. It attempts to psychoanalyse WHY someone is wrong without proving THAT they are wrong. Indeed the main point of it is diverting attention away from the facts about the matter itself into how the individual in question became so silly.

    If you want to actually debate the facts, the technicians here will eat your claims for breakfast.


  223. Sorry I even brought it up Eclipse. If I wanted to debate renewables, I would have offered some relevant facts for debate. It was an observation, which apparently is not very welcome here. You don’t even know what my claims regarding renewables are so how do you know the technicians here would eat them for breakfast?


  224. ///But I will add that many people seem to be technological optimists for one type of generation and technological pessimists for another. Funny how ideology seems to determine in what field somebody is an optimist.///

    I may have read this wrong. I thought you were attacking nuclear advocates, but I now think you were making more general comments about how people evaluate anything. I apologise.


  225. I would add that some BNC adherents are disillusioned renewables users which adds a fresh perspective. In my own case I’ve been about 80% reliant on PV, wood and biodiesel for 6 years now yet I’m certain they won’t scale up.


  226. Yes, my comment was in general, and applies to renewable advocates as much as nuclear or anything else. And of course it doesn’t apply to absolutely everybody. Some people can look at things more even-handed.

    John Newlands – You’re saying that you have this power production on your own place? Seems that a person’s individual experience would have limited relevance to whether or not large-scale centralized production is practical.

    This thread has hundreds of comments and almost none on the last few days. Are all the nuclear advocates drinking themselves silly in depression? After decades of accident-free operation, a collection of liberals and environmentalists was supporting new and more nuclear – and now this, in Japan. I seem to remember reading that TMI happened a week or two after The China Syndrome was released. Is bad luck timing a permanent burden on nuclear?


  227. Does anybody want to get back to energy supply and demand fundamentals? One of Peter Lang’s predictions appears true: a politically survivable carbon tax is not enough to shut down Hazelwood the world’s dirtiest power station
    Basically brown coal costs 60c a gigajoule whereas Victorian gas costs $7. A carbon tax of $20-$30/tCO2 is not enough to swing the difference. $20 or 2c a kg of CO2 will add nearly 3c per kwh with 1.4 kgs emitted.

    I think the likely tactic is to stall or deny. The 1.6 GW Hazelwood brown coal fired power station emits 17 Mt a year of CO2 (some say less) and is due to retire in 2031. Good luck replacing that with wind or solar.


  228. Dean M: “John Newlands – You’re saying that you have this power production on your own place? Seems that a person’s individual experience would have limited relevance to whether or not large-scale centralized production is practical.”

    I think you miss John’s point. He is not saying that his experience at his place has relevence to large scale production, he is pointing out that he was clearly enchanted by the prospects of renewable energy to the extent that he has lived off them for years. Yet this has not prevented him from making a rational investigation of energy supply and coming to the conclusion it does not stack up at a large scale.


  229. Yesterday’s carbon tax announcement
    would normally mean nuclear power goes to the head of the line. NREL and WNA cite new costs per Mwh of about $45 for pulverised black coal, $70 for combined cycle gas and $70 for nuclear. Adding $25 per tonne of CO2 takes these figures to about $70, $82 and $70. Others claim that nuclear in Australia will cost a lot more than gas. True or not gas is certain to greatly increase in price.

    This time last week the major snag for nuclear to overcome was the repeal of blocking legislation. Now it’s the Fukushima effect. It remains to be seen how the carbon tax will cut emissions long term in the absence of nuclear, very little I suspect.


  230. Forgive me for being only recently introduced to this Blog, a voice of reason in sea of mis information.
    I have been an avid Nuclear supporter for many years because it is a blatantly obvious solution to the the worlds energy and global warming problem.
    I can now direct detractors to the bravenewclimate web and not feel like a lone crackpot around the family dinner table.
    Nuclear power station design is safe and has been for quite a few years, perhaps R&D should be directed to waste disposal. If a solution to the waste problem where found most oposition to nuclear power would become support.


  231. Hi John,
    welcome. There’s some smart people here who know their technical stuff, and there’s activists and artists and campaigners as well.

    ///R&D should be directed to waste disposal///
    Maybe let’s rephrase that to “directed to safe waste reprocessing and reburning”. Gen4 reactors could run the entire world for about 500 years just off the depleted uranium we already have sitting around in ‘waste depositories’. As my poster says, “Nuclear waste, it’s not the problem, it’s the SOLUTION!”



  232. One element of the nuclear debate that does not receive enough publicity is the difference between wave and particulate radiation contamination. A minute radioactive particle lodged in your lung will keep on radiating for the life of the particle. Wave radiation, Gamma and Alpha, is instantaneous and disappears as the source disappears. There is no connection between breathing in radiation particles and flying in an aeroplane. They are totally different problems.


  233. @Eclipse suggests a reply to …
    >”R&D should be directed to waste disposal”

    Sounds like a wobbly manoeuvring you into agreeing that there is significant “waste”, that it should be “disposed of”, and that there is some sort of “problem” which gives excuse for delaying taking responsible action. I suggest you don’t repeat any of those three words, and pre-empt any excuse for wobbling.

    I often hear it as a taunt, rather than a question: “What abaht the waste!”
    To which I try to reply before the idiot shuts his brain down again, “Well, what about the CO2?”

    Then, if they show signs of intelligence, assert: “It’s better to have one tonne of fission products in the ground, than a million tonnes of CO2 in the air.”

    Of course, it can be offensive asking blind believers to use their brains, but at least we can shake their certainty. Later, it may cause them to read up on the puzzle, and learn something that might help the environment.

    Perhaps your slogan might sound: “Today’s storage contains tomorrow’s fuel”
    Then if there is a glimmer of attention in your listener, you can chant off “reduce, reuse, recycle!”, and see if they are capable of more intelligent discussion.


  234. The following draft LCOE exercise is intended as a generic version of the ideas of Peter Lang. I’m posting it here now in the hopes of obtaining some comments which will improve the draft. [It is intended for those who know little about electric power production.]
    A Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) comparison exercise

    WindCo runs a big wind turbine farm while AtomCo run nuclear power plants; both are independent generating companies. PumpCo runs a big pumnped hydro facility as backup to the intermittent wind power. DistCo distributes the wheeled power to the retail customers; the same amount of electric power is assumed to be required at all times, just for simplicity.

    WindCo sells power @ 9.2 cents/kWh[1]. This power is wheeled to DistCo and PumpCo, both receiving at the same price. The Capacity Factor (CF) is 32%[2], so 32% of the time PumpCo is pumping and 68% of the time, PumpCo is generating and selling to DistCo @ 16.5 cents/kWh[3]. So the levelized cost to DistCo is the average of 0.32×9.2 + 0.68×16.5 = 14.164 cents/kWh.

    AtomCo sells to DistCo @ 12.0 cents/kWh[4].


    Having a very large WindCo means a lower average CF which requires ever more pumped hydro. That probably means an even greater expense, a dis-economy of scale.


    [1] This is an actual contracted price from a new wind producer selling to Idaho Power. It is in good agreement with the EIA estimated LCOE for on-shore wind. The price includes the transmission charge.

    [2] The CF of 32% is from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, for the Columbia Basin wind location.

    [3] Existing pumped hydro stations in the USA have an operating cost of around 1 cent/kWh. However, costs have at least tripled since the last pumped hydro was constructed and the assumption used here is that land acquisition costs have also risen. The operating cost assumed is 3.3 cents/kWh to which a transmission chage of 1.7 cents/kWh has to be added. The “fuel” cost is the cost of electric power from WindCo of which but 80% is recoverable, that being typical of pumped hydro stations. That means the selling price is 5.0 + 9.2/0.80 = 16.5 cents/kWh.

    [4] Using the NREL simplified LCOE calculator with a 30 year 10.8% loan and technical data about advanced nuclear from the NWPCC 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, the LCOE is 9.2 cents/kWh to which a transmission charge of 1.7 cents/kWh must be added. The NREL simplified LCOE leaves some matters out, so another 1.1 cents/kWh is added to cover those expenses.


  235. DB your assumption seems to be
    nuclear + direct wind + ex hydro = constant demand.
    If nuclear is itself somewhat constant it means
    direct wind + ex hydro is another constant. They must mirror each other. The potential energy in hydro storage must exceed the maximum possible shortfall due to a protracted wind lull, that is if wind is zero then hydro has to solely carry the non-nuclear load. Reliable river flow could help which cuts out these cliff top sea water tanks proposed elsewhere.

    As to costing see Table 1 in

    Click to access Doty-90377-Storage-ASME-ES10.pdf

    which has pumped hydro at about 6c per kwh extra and lead acid batteries around 10c, aside from the fact the latter is unproven at Gwh scale. The report strays into unknown territory such as wind powered synfuel.


  236. EN the worry I have with the cliff tanks idea is the same as the solar updraft tower – you have to spend billions before you know if the low average cost eventuates. With wind pumped hydro in the mountains the river flow provides a steady top up. The catchment could cover hundreds of square kilometres of side creeks and spongy soil. A 7km diameter cliff top tank is not really that big in comparison.


  237. 1. Relying on a very low difference of temperature the way it does, the solar updraft tower has often been called the ‘hydro dam of the land’. I want to see one built, a full 1km high version just to see what the engineers can measure from it and how it performs. It is meant to work night and day, rain or sun because of the thermal storage and VAST areas of land used to collect that very slight difference in temperature that generates the wind. It’s a fascinating idea.

    The way the Federal government has been tossing around money for insulation bats, I wish they’d built a solar updraft tower for good measure. It would have been a fascinating science experiment!

    2. Are there any such areas of hydro left to develop in Australia?


  238. EN you could build a 220 MW hydro on the Gordon River Tasmania below where it meets the Franklin. I’ll suggest it to Bob Brown. I note that dozens of protesters flew into Hobart on kerosene burners to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the project cancellation. Maybe fossil fuels aren’t so bad after all. The other problem is now we want 100X as much low carbon energy as such back river dams can provide.

    I was recently shocked to see some Tas dams half full after 3m of rain. I’d say they were drained to chase spot peaking prices. I think that means the average residence time of water in dams is decreasing. Long term drought means many others will be chronically low eg Hoover Dam in the US. I suggest already built dams that are only half full could be the major resource.


  239. John Newlands, on 26 March 2011 at 1:45 PM — Thank you for the link to the Doty Energy paper. I changed to using the suggested 5.6 cents/kWh for the incremental cost but didn’t change much else since I hope it is even clearer which is the less expensive alternative.
    ——— revised ———–A Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) comparison exercise

    WindCo runs a big wind turbine farm while AtomCo run nuclear power plants; both are independent generating companies. PumpCo runs a big pumnped hydro facility as backup to the intermittent wind power. DistCo distributes the wheeled power to the retail customers; the same amount of electric power is assumed to be required at all times, just for simplicity.

    WindCo sells power @ 9.2 cents/kWh[1]. This power is wheeled to DistCo and PumpCo, both receiving at the same price. The Capacity Factor (CF) is 32%[2], so 32% of the time PumpCo is pumping and 68% of the time, PumpCo is generating and selling to DistCo @ 18.8 cents/kWh[3]. So the levelized cost to DistCo is the average of 0.32×9.2 + 0.68×18.8 = 15.728 cents/kWh.

    AtomCo sells to DistCo @ 12.0 cents/kWh[4].


    Having a very large WindCo means a lower average CF which requires ever more pumped hydro, a dis-economy of scale.


    [1] This is an actual contracted price from a new wind producer selling to Idaho Power. It is in good agreement with the EIA estimated LCOE for on-shore wind. The price includes the transmission charge.

    [2] The CF of 32% is from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, for the Columbia Basin wind location.

    [3] Existing pumped hydro stations in the USA have an incremental cost of around 1 cent/kWh. However, costs have dramatically increased since the last pumped hydro was constructed. A recent study by Doty Energy indicates an incremental cost of 5.6 cents/kWh to which a transmission chage of 1.7 cents/kWh has to be added. The “fuel” cost is the cost of electric power from WindCo of which but 80% is recoverable, that being typical of pumped hydro stations. That means the selling price is 7.3 + 9.2/0.80 = 18.8 cents/kWh.

    [4] Using the NREL simplified LCOE calculator with a 30 year 10.8% loan and technical data about advanced nuclear from the NWPCC 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, the LCOE is 9.2 cents/kWh to which a transmission charge of 1.7 cents/kWh must be added. The NREL simplified LCOE leaves some matters out, so another 1.1 cents/kWh is added to cover those expenses.


  240. It is a welcome change to see storage being included when costing renewables. Perhaps we should check more often that cost of storage or backup is included in proposals.

    In Australia especially, renewables proposals should also include cost of distribution, to get the levelised power from its area of collection in the Bush to its customers in the cities.

    Does anyone know the $/km of a 10 MVA powerline? Our friends on the Nullarbor clifftops will need about 2000 km of it.


  241. RC there have been several suggestions for an HVDC cable across the Nullarbor. For above ground lines that could be say $2m/km for cable that can transmit 1GW and say $150m for each converter station. Pt Augusta SA to Norseman WA is about 1,400 km.

    When this came up before Peter Lang argued that a redundant line was needed in case of failure but nodes can fail as well regardless of redundant routes. This happened to a Basslink (500-700MW) converter station that overheated in 2009 if I recall.

    I’d rather see billions spent on cliff top tanks and trans Nullarbor cables than the NBN. The cable would have to pass close to the Olympic Dam desal if it ever gets built.


  242. @Fuku-Phil-thread, 5:56pm 31March:
    >”PM … uranium is okay to export [but] not to use domestically.”

    It is something of a reassurance that the (Australian) PM can find it politically easy to say. After all, Australia has explorers, miners, transport workers, and secondary industries making a buck out of the export of uranium, whereas we have very few people making a living out of using it. Consequently, it is politic to nurture an expanding industry while dodging an ethical question. One step at a time.

    So far, that is. At some point in the future, coal will be displaced as an energy source within Australia, while a hefty proportion of Australians continue to a buck out of its extraction and export. Then, the PM of the day will be able to say poker-faced that it is okay to export coal, but wicked to use it domestically.

    Dare one suggest that future for gas yet? Just “one step at a time” may be more politick.


  243. One of the primary arguments against solar power — particularly solar PV — solving our energy needs is that it can’t support baseload requirements, in that solar is only available for a portion of any day (less still for shorter winter days and during cloudy weather).

    What about using hydrogen fuel cells in tandem with solar (and wind for that matter) power in order to create a working energy storage system? In such a scenario the number of solar panels needed would be to have a power output equal to perhaps thrice the baseload power requirement. Then, during the day, the entire 24-hour power needed could be generated and 1/2 to 2/3’s of it stored for the hours without sunlight.

    I understand fuel cell technology still needs considerable development, but what is technically infeasible in this? It is likely not economically feasible just now either, but further advances in fuel cell and solar PV technology ought to make it more so.

    It seems like a viable way to make renewable energy sources meet baseload needs.


  244. Nuclear Layman what you suggest has been done in a number of places with Stuart Island off Washington State being particularly well documented
    However see the section on round trip efficiency which they calculate as 7% which is woeful.

    A related suggestion is that of reversible fuel cells which alternate between hydrolysis and electricity generation from stored H2 and O2. It is also claimed that synthetic hydrocarbons could be made for later use in cheap and reliable combustion engines such as diesel gensets not fuel cells.

    Some claim that transport fuels could also be made this way. See
    They estimate 60% efficiency but I’m not sure yet where the boundaries have been drawn. However if the process was indefinitely sustainable, low tech and cheap then efficiency wouldn’t matter so much. I’m dabbling in a variation of this approach but it’s early days.


  245. John, thank you for the links and the information.

    As to the round-trip efficiency, the Stuart Island group does say that for a full-time residence, a larger electrolyzer would be needed and that it would have no warm-up time and provide an efficiency of 14% (due, in part, to an internal economy of scale of the electrolyzer) . Still not great, but is a doubling of the efficiency.

    Also, as far as the fuel cell cost, I just saw a segment this past week on the Dylan Ratigan MSNBC show (I realize this isn’t an academic citation by any stretch), in which some researchers (U. of Tenn., Memphis? — I think) are working on a fuel cell made with chicken feathers (to hold onto the hydrogen), which they claimed would reduce the price of hydrogen storage by a factor of 15.

    The Stuart Island system is clearly spendy for what they get; however, with economies of scale and improvements to the technology, the price will undoubtedly come down as well as the efficiency rise for such a system. Also keep in mind this is but a prototype built with retain-priced equipment.

    Do you — or does anyone else — know how much the US government is spending on fuel cell R&D?


  246. You want an automotive fuel cell to cope with deceleration and bumps which seems to cut out both ceramic oxide (which could be fuelled by natgas) and proton exchange membranes, fuelled by hydrogen. Thus I doubt feathers will make the grade. At least they’re not seeded with platinum if I understand right.

    A couple of years back they said a piston engine costs $35 per kilowatt and runs maintenance free for 1000 hours. For fuel cells the figures were $500 and 100 hours if I recall though the pre-tailshaft equivalent energy conversion is much higher. They tried a hydrogen fuel cell bus in Perth WA for a while and it cost at least $50 a km to run, an order of magnitude too high.

    I believe the gas fired trigen that some propose for Sydney will use pistons or turbines not fuel cells for the electrical generation task, the other tasks being heat and absorption cooling. However trigen is a better use of gas than simple baseload power.


Comments are closed.