Future Nuclear

Anti-nuclear cartoon book, 1978 – anything changed?

A few weeks ago, Haydon Manning passed me an interesting book from the more dusty section of his shelf. It was called “Nuclear Power for Beginners“, and the edition I have was published in 1978. (If you do a bit of searching, you can still find old copies for purchase). If you’ve read this post from 2010: From nuclear sceptic to convert, you’ll know that Haydon was himself once anti-nuclear, but has since been convinced of the need for nuclear power. So I guess that when he bought this book, its contents aligned very much with his views (and those of the majority of environmentalists of the time). Like me, however, Haydon is now off the Christmas card list of Friends of the Earth!

Here is the book’s cover, freshly snapped from my iPhone (with the $2 price tag still clear):

Apparently, it was first published as “The Anti-Nuclear Handbook” but was then re-titled to fit with the popular “For Beginners” series. The cover says it all really — a death’s head in the word “Power”, the black and gloomy background vista, the corporate polluter with a nuclear power plant on his head, and the bright ALTERNATIVES! (with a happy, smiling sun).

It’s worth reading books like this to get a perspective on the roots of anti-nuclear activism, and to reflect on what, if anything, has changed. The best thing I can say about the book is that the format is great — cartoon books are terrific at explaining complex topics to a lay audience. (I also really like this series). Maybe I need to collaborate with an illustrator to write the new version…

The book covers all of the core anti-nuclear arguments — power plants are unsafe (and remember, this was published before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima — so they relied on Windscale, Chalk River, SL-1 etc. and good old speculation), nuclear waste is intractable, the risk of weapons proliferation is enormous and growing, fast breeder reactors just make everything worse (and are theoretical anyway), and so on. But it’s the conclusion that interests me in particular, especially in the context of the arguments being presented by commenters in the Energy debates in Wonderland thread.

A succinct summary of the core argument of the book is given on p46:

The objections to nuclear power are numerous… some can equally well be levelled at the other big-scale, centralised energy technologies like coal and oil… but what distinguishes nuclear power from all else is a word: RADIATION

There is a description of a meltdown on p51 (with the fuel inexorably melting through the reactor pressure vessel, leading to a steam explosion that bursts containment, “while the molten uranium burns down into the earth“), a discussion of the French approach, p52 (amazingly, they were talking about ‘core catchers’ even then — it’s not just an EPR thing!), and throughout, an unquestioning connection between radiation and the inevitable consequence of genetic defects + cancer. There is also a lot of space devoted to the argument that as the fuel cycle stretches around the world, the risk of sabotage and nuclear terrorism will become immense (this starts on p85), and that once the fissile material is available, the ‘do-it-yourself’ bomb kit( in an urban guerilla’s cellar) is but a few steps away.

I could go with a description of the contents, but that’s not really the purpose of this post. History can judge the veracity or otherwise of these sorts of arguments, and you can read through the archives of BraveNewClimate for refutations of all of these objections. What I want to look at here is how well the authors’ claims on the alternatives have held up. This thrust is introduced on p 102-103:

Saying ‘no’ to nukes means saying ‘yes’ to something else. Little would be won if it meant saying ‘yes’ to ferocious consumption of coal, oil & gas… their risks are well know [various damages then listed].

Here is another choice (these decisions are far too important to be left to the experts):

— Either we move on down the hard technology road towards a high-energy society in a nuclear age based on a plutonium economy

— or, we take the soft energy path towards an equitable society based on ecological principles and an economy geared to people’s real needs

Remember, this was 1978 — yet it all sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? We’re still having these same debates today. Nothing has really changed. And the hard reality is, 32 years later, that coal, oil & gas HAVE won (so far).

[As a slight digression, I’ve always found the classic ‘libertarian’ view of nuclear power and ‘enviro-leftist’ view of renewables to be equally confusing. Nowhere in the world has nuclear power been built on a large scale without significant government co-support – actually, this seems to be true of ALL national electricity infrastructure, including coal (can anyone name any exceptions?).

Yet many free marketeers are strong supporters of nuclear power, whilst at the same time they dislike renewables and any subsidies given to them (including, of course, the carbon tax). Conversely, most people who argue passionately for the need for direct subsidies for renewable energy, carbon prices and mandated programmes for energy efficiency, also really dislike the fact that nuclear power has historically got similar type of support — and could continue to do so.

Why is this, I wonder?

I’m asking this question out of sincere interest, rather than try to say whether such ideas are inherently ‘good/bad’ or ‘right/wrong’ -– as BNC readers know, my evolved view is that whilst renewables are based on some fascinating technology, they remain essentially unable to support a large-scale move away from fossil fuels. Only a significant reliance on nuclear energy can permit this.

So I wonder if it ultimately comes down to a form of unavoidable ‘cultural cognition’, whereby nuclear power is generally equated to high energy density and industrialism/consumerism, whereas renewables is intuitively connected by many to natural landscapes and sunny/breezy environments.


Anyway, back to the book. The ALTERNATIVES! highlighted on the book’s cover, are naturally a reduction in energy use (conservation), anincrease in efficiency of use, and large-scale adoption of available renewable technologies, including solar PV, solar thermal and wind. Amory Lovins and his ‘soft energy pathways’ is quoted extensively (including his ‘fossil fuel bridge’, which should have apparently allowed renewables to gradually increase to about 40% of supply by the year 2000 and 100% by 2025).

In addition, some nations are held up as exemplars of the route we (the Western nations) should be taking:

China (p118): political and economic liberation, little foreign aid, many-sided development of industry and agriculture, emphasis on simple, small-scale technologies, no nuclear power, red revolution — union of peasant, factory worker and technician, more careful use of resources

Indeed, it’s called “The Benevolent Way” (p126) — “to promote the decentralisation of political and economic power, redistribution of wealth and the liberation of the individual… the struggle for a soft energy future must be linked with the struggle for political change“.

Question: Is this the China we see today?

So there we have it. We can reflect on why the soft energy path was not taken, and argue that this was because the concomitant socio-political shift didn’t happen (irrespective of whether you consider this pathway to be inherently good or bad). But again, I ask the question (trying here to take a completely apolitical position): if this shift failed to materialise in the past, why should we expect this to change in the future?

There is a cartoon on p129 that I’ll also reproduce:

What’s wrong with this? Well, the error of logic is that the scientist on the left is correct, and the one on the right is wrong. The problems of nuclear waste disposal are social and political, NOT technical. So there are no double standards here. Again and again, these issues are being confused.

Finally, to the appendix — which is all about the great potential of those ALTERNATIVE! energy systems.

On flat-plate solar collectors, they say “now they are in great demand in the US, where sales are trebling annually”.

Or this:

Solar cells turn sunshine into electricity. They are still extremely expensive but a major cost breakthrough is said to be imminent. In the US, government and private capital is being poured into solar cell technology, which lends itself to monopoly.

The same can said of solar [thermal] power towers, electric energy systems now being built in Sicily, France, Spain and the US. Ground mirrors provide the heat to turn a steam turbine in the tower….

British studies suggest that unit-for-unit windpower’s total cost is one-third that of nuclear power…

There are the descriptions of the 240 MWe La Rance tidal power system (presumably as an icon of things to come…?), the fact that ocean wave power (“under development in Britain, Japan and Scandinavia“) could supply 70,000 million killowatt hours of electricity in Norway — the nation’s annual consumption (the reality check is here and here); plus ocean thermal units exploiting the difference in temperatures between the surface and deep waters (so sorry Lovelock and Rance, nothing is really new under the sun). Oh, and don’t forget the huge potential of biofuels, methane digesters, geo-thermal energy and heat pumps, and so on. Surely, with all this potential, in 1978…

I sigh. It’s all so eerily familiar. The renewables dream of the 1970s are the same dreams of 2010s. All these ALTERNATIVE! technologies were ‘on the cusp’ of a breakthrough… and still are. Meanwhile, for 32 years and counting, many well-intentioned folk continue to block nuclear power, and the Earth’s environment goes to hell in a hand basket. Meanwhile, we burn more and more fossil fuels. Little really was won.


Footnote: There is a table on p164 of uranium reserves. Yield for global reserves at <$80/kg was 590,000 tonnes in 1978. For resources available at >$80/kg, the total estimate was 1,510,000 tonnes.  The argument, presumably, was to show that there was not much uranium available anyway. Now fast forward to 2010. On that point, I rest my case…


By Barry Brook

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

164 replies on “Anti-nuclear cartoon book, 1978 – anything changed?”

I am often reminded by the Fukushima accident by the work of Dr Peter sandman who many of you may be familiar with. His work is based on the premise that humans perception of risk is almost inversely proportional to actual risk. He talks of parameters which magnify perceptions far beyond reality. Nuclear fits these parameters perfectly. Long after Fukushima eventually kills no-one and coal poisons the planet and renewables power the remnants of a shivering impoverished populace, nuclear will still be feared. And we will still smoke cigarettes.


Such positive words there, Rick! ;)

You never know. There is still time for humanity to overcome its fear of nuclear fission, before destroying much of the biosphere through prolonged use of fossil fuels (amongst other activities). If we do, I believe in a few hundred years time it will be looked back on in the same way as such historical events as the Salem witch trials.


The KiKK study looks well done. We need more epidemiological work done this way.

However, the report itself casts some doubts:

“What this case-control study cannot answer, is what causes cancer.
current knowledge suggests that the additional radiation exposure of the public through the operation of a power reactor is too small to cause the effect. The exposure would have to be 1000 to 10000 times higher. There currently is no plausible explanation for the observed effect, which has been showing an overall consistent picture with little fluctuations over the 24 year period. “


Sod, “why do you use one metric when it suits your point (death per kwh makes the small number of “solar deaths” high) and another one (high total CO2 emissions make the big CO2 output of German coal look dirty, even though they have a lower Co2 per kwh than other countries in Europe) when it doesn t?”

Because solar is so pathetic in total kWhs not many people die; but in a solar powered world many more solar kWh mean many more will fall of roofs and much more metals will be used (solar is about 10x more metal than nuclear per kWh). You are suggesting a solar powered world where this matters.

Of course there never will be a solar powered world, there could be a world with a lot of fossil and a little unproductive solar to greenwash it. In such a world, there will be much pollution and many deaths.

In a nuclear powered world there will be fewer casualties than in a solar powered world because of less residual fossil fuel use. Plain and simple.

Coal has killed millions, and continues to kill massively every day we keep delaying nuclear buildout.

It is clear by now that Sod does not care much about people dying from lung cancer due to fossil fuel combustion so I’ll rest my case.

It also appears that Sod believes that emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of NOx, SOx, heavy metals/particulate and hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 does not make Germany a dirty country. Indeed Sod asserts that with such emissions, Germany has no emissions problem of any consequence for us to prioritize its reduction. So I will stop wasting my time with Sod. Most people who are reasonable have gotten the point days ago, and those who are reluctant to view evidence that contradicts their worldview need time to think, so I will now my big mouth for a while.


Deaths per kWh is also misleading because Solar is still a 21st century phenomenon, if no solar is installed going forward and deaths drop to 0, the ratio of deaths/kWh would continue to drop possibly below nuclear even.

The problem I have with the deaths/energy source is that people are not really looking at it objectively, you object when I tell you that if Fukushima were a PV farm 0 workers would have died (remember a PV farm is not a residential inclined roof), but then go around extolling how much safer nuclear would be if more money is dropped in the pit of safety.

Making Solar the lowest death/kWh source of energy is easy AND cheap, create installation safety standards (ie rope and harness for inclined roofs). Making nuclear safer now means a Gen V plant with permanently passive cooling, costing billions of dollars in design, billions of dollars in teething and it still leaves waste, and meltdowns are still possible though orders of magnitude rarer.

John Bennets, you are an investor, good for you, I am not however, I view things in terms of scale not whether an individual company has a good PE ratio. They fold today then others will take up the mantle of producing $0.75/watt of course I rather they be subsidized so that we get closer to $0.5/watt as promised.


“sod, ExternE takes all sorts of health effects into consideration. The summary of how that works outis reflected in the table on p.15 of your link, or read more at

sorry but the table on page 9 of the pdf does not include any substances of nuclear fuel or radiation in any form.

it does include many cancer related substances that are produced by coal plants.

accidents also seem to be limited to “workplace accidents”, again something that seriously favours nuclear over coal. (the big risk of nuclear accidents is not limited to workers)

Click to access externpr.pdf

your link to the psi is giving me the shivers. this is one horrible source for nuclear dangers information.

read here psi about the release of tritium into a river:

so the people who like to release nuclear material into nature argue that this has little dangers? really?


It is true that centralized energy generation, like from nuclear reactors, creates a power structure where individuals have to do certain things – like work at jobs they may not like – to get the energy.
I have a friend who’s into “sustainability”. He wants to get along as well as he can by himself, without relying on the vast web of society. He lives out in the country and grows a lot of his own food. He is thinking of getting a geothermal heat pump, powered by photovoltaic panels. “thinking of” because it’s expensive.
He lives pretty low on the consumption scale. He doesn’t spend much money for everyday things. He told me he couldn’t afford to have a dog, for example.
So I guess the answer is, yes one can have “the alternative”. And it’s very thought provoking, to live in this super-simple non-consumerist independent way. I’m not sure if it’s given him special insight, but he seems quite clear-headed.
But there are many aspects of it that most people wouldn’t want. Like spending a lot of their time farming, doing menial labor. Like being restricted from enjoying all sorts of things that are part of our large complicated specialized culture.
But, one point is, it’s probably TRUE that we could get by with solar and wind energy, IF people DRASTICALLY restricted their lives to consume less energy. Maybe if they cut their energy consumption to 10% of what it is.
Hardly anyone is going to do that voluntarily, though. We all have things we value. I would consume less energy if I were living like a rat in a giant apartment building, rather than in a detached house. I don’t have a car and I live close to town for that reason. But other people put a high value on living out in the country, so they “need” a car and the huge energy consumption that goes along with it. Etc. etc. etc.
It would be lovely if we could somehow have the benefits of our highly specialized society, with far less energy consumption. I don’t know how such a thing could happen, though. I’m not talking about just “conserving energy” or buying energy-efficient appliances, but super-conservation: using a small fraction of what we do now.
I live in a pretty low-energy way. No car, I get around on my bicycle. I’m almost entirely vegan; plant foods generally involve much less energy to create them than animal foods do. I have a heat pump, so I burn only about 1/4 as much natural gas for heat as I used to – in upstate New York.
But even if almost-everyone could somehow be persuaded to live this way – I don’t think it would solve our energy problems. I don’t think it’s drastic enough.


ps For example, a big chunk of my energy use is government – my per capita share of what the government is spending for this and that.
Could *that* somehow be drastically reduced?


Begging your pardon, Mr. sod, but your assertion that the externe study fails to take radiological effects into account is mistaken. Please see the following…

Click to access expoltec.pdf

Starting on page 31, section Data and Analysis, it states the following…

“Fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy systems were assessed using a full process analysis methodology. The full lifecycle of all stages of the energy systems have been considered (energy resource extraction and processing, conversion in power plants, production of infrastructure and fuels, transport, waste management, etc.).”
Surely you would agree that this is a very comprehensive approach?

Continuing on page 32, Table 7, the following about nuclear…

“Damage factors for radioactive emissions approximated by DALY”
(DALY stands for “Disability-Adjusted Life Years”. This method of risk assessment combines the negative health effects of “Years of Life Lost (YLL) and “Years Lived with Disability” (YLD)… in other words, DALY = YLL + YLD). Clearly, radioactive emissions were taken into account, but interestingly, note that the radioactive damage factors required “approximation”… I’ll come back to that.

Page 32 contains Table 9 which lists various “species” of pollutants/hazards taken into account in the study. The table is prefaced by a short paragraph that contains the following language…

“Major outputs of lifecycle assessment are cumulative emissions from all steps of the energy chain. In order to estimate the related external costs, average damage factors per ton pollutant have been used (Table 9). The factors refer to the most important pollutants and take into account the latest methodological advances of the NewExt and ExternE-Pol phases of ExterneE.”
From this it is clear that, contrary to your claim that radiation damage is unaccounted for in the ExternE study, it is listed as one of the “most important” pollutants (more accurately, “hazards”) taken into consideration. Table 9 assigns a multiplier to each species of pollutant/hazard to ensure it is given proper weight in the final calculation… in other words, if only a small amount of a particularly toxic species is produced during the lifecycle, its effect is multiplied by the “damage factor” to ensure its impact is accurately represented, and vice versa. Note that “Radioactive Emissions” are assigned a hefty damage factor of 50,000! This is the 4th highest damage factor on the list, and though you may perhaps quibble that it’s not high enough, you cannot claim it was ignored, nor even that it was given short shrift.

Page 35 is most revealing. Here we find Figure 9, which is actually two graphs, a and b. Starting with graph 9a…

This graph is self-explanatory… of all the energy systems evaluated, hydro has the lowest external cost, followed by wind, with nuclear just barely higher than wind. The best case for photovoltaic is an external cost 50% higher than nuclear, and for Central Europe, PV external costs are fully twice as high as nuclear. Needless to say, even the best case for coal (of which you seem to be a champion) is orders of magnitude higher than any of the aforementioned systems. On to 9b…

9b absolutely, and finally, explodes this assertion you made with reference to the ExternE study, and I quote, “radiation is NOT a health risk considered by this study.”, 9b depicts how the various pollutant/hazard species for each energy system under consideration contribute to the overall external costs. In the case of nuclear, a full 70% of the external cost is assigned to radioactive emissions! So, not only is radiation a consideration in the study, it is overwhelmingly represented as the primary health risk of nuclear power, and even when heavily weighted with a 50,000 times damage factor, the favorable outcome represented in figure 9a is produced.

Finally, on page 37, in the second paragraph (which pertains specifically to nuclear), you will find the following…

“Nuclear external costs are below 0.19 eurocent/kWh of which 70% is radioactivity dependent. However, if discounting were to be introduced, this contribution would strongly decrease, because most of the calculated damages from radiation are either related to very long term emissions (eg: radon from uranium mill tailings) or to very long lived isotopes giving very small doses.”

I would be obliged for some clarification from one of the other very knowledgeable posters here as to what “discounting” refers to in this statement, and how it would affect a “strong decrease” in the radioactivity contribution… I’ve never quite figured that out to my satisfaction. As for the rest, is seems pretty evident that most of the assumed radiological damages refer to dosages/dose rates that fall into the ambiguous, bottomless pit of unproven low dose LNT effects, which to me casts doubt on the propriety of a 50,000 damage factor.

OK then… Mr. sod… will you now, in the interests of intellectual honesty, retract your objection to the ExternE study, to wit, “radiation is NOT a health risk considered by this study”? I ask this, not to salvage your reputation here, but because your answer will be revealing to those interested bystanders reading this thread from the sidelines, seeking to enhance their understanding of nuclear power. Perhaps some of them have found your tenacity compelling, and are in danger of mistaking obstinacy for honesty. Given the well deserved thrashing you’ve received, you may also have gained the advantage of having become an object of sympathy. However, few will be forgiving of maintaining a falsehood, so a response will reveal your true character.

“A man who is honestly mistaken that is shown the truth has a decision to make… he can remain honest or mistaken, but not both.


Or blind, as in…

“There is none so blind as he who will not see.”

(Old English proverb, attributed to John Heywood, in 1546. Paraphrase of Jeremiah 5:21, written a couple of millennia earlier.)


Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:


@ Enviromentalist, on 29 April 2011 at 2:34 AM:

Talk about trivialising!

Yes, solar deaths are due in part to domestic roof falls. This is not the whole reason for that industry’s comparatively poor safety record versus nuclear. Once again, we have a single item response to a multivariate phenomemon. What about the mining, manufacturing, transport, earthmoving (big flat areas don’t grow on trees, you know), installation, operation and demolition, disposal and recycling issues? What about the cradle to grave issues relating to chemical usage in the PV panels themselves?

So, it is false to affirm that “making solar PV the cheapest death/kWh source of energy is easy AND cheap.”

Let’s turn now to the next statement, “Making nuclear safer now means a Gen V plant with permanently passive cooling, costing billions of dollars in design, billions of dollars in teething and it still leaves waste, and meltdowns are still possible though orders of magnitude rarer.”

Gen V? Whatever that may be, it has been demonstrated conclusively in this thread and elsewhere that NPP’s are now and always have been, safer than solar PV. For parity to be reached in this comparison, solar needs to lift its game, not nuclear.

Last, let’s contemplate where “I view things in terms of scale not whether an individual company has a good PE ratio. They fold today then others will take up the mantle of producing $0.75/watt…”

How strange! No manufacturer, let alone Solar One, the largest in the world, has stated that they are targetting a 0.75 cents per watt panel. Solartech have aimed their sights at 1.2 cents, as I quoted above. Their two statements to their stockholders indicate the corporation’s risk factors. In fact, there are pages of similar risk factors listed – I only targetted two. First, is this giant corporation’s BEST HOPE that their panels will be 1.2 cents per kWh, which is still far too expensive to compete with a whole range of other technologies; second, their stated concern that without continuing subsidy, their whole plan goes out the window (or words to that effect).

So, Enviro, if you seek to convince rational, non-committed readers that solar PV is a viable option for the future, please provide links that demonstrate the practicality of 0.75 or 0.5c/kWh PV power and that this price has been arrived at without recourse to magic money gifted to the program via a taxpayer or via lopsided feed in tarrifs which serve one side of the industry at the expense of all others and of the customers.

It is time for you to put up or to shut up. References, please.


sod: Others have pretty much dealt with your citing of
the KIKK study and misrepresentation of Externe. Studying radiation induced cancers is extremely tricky precisely because they are extremely rare. It’s nice and simple to just argue … nuke=radiation=cancer=disaster=endOfLifeOnThePlanet

But the real world isn’t so simple. I’ve tried elsewhere to convey more of the complexity of assigning causal roles,

and am working on something at the moment for
BNC. My advice to anybody who thinks the above simple causal chain has merit is to read Kenneth
Carpenter’s “History of Scurvy and Vitamin C”. It’s
a wonderful book for giving a feel to understanding a causal chain starting from basic data. e.g. On many ships during long voyages, scurvy set in about the same time as the beer ran out. Hence it wasn’t irrational to assume that scurvy was a deficiency of beer! This isn’t much different from having a sick child and living next door to a nuclear
power station and somebody cries … its the nuke!


sod, I don’t really believe you can misunderstand this. It’s obvious that the table on p9 refers to current emissions from transport. using hydrocarbon fuels. Your attempt to claim that coal is included is simply wrong – for example, there is no mention of mercury. The p15 ExternE table I pointed you at refers to accumulated external effects from all sorts of possible energy sources.

In any case, I hope you went on to read the source documents at the bottom of the page I linked. If not, John Rogers above has kindly pulled out some key material for you to ponder.

Perhaps you don’t like PSI because they’re accurate. Putting tiny amounts of tritium in large amounts of water is indeed harmless, but if you are conditioned to faint with horror every time radioactivity is mentioned, I don’t expect you to able to read rational arguments of that kind.


Given the very significant stakes in the climate game, why are we spending so much of out time and effort arguing about so little of the problem?

Time to re-focus, I suspect.

Unrelenting climate change = lose the game.

Against this backdrop, fiddling with solar freaks and other back door representatives of the fossil fuel industry?

I suggest another tack… attack the FF technology which breathes life into intermittent generation… natural gas in all of its forms.

Essentially, if it were not for ramped up natural gas, which includes coal seam methane, PV and wind would very much struggle. Thus, NG and CSM are indirectly responsible for much of the public and private treasure which has been wasted on untrustworthy generation.

A rough estimate is that elimination of coal worldwide and replacement by wind plus PV plus GT’s would leave us with 40% of our current CO2 emissions due to electricity.

My reasoning is: Since intermittent power is available only 25% of the time, a first approximation is that the other three quarters of the electricity is provided by a mix of OCGT at 35% and CCGT at 65%, ie say 50% of the CO2 output of straight coal. Three quarters of 50% is 37.5%.

If the world was to switch instantaneously from coal to PV + Wind + PCGT + CCGT, the future CO2 output is still 37.5% of the amount we started out with. That’s for 100% abandonment of coal.

At an annual global growth rate of 3% in electricity in all of its forms and assuming that non-FF power ramps up at the same rate, we get back to today’s CO2 output in 31 years’ time.

Conclusion: Give the PV and wind proponents everything that they ask for and after 30 years the world’s CO2 output will be worse than it ever has been.

Argue about my numbers if you wish, but the situation is clearly dire. Either do away with FF (coal, gas) in toto, asap, or learn to live or die with climate change.

Any sideshow about intermittent non-solutions will, in a few decades, have run its course, either way. The only long term outcome variables are who gets rich along the way, Chinese, Danes, Germans, Wind, Solar. So what, when the earth is burning and every single harbour city in the world takes on the look of Venice, or worse?

Footnote: A few resource wars should help to focus the minds of those who remain. Water, Oil, Arable Land, Grain, Failed Fisheries… what’s going to be the first to cause tens of millions to seek security through conquest? No amount of intermittent power will address these needs while climate change calls the global shots.


I don’t feel trying to blame your neighboor seem to be the way to resolve the situation.

This isn’t a simple energy transition, as I recall, they were significants protests in the France nuclear build. These things can’t be done so easily, and no, I don’t think it’s because of the “anti-nuclear misinformation” .

I understand the pressure, but it is still trying to force someone to think the way you want: this may not be the way it should work.

I don’t Merkel has it really easy, her government just lost some elections and massive protests have occured, the reasoning behind the shutdown of nuclear power plant is quite rational -> it’s to calm the public.


“sod, I don’t really believe you can misunderstand this. It’s obvious that the table on p9 refers to current emissions from transport. using hydrocarbon fuels. Your attempt to claim that coal is included is simply wrong – for example, there is no mention of mercury.”

sorry, but Cyril gave me this link:

Click to access externpr.pdf

on page 8 this says:

“The following table gives an overview of the health and
environmental effects currently included in the analysis
(current research aims at constantly enlarging this list).”

it does not say “examples” nor does it say that it is limited to “transportation”.

instead the title of the table on page 9 is:

“External costs of ENERGY and transport:
Impact pathways of health and environmental effects included in the analysis”

Now i do not know whether they simply for got to mention that the chemicals mentioned were just an example list. or whether the paper is outdated.

so far i have not seen any good reason, why my assessment of the paper linked by Cyril is false.


the new stuff linked by John Rogers and Joffan is different.

as i said above, i have different reasons for my doubts for this newer (or more clearly stated?) results.

“Perhaps you don’t like PSI because they’re accurate. Putting tiny amounts of tritium in large amounts of water is indeed harmless, but if you are conditioned to faint with horror every time radioactivity is mentioned, I don’t expect you to able to read rational arguments of that kind.”

i do not accept PSI as a source, because they have an interest in the outcome.

i have linked the Greenpeace study on energy a couple of times.

they also did an study on external cost and (obviously come to different conclusions. on nuclear energy they us the highest external cost of fossile fuels as an estimate, because it is difficult to get a different value.

would you accept this number from Greenpeace?


@ sod

Actually, the kind of methodology that ExternE relies on is exactly why I think that the KIKK study, while significant in itself, is not sufficient to condemn nuclear power.

I take the KIKK’s figures from the horse’s mouth :
and in particular ” Within a radius of 5 km of the 16 sites of the 22 nuclear power plants, a statistical average of 46 cases of malign tumours of all types was to be expected. In reality 77 cases occurred. This means that an additional 29 cases can be attributed to living within this radius. This equals 1.2 additional cases per year within a radius of 5 km to the nuclear power plants.”
Let’s round generously these 1.2 cases at 10 cases and consider they all result in mortality at birth for a kid that would reach 100 years old otherwise (not really true as there is close to 90% full remission rates on leukemia but medical treatments have a cost anyway…). ExternE puts the cost of loss of a life at 5 million euros (every year lost 50,000 Eur)
Then we take the annual production of nuclear power in germany (2009, the last figure I found ) : 149 billion Kwh.
Hence the external cost of NPP induced Leukemia in Germany should be 50/149000 euros per Kwh, I.e. 0.03 euro cent per KWh.
If you look at the table on page 15 of the link you referenced, the health cost is already computed at 0.17 cents, so incorporating the KIKK study findings using my conservative assumptions will put it up to 0.20 cents ; still lower than coal at 0.73, lignite at 0.99, PV at 0.45 and Gas at 0.34. And I am not even mentionning the greenhouse gases externalities (sorry Barry…)

If we want to be consistent, we would have to perform equally rigorous “KIKK studies” in Germany in the vincinity of every single industrial installation ! We would be in for a few surprise I guess.

To illustrate the latter point, look at the following study
You will see an comparable increase of SIR for people living in winegrowing communities ! Where are the “Weinbau, nein danke” placards ?


as you will be sceptical of the greenpeace study, i have serious, i have doubts about the treatment of nuclear energy in externE.

here is waht they say in FAQ about it:

“# Is the risk of a nuclear accident evaluated in an appropriate way?
Evaluating external costs for the risk of a nuclear accident is a topic of long debate (ExternE 1995, 1998; Krewitt 2002). Currently, ExternE evaluates costs of a nuclear accident by multiplying the assumed probability of an accident by its assumed costs, derived from modeling studies. This calculation does not account for risk aversion, which is pronounced in the case of nuclear accidents, radioactivity, and large disasters in general. There is no agreed procedure on how to deal with risk aversion within a quantitative framework. It would be possible to develop an assessment scheme, e.g. by using participatory approaches to explore the preferences of the population with respect to different risk types, but ExternE has not been funded to do so. In any case, nuclear energy is a technology where opinions tend to be very strong. It is conceptually important to include an estimate of the costs of a nuclear accident in calculating the external costs of nuclear power. However, such an average value, or perhaps any monetary valuation, is unlikely to be persuasive. In this case, the value of the ExternE methodology may be more a means for steering the discourse into specifics and demonstrating which assumptions have to be used to support different opinions.

# What about nuclear proliferation and security in the event of terrorist attacks?
Nuclear proliferation has been a topic of long debate in ExternE (e.g., ExternE 1995:521-541, ExternE 1998 v. 7:483-491), but ExternE has not attempted to quantify the potential damages. EU member states have presumably analyzed the risk of terrorist attacks, likely including some quantitative analysis. However, information on these is not publicly available, so it is not possible to quantify the remaining risks. Thus both issues are not included in ExternE’s external cost estimates and have to be treated as gaps. ExternE has done no work on nuclear technologies since 1998.

# Are long-term effects of nuclear energy treated adequately, in particular, nuclear waste storage and other land contamination?
In estimation of the impacts of future normal operation of storage facilities for nuclear waste is included in the analysis. The risk of leakages has been examined only for low and medium-level radioactive waste. It is expected, and assumed in the analysis, that future storage facilities for high level waste will be built and operated according to strict standards and any remaining risks will be limited to the local zone, which would be chosen in a low population density. Therefore, according to case studies, any leaks would affect only a small number of individuals and the associated damages would be small.

# The choice of nuclear power plant is crucial in determining the external costs of nuclear power generation. Why not include Chernobyl-type plants in nuclear power results, rather than modern plants?
ExternE is generally oriented toward the external costs of future plants, and Chernobyl-type plants would not be built today. Here the crucial issue is how the results are used and what they are said to represent. Results generated for a pressurized water reactor (PWR) type plant are not applicable to a Chernobyl-type plant.”
(i guess you ll have to scroll a few pages..)

in each of these cases, they chose an approach that produces the smallest amount of impact.

the fuel storage claim is completely absurd. choosing places with small population for the next 1000 years? this is obvious nonsense!


thanks for the calculation charles! looks reasonable to me.

but i think that the last link you gave supports my view, not yours:

“To illustrate the latter point, look at the following study
You will see an comparable increase of SIR for people living in winegrowing communities ! Where are the “Weinbau, nein danke” placards ?”

the main result is an increase in skin cancer. this is no surprise, as wine is grown in SUNNY regions! (and indeed, in their evaluation of the result they find a connection to people working outside)

the rest of the results is weaker, and it is difficult to establish a causal link to wine growing (actually what they are looking at is pesticide use)

the KiKK Study is completely different: they find an increase in leukemia, with a clear (possible) causal connection to nuclear material or radiation and with no obvious other explanation!


sod: Before you make too many claims about KIKK you might also like to explain why other studies find
reductions in childhood leukemia around nuclear
plants … see my already linked piece

and you also need to explain why Australia has such a wide range of childhood leukemia rates, some much higher than France with all its nuclear

The fact that nobody knows why there is such a wide variability in time and space of childhood leukemia doesn’t mean that nukes are the cause.


Well, I don’t remember the book, but I do remember the arguments in favour of alternative technology, and the TV series set in some sort of post nuclear-winter scenario. Even though I was only about 10, the claims being made for renewables struck me as delusional (or dishonest as I thought at the time) – so actually books like this had the exact opposite effect on me than they desired.


@ sod, on 29 April 2011 at 5:18 PM :

Our friend has again provided a link to a known biased organisation’s site, in an attempt to prove some point or other about the cost of wind power.

I note that there is, as is depressingly typical for sites which have clear objectives which are pro-intermittent power sources such as SPV and wind, no indication as to whether the quoted cost of wind power is before or after the generators have placed their snout into the public trough of feed-in tariffs and the like.

I, for one, place no credibility on such “data”. It is worthless, no matter how many links are provided to it.

Perhaps, but improbably, Sod can produce something reliable to explain his case.


@ sod, on 29 April 2011 at 5:23 PM:

You provided us with 4 instances where the ExternE study identified matters that they could not quantify. That you use these as a crutch upon which to lean to reject the whole of the report is somewhat odd, given that each of them, taken individually, has close to zero impact in my opinion.

Of course, I have not justified my opinion any more than you have justified your own opposing view. They are both just that – opinions.

We are not left with the realisation that the ExternE study is what it said it is, plus or minus your unsubstantiated notions of impending doom. Your attempts to debate with less and less by way of facts to support your much-valued “opinion” is both tedious and futile.

How about learning to keep your opinion to yourself until you have located something to back it up?


Sod, do you think Greenpeace has no interest in the outcome of a nuclear study?

If you want to be taken seriously, don’t link to Greenpeace. Plus you must listen and ponder about what other people say, especially if it challenges your simple world-view of ‘solar good nuclear bad’ with evidence. You must read and comprehend their references, and not nitpick in order to claim minor victories as a diversion to the main arguments, which you have blatantly lost multiple times.

Think about what the numbers say on nuclear versus solar versus coal.


sod perhaps you can summarize for me how that greenpeace report wandered into the fantasy land of claiming that wind and hydro directly have negative external costs? Dams help the environment! Turbines clean the air! Not.

And yes, I don’t accept their unsupported costs for nuclear, conjured apparently out of the fake “controversy” that anti-nukes attempt to push into the discussion, and set higher than coal or gas.


“Sod, do you think Greenpeace has no interest in the outcome of a nuclear study?”

actually i think they do. so i will not be surprised, if you folks will not accept numbers from Greenpeace without having a second look.

my point was a simple one: i (and everybody who is not completely convinced by nuclear power) will not accept numbers (about a small effect from released radiation) from an institution, that has a direct interest in it. (releasing radiation)


“and you also need to explain why Australia has such a wide range of childhood leukemia rates, some much higher than France with all its nuclear

i am sorry for ignoring your article.

but i don t think it makes any sense Geoff! i don t find your arguments convincing. for example you can t simply compare cancer rates between different countries!


“You provided us with 4 instances where the ExternE study identified matters that they could not quantify. That you use these as a crutch upon which to lean to reject the whole of the report is somewhat odd, given that each of them, taken individually, has close to zero impact in my opinion.”

i disagree strongly. a study that takes an obviously false approach (like assuming that final nuclear waste storage will happen in places with little population) is unacceptable.
if you want to convince people, you need to take a different approach.

in the end, i am rather sure that the real external cost of nuclear energy lies somewhere between the Greenpeace number and the ExternE number.


“sod perhaps you can summarize for me how that greenpeace report wandered into the fantasy land of claiming that wind and hydro directly have negative external costs? Dams help the environment! Turbines clean the air! Not.”

the negative numbers can be found on page 31 of the pdf:

Click to access Studie_Was-Strom-wirklich-kostet_Langfassung.pdf

the label of that line of the table says: “Nicht internalisierte externe Kosten”.

Greenpeace starts with the cost of energy, as you find it on your bill they then calculate cost that the energy causes to society.

so a negative cost says that such a form of energy is saving society costs, in comparison to the price on the bill.

this is a completely reasonable result and has no connection to “turbines clean the air”.

in Germany the subsides to alternative power are directly paid by the customers. ( the private customers, most industry doesn t pay) so these subsidies are very transparent, while most subsidies to coal and nuclear are hidden.


I could help with writing and creative ideas for a pronuclear comic book. I’m not a cartoonist though.
A long time ago I wrote a whole bunch of Sheep jokes for a calendar, with imagined cartoons to illustrate it.
A pro-nuclear comic book could be very lively and interesting. Since people have these drastic fears about nuclear that one could make cartoons about then say “the reality is …”


sod, that is complete nonsense. External costs are additional to any direct costs. In order to have negative external costs, the process of building, operating and decommissioning that energy source has to benefit the environment directly.

After digging a bit, I see that what has happen is that costs have not been used at all. Instead they have used price, which is entirely unreliable. The report is even worse than I expected, which is saying something.


Joffan, you can not simply name something “cost” , and argue that “cost” can never be negative, when they name it “not internalized external costs”. (which obviously can be negative)

if we put a new filter into those “dirtiest” German coal power plants, that filters out some of the substances causing cancer, than we get a double effect:

there will be a normal “positive” external cost: external damage caused by production of the filter.

but there will also be a “negative” external cost: less cancer caused because of the filter being used.


here is a study from McKinsey about negative costs in the case of reduced greenhouse gases.

the article caused a controversy about negative cost being possible. but for me it is enough, that McKinsey does not agree with you. (and notice that they are not even talking about negative external costs but about real negative costs to the company: they will save money by reducing greenhouse gases!)


To be fair, many hydroelectric dams do have positive effects that negate some of the impacts. Examples are flood protection, water buffering for agricultural use, and the provision of certain new habitats (large lakes). This does come at the cost of existing ecoystems, and most of the advantages accrue to humans. But you could say those are negative external costs.

Solar and wind systemic costs are so high that it makes no sense whatsoever. The end result is that if you subsidise wind and solar, you end up paying a lot of money for greenwashing fossil fuels (the grid will be a majority fossil fuel grid).

Germany is the worst eco-scam greenwashment of the century.


@ Sod:

On this site, Sod is communicating with scientists and engineers, trained and experienced people who deal with facts in their professional life. We are not News Ltd journalists or a bunch of young, eager but unknowing acolytes.

Trying to find nuggets of truth in Sod’s biased and opinion-heavy but fact-weak sprays has become quite tedious.

Further up, I noted in relation to the Greenpeace propaganda “… there is … no indication as to whether the quoted cost of wind power is before or after the generators have placed their snout into the public trough of feed-in tariffs and the like.” Sod has not responded to this, but Joffan has picked it up.

Thanks to Joffan, we now know that Greenpeace based their report on prices, rather than costs.

Sod further advises us that, by ignoring government rebates to customers, these subsidies are somehow not costs and thus can be ignored – waved away by the magic wands of PR, bias and spin.

Further, and contrary to the posting rules of this site, Sod has explained that some fine print in German in one of his links might support his viewpoint.

Come on, Sod – play by the rules. Costs are costs. Cost comparisons have nothing, absolutely nothing at all, to do with market prices. Subsidies are subsidies, including those which are quantifiable such as feed in tariffs and rebates but which have not been included just because they don’t help a particular partisan cause.

Then, to top it all off, the same Sod makes a completely unsupported statement to the effect that all of this cheating is OK, because in his opinion there are mysterious subsidies being plowed into coal and nuclear.

OK, Sod, it’s time to place the cards on the table. Let’s all have a look at the detail of these subsidies. List them, item by item, or stop kidding yourself that they change the outcome in the way that you would like us to think. They do exist… don’t they?


Sod seems to constantly ignore the main argument: solar and wind are nondispatchable power sources that are not there 70-90% of the time. The consequence is simply: you burn natural gas, and loads of it. For every kWh of wind/solar you need more than 1 kWh of natural gas. That’s not good enough.


i am not sure what your problem with the Greenpeace approach is.

here is what they do, as i understand it:

they want to know the full cost (to society) of the burger that i eat ta the moment.

producing the burger requires space and work. this is factored into the PRICE of the burger, when i bought it. (it is internalized into the price) so they start with the price of the burger, when calculating the cost to society.

other costs to society is not internalized. for example i might throw the packaging of the burger into a park. (and society has to pay to clean it up again) this is a cost that is not internalized into the price. (basically waste treatment has to be factored into the cost of the burger to society)

the burger also might have positive effects to society, like making me stronger for work. this will cause a negative cost.

with which aspects do you have problems?


Cyril, sure that you have not understated your case?

Two extremes during a notional winter’s evening in 2015 are, for a domestic demand of 3kW, at 30 cents = 90 cents per hour.

BAD: Unfortunately, it is after sunset on a calm, wet day. Total wind available is only 20% of nameplate and zero from PV, so only 10% of scheduled intermittent load can be met. Blackouts ensue for 90% of the customers who had notionally sought power from renewables.
“Sorry, citizens and business folk, we spent all of the budget on PV and wind. We didn’t have money for more backup power. The experts who wrote the ZCA2020 report told us that backup power supplies are not needed because half of the power demand just goes away when intermittent sources are used, so it’s really your fault for not following our assumed demand curve. It ain’t easy being green.”

WORSE: “It has been calm and rainy, so only 10% of capacity was available from our renewables portfolio. For each kWh from wind and PV, another 9kWh was needed from gas turbines because all the baseload capacity was committed. Sorry, folks, but the electricity market spiked to $10,000 per MWh. That is nobody’s fault, it is the way the market is supposed to work. Yesterday’s average domestic evening peak usage had a surcharge of $9 per kWh during the evening peak. The new SmartMeters (TM) this morning automatically transferred from your bank to ours $27 for the 3kWh you used during the peak hour yesterday. Look on the bright side – at least nobody froze in the dark, because our plan allowed for the unreliable nature of renewables and we constructed a heap of GT’s at half of the cost of an equivalent nuclear capacity. Oh, by the way, the CO2 from the OCGT output is about the same as that which would have come from conventional coal fired plant if they had been kept in service.”

Nuclear comment: For less capital outlay on a nuclear rollout spaced over 30 years and with a less ambitious portfolio of renewables, the market would not have spiked above normal evening peak prices of $100, there would have been no blackouts and the community’s health would have benefitted from the reduced SOx, NOx and particulates coming from fossil fuels. If only the decision makers had listened to our message during the past 40 years!


“Further up, I noted in relation to the Greenpeace propaganda “… there is … no indication as to whether the quoted cost of wind power is before or after the generators have placed their snout into the public trough of feed-in tariffs and the like.” Sod has not responded to this, but Joffan has picked it up.”

it would help if people could tell me whether they can read the German paper or whether they can t. it does not make much sense to discuss a paper in detail, that people can t read.

as i have said before, the feen-in tarifs for alternative energy (a subsidy) are factored into the price of energy and are paid by the (private) customer.

so this subsidy is part of the price.

other subsidies are not. on page 8 the pdf says:
“Um die Zusatzkosten der staatlichen Förderungen zu ermitteln, werden demnach aus-schließlich die Förderungen in den Bereichen „A. Finanzhilfen“ und „B. Steuervergünstigun-gen“ berücksichtigt. Steinkohlestrom weist mit 2,5 Ct/kWh den höchsten Förderwert auf, ge-folgt von Atomenergie mit 1,9 Ct/kWh und Braunkohle mit 1,1 Ct/kWh. Erneuerbare Ener-gien haben sogar einen negativen Förderwert, der bei den gesamtgesellschaftlichen Kosten gegengerechnet werden muss. Er ergibt sich daraus, dass für erneuerbare Energien im Rah-men der Stromsteuer ein höherer Betrag gezahlt wurde, als dies das Leitbild der Energiebe-steuerung (an Energiegehalt und externen Kosten orientiert) verlangt.”

so state side subsidies are only financial support and tax cuts to coal and nuclear. (text above also includes another explanation for the negative cost for renewables under this approach)


to John Bennetts:

(nearly) WORST:
so you bought that little house next to the Fukushima plant on the 1st of march?

all your scenarios are extremely unrealistic. if you start paying $30 per night, some nice guy might support you with a diesel engine he bought for that purpose.

or you could figure out that heating with electricity is not a good idea at all.


“Sod seems to constantly ignore the main argument: solar and wind are nondispatchable power sources that are not there 70-90% of the time. The consequence is simply: you burn natural gas, and loads of it. For every kWh of wind/solar you need more than 1 kWh of natural gas. That’s not good enough.!”

on the global level, there is sun and wind at 24/7

even a rather small grid of wind will barely ever go down to zero output.

so you do not need 100% of gas back up and this will not run 100% of the time.

i think you are overstating the problems and ignoring the benefits of alternative energy sources. Denmark is running 20% wind and they didn t collapse so far!


The gas backup won’t run 100% of the time, no.

It will however supply the majority of your so called ‘wind and solar grid’.

Hence, solar and wind are greenwashing.

Denmark is a fossil fuel hellhole:

Click to access DKELEC.pdf

They pay the highest or second highest prices for electricity in all of Europe, and for what? Burning 2/3 fossil fuels?

Its not the 20% wind. Its the other 80%. France has taken care of that 80%, and has among the lowest electric rates and CO2 emissions to show for it:

Click to access DKELEC.pdf

You are constantly ignoring the blatantly simple and devastating evidence against wind and solar. They don’t cut the mustard; all they do is lock yourself into fossil fuels indefinately at huge cost.

Discussing with you, Sod, is like taking a ride with a little kid on a merry go round. Once you’ve been debunked of all your falsehoods, you just start all over again. Spinning and spinning and spinning.


@ Sod:

For the umpteenth time, price and cost are two entirely different things.

If Greenpeace and Sod do not know the difference between the two, then anything that they say on the subject of the comparative costs of energy options is, not surprisingly, nonsense.

In the end, only defined terms such as LCOE are truly indicative of the COST of energy. The Levellised Cost Of Energy is determined in such a way that the total of the input costs are established, thus enabling a comparison of costs between alternative sources. This site contains many articles which delve into the LCOE under various scenarios and technologies.

So, if Sod wishes to conflate the two, there can be only two possible explanations for this.

Either Sod and his Greenpeace mates are intentionally avoiding fair comparison; or

They are not as intelligent and well-informed as they should be… in fact, not as well-informed as the most basic of economics student – say juniour high school.

Without basic understanding of these two basic concepts, any conversation re comparative costings of power is doomed, so, Sod, you have again brought nothing of value to the discussion and have failed to learn from our little exchanges.


Even LCOE doesn’t tell you everything, as usually it only pertains to the busbar cost of power. For example the systemic cost of wind at high penetration makes it 3x as expensive, as per the DeCarolis and Keith analysis. Which is very optimistic with high geographic spreading and a good wind resource for the USA. Germany doesn’t have a very good wind resource; their generators only get around 17 percent capacity factor, fleet averaged. This means that their wind is not there on average 83 percent of the time. Their solar, with a capacity factor of 11%, is not there on average 89% of the time. Plus those two sources can’t be turned on when necessary.

Do I really have to add a conclusion to this?


Anyone who has followed the pro/anti nuclear conversation for any amount of time is painfully aware that any time Greenpeace derived analysis is brought into the conversation, the level of discourse is hopelessly degraded. Greenpeace is a rabidly anti-nuclear organization who predicates their nuclear analysis on the premise of “Lies, damn lies, and statistics”. (Assuming of course you can stomach elevating what they call “numbers” to the status of “statistics”)

This inevitably leads to the lawyeresque method of debate Mr. sod is engaged in… when your point is weak or insupportable, abandon logic and proceed to muddy the water… confuse the issue with meaningless information, brazenly dodge responsibility when you’re wrong, endlessly refer to spurious/inconclusive reports, not to prove anything, but to establish doubt. And when you’ve exhausted your stock of dubious intellectual capital… repeat!

Manufacturing “reasonable doubt” is a legal trick to manipulate opinion, and is entirely divorced from the principle of Justice. Greenpeace has understood for decades that their task consists of public relations, not education. In the end, these tactics have nothing to do with truth-seeking, but are an effort to erect and sustain a false idol of/to environmentalism… and they have many eager, deluded acolytes.

The techno-solar disciples have learned their debate tactics at the teat of organizations like Greenpeace… sometimes with purpose, often through osmosis. They have been weaned on the repetition they imbibed from the Mother Church, and are conditioned to use the “tactic” of directing an anti/pro nuclear discussion into something resembling battling a hydra… it doesn’t matter how often or decisively you decapitate a falsehood under one head, it is shrugged off with indifference and returns twofold under a slightly different aspect. In fact, often even the small effort of altering its appearance is disdained, and it returns in its identical form. You see this tactic used by the anti’s in every pro-nuclear forum out there… it is a phenomenon simply too conspicuous and regular to be an innocent product of chance or intellectual incapacity/laziness… this is a method.

The heart of human reason is the ability to identify and understand patterns. Once a consistent pattern has been established, it must not be ignored.

It is painful to observe the growing and understandable frustration of the well meaning, and very well informed commentators here. Take heart, friends! Maybe you’re just looking at this the wrong way.

Understand that you are not the target audience of these folks… they are looking for converts among the undecided in the public. Their task is twofold…

1 – to muddle the useful information you are providing to the public, and…

2 – to needle and annoy, to provoke you into resorting to passion rather than reason.

The pattern is clear… consciously or unconsciously, Mr. sod is an anti-nuke hydra… he is not here to learn, but to prevent others from doing so… and if he can provoke the honest commentators here while maintaining a façade of articulate politeness, all the better.

Just one example. He began his condemnation Externe with the patently false assertion that it took no account of radiation effects in its analysis of nuclear power… he was horrified by this… outraged! I not only proved this was wrong, but demonstrated that rad effects were the overwhelmingly dominant concern taken into account, and asked that he retract this objection His response? To paraphrase, “oh well, that’s something different… but look at this other thing! I’m horrified! Outraged!”

All done. Case closed. Move along. ‘Nuff said. Next snakehead, please?

How many other similar deflections are in this thread?

Hmm. Patterns. Yeah…

Don’t be played… see this for what it is.


“For the umpteenth time, price and cost are two entirely different things.

If Greenpeace and Sod do not know the difference between the two, then anything that they say on the subject of the comparative costs of energy options is, not surprisingly, nonsense.”

sorry, but i really can t see the difference.

a) you start from zero. calculate the cost of all things involved. (external and internal costs) and end up with a cost number. (don t get me wrong LCOE is a very good approach!)

b) you start from the price of electricity. you factor in costs, that have not been factored in already (these can be positive and negative). you end by a very similar number.

i also do not understand what your problem is: all the alternative powers start from a much higher price (the feed-in tarif)

the calculation of external costs is taken from a paper produced for the ministry of environment in 2006, not really a source that is friendly to Grenpeace.

Click to access ee_kosten_stromerzeugung.pdf

prices matter if you want to evaluate energy costs. at the moment for example, everyone can see on his electricity bill how much he had to pay (extra) for the feed-in tarifs. that his taxes also pay for building nuclear waste storage doesn t show up anywhere.

at the same time, several towns in Germany have started to produce energy of their own. many of these institutions are not profit oriented and might provide electricity at a cheaper price (and that for obviously at a lower cost to society).


“Anyone who has followed the pro/anti nuclear conversation for any amount of time is painfully aware that any time Greenpeace derived analysis is brought into the conversation, the level of discourse is hopelessly degraded. Greenpeace is a rabidly anti-nuclear organization who predicates their nuclear analysis on the premise of “Lies, damn lies, and statistics”.”

thanks John Rogers, you are making my point. i brought up the Greenpeace study above, when it turned out that the nuclear numbers for the ExternE study are provided by the PSI.

and the first thing i found when i did a search about them on the web, was a controversy about them releasing nuclear waste into the environment. (and then there is the FAQ which claims that final storage of nuclear waste would happen at places where few people live, which is a joke if you are planning hundreds of years ahead…)


on the global level, there is sun and wind at 24/7
even a rather small grid of wind will barely ever go down to zero output.

Sod: capacity factor and availability factor are not the same thing.

Plus, your comment above is not a defense of wind and solar power as a substitute for basepower. It’s a dodge, smoke.


on the global level, there is sun and wind at 24/7

So the only problem with solar and wind is, it’s not where you are.

Such a small problem ..


On the global level, there are huge quantities of fresh water available. Kinda makes you wonder what we Aussies were complaining about with the drought a few years ago.


@ sod

Ummm… what?

“thanks John Rogers, you are making my point. i brought up the Greenpeace study above, when it turned out that the nuclear numbers for the ExternE study are provided by the PSI.”

Patterns…. snakeheads?


The relation between capacity factor and availability factor is sometimes confusing (to me).

It is my understanding that with nuclear, a .9 capacity factor is often expressed in terms of annual hours when the plant gets its rated power. So that would mean that out of 8760 hours, the nuclear plant was getting its 1 MW of power 7834 of those hours.

With capacity factor applied to intermittent sources, it’s meaningless to use “availability” as a proxy, since it is available often at a fraction of its nameplate.

I measured the cf for german solar on Jan 10 of this year as ~ 1.2 %. There were 4.5 Gwh of total electricity delivered out of a maximum of 372 Gwh (15.5 GW * 24 hrs). This ~ 4.5 Gwh were delivered during 3 hours in that day (it was evidently very, very cloudy). So the electricity was available at some level one eighth of that day, but the capacity factor was much lower than that.


Availability is when your plant is available. You can have a 100% available plant but decide not to run it, for example if you have a peaker gas plant you might decide to wait for prices to go up and use this plant for expensive peaking power to make a lot of money.

For wind turbines, technical availability is usually better than 90%, but that means very little, as the wind is unavailable most of the time!!! And when wind turbines fail, they tend to fail all at the same time, when there’s a calm period. Big problem. Same for solar; the solar panels are close to 100% reliable technically, but their resource, the sun, is not! As a consequence the solar plants all fail in the evening, in winter, and on cloudy days. That’s not good for Germany, which needs 70% of daytime peak power and night and most energy needs are during winter!!!

In winter solar in Germany has capacity factors of zero (snow on panels) to 4% (sunny winter day). So your energy is not there 96 to 100% of the time. This statement is not subject to debate, it is techically accurate.

Even in summer you only get 10-25 percent capacity factor, with big differences between days and even weeks, and of course zero power at night. It means the power is not there in summer 75 to 90% of the time.

A nuclear plants typically makes at least 7000 kWh/kWp/year. World record plants that are optimally run get up to 8500 kWh/kWp/year. Solar plant in Germany makes on average 1000 kWh/kWp/year, and lasts only half as long as the nuclear plant.

Consequence is that a nuclear kilowatt in Germany makes over its lifetime 14 times more electricity than a solar kilowatt in Germany.

Solar is an extremely unproductive and completely non-dispatchable energy source.


thanks cyril:

The kWh/kWp metric takes care of any ambiguity about availability, etc. I hadn’t seen that metric used here until you showed up (perhaps I’m wrong).

I’ve got to remember that.


No problem Gregory. I use the kWh/kWp/year figure to explain things sometimes when people don’t get capacity factors, as often PV enthusiasts use this metric to compare each others PV systems. They always brag like, ‘my system gets 1000 kWh/kWp/year’ and then the other guy says ‘my system gets 1100 kWh/kWp/year’. And then I say ‘nuclear systems usually get around 7000 kWh/kWp/year’ they look at me with big eyes ; )


sod: Of course you can compare cancer rates in different countries … age standardised of course. If two countries have different rates of some cancer, then there will be one or more reasons. Knowing the difference in rates won’t help much in finding the reason(s) but will alert you to the fact that you need to look.


Who the hell runs the Antinuclear Australia website? I’ve only ever glanced at it occasionally, but the articles read like they’re written by semi-illiterates, let alone people who have absolutely no knowledge about science or engineering.


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