Open Thread

Open Thread 23

The last Open Thread is feeling a tad dated, so time for a new one…

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.


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.

1,181 replies on “Open Thread 23”

I have read and scanned the ROAM report and can not find a total capital cost estimate of the installation of the 34 GW generating capacity that provides 516 GWh of electricity. Did you find total capital cost figure any where in the report?


There are lots of figures for various plants but none that I noticed for the overall number. If you can wade through the Melbourne Uni paper which is much more detailed there are a heap of cost estimates there. I still actually have to earn a living so I didn’t work them through. I was dissuaded by their reference to an AEMO 2013 paper which claimed there was only a need for about 10GW/ I have not been able to find that paper, but my gut feeling is that it is a bit too optimistic.

Re storage I have often mentioned thermal storage. If you mandate that each house/hotel/barracks and hospital has to have 100L of hot water per bed (total not additional) with a temperature of 60C you can store about 100 GW.hrs as heat before the water falls below 40C. Similarly if you have a domestic fridge with a 10L ice bank, the latent heat in the ice is enough to keep the average fridge cold for 12 hours. Further internet controlled air conditioners can be used to precool/preheat houses before the afternoon peak with maximum use of afternoon solar. Pool pumps, washing machines, dishwashers etc etc can also be time shifted to suit the generators I am not suggesting these as firm policy just that there are a myriad of ways to lower peaks and/or shift loads that are cheaper than purpose built electrical storage.

Also the consensus among storage professionals seems to be that storage should be between the load and the last transformer, that minimises transmission costs because the storage is charged off peak and discharges at peak times thus lowering capital costs and operating losses for the whole transmission chain. That is why in some circumstances grid operators are installing batteries now in spite of their very high costs, because they save upgrading transmission and distribution assets.


To Tony Carden
A 2012 Imiev has an 18kW/hr battery and has an American rated range of about 100km. An equivalent diesel car has a fuel consumption of of about 4l/100 km. According to Mercedes a large coach uses 25l/100km

So taking that ratio into account. the bus would need 25/4 x 1000/100 x 18 kW.hrs = 1130-1150 kW.hrs which is about 14 Tesla P85 battery packs or 7 tonnes of batteries. On the other hand the same diesel bus engine weighs 1.1 tonnes with transmission and fuel about 2 tonnes so your scepticism would appear to be justified

However the Proterra Catalyst averages 0.8 kW/hr per mile which is 480-500Kw.hrs for a run to Sydney but the Proterra only has battery power so carrying the extra battery weight for the extended range probably works out at about 550KW.hrs only 6.5 Teslas or 3.2 tonnes.

Finally the additional in the new Nissan leaf only adds 21kg or 3.5kg/ On that basis It is conceivable that the 550kW.hrs weighs around 2-2.5 tonnes or almost the same as a diesel system so it is definitely technically possible.

Just shows the progress in battery technology in 4 years


Eclipse Now,
I have read the article above and I have 3 questions

How many passengers was it carrying and how many can it carry vs a diesel powered bus?
Was the air conditioning on?
Were the lights on i.e. What is its range at night?

Sorry that was really 4 questions.

I am familiar with the Mitsubishi iMiev, The one I have had experience is a few years old so I am unsure whether they have improved in performance.
This is my experience of the Mitsubishi.
If you drive from Newstead (Brisbane) to Southport (Gold Coast) a trip of approx 80klms with 3 people in the car and the aircon on you will need to recharge before making the return trip. I am not sure if you can do the trip at night with the lights on as well because no one has been game enough to try.


A source like wind or solar and no storage make the power supply intermittent.
A vehicle running on battery and no power generation also makes running intermittent.
The solutions available are
A fuel cell to charge the battery when stuck. It will help till fuel lasts.
a solar panel on rooftop which will help in daytime.


Deep De-Carbonization Would Increase Electricity Costs 20–90 Percent, Says J.P. Morgan

“Where the report really triumphs is in its careful balance of technical rigor with accessible language and well-reasoned assumptions.”

A pricey and a South Korea price for nuclear power plants is considered. “In both of these future scenarios, the balanced (nuclear plus renewables) system still provides a better cost-emissions tradeoff than a heavy-renewables system.”

This gives the appearance of being a paper worth some study.


Interesting we have a new term Deep De-Carbonization. What does it really mean. Well most of us on this site are talking about this topic, that is we want to stop burning fossil fuels.
Instead of some of us calling ourselves advocates of Nuclear Power, we can now say we support Deep De-Carbonization with a minimal reliance on VRE’s (Variable Renewable Energy).
Now that sounds much more socially acceptable.


Re the JP Morgan study

When you read it you will find there are many uncertainties but they tend to conclude that the optimum is somewhere around 35% nuclear so there will still be a lot of VRE’s. You might consider their nuclear costs too high but their capacity factor for new wind is too low.
The good news about that is that their estimates for power costs and therefore the cost of decarbonisation for both scenarios is probably a bit on the high side


100% nuclear is the only answer that works for most of the world. There are a few [and far between] places where either wind or solar works, and geothermal works in Iceland. People who want wind and solar are really advocating coal, whether they know it or not. They are a lot like creationists: either irrational or unable to do the math or profoundly ignorant or some combination of those.

The number one problem COP21 has to deal with is COP6. How did this stuff get negotiated?

Global Warming and the EPA plan to mitigate:

The Conference of the Parties agrees:
1. To affirm that it is the host Party’s prerogative to confirm whether an Article 6 project activity assists it in achieving sustainable development.

To recognize that Parties included in Annex I are to refrain from using emission reduction units generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments under Article 3.1.

From another document I saw at this web site,
3. Poor countries are claiming a right to tax the US.

All 3 are “poison pills” that make it impossible to reduce CO2 emissions. All 3 must be removed to make real progress in stopping Global Warming possible.


The most important thing is what the Chinese and the Indians do.
It makes no difference what Australia does or Denmark does for that matter. The USA can have some impact on GHG but they are bound up in chronic inertia.

In relation to the Deep De-Carbonization Report from JP Morgan my major issue with the report is that it considers Germany and California in isolation.
When you have a backup called the interconnector individual sectors of the grid will adopt policies knowing that the interconnector will get them out of trouble.

But the NEM does not have this luxury and is in fact according to the World Nuclear Association

‘Eastern Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) operates the world’s largest interconnected power system that runs for more than 5,000 kilometres from North Queensland to central South Australia, and supplies some $10 billion electricity annually to meet the demand of more than 10 million end users.’


To Tony Carden

More things we agree on

“The most important thing is what the Chinese and Indians do”.

India is adding 60 GW of wind and 100GW of solar in the next 7 years generating about 350 TW.hrs per annum. In the same time it hopes to reach 17 GWe of Nuclear which will generate about 125 TW.hrs.
Since 2010 Wind generation in China has gone from 40 to 180 TW.hrs (BP energy outlook). Solar went from almost nothing to about 35TW.hrs. Nuclear rose from about 80TW.hrs to 124 TW.hrs

Enough said


Nuclear Technology seems to be going around in circles. My understanding is that the SMR’s, that the American Navy have been running in their submarines and their aircraft carriers and where ever else they have decided to use them, for some 60
years now, were a design developed by Alvin Weinberg and others at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Weinberg designed these as SMR’s specifically and was very concerned about the upscaling of the design to sizes far in excess of 60MW. Which is essentially the basis of the modern Pressurized Water Reactor.

Weinberg went on to develop a Molten Salt Reactor which successfully ran as a pilot plant using uranium as the fuel.
The rediscovery of MSR’s has lead people like Robert Hargraves and Kirk Sorenson to champion the cause of MSR technology using thorium. One of the key advantages of MSR technology is its potential for scalability hence it was proposed by Hargraves and Sorenson and others as being ideal for use as SMR’s and production line economics.

The article in the Guardian is interesting in that it acknowledges the enormous efforts that the Chinese are putting into developing
Nuclear Technology. Whilst they are responsible in part for the new enthusiasm around MSR’s they are not putting all their eggs in one basket and are developing other Nuclear Technologies as well.

This is all a little bit exciting as it comes hard on the heels of a number of interesting reports of the UK going to Nuclear, as well as the report from China dated October 16, which I have referenced above.
Here is the most relevant part of the Chinese report:

‘Xu detailed a multi-stage plan to build demonstration reactors in the next five years and deploy them commercially beginning around 2030. The institute plans to build a 10-megawatt prototype reactor, using solid fuel, by 2020, along with a two-megawatt liquid-fuel machine that will demonstrate the thorium-uranium fuel cycle. (Thorium, which is not fissile, is converted inside a reactor into a fissile isotope of uranium that produces energy and sustains the nuclear reaction.) ‘

The Chinese have for a long time recognized the enormous economic potential of a nuclear power industry where they hold the technological edge and export the technology and the finance to the rest of the world.
I do not believe it is a coincidence that these reports follow closely on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visits to the UK and the Hinkley Point project announcement.

China is not going to hang around waiting while the USA struggles with its own inertia to develop realistic energy policies.


Here is a link to a report from the World Nuclear Association dated November 11, 2015.–Nuclear-Power/

Here is the link to the report from the MIT Technology Review, by Richard Martin dated October 16, 2015.

I am using Chrome and have no problems clicking through. What browser are you using.


1 billion tons of uranium is dissolved in the oceans and we know how to get it out.

Uranium in sea water: .003 mg/liter X 1.37 X10**9 cubic kilometers
“Mineral Endowment of the Indian Ocean” GS Roonwal
There is a billion tons of uranium dissolved in ocean water. We can get it.
“Cost Estimation of Uranium Recovery from Seawater with System of Braid Type Adsorbent” 2006

“Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger” by Alex Gabbard
“Trace quantities of uranium in coal range from less than 1 part per million (ppm) in some samples to around 10 ppm in others. Generally, the amount of thorium contained in coal is about 2.5 times greater than the amount of uranium. For a large number of coal samples, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures released in 1984, average values of uranium and thorium content have been determined to be 1.3 ppm and 3.2 ppm, respectively.”
“Assuming 10% usage, the total of the thermal energy capacities from each of these three fissionable isotopes is about 10.1 x 10E14 kWh, 1.5 times more than the total from coal.”
We have enough coal for 1500 years.

Mineable uranium: Most countries have mineable uranium. 18 countries have active mines. Find the world supply on land later.

Uranium in asteroids: Most of Earth’s uranium is in the core. The same would be true for Mars and the asteroids. Some asteroids are the cores of former planetismals.

A reactor fuel load is 440 pounds of U235 oxide + 11 tons of filler [U238 oxide]. The 440 pounds of U235 is in the reactor for 6 years. The U 238 is gradually converted into fuel so that we can burn up all of the uranium. Ignoring the oxygen,
1 billion tons/.22 tons =4,545,454,545 reactor loads. Just the ocean contains enough uranium to last 4.5 X10**9 X 6 years = 27,272,727,272 years for one reactor or 27,272,727 years for 1000 reactors. There is enough uranium in the oceans alone to last 1000 reactors 27 million years. Not counting uranium in mines on land and not counting thorium. There is 2.5 times as much thorium as uranium.


Edward says: “Most of Earth’s uranium is in the core”, but I differ.

The material that is going into the core is mainly sulphides, such as sulphides of iron and nickel. These are high density, low-melting point liquids that trickle down out of the mantle. Uranium, on the other hand, separates from mantle and subducted slabs in late stage differentiation, and trickles upward from the mantle to underplate the crust. As the crust endlessly rises, it is as endlessly eroded down towards sea level. Most of the eroded uranium in river water precipitates out into the river deltas where it meets the relatively alkaline seawater. Unlike other soluble elements, it mainly stays in the continental crust. If anything, uranium accumulates in the continental crust faster than the continental crust thickens.

Almost certainly, uranium is accumulating faster than we could ever use it. Surely it qualifies for the title, “renewable”.


Below is a reference from the World Nuclear Association referring to the European grid.

In particular it makes says the following about the German section of the Grid.

‘Germany has its Energiewende policy involving phasing out nuclear power by 2023 and increasing its reliance on solar and wind power. Subsidies on these renewables are accompanied by giving them priority grid access, so that when they are producing they displace other sources from the grid. This reduces the load factors of gas, coal and nuclear plants, most critically in Germany but also elsewhere that these policies prevail to any degree. This compromises the economic viability of those plants, especially the newer ones which must earn money to repay construction costs. Coupled with this side effect from renewables’ grid priority is the low ETS carbon price and also low cost of coal, which makes coal-fired generation attractive. Despite concern about CO2 emissions, in 2012 some 10 GWe of new coal-fired plant was being built in Germany alone, adding to 55 GWe of coal plant operating there. While gas plants fit better as back-up for expanded renewables, they are less economic than coal, and gas supplies are uncertain, especially since sanctions applied due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. About 35% of Germany’s gas is imported from Russia, and fracking is banned at least until 2021. A former Chancellor of Germany sits on the Gazprom board.’

Further in relation to Grid interconnectivity the WNA report says

‘In October 2014 EU leaders renewed a 2002 commitment to increase energy trading through electricity connectors to 10% by 2020, ie that much of each country’s generation capacity should be available for trade across borders. The statement said that “The integration of rising levels of intermittent renewable energy requires a more interconnected internal energy market and appropriate back up, which should be coordinated as necessary at regional level.” The Baltic States, Portugal, Spain, and also Greece are priorities of electricity interconnection and integration.’

Hence the EU recognizes the problems that will occur as various sectors of the Grid embark upon their own political agendas.


Peter Farley,

Re the JP Morgan study

When you read it you will find there are many uncertainties but they tend to conclude that the optimum is somewhere around 35% nuclear so there will still be a lot of VRE’s.

The JP Morgan report doesn’t say anything of the sort. I’ve already pointed that out to you on John Morgan’s Wind Capacity Factor thread. I’d urge you to retract those misleading statements on both threads.

The JP Morgan report does not optimize the technology mix to minimize cost of electricity or CO2 abatement cost. If it did, the trends of the costs v’s proportion of technologies suggest non-hydro renewables would play only a minor part in most large grids. I expect the nuclear proportion would probably be around similar to France plus gas, any additional viable hydro and a relatively small proportion of wind and solar.


Peter Farley,

You’ve misrepresented the JP Morgan report. It was pointed out to you. You haven’t retracted your incorrect statements, and now you’ve switched to another report and again haven’t quoted and referenced the statement you assert is in the report. You ignored the many references to the AETA reports and models which are the authoritative Australian government reports, and instead want to divert to discussing a report sponsored by Australian industries.

You make frequent assertions about what reports say without actually quoting and referencing the source; when checked they are frequently found to be misrepresentations.

Sorry, not playing this click-bate game anymore. You’ve been shown to be wrong on almost everything you’ve asserted so far.


Current LGC spot prices are over $70, and medium term LGC forward contracts are approaching $80. Why does wind power have to be subsidised to such by around 75% of its cost if it is economic as the advocates would like people to believe?


Peter Lang

You seriously post out of date figures that are out by a factor of 3, 5 or 20 and you accuse me of error

The costs in the JP Morgan report on P20 show wind is far cheaper than nuclear, and so is solar PV, biomass and geothermal and surprisingly even solar CSP. It should therefore be obvious to anyone that a grid operator would include as much of those as possible in the grid, to lower the overall cost of power. Only when you run out of economical hydro, geothermal and biomass would you consider nuclear as residual load. Wind and hydro are almost perfectly complimentary so more wind means better use of hydro mean less thermal

I stand by my comment. It is you who don’t understand the report

LGC’s are $70 per because there are too many written off coal plants on the grid and no one wants to go the expense of closing and remediating them. Even if a coal plant was losing $10m per year it is cheaper to keep running it than close it and incur $200-300m in decommissioning and cleanup costs. If an individual owner hangs on for a few years someone else might blink and close down or perhaps the lower currency might increase Aluminium demand etc. so the logical course is to keep open even with no immediate profit.
You refer to the AETA report which has been superceded by both the facts and the Australian Power Generation Technology Report link again
Please keep up to date.


Peter F,
when you quote solar PV and wind costs, is that direct to grid? Because unless the storage costs are added in, we’re comparing unreliables with reliables and that’s not fair. “Oh, it’s so cheap!” (when it works, which is only a third of the day!) But nuclear power works 24/7, and can even charge electric cars and warm cold German homes overnight, while wind and solar drops to 5% capacity for weeks at a time!

EG: If we just used solar PV to cut a little afternoon and evening peak demand, and stopped trying to make it baseload, then solar PV and nuclear would be best friends and work together. But it is silly to try and make a power system that is mostly OFF our 24/7 source of power. While solar PV is cheaper and cheaper, that’s not the problem. Storage is.
Storage in northern nations like Germany could bankrupt any nation that tried it. You can either buy Tesla Powerpack batteries to back up one week of winter in Germany (at a hypothetical 30% penetration of wind and solar, and these wind and solar farms must still be bought, and then Germany often has a few weeks at a time where winter cuts renewables to 5% of their capacity!), OR you can just buy safe modern nuclear-waste eating nukes that will do the whole job for 60 years. Again, backup a third of a renewable grid for just one week, or nuke the whole grid for 60 years! That’s the economics of renewable storage V nuclear.
Point 2 below


Eclipse Now
I know it is hard to follow the claims and counterclaims but I have never seriously proposed an all wind or wind + solar grid. I have showed some extreme examples to counter the extreme nuclear proposals. As I said in other posts, it is a question of how much of each technology.

We are not that far apart, I have always thought that Germany, for example, should have focussed on closing coal before worrying about nuclear. While working in Italy during their nuclear referendum some years ago I even urged my friends to vote for nuclear power. I have never said anyone should close nuclear plants before their time unless new safety risks have been identified.

You are also absolutely right that a solar grid backed up by lithium batteries is a complete joke

I do however have an issue with the claimed reliability and capacity factors of nuclear. As I said France has some 95+% availability and arguably the best technology but currently <70% capacity factor and even that is achieved by exporting lots of off peak power at low prices. All of Switzerland’s reactors were shut down at once and 40% of Belgium’s as well as 100% of Japan’s so a system based on a single power source or worse still, a single style of generator is a disaster waiting to happen. That is why the isolated Japanese grid has 29 GW of pumped hydro plus coal gas etc. backing up 58 GW of nuclear

Wind and hydro play even better with each other than nuclear and solar. Biomass and solar is another good combination and the diversity of the Australian grid means that intermittent sources can contribute more than their individual CF. For example an East west line of single axis tracking solar plants from SE Qld would to Port Augusta each individually achieve only about 20% CF but the solar system would supply useful power about 30% of the time and because most of that power is supplied during the day it could be 35% or more of demand.

I agree with you the question is cost, If solar cost 20% of some mythical 100% CF Star Power source then you would still have a mix of 30%+ solar and <70% Star Power. This why no-one has attempted a 100% nuclear grid because the last power station is extraordinarily more expensive per unit of delivered power than the first few because it is hardly used.

To be honest once we achieve about 85-90% de-carbonisation of electricity there are probably much more cost effective ways to de-carbonise other parts of the economy than replace the last few gas plants with nuclear or storage or whatever. For example soil carbon sequestration and re-aforestation can capture carbon profitably, building and transport efficiency, e-health and e-commerce to reduce travel etc. can reduce consumption etc. etc. so in my view 100% decarbonisation of electricity is an ill directed mission.


I’m with Tom Blees plan as listed in his free book. I’m reading Chapter 9 on cost now. Once SMR IFR’s start pumping off the worldwide production line at about 100 a year, they’ll probably beat the price of coal, and most definitely beat the real cost of coal (when including coal’s health costs). He even estimates that the American health sector could easily save about a third of the worldwide cost of deploying 100 nukes a year. Coal’s health costs have to be one of the greatest ‘externalities’ pushed on the public by any corporation ever. (Putting climate change aside for the moment).
100 nukes a year, and boron powder for cars and trucks. It will totally smash Stern’s estimates for solving climate change.

Click to access P4TP4U.pdf


Eclipse Now: Boron power for cars: Boron is too brittle to be made into wire, especially wire that bends. Boron is mostly a powder. A boron alloy or a different metal would work. People have a tendency to fail to look in the Chemistry & Physics handbook before deciding to use an element for something. Like the army made helicopter fuel tanks out of lithium. Fires resulted, killing 6 soldiers on 3 helicopters before they realized that lithium reacts with rain water. Do you have a ChemPhys handbook? If not, you and everybody need(s) one.


Boron powder burns something like 6 times hotter than steel powder, but only when mixed in a high oxygen environment. So Bless proposes cars carrying oxygen concentrators. It makes the ‘fuel’ of boron powder far, far safer to ship around than gasoline.
Also, if boron is so problematic, why did Dr James Hansen say it was a contender?


Pure Boron wire is problematic. If you can deal with it as a powder, that’s fine. If you can encase it in aluminum or some other metal or plastic wire, that’s fine. If you can make a ductile alloy of it, that’s fine. The problem is that the person who proposed boron didn’t bother to solve the problem and just assumed that he could make pure boron wire. That was lazy and a bad assumption. If you want to unwind the wire off of a spool, the wire had better not break a lot. There is work to do that wasn’t done before printing.


Yes. They make oxygen for breathing. Have done so for many years. That is a very small quantity of oxygen, clearly not enough for an engine. Available in medical supply stores.


Nuclear does run at 95% to 100% power better than 90% of the time. Down times are scheduled for refueling and maintenance so you know about them ahead of time. Down time is 1 month out of every 19 months to 25 months. To load follow faster than 5% per minute, a new reactor must be used. Some Generation 4 reactors can load follow much more quickly. If you need a nuclear reactor to load follow faster than 5% per minute, you should ask manufacturers to design one for your application.


I am confused by the numbers used in the Australian Power Generation Technology Report and would appreciate some disciplined – as opposed to tribal, comment.
1) On Page III they state that the Tax life for nuclear is taken as 30 years while wind is 20. Now we know from Danish data that the average life of a wind generator is circa 15 years while you can get 40 to 60 out of a French or US PWR. I.e. We can get nearly 3 times the life out of a PWR. Does anyone know how this is accounted for in this latest report?
2) They show in Fig E2 as spread of LCOE in A$ for nuclear of $140 to $205 while the 2015 IEA report quotes US$50 to 135. Any sensible comment would be appreciated
3) They quote solar thermal w/out storage at A$170 to 320 vs IEA quoting US$422.6 in Spain and US$243 in South Africa. In the USA its $121 to $143 with storage. Why don’t they quote the full range of values? – any ideas?
4) Table 43 page 127 quotes $9000/kw for a nuke station. IEA quote US$1807 – 6217 with a median value of $5026. You do not use a straight currency conversion factor for an A$ value because around 60% of an AP1000 could be Australian sourced so my guess is the A$ value is circa about $5770/kw – where on earth did they get $9000.
5) Finally here is the BIGGY – the GALLM analysys on Chpt. 16 P249 which is meant to take account of learning experience. Nukes go from A$9000 to 8876 between 2015 and 2030 while solar thermal goes from A$8500 to A$3903. This CSIRO inspired “analysis” is INCREDIBLY subjective and I can’t see how it can be used in such a report nor quoted with a straight face.

Does anyone have any comment about these inconsistencies with the IEA report or where they got the monumental numbers from?


I think your questions are good ones.

Point 1
You are right nuclear plants are now forecast to last longer than 30 years but many haven’t eg San Offre unit 1 1968-92, unit 2 1983-2012, unit 3 1984-2012 The average life of closed nuclear French reactors is less than 17 years
On the other hand if you look at this article it is clear that wind farms in Denmark only last more than 15 years. and the two oldest are still working well 3 years after that
In summary 20+ years for wind turbines is probably reasonable as is 50+ years for nuclear

For point 2
The answer to the costs of nuclear power the 2015 EIA report is for existing plants not new ones. Many of these plants have lived well beyond their original planned life and were paid off years ago so their costs are merely O&M

Point 3
Solar thermal is very hard to properly cost, performance and costs have varied widely but seem to be trending down so I don’t think anyone should take any numbers too seriously for where they will be in 2030

Point 4
I agree that that number is very high. I think that you are a little bit optimistic because we don’t have the facilities or expertise here and there are very few places on the grid where we can save money by building two plants on one site, Cooling costs will be higher here also but if your number was adjusted up to about A$6,000-$6,500 I wouldn’t argue.

However on P246 you will see that the cost estimates were developed by the EPRI (USA) and Worley Parsons with their vast experience in energy in both countries made the $A adjustments so we can’t blame ivory tower CSIRO researchers
Re learning curves I think they are conservative in all cases. They use 0.85 for nuclear and 0.8 for wind. Solar is probably optimistic @0.5


‘Nunquam corrumpo a bonus fabula per dico verum’

I have just watched a program on the Australian ABC called Foreign Correspondent and I am amazed at the skewing of the information and the misreporting.
It starts with Costa Rica under the heading of Renewables, of which the country uses 80% hydro, it is adding Geothermal so that it does not have to burn fossil fuels. Do not get me wrong I am very glad that they have hydro and geothermal and are able to achieve this result is great. Noting that the backup supply for when they have a drought etc is reciprocating diesel I would recommend that they should also look at Wind energy as it would combine ideally with hydro to conserve water.
Costa Rica with a population of 5 million and occupying 51000sq klms of land is a hardly what you might an industrialized country.
it is certainly not a typical example.
But neither hydro or geothermal are VRE’s, so next we skip to Germany where we are given the warm fuzzy feeling about how successfully Germany is mastering the wind. We even get to see the battery salesmen’s affordable car of the future the ‘Elon Musk’ mobile.
Again the reporter chooses to report on a small part of a very big grid without even mentioning that when the wind is not blowing that Germany will be buying their electricity off the nuclear and the coal burning nations that make up the bulk of the European Grid.

This outrageous piece of flummery continues to misinform the general public and give them the false idea that renewables are the future when the scientific facts say different.


I’ve a question: When and under what circumstances can wind power directly displace coal on a grid, and reduce emissions in the process? By “directly” I mean without hydro or CAES. Thanks!


Short answer is it can not.
Wind has a place in conserving oil and gas where reciprocating engines are in use and also in conserving water where hydro, as opposed to pumped hydro, is used. This is simply because the short run up times of reciprocating engines and hydro can adapt to the intermittency of Wind. It will also depend on the wind resources available i.e. how windy it is.


I find it unbelievable that Germans continue to support the EEG surcharge.


“The calculated market price for electricity in 2016 is expected to be only 3.126 ct/kWh, after 3.567 ct/kWh. In comparison, the TSOs calculated with average EEG payments of 30.613 ct/kW for PV, 24.389 ct/kWh for geothermal, 18.657 ct/kWh for biomass, 18.362 ct/kWh for offshore wind, 9.156 ct/kWh for onshore wind and 9.402 for hydro.”

It appears that State subsidised renewable energy is driving down the electricity wholesale price.
This will be unsustainable for the conventional energy sector, particularly gas in the longer term which will be required when the sun and wind are not available.

This costs over 20 billion euros annually and adds 6 euro cents to every kWh of domestic electricity consumption.

And CO2 emissions from electricity generation have increased from 360M tonnes in 2000 to 390M tonnes in 2012.


Some time ago I posted a link to a report by the World Nuclear Association about Nuclear Power in the European Union. Here is the link again.

To me the most important paragraph from that reference is this:

“In October 2014 EU leaders renewed a 2002 commitment to increase energy trading through electricity connectors to 10% by 2020, ie that much of each country’s generation capacity should be available for trade across borders. The statement said that “The integration of rising levels of intermittent renewable energy requires a more interconnected internal energy market and appropriate back up, which should be coordinated as necessary at regional level.” The Baltic States, Portugal, Spain, and also Greece are priorities of electricity interconnection and integration.”

If this policy of the EU is successful, it will build a grid at least as large as the North American Grid. The interesting politics will come when heavily subsidised excess German Wind power is supplied into this grid. Other members of the grid who are operating unsubsidised Nuclear, Gas, or even Coal power may well object. Equally when Germany needs to buy power from the Grid it is likely they will have to pay a premium.

Eventually policies like the Energiewende of Germany will collapse because for a policy to be effective it must be sustainable both economically and environmentally.

Meanwhile the Chinese are embarking upon the largest Nuclear power construction program of any nation. Please refer–Nuclear-Power/

If they maintain their costs, China may well achieve their CO2 and pollution targets and have the cheapest cost of electricity as well.


To Tom Bond
While you are right that retail prices in Germany are very high, However wholesale prices which are paid to generators and are available to large companies and are the basis for international trade of electricity are low, in fact about 20% lower than France on a year ahead basis.

It could be argued that CO2 emissions rose not because of renewables but because of the phasing out of nuclear and the loss of market share of natural gas because imported natural gas was much more expensive than local lignite. Given both these issues, if germany had not had renewables its CO2 emissions would have been even higher.


And to you Peter, if Germany had kept its Nuclear Power Plants open they would be emitting a loss less CO2 and not need to open the lignite mines.



To Graeme Weber

I agree perhaps I should have been clearer, as I said in another post they should have phased out coal first.

However if Germany had gone for 100% nuclear, their costs would definitely be higher than they are now as they would have much more expensive plants than France (inflation, fewer cooling options) and less hydro to back them up.

It is interesting to see that wholesale prices have been falling in Germany for some years and the CEO of the North German Transmission Grid thinks they can get to 70% wind and solar without investment in new storage.


Peter Farley: your numbers look a little screwed up.

Your price for 100% nuclear would be much lower than wind and solar unless somebody added some absurd burden to nuclear.
To get 70%wind,you must have built 10 times as many wind turbines as you need and you are feathering the extra rotors when they are not needed. Your cost can’t be low to do that.

It would have been much cheaper to go 100% nuclear.


Try telling the French government and the Chief executive of 50Hz. The numbers are not my numbers they are official German and French numbers completely unaltered by me or anyone else. You have the links.

Point1. The current costs are the numbers from the the French Energy directorate that says that year ahead Electricity in France is around E38 per and Germany is around E31 150608_Observatoire_gros_2eTrim2015-en%20(1).pdf page 6.

New reactors in Germany will cost more to build and run than depreciated French reactors that were built 20-30 years ago when actual costs were much lower than they are now. Therefore their breakeven cost must be higher than the the current French costs. Ipso facto new German nuclear will cost more than existing French nuclear i.e much more than the existing German power mix.

Point 2
Chief executive of 50Hz the TSO for North Germany says they can reach 70% wind+solar before needing to invest in new storage so it is you who are getting your figures wrong. I suppose they are trading excess wind with Scandinavian hydro but clearly they see that as cheaper than building and running new thermal.

Point 3.
If you care to look at the monthly figures from the Fraunhofer institute at this website in the grouped view you will clearly see that wind is higher in the winter months and solar higher in summer so solar and wind do compliment each other.

Point 4. Peaker plants in the US operate at 4% CF
… GE’s Rangarajan seemed to be responding to Robo’s claim when she said, “We’ve heard about peaker-free systems, and everyone asked, ‘Are we going to be peaker-free soon?’ The answer really is that peakers are here, they’re all through our ecosystem, and they’re going to be here for a little longer. I don’t see any of us going and pulling out peakers from the ground. […] Peakers do have a bit of a problem. The utilization factor of a peaker is a little more than 4 percent in the United States. What do we do about that?”…

So if the last nuclear plant(s) on any 100% nuclear grid are running at 4% utilization a) how do you actually make them work b) how do they make money.

I eagerly await your costings and business case


to Tony Corden

An international grid is a good idea for all energy sources, France’s utilisation rate and therefore average cost per for its nuclear is clearly improved by being able to export a lot of off peak power to neighbours to, for example, heat water in Italy.

This is not to deny your contention that German subsidies will have to fall (which they are, slowly) but the people who should really be angry are the German households and small businesses which are subsidising all generators so they can export power (which they do) to other countries at low rates, while charging top whack at home

Re China’s nuclear ambitions. From the same reference above by 2030 they hope to have about 8-10% of demand from Nuclear. At the same time they expect to generate 3 times that much from renewables. By 2050 nuclear share will still only rise to about 20% if their current plans are fulfilled. This is not to say they wont increase nuclear above their current plans but clearly there is no intention for an all nuclear grid.


I remind commenters, when posting replies, to desist from name calling and personal comments about other members and their motives . Any such comments will be expunged. Thank you.


PeterF provided a link to a site with an article about recent installations of utility scale batteries. Thank you.

This caused me to consider thermal stores on any thermal generator for similar purposes. I know of none except for some solar thermal projects. Why not on nuclear power plants?


The IFR core sat inside a pool of liquid sodium. This gave it thermal stability – as demand fell below heat generation, the temperature of the pool+core rose modestly and inhibited fission. However it was only a short term heat reservoir.

@ DBB… Any reactor using liquid metal as coolant would be able to store heat in a tank of the same liquid. Taking the heat capacity of liquid sodium as 1.3 kJ/kg/K , a gigawatt-hour (3600 GJ) of heat to be stored between 200 and 500° C would require 3600 GJ / (500-200 K) / (1.3 kJ/kg/K ) = 9.2 Gg of sodium.

A tank containing 9000 tonnes of red hot liquid sodium does seem a little daunting !


“Utility scale” storage is a term that is used rather loosely. They mean peak shaving locally for a few minutes or, as in Fairbanks, Alaska, enough to tide 30,000 people over long enough to start the diesel generator. Don’t let the loudmouths fool you.


That may be the case, but we’ve lost the propaganda war. I can’t believe the simplistic, “They’ll come up with something” wishy-washy Amory Lovins thinking we’ve been bombarded by as COP21 unfolds. It makes me weep. “Energy efficiency will save us…” but even as we build smarter buildings and cities, we find ever more uses for electricity. It’s just such an amazing useful thing! “We don’t need power at night” except about half our car fleet could be charged then, if they were all EV’s. (NREL). If we ignore that, we’re committed to building even MORE wind and solar and an even MORE upgraded grid to charge the whole fleet during the day! I just shake my head in wonder at the news these days. At the propaganda. The sheer overwhelming ignorance. But there’s hope. I was anti nuke only a few years back!


Book: “Green Illusions” by Ozzie Zehner: A complete renewable energy system for the US would cost 1.4 QUADRILLION dollars.

My estimate for the cost of a battery for the US is $0.5 QUADrillion. 5 times 10 to the eleventh power. About 29 times GDP. How I got it: Fairbanks has a battery that can last 7 to 15 minutes. They paid $35 Million for it. Fairbanks has 30,000 people. That is $1167 per person. Multiply by 400 million people. Divide 7 minutes into a week. Multiply that by the number you got before. You get half a quadrillion dollars. Batteries are out. I did not account for price going up as resources are depleted.

See: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – “GVEA s Fairbanks battery bank keeps lights on”

To go with renewables only, you need a whole week’s worth of battery power for the whole world because Europe can have a long cold cloudy calm winter. The batteries can run down over several months.

My list of references is too long to put here


Thermal storage is uneconomical on a thermal power station because it is very expensive to contain steam at high pressure and temperature. The costliest parts of a boiler are the steam drum and superheater which use very expensive metals for seconds worth of steam. It is much more expensive (and dangerous) to have a big vessel full of steam than storing a stack of coal.

Thermal storage only works (?) on solar thermal because the fuel is free but molten salt storage is at lower temperature than the operating temperature of a USC coal plant and slightly lower than a modern nuclear plant so Ivanpah is only about 28% thermal efficiency vs 38-42% gross for a USC coal plant. Therefore using molten salt implies significant extra capital expenditure and downgraded thermal (and therefore fuel) efficiency for a coal or nuclear plant.

There are some coal plants using pumped storage (eg Wivanhoe in Qld) and some coal plants in Germany are installing batteries in relatively small quantities

These storage options have the advantage that the combination can absorb large amounts (GW.hours for pumped storage) of power when the plant is underutilised and add to the output of the plant when demand peaks. Thermal storage does not increase the plant’s peak capacity which is usually when the power is most valuable.

Power storage also allows slower ramping (both up and down) of thermal plants thus reducing thermal stress and maintenance costs while improving fuel efficiency. Thermal storage is of little help in this area.


To Eclipse now

Perhaps nuclear has not lost the propaganda war. It has lost the 100% nuclear war. The danger in the all or nothing approach is that you get nothing. An aim for about 20-30% nuclear (US and China seem to be heading that way) would still be a lot more nuclear than now.

When the French decision was made to adapt nuclear there were no alternatives. Now there are, so designing a nuclear grid that played well with renewables and storage is more likely to be acceptable and therefore enacted than insisting on 100% nuclear and just being ignored.

If all the reforms and innovations that nuclear proponents want are made and all the technology is successful then the proportion of nuclear energy may rise to 30-50-60% in 50-60 years time. But if you start out telling everyone else their solutions are not acceptable you will not get anywhere.

In the meantime China is building about 20GW of nuclear by 2020 adding 150TW.hrs/annum and increasing wind by180GW and Solar by 120-150GW (500+180)TW.hrs.

This seems to be a sensible way to go, including your opponents in your plans generally gets much more traction.


Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works.

A Myth is Being Foisted on you:

Fact: Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or more your electric bill. The reasons are as follows:

Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either. Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines. The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled power plants with the newest available generation of nuclear; unless you live near Niagara Falls. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.

MYTHS: The myths being perpetrated by wind turbine marketers are that:

Wind and solar energy are free and will lower your electric bill


Wind and solar energy are CO2 free and will reduce the total CO2 produced by electricity generation.


Californians are paying twice as much for electricity as I am and Germans are paying 4 times as much as I am. The reason is renewables mandates. Illinois has 6 nuclear power plants and we are working hard to keep them. I am paying 7&1/2 cents /kilowatt hour. What are you paying?


Californians and Germans are making more CO2 per kilowatt hour than Illinoisans. It turns out that even without burning natural gas or coal to make up for the intermittency of wind and solar, wind turbines and large scale solar collectors require more concrete and steel per kilowatt hour than nuclear power does.

FALLACIES: The fallacies in the myth are failure to do the math and failure to do all of the engineering required. The myth is easy to propagate among most people because there is quite a lot of math to do and there is a lot of engineering to learn. University electrical engineering departments offer electrical engineering degrees with specialization in power transmission [electric grids]. That is only part of the engineering that needs to be done to figure the whole thing out.


A thermal store added to a nuclear power plant seems possible to me although utility scale batteries might be less expensive. I will do an overly concrete example; other numbers might be more economic.

The NPP is equipped with a steam diverter; 86% goes to the main turbine, sized for that supply and runs ‘all the time’. The remaining 15% goes to a heat exchanger to heat an appropriate molten salt thermal store, taken as 80% efficient. The output heat exchanger goes to a separate steam circuit connected to a smaller turbine designed for the lower operating temperature and turning its own generator. This secondary circuit only generates when there is additional demand, for example later in the day when solar PV is played out.

My understanding is that the thermal store and the two heat exchangers are fairly inexpensive so the major additional cost would be the turbine and it’s generator. The setup runs similarly to a very small pumped hydro project.


Some reactors are able to ramp their power at 5% per minute, but I found that in a preprint. It is not done by the power industry for economic reasons. It is done by the navy.


PeterF says:Thermal storage does not increase the [thermal] plant’s peak capacity, which is usually when the power is most valuable.

On the contrary. If the power station had an extra steam train (turbine, generator etc) that ran off the thermal store, then at peak demand, all of the nuke’s steam goes directly into generation along with the supplementary generation running off the thermal store. As demand lowers, the peaker is shut down, and as demand lowers further, the nuke lowers its generation while topping up the thermal store.

Perhaps we don’t need gas at all.


Since nuclear can load-follow, there is no need for energy storage at all. As I said a few minutes ago, some nuclear can ramp at 5% per minute. That is clearly fast enough for any grid that does not have wind or solar connected to it. Your heat storage idea is nonsense.


“To Eclipse now
Perhaps nuclear has not lost the propaganda war. It has lost the 100% nuclear war. The danger in the all or nothing approach is that you get nothing. An aim for about 20-30% nuclear (US and China seem to be heading that way) would still be a lot more nuclear than now.”
So please explain why Dr James Hansen tells The Guardian that he thinks we should be building 115 reactors a year? Why lifetime anti-nuclear greenie activists are now becoming nukies like Stewart Brand, Mark Lynas, Shellenberger and the other Eco-modernists? Could it be that they’ve done the numbers and modelling for weather conditions, available energy at price, etc, and concluded that the sheer storage requirements would bankrupt any nation that tried to have more than half nuclear?
Dr Barry Brook has stated in his ‘What is ecomodernism’ youtube talks that Australia could do about half renewables, half nuclear. There you go. That’s a huge concession from this lot! But aiming for 20% nuclear is something I just can’t in good conscience agree with. It. Won’t. Work!


Perhaps you can explain why the man with the practical experience, the chief executive of 50Hz (north German grid) says he can get to 70% wind and solar without storage.(link above)

Perhaps you can explain why Germany’s power is cheaper than France’s.

Perhaps you can explain how you maintain the last nuclear generator on a 100% nuclear grid.

Perhaps you can explain why the recently retired Chief Executive of Excellon “Let me state unequivocably that I’ve never met a nuclear plant I didn’t like,” said John Rowe, who retired 17 days ago as chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, which operates 22 nuclear power plants, more than any other utility in the United States.

“Having said that, let me also state unequivocably that new ones don’t make any sense right now.”

Why won’t the CEO of Southern companies currently building Vogtle 3 & 4 commit to any further nuclear plants

Why is China the most enthusiastic supporter of nuclear, planning to generate 3 times as much power from new wind and solar as it is from new nuclear over the next 5 years

I agree that anyone who promotes a 100% wind grind is even sillier than a 100% nuclear grid. The people who actually run the grids AEMO, 50Hz etc. think that diversity, complementarity and overbuilding renewables (just as thermal sources are overbuilt) and including depending on the country geothermal, biomass and hydro mean that much less storage is needed than the simple numbers of capacity factor would suggest.

The problem for all of us is that it is a complex dynamic system in a rapidly changing environment. The STEAG storage system is 1/3rd the cost per and will have about double the cycle life The Fairbanks storage system only 5 years later. The modular reactors promise much lower costs and reduced waste etc.

James Hanson said he put $75,000 of solar panels on his roof but it is still not enough.The same solar capacity now would cost about 1/10th of his installation and take up less than 1/3rd of the area. However if the same system was erected in the southern half of the country it would generate 30-40% more power. Thus no sensible person in the renewable only system suggests doing away with the grid


Germans are paying 30 cents per kilowatt hour. I am paying 7&½ cents per kilowatt hour. But the Germans are hiding it from themselves. Germany has a problem called the Green Party. The Green party is always the kingmaker. One of the other 2 parties has to make a deal with the “Green” party to get a majority in parliament. Green is not green in Germany. The Greens may as well be the coal industry.

Americans are paranoid about all things nuclear. NMR [Nuclear Magnetic Resonance] had to be renamed MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] to get sick people into the scanner. It is the exact same machine. Only the sign has been changed. Apparently, the average American doesn’t know that all matter, including people, is made of atoms and that all atoms have nuclei. The NMR/MRI machine aligns the spins of the nucleons in the atoms in the patient using a big magnet. Since different atoms have different nuclear spin resonances, the NMR/MRI machine can see one element at a time.

Most Americans have never heard of NATURAL Background Radiation. Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away. All rocks contain uranium. Radon gas is a decay product of uranium.


Again for the nth time: It is renewables that have the energy storage requirement. There is no, zero nada energy storage requirement for nuclear.

We truthfully point out that renewable require an unbuildable amount of energy storage and they intentionally attribute the storage requirement to nuclear.

100% nuclear is easy. 100% renewable is nonsense.

Generation 2 nuclear does not mix with wind and/or solar because of the fact that wind and solar are intermittent. If you want instant on/ instant off nuclear, you ask the manufacturer for a Generation 4 reactor that can do that.


Hi Edward,
a uni degree at my age isn’t going to happen, but I do my best as a lay-person to encourage other Aussies to give nuclear power a second look. Also, I quoted Barry Brook on the half renewable, half nuclear thing: I didn’t make that up, and don’t need a uni degree to repeat what the author of this website said.


So I am telling Barry Brook to re-think the incompatibility between nuclear and wind&solar and the incompatibility between the grid and wind&solar. We do not have the technology required to build a grid smart enough to use 50% wind &solar. Germany sells power at negative prices to other countries to smooth out the problems that would otherwise cause blackouts. Some other countries are thinking about disconnecting from Germany.


(Darn! I have said above exactly what DBB had just said two comments before.)

Someone earlier on BNC had asked, could the Japanese reactors have kept going after the earthquake, instead of shutting down?

Well yes, none of them were damaged by the earthquake. Any of them could have been restarted immediately after the scram, if only to dump all its power into the cooling system. When ground acceleration exceeds a certain amount, an automatic scram shuts down the reactor. After engineers check out the system, they would be able to restart the reactor. They would only have less than an hour so to restart before transient xenon-135 built up. However you would only need one reactor running to power the cooling system in a power station of several Gen-II reactors.

Although proven triumphantly earthquake-proof, they were not tsunami-proof. The Fukushima Daiichi reactors had their electricals in the basement and an electrical pump for the seawater coolant was also flooded. Almost certainly Tepco’s engineers had been pointing out the vulnerability for years and been ignored.

I guess the post-Fukushima upgrades have moved the electricals and flood-proofed the pumps etc, worldwide. In that case a similar power station could now keep going in the event of a similar earthquake and tsunami. How much of the adjoining grid would have survived is another matter.


Please explain the economics of a 100% nuclear system vs a 70-80% nuclear system with hydro and storage.

If nuclear w/o storage is such a good idea why does every country with high nuclear capacity Japan, Switzerland, France and Sweden have either or both large storage in the form of hydro/pumped storage and/or connections to other grids for backup/peak shaving

Nobody on this forum has attempted to answer the question of the economics of nuclear supplying peak/shoulder demand

Just asking.

According to some, death will often ensue when an electric fan has been left running in a sealed room in which people are sleeping. This peculiar belief is widespread in the nation of South Korea, and nowhere else. The South Korean media occasionally runs stories about people who have been found dead in their bedrooms or apartments when an electric fan has been left running during hot weather. In any other nation in the world, those deaths would likely be listed as resulting from heat exhaustion, or indirectly from heat stress on an elderly person. In South Korea, however, no-one is in any doubt that insidious fan death has struck again.

In fact belief in fan death is so strong that the government has responded to community concerns by mandating that all electric fans sold in South Korea must come with a timer switch to cut the power after a few minutes should you be so reckless as to wish to go to sleep with the fan on, and people are encouraged to use it for their own good. Doctors, politicians and media figures solemnly warn people of the danger. The Korea Consumer Protection Board issues safety alerts granting the warnings official status. Doubtless, mothers drill the knowledge into the minds of the young, and another generation is indoctrinated into the gospel of fan death. And doubtless this virulent meme has resulted in many avoidable deaths in South Korea through the years, ….


Any time you can get hydro power, take it. Any time you can build hydro storage, do it. Regardless of where the power comes from, hydro storage makes money. But hydro storage, like batteries, is not a source of energy, it is storage. There are not many places where you can build hydro storage.

“Everybody” has grids. Grids are needed to cover refueling cycles for nuclear power and maintenance/down time for every kind of power. Grids help avoid blackouts most of the time but make blackouts worse some of the time. Regardless of the power source, there are grids, alias interconnects. Interconnect also means a connection between grids.

Which generation of nuclear power? Gen2 was built when there were few nuclear power plants and relatively a lot of hydro and coal. But Niagara Falls can’t cover the whole area that it used to cover because people are using more power now. Buffalo N.Y. was a big industrial center then, but is relatively not on the frontier now.

Gen2 was built the way it was because that met the requirements of the time.


I saw a tweet from David MacKay referring to this document which may be of interest to BNC readers.

Click to access ERP-FlexMan-Exec-Summary.pdf

The conclusions in the Summary of the Energy Research Partnership August 2015 Report “Managing Flexibility Whilst Decarbonising the GB Electricity System” shows the following.

The UK 2030 decarbonisation targets of 50 or even 100 g/kWh cannot be hit by relying solely on weather dependent technologies like wind and PV alone.

That Zero Carbon Firm (ZCF) capacity (such as nuclear) is required in conjunction with wind to reach 50g/kWh target. For example 28GW of wind with gas backup gives total emissions of about 250g/kWh, but coupled with 25GW of nuclear the emissions are 50g/kWh.

Therefore with the diminishing returns of adding more variable renewables, and the need to cover 2-3 week periods of low renewable output, a complete decarbonisation is going to need a significant amount of firm low carbon capacity.

It concludes that Germany’s current model phasing out much of its zero carbon firm capacity in favour of high carbon inflexible lignite also runs directly against all the recommendations here (of this report).



We agree on hydro and pumped storage and the formulation of my question was poor. Of course pumped hydro is not new energy. However my point is that whatever low carbon generation is selected, storage is necessary to maximise economic efficiency.

I also agree that many of the anti-nuclear fears are over rated if not ridiculous.

Again your point that Gen II was built the way it was because that was the technology available at the time and new technologies will have a different mixes of ramp rates flexibility, part load economics, life etc.

The same is true of renewables. 1990’s wind turbines had capacity factors of less than 18% and annual product of around 500 MW.hrs. The best new on shore wind farms around the world have capacity factors around 40% and annual product of 8-10,000 MW.hrs per turbine. New turbine designs are being released with 10-15% more annual production than those. Solar panels have increased from 80W to 320W in around 10 years while falling in price by a factor of 10.

Consequently if you have storage you can top it up/balance with wind or solar at a lower marginal cost than currently available nuclear. Hence the best low carbon energy system for the next few years is a mixed grid. In every grid there will be a different mix. In a few grids nuclear may get to 80% In most grids there will be more renewables. In some grids there will be no nuclear.

Every 5 or 6 years we can re-assess and select whatever technology is best at the time. You never know Lockheed’s compact Fission system or supercritical CO2 geothermal might come good

I don’t care, I just don’t want zealots of either side to hijack the debate. Even worse the FF lobby will use the disagreement between proponents of low carbon technologies to stall the transition and all our grand-children will be much worse off.


Capacity factor of wind turbines is not the issue. The issue is wind and solar are intermittent. Anything intermittent is incompatible with the grid, regardless of price and regardless of capacity factor and regardless of size or total output if it is more than 9% of the total grid.

We don’t have the battery technology by a factor of a million.

We don’t have ambient temperature superconductors.

We don’t have a switch that can repeatedly turn off 800,000 volts at 60,000 amps.

Wind and solar are just not a possibility without the required energy storage and without the necessary room temperature superconductors.

Quit arguing and read:

No more comments from you until you read every word of
what professor Tom Murphy has to say.


Thank you for the incentive to investigate further. As has been my position all along I am not anti-nuclear so if the US has 20-30-60% nuclear I don’t care.

As we have agreed that there will be storage in the grid then the hydro/wind/solar operate together with the storage and variable loads leaving nuclear to chug along at full capacity and maximum economic efficiency so there is no particular need for the high capacity switches or air temperature superconductors you speak of.

I have read both those papers before and reread them again and they are based on:

a) Zero combustion economy, no geothermal, no biomass, no gas peakers, no gas process heating, no wood heating, no gas/ gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles
b) The current level of energy in-efficiency. The US uses about twice as much energy per capita as other economies with equivalent living standards and higher levels of industrialisation
c) Replacing FF heating with resistive electricity which will be necessary in some cases but heat pumps and occasionally direct solar will be used for most of the low temp applications vastly reducing electrical demand
d) Completely electrified transport without moving any of the load to rail or public transport
e) Eliminating coal in steel and concrete production
f) No nuclear
g) Neglects the roughly 10% of energy that is used in mining refining and transporting fossil fuels
h) No change in the operation of existing hydro and no overbuilding of generation.

When all these overstatements are rectified, electrical demand is between 2 and 3 times less than specified.

In 2013 the existing US grid generated 4,100 TW.hrs from 1060 GW. i.e. it ran at 44% CF. If you deduct the wind, solar and hydro then the CF of the thermal capacity increases to about 50-55%. Therefore the existing grid has roughly double the amount of thermal capacity that it needs for average load.

Tom Murphy’s paper is, as he stresses an argument against silver bullet solutions not an argument against renewables per se so here is another hypothetical solution.

If you keep existing hydro, geothermal, pumped storage and biomass, half the gas and overbuild the wind and solar by 100% (by annual capacity, not name plate) as per current thermal then in your theoretical cold week where wind runs average generation of 1/8th of the nameplate and solar at 7%, nuclear at 90% and geothermal/biomass at 80% and gas at 80% hydro at 80% and pumped hydro at 25%

Target generation 1TW not 2TW

Nuclear Capacity 100 GW Actual 90 GW 90%
Wind Capacity 2600 GW Actual 325 GW 1/8th of rated
Solar Capacity 2800 GW Actual 195 GW 7% of rated
Geothermal Biomass 150 GW Actual 120 GW 80%
Gas 200 GW Actual 160 GW 80%
Hydro 80 GW Actual 65 GW 80%
Existing storage 20 GW Actual 5 GW 20%
Average generation for the cold week 960GW.

Therefore storage is 40 GW x 168hrs = 10TW.hrs not 2TW x 168 hrs. i.e. about 3% of that paper’s calculation. This can be compared to the Australian grid which is about 1/20th of the size of the US grid. Recent very detailed studies suggest it needs about 0.1TW.hrs equivalent to 2TW.hrs in the US or 4-5TW.hrs for a fully electrified US economy.

Depending on the costs of the various alternatives which will vary over time, the final solution will be quite different to that shown above, but I will make a large bet that the solution will contain a large fraction of renewables .

I welcome your alternative formulation


Edward Greisch,

“A Myth is Being Foisted on you:”
It is indeed. You’re the one foisting it!

“Fact: Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or more your electric bill.”
And that’s the myth. Preceding a lie (even one you believe yourself) with the label “fact” doesn’t make it true; it merely compounds the lie.

“The reasons are as follows:
Since solar ‘works’ 15% of the time and wind ‘works’ 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either.”
You seem to be forgetting the option of solar thermal with molten salt storage.

And you should consider what you mean by “works”, as solar and wind are producing electricity for much more than that proportion of the time.

“Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines.”
…Wich means less use of coal, therefore less CO2 is produced.

“The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough.”
Do you have an example of anywhere in the world where that is the case where they wouldn’t be doing the same thing without wind and solar power?

Does your part of the world not use radar to see what weather’s coming?

I would expect gas turbines to have to be kept spinning at full speed when they’re on, as the speed would correspond to the frequency, not the power, of the output. [Can someone who works in that field tell me if that’s correct?]

But even spinning at full speed, they produce a lot less CO2 at low power than they do at full power. And the fuel is natural gas rather than coal, so again that’s likely to be an emissions reduction.

There is always a need for load following, with or without solar and wind. The most credible version of your myth is that it requires open cycle gas turbines to be used instead of the more efficient combined cycle gas turbines. But that’s still a myth, as many designs of CCGT do have load following ability.

“The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.”
The doubling of the electric bill is also a myth. Though solar and wind energy can result in higher costs (due largely to inefficient financing rather than any intrinsic property) having it going into the grid will force prices down.


I think that it is unwise to entirely condemn either nuclear or renewable s. There can be a niche for wind or solar too. If the wind and solar are intermittent with low availability, there are isolated places like islands and small settlements where coal, gas or nuclear is not economically feasible. There may be a need for major change in technology. The energy should be stored at as low a cost as possible like the compressed air mentioned earlier by me. I find that others are thinking along these lines.
The wind mill towers are quite tall and huge and could be used concurrently as compressed air energy storage.
On the other hand, big wind or solar farms are an economic absurdity and should not be used.
compressed air can be converted to electric power but is more economically used directly for mechanical work or climate control with heat pumps.
Addiction to fossil fuels like India importing coal from Australia for power is also an absurdity and earlier replaced by uranium, the better.


Edward Greisch,
“Capacity factor of wind turbines is not the issue.”

“The issue is wind and solar are intermittent.”
That’s certainly one important issue.

“Anything intermittent is incompatible with the grid, regardless of price and regardless of capacity factor and regardless of size or total output if it is more than 9% of the total grid.”
Not only is it compatible with the grid, but it’s much easier to deal with it by the grid than at each individual generation location.

“We don’t have the battery technology by a factor of a million.”
Battery technology is rapidly improving, and there are other storage methods besides batteries. But importantly, storage is only part of the solution. There’s a lot that can be done with demand management.

“We don’t have ambient temperature superconductors.”
Nor do we actually need them, useful though they would be!

“We don’t have a switch that can repeatedly turn off 800,000 volts at 60,000 amps.”
Why would you want one?

“Wind and solar are just not a possibility without the required energy storage and without the necessary room temperature superconductors.”
That conclusion is based on false assumptions.


You will note that both those papers were posted as hypotheticals and the world has moved on since 2011. A hybrid grid needs 3-5% of the amount Prof Murphy suggested


More to the point: Wind and solar are decorations on natural gas fired power plants. Wind and solar are fakes, distractions, feel-goods, not real energy sources. Wind and solar are great if you own a coal mine or a fracked gas well because wind and solar enable you to get rid of nuclear.
The only real challenge to fossil fuels is still nuclear. There isn’t enough Hydro to go around.


How about some economics to go with the technical assertions

JP Morgan

Brave New World P9

” However, EIA and Carnegie Mellon cost estimates may not reflect reality. The rising trend in OECD nuclear capital and operating costs is a topic we addressed last year. In the US, real costs per MWh for nuclear have risen by 19% annually since the 1970’s5
. Even in France, the country with the greatest
reliance on nuclear power as a share of generation and whose centralized decision-making and regulatory structure are geared toward nuclear power, costs have been rising and priorities are shifting to renewable
. Globally, nuclear power peaked as a share of electricity generation in 1995 at 18% and is now
at 11%, ”

China the nuclear favourite at the moment is expecting to increase generation from renewables 3 times as fast as from nuclear


Peter F. – – Your link for the selected comments from John Rowe is to an anti-nuclear journalist’s piece, which I think is fair to characterize as “cherry picked.”

Mr. Rowe was realistically recognizing that denying recognition of nuclear energy’s carbon-free benefit will pose economic challenges to it in a static market awash with cheap gas and massively subsidized wind energy.

The financial impact is a key driver of decisions by people in the position of Mr. Rowe. Utility executives have a fiduciary duty to stockholders, not to society, to the future, or to the climate. The way to bend their attention is through limitations, either created by the market, or by society, e.g., though regulations.

The elimination of the emissions benefits that nuclear brings seems to be exactly what many institutional environmentalists want and celebrate. This is why it is hard for some of us who comment here to believe they really are concerned with climate change. Based on my own observation, I would say that, emotionally, they are concerned, but that many seem unable to accept the shortcomings of the analyses they present. This is, I believe, why their opposition to nuclear (despite disclaimers of the same, such as your own) is intractable in the face of what comes down to fairly straightforward arithmetic.

What Rowe indicated is that, if the market will not recognize nuclear energy’s emission-avoidance benefits, then nuclear is uneconomic in the 2012 environment (when the interview was done).

Although it may take awhile, this circumstance will hopefully change after Paris. Hopefully it will change in the US if the Administrations Clean Power Plan is sustained against legal challenges. If it doesn’t change in the US and across the world, then carbon goals will not be met.

Most likely the thing that would change it the most would be actualization of low cost next generation nuclear, something that environmentalists managed to set back by 20 years by eliminating the IFR development program in 1994. Pricing GHG might help, but making nuclear cheaper than fossil would seem the best route. For this reason, the focus on innovation is encouraging.

I have digressed. (Glad this is an open thread).

If anyone wants to take up Peter’s challenge as to “why” Mr. Rowe said the (cherry picked) things that Peter references, they can go here for a transcript of the whole interview:

Mr. Rowe, in 2012, identified three economic challenges for nuclear: 1) lack of overall growth (the US, like many advanced economies, has been de-industrializing and exporting its production of goods, and the associated emissions, elsewhere, and, finally, seems to be accelerating improvements in energy efficiency); 2) cheap gas (primarily a U.S. phenomenon, for now) and 3) subsidized wind, about which he said:

“The third factor is the subsidized wind — which you really pay for, and it runs whether it’s economic or not — that hurts. The wind really annoys utility people because it runs at night. At night, you have more than enough electricity, and wind just ruins the price.”

Another Q&A is also telling:

“EW: So you think the rule should be written to help existing nuclear plants that are struggling?

Rowe: We’re writing rules all the time to help wind and solar. One of my old friends in the utility industry said a long time ago that renewable standards were like Gresham’s law: Its bad power drives out good power.”

Mr. Rowe noted that institutional environmentalists might see it the opposite, i.e, they might view wind driving emissions-free nuclear off the grid as a good thing. You can find a lot of evidence for this inference in the comments celebrating closure of nuclear plants.



I try to avoid overly partisan websites so I selected a comment from Bloomberg which I think is usually a pretty rational pro business paper,

Again I never advocated closing nuclear stations. I used that quote to illustrate that even written down nuclear has a hard time competing today without a carbon price, so new nuclear will be even less competitive.

Nuclear people complaining about current subsidies to wind are a bit rich since almost all of the R&D, the fuel enrichment cycle etc. was paid for by the taxpayer, as is the catastrophe insurance, the long term storage of waste and much of the security. In addition in the US the government bought their waste plutonium to build bombs . I have seen, but can’t verify an estimate that for the first 20-30 years or so, income from plutonium sales was similar to income from electricity sales. In the last 15-20 years the American government bought and reprocessed significant quantities of surplus Soviet bomb making fuel and sold it at attractive prices to domestic nuclear power generators, a further subsidy.

Anyway the past is the past. New nuclear plants with current technology have a total cost well above new wind and solar with equivalent annual capacity. Nuclear has the advantage that the plants last longer and more importantly are dispatchable.
They have the disadvantage that if they are used to load follow their average utilisation goes down and therefore the average cost of power goes up. They also need large spinning reserves in case of outages and maintenance delays and they use lots of water. Wind and solar obviously need backup and storage

If the world was rational enough to impose not only a carbon price but a pollution price on the heavy metals, SOx. NOx methane leaks etc etc then pretty soon we would have a grid with a mix of renewables and nuclear, some hydro, a little gas and probably a days worth of storage.


“New nuclear plants with current technology have a total cost well above new wind and solar with equivalent annual capacity.”
Hmmm, and these would be baseload wind or solar how, exactly? Never EVER quote price-to-grid to us. It’s a cheap and dirty trick. Compare baseload with baseload prices only, not apples with wishful thinking and moonbeams. When you’ve got a quote on all the extra hydro dams required to firm up wind and solar, then get back to us. The last big seawater pumped hydro plan I saw for the Nullarbor was $30 billion just for the actual hydro plant (not dam included) and that only stored 10 hours for Australia. Why not build 5 AP1000s? Why not 20 or 30 IFR’s, depending on what price the IFR’s finally come down to when they’re pumping off the production line?

“Nuclear has the advantage that the plants last longer and more importantly are dispatchable.”
And more importantly are baseload dispatchable, reliable whenever you want them. Apples with apples. No moonbeams!


FrankJ quotes, “institutional environmentalists might … view wind driving … nuclear off the grid as a good thing”

Indeed. Numerate environmentalists probably do see wind as impractical, but see it as a option to comfort the fearful, while being anything except nuclear.

However, it is the gas industry that “might view wind driving emissions-free nuclear off the grid as a good thing”. (Remember that wind requires almost as much gas backup than if the same power been provided by gas, more efficiently). I once attended a March Against Global Warming meeting decorated by a large poster declaring that it had been proudly supported by Origin Energy, “the clean energy”.

Predictably the leader who addressed the rally directed all his invective against nuclear energy. Like frogs in warming water, the audience contentedly found communion in the familiar invective against the familiar enemy. I suspect that many of them are against climate change because it contains the word “change”. But equally,I wonder how pervasive is gas funding of environmental groups and events.


Frank Jablonski

Your post clearly captures the issue and I quote.

“Mr. Rowe noted that institutional environmentalists might see it the opposite, i.e, they might view wind driving emissions-free nuclear off the grid as a good thing.”

Most of my ‘greenie’ friends while concerned about climate change are much more worried about nuclear and point to Germany as an example of “good” climate policy.

They are not at all interested in the fact that French emissions are just 40g/kWH (like most COP21 delegates), which is more than 10 times lower than Germany (500g/kWh) .

Or that German electricity CO2 emissions are unchanged since 1999 at about 350M tonnes annually despite installing 80GW of weather dependent renewable generation.

If we are to reduce CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future we cannot continue to replace nuclear with renewables (Germany) or gas (USA) and celebrate this as environmentally responsible.


To Tom Bond

Just to try and make may position clear to all the zealots here. I agree pretty much 100%. Replacing nuclear with gas is just silly. Closing nuclear before coal is also counterproductive. The problem is politics in Germany. Apart from the anti-nuclear FUD. there are a lot more jobs to be lost by closing down 10GW of coal than 7-9 GW of nuclear.


Eclipse Now
It helps to understand the difference between capacity factor and on and off. While solar has a 17-20% capacity factor a single axis solar system generates useful power for 10 hours per day during which time the demand is greatest so with sufficient widely deployed solar capacity and without storage you can supply about 40-45% of total demand even though at the module level over 24 hours output is only 20% of rated capacity.

For the same reason thermal capacity on the Australian (and the US) grid operates at about 45-50% capacity factor. Gas peakers at about 4% in the US. The fact is most power generation assets are off half the time by CF.

The exception is nuclear because they are “must run” plants i.e. the cost of turning them off is too high, or to put it differently it is cheaper to pay wind generators to feather their blades than to ramp down nuclear too quickly. However once nuclear penetration goes much above minimum grid demand then they do have to reduce output and if that is a significant amount of time over a year, the average cost of the power goes up and the utilisation goes down as you can see in France.

This is not moonbeams it is operational and economic reality.

I have two simple challenges to everyone on this site
a. Show how you can economically replace gas peakers with currently available nuclear.
b. If your solution to peak capacity involves storage why would you not at least partially recharge that storage with wind which is currently cheaper per than nuclear


Wind is more expensive per kilowatt hour than nuclear by a long ways. Your problem is that you are using nameplate power for the wind but you get only 17% of nameplate power, so you have to build a lot of win turbines to average what one is supposed to get.

Some currently available nuclear can ramp at 5% per minute. That is plenty fast to take care of peaking. The problem is the bean counters who want to get the last hundredth of a cent out of nuclear.


Peter Farley: “In addition in the US the government bought their waste plutonium to build bombs.”

I think you have fallen for a lie, or at least a highly misleading partial truth. The plutonium in used fuel has too much Pu240 in it for it to be usable in a bomb.

This link was very good on the subject, but is now unavailable.

Does anyone know how to find stuff on the wayback machine?
Try this link Jim.



Thankyou for the correction and the link. We learn more every day. The second link contains a huge amount of useful information on other aspects of the nuclear cycle. I have seen many of these arguments before but never so well collated in one place.

I find it very hard to read this document but while I understand that the plutonium in spent reactor fuel cannot be used directly in bombs, does that preclude high level reprocessing to separate the weapons grade material.

In any case the other subsidies in my list are still large and real.


The US has not developed technology to separate Pu239 from Pu240. There is no reason to. If we want Pu239 from spent fuel, we recycle it back to uranium and put the uranium in our short cycle reactor. It is much easier.


Pu239 and Pu240 are hard to separate as the mass difference is small. Moreover, Pu240 is quite radioactive.

Note that India and Pakistan stick with uranium for weapons.


Agreeing with DBB: If an industry existed to separate Pu239 from Pu240, it would have a byproduct stream of Pu238. But it is in short supply and the space industry cant get enough (from Np237) to power all its spacecraft.


Earlier there was a question about using nuclear power plants for the 4% peaking power requirement. One way is to incorporate a thermal store sized for the peaking load. See two prior comments about thermal stores.

Such thermal stores could, in principle, be energized by wind or solar PV via resistance heaters. I don’t want to try to design a resistance heater which will operate for 30 years at that elevated temperature. Maybe someone else knows how.


A thermal store running a medium temperature steam turbine has a maximum efficiency of around 28% and the cost of hours of storage would be higher than the cost of the compression/combustion stage of an open cycle gas turbine so a thermal store attached to a nuclear or coal power station would be more expensive and slightly less efficient than an open cycle gas turbine (new ones around 35%-

It will have also have limited duration. In extremes a gas turbine can run for days or weeks, a thermal store would be a maximum of hours.

If you wish to recharge storage from wind/solar you would be better to recharge pumped hydro it is about 80% efficient and in large quantities is much cheaper than thermal storage.

That is not to say that minutes worth of thermal storage on a nuclear power station is a bad idea. Short term storage can significantly lower thermal stress on the steam generator and reduce the ramp rate for gas turbines. Whether those short terms gains offset the cost is the key question.


Peter, your ask:

“b. If your solution to peak capacity involves storage why would you not at least partially recharge that storage with wind which is currently cheaper per than nuclear”

Peak capacity can be addressed in a variety of ways, as you note (will not have that debate now).

If you are relying on storage, you would prefer nuclear because it is more dependably available to recharge the storage. Storage is useless if it can’t be recharged due to weather being dreary and still. Potentially cheap kWh are useless if they are not available when you need them. This is as true for a storage system that needs them as it is for an ongoing simultaneous supply-demand system that needs them.

An intermittent-dependent system needs more storage and more non-coincident (with each other) sources of energy. This triggers a need for more capacity, more storage, and more interconnection costs. All of these costs and the associated infrastructure also imposes environmental impacts, as well as raising EROEI issues.

Perhaps you might want to do the math on a system basis, and then consider how it is that diverse societies, where most people are neither energy hobbyists nor renewable energy enthusiasts, are going to underwrite and accept this kind of system, and why you, as a person concerned about energy and emissions, should want to bet the future on them doing so.


I haven’t done the detailed calculations but others have. I have done a rough calculation for the US see my long reply to Edward Greisch above, if the US overbuilt its wind and solar as much as its current thermal stations it needs 10 hours storage for an 80-90% electrified economy to survive a whole week at 1/8th wind power and 1/2 solar with nuclear covering about 20% of demand.

In Australia AEMO has calculated, based on actual demand profiles that we need 10GW/ to run a 100% renewable grid. Roam consulting calculated that we could build pumped storage for between $400 and $6,000 per kW the median being around $2,000. Thus we can build sufficient storage for about $20b. However this is a significant overstatement because utilities are now deploying batteries to reduce grid costs and peak demand tariffs are encouraging off peak thermal/ice storage for large aircon plants. Households and small businesses are deploying batteries and load shifting. None of these techniques by themselves will be sufficient but they will reduce the demand for dedicated on grid storage probably by 30-40%

The combination of wind and solar and hydro is a pretty rough match to demand. I.e wind stronger in winter and at night and at least in Australia wind and solar together on our hottest high demand days. Therefore it turns out that we could build the storage we need for a cost between one and two nuclear power stations. On the other hand If we were to build say 20 nuclear power stations and close all the coal we would need at least as much storage but slightly less power eg 7-9 GW and to cover peaks and unexpected outages and to absorb power when demand falls below about 15GW
You continue to make assertions not backed by any references(I haven’t done the calculations but others have – who – where?) as per BNC Comments Policy. Opinions are not facts. This is becoming frustrating and annoying for other commenters. Further instances may be deleted. Thank you.


Oreskes has just called us all “deniers”.

Seriously, Naomi, what are your qualifications on energy infrastructure? What studies have you personally commissioned into renewable fanboi plans? Hansen has been looking into the alternatives for decades, and as a tight group of scientists who dare to ask the hard questions of renewable energy plans like Jacobsen’s, and actually PEER REVIEW IT! Peer review does not mean “assume it must work at all costs!” It means ask the tough questions. It means throw everything you have at it, and see what survives. Sadly, with wind and solar plans, not much does. That’s why Hansen concludes the following!

“Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”


Eclipse Now
This is what i thought of Naomi’s piece
I have read this article and it states only one fact i.e. Mark Jacobsen of Stanford University has produced a report showing how it is possible for the world and the USA imparticular to Transition to a Renewable Energy future. On reading the report I was unable to find a cost summary as in How much money it will cost. But I did find this piece of information in Mr Jacobsen’s report. ‘ Costs of storage are not included but will be reported on in 2016’. At this point in time, Naomi Oreskes is asking the world to follow the VRE path without having an estimate of the cost.


I went to the Jacobson website referenced by Ms. Oreskes and pulled up the program for Wisconsin (USA, where I live). I left a message at the site asking for the analysis. The whole site was thrillingly populated with pretty graphics displaying the conclusions. I came up empty when seeking the explanations.

No response has been sent yet from the web-masters at the site.

The projection for my state is that energy use will fall 36% by 2050. This occurs while we, at the same time, electrify transportation and other functions, and increase population.

Of course energy use falls. Energy use is reduced because of the switch to renewables (called “WWS”). Switching your source of electrons automatically reduces your use of them.

How could I not know that?

Jacobson is the peer-reviewed scientist and tenured Stanford professor who projected the carbon footprint of nuclear energy by positing that nuclear sourced electricity leads to nuclear war, with a probability of 0 to 1 every thirty years.

I guess we are really in for it soon.

To calculate the associated carbon emissions, you must include an average of the carbon release from the incinerated cities, and other impacts of the wars.

No wonder he is tenured at Stanford. As they say on CNN: “If there’s anyone who can help us figure out how to address climate change, it’s probably this guy.”

And obviously, Ms. Oreskes could not be wrong when she disagrees with atmospheric or nuclear scientists (

She has, after all, the word “Harvard” next to her name.

By way of contrast with the esteemed Ms. Oreskes and Mr. Jacobson, the scientists Ms. Oreskes calls out as “deniers,” have been observed to employ foolish tools such as observation to arrive at their conclusions.

Proper analysis, as everyone knows, requires constructing conclusions and then testing them by having them peer reviewed by movie stars. Requests for analytical methods and data sources are churlish and ungrateful.

Clearly, those movie stars are much more attractive than denier scientists like James Hansen.

As we say in my business, res ipsa loquitur.


“nuclear sourced electricity leads to nuclear war” is ludicrous.
[ludicrous =so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous]
So is “Switching your source of electrons automatically reduces your use of them.”
So is the rest of Frank Jablonski’s comment except where Frank Jablonski’s comment is so garbled as to have no meaning at all.

Sorry Frank, word salad does not pass as a comment.


Do you think it possible for Ms. Oreskes and Mr. Jacobsen to be invited to contribute to this discussion. I doubt though that Mr. Jacobsen will have time as he would no doubt be busy working on the plan to provide the storage element of his WWS system that has not been included in the comprehensive report to which Ms. Oreskes refers.


Nuclear power plants can run at quite low power levels without undergoing the difficulty of turning off completely. For example, a few years ago BPA had an overgeneration embarrassment and asked the nuclear Columbia Generating Station to cut back as far as possible for a few weeks. This was accomplished by 20% cuts down to the 20% level.

This was not elegant but the massive hydro did all necessary load balancing.


If you want the nuclear reactors to run at part power, replace a few fuel bundles with thorium. Indians do that with new reactors for power flattening when all the fuel is new full power.
To do it on an hourly basis, suspend them like control rods. Hydro-storage may not be available everywhere. Irradiated thorium up to 1% can be electro-refined.


Perhaps you too are intrigued by David B Benson’s comment. He refers to balancing by “the massive hydro”, this being in Washington state of the US. If you want to see a massive balancing act by hydro, check out the live graph below. As I write, the blue line shows up to 11 GW of hydro, varying by about half that amount in the space of less than an hour. Yes, that is massive.

Bonneville Power Administration


Thank you for this reference Roger.
The hydro is being used to handle base load and peak demand. Thermal is running pretty much 24/7 flat. Wind when available looks like it is saving water ie reducing hydro generation as predicted.


Thank you, Roger Clifton. It is fortunate that most of the dams are equipped with fast acting gates for the turbine intakes. This contrasts with Spain where, with only slower gates, wind power cannot be must-take.

Tony Carden — Yes, the thermal generators mostly have little ability to adjust power quickly, saving only the Grays Harbor CCGT and the other one whose name I forget.

The wind represented in the dynamic graphic is only that portion that BPA balances. The remainder of the wind power from the mid-Columbia basin is wheeled raw to balancing authorities further south. I hope you appreciate that BPA cannot balance more than the graphic indicates, but a fraction of the balancing authority load.

That last point might be the most relevant for the Australian grid. Each grid has its own challenges.


Eclipse Now asks the familiar question: when supply exceeds demand, surely that spare power should be driving some useful process? Such as turning boron oxide back into boron metal as an energy store for transport. But whether the intermittent power goes into intermittent production or intermittent storage, the financial limitation is still the same…

If the net result is to be profitable, then the gains from that process when it is going must outweigh the costs endured for the period of when it is going plus the period of when it is not.

Any industrial process that consumes power requires capital equipment and capital equipment must pay interest to the banker, regardless of whether it is in use at the time or not. The only participant certain to make a profit is the banker.


To the moderator.
I accept your criticism of insufficient references and I tried to post a comment today with about 20 references, however the system rejected the post for some reason “this comment cannot be posted”.
i also note that a number of my other posts have not appeared even ones that contained no references to other posters. Is this just a technical problem or is there some other reason.


It is a fine line between not enough and too many. Sometimes comments with a lot of links get caught in Spam and, as we have hundreds of spam messages daily, it is impossible to vet every one of them. I suggest rather than attaching 20 refs you post several comments. I have approved all you posts except one during the last few weeks ( it was a short comment directed personally at another poster). I know of no other problem.


Thanks i will repost more succinctly.

Re declining value of solar and wind. This is economics 101. If you need water you will pay more for the first 1000 litres than you will pay for the second.

If you build a nuclear power station by the sea in Newcastle you can be pretty sure you can sell every megawatt you can produce and you can produce every hour that the plant is available. However in the Australian case if you build the 20th of the 38 required near Adelaide, there will be times on hot afternoons where there is insufficient demand or balmy evenings, sunny Sundays etc. when you can’t sell all the power, so the value of the plant is less. Of course someone may build a storage plant of some sort, thermal, batteries, pumped hydro or even build a desal plant to take your excess power but all of these users will pay you much less for power than other users because they can only justify their expenditure if they can buy cheap from you and sell at a higher price to someone else. Even the desal plant will have to be bigger because they can’t run their plant continuously or at peak times because the power cost would be too high.

Thus the nth nuclear plant has less value than the first. By the time you get to the 38 or 40th to cover peak plus reserves, the breakeven cost of power would be about 20 times that of the first because the plant would have a utilisation of less than 4%.


” the breakeven cost of power would be about 20 times that of the first because the plant would have a utilisation of less than 4%.”
Source? Want to justify that claim, especially in light of Blee’s argument?


As I said these dump load, secondary uses, need very low power costs or if they can afford to be intermitent can rely on wind or solar which is still cheaper than new nuclear, Therefore the last nuclear plant is used about 4% of the time just like gas peakers are today. In fact currently in Australia some of the gas peaker plants have utilization less than 2%..


Peter Farley — My understanding of the wholesale electricity market is that it is essentially completely inelastic. The wholesale prices for peaking power can run as high as over ten thousand dollars per megawatt-hour.

Reserves in the USA are set at 7% for large grids. With nuclear power plants this is easily accomplished by running at the 93% power level.

Power contracts are lower for overnight power than in the daytime, enough so in most of the USA, but not here in the Pacific Northwest, so that pumped hydro covers its costs.


Thank you, DBB. That extreme price for peak power should cover the cost of whatever it takes to supply it. But I don’t know how long that price applies.

I think that we can design a Gen4 npp to ramp a lot more rapidly to cover these requirements. Alex Gabbard [Oak Ridge National Lab, retired] told me about a gas cooled reactor that could not melt down because it was made of refractory materials. A reactor like that could shut off its output instantly. It was tested, but not used commercially.


Edward Greisch — By looking at grid demand graphs I surmise that the extreme peak prices happen less than 4% of the time, possibly as little as1/4 hour per year. Whatever, it is enough that utilities have OCGTS on standby most of the time and then cover costs when required to meet the inelastic demand.

Recently some larger stores have taken to using wholesale type interruptable power contracts. They have less expensive rates overnight which they use to create a store of coolth. This is used for air conditioning in the afternoons when wholesale rates are high. This behavior makes the market slightly more elastic.


Your estimate is technically correct, if you had a single generation supplier. However if you have a market based system and award contracts to build power stations a few at a time then the first ones into the market sign PPA’s with retailers, hopefully for all their output. Then as the later ones come along there is less and less remaining demand for them to share so no-one will build the last one because they can’t get enough contracts to get the finance to build the units.
The retailers have only a rough idea what the total demand will be in 7-10 years time and even if there is sufficient demand, increasing energy efficiency and continuing de-industrialisation will see energy demand trend down for a long time. The problem is, no-one knows the rate of decline. It may have some upward bumps but if there is a recession or two it may have some dips and then the guy who contracted to take power 7-10 years out may be bankrupt by the time the plant is built.
Even if you can forecast demand in 10 years, to make money out of the last few nuclear stations you have to not only forecast demand very accurately but what the peak prices will be for 30-40 years. Who is going to take forecasts like that to the bank.

Re fast ramping. Unless you can dramatically reduce the capital cost, ramping ability doesn’t help with the economics of an individual power station. Because 75-85% of the costs are fixed if you use ramping to run the power station at an average of 60% capacity the cost of power is about 40% higher than if it is running at 90%. The best case scenario for any grid without significant storage is an average of 60% utilisation. In my surveys of the US, France, Germany and Australia, everyone of these grids has less than 55% capacity factor for all assets. If it is all nuclear they will still average 60%. If it is 25% nuclear they may average 90% with a fair bit of load shifting, after that utilisation will fall unless there are very large investments in storage.

There are many fast ramping designs (eg. submarines) but all of those that have been tested or proposed, actually have shorter lives and/or higher cost per MW. That will in fact make the cost worse. It may save system costs, eg less storage and fewer regulation assets, but so far the economic cost benefit is not proven. I have already posted references for both China and India where they are investing in renewables at two to three times the rate (in annual energy capacity not nameplate power) that they are in nuclear. This is because they see nuclear as very useful for large residual loads but nowhere near as fast, flexible or cheap as renewables for the rest


“When electricity demand rises, the boron recycling plants
would just throttle back and produce less boron. In extraordinary
circumstances they could even shut down for a while altogether,
though in an integrated energy system a balance would inescapably be found to maximize both the electrical generation and boron recycling systems. Thus the grids would be provided with ample power in any contingency without the costly necessity of building needless overcapacity into the system. Wind and solar contributions would fit in seamlessly, fully integrated into the energy symbiosis, while the power plants would be able to run at full power virtually around the clock. Hydroelectric plants, of course, are fully adjustable, and reducing their flow in times of low electricity demand would only leave more water in the reservoirs for later use.”

Click to access P4TP4U.pdf


Wind and solar cannot be used for peaking because wind and solar are too intermittent and unpredictable. So sorry, but physics always trumps economics.


The website touting Mark Jacobson’s plan (linked by Naomi Oreskes while decrying James Hansen as a “denier”) has now responded to me with a link to the background analytical information. Good for them.

Here it is:

As I indicated before, with tongue-in-cheek, and, unfortunately, to Mr. Greisch’s chagrin, the “WWS” Terrawatts (seemingly capacity – I don’t know what happened to Terrawatt hours) needed are reduced, worldwide, by 32%, with the claim being that this is because of the switch to “WWS.” (see: the ppt file referenced on the linked page, slide 12).

For the US, the projected reduction is 37%.

And, as indicated before, this capacity reduction, to intermittent sources, appears to take place while simultaneously switching uses to electricity, and to hydrogen, which they get from the electricity when there is oversupply:

“[Loads for the “lower 48″ of the United States] are first estimated for 2050 assuming each end-use energy sector (residential, transportation, commercial, industrial) is converted to electricity and some electrolytic hydrogen after accounting for modest improvements in end-use energy efficiency (22).”

(see: p. 1)

Click to access CONUSGridIntegration.pdf

The referenced note “(22)” refers to: “Ackerman TP, Toon OB (1981) Absorption of visible radiation in atmosphere containing mixtures of absorbing and nonabsorbing particles. Appl Opt 20(20): 3661-3667.” (id, p. 33)

Also, of note:

“all 2050 loads are supplied only with WWS technologies” (id.: p. 3)

The projected cost, accounting for externalities, is asserted to be negative:

” . . . whereas the 2050 business costs of WWS and conventional electricity are similar, the social (overall) cost of WWS is 40% that
of conventional electricity (id.: p.6)

I am not going to write anything more because I am striving like the dickens to avoid sarcasm. However, please have a look, if you like.

This is the articulated analysis that people like Naomi Oreskes reference as they label people “deniers” for advocating nuclear energy as a carbon free option.


No chagrin. He hasn’t done it. The report isn’t even a pdf. He can’t do it Mark Jacobson is blowing smoke.


Thank you for that Frank.
In relation to projected cost you did not perchance bump into any real figures did you or perhaps a one or two page summary.
I scanned through the plan looking for it but gave up when it said that it was not complete. We have to wait until 2016 for the storage element to be completed.


“We have to wait until 2016 for the storage element to be completed.”
Exactly. And perhaps he will retire before he gets to that part. The storage element is the wind & solar killer.


Tony – They must have numbers and equations to derive their stated conclusions, and they do have a reference and link to spreadsheets in this excerpt:

“100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for 139 countries of the world (summary paper)(xlsx-spreadsheets)(Change of CO2 Upon Implementing WWS)(Transition timeline to 100% WWS)”

The quote above is from here:

This just seems to become more confusing as I search into it, but maybe the spreadsheet review will help.

I found a summary at Stanford News Service, June 8, 2015:

“To create a full picture of energy use in each state, they [Jacobson and colleagues] examined energy usage in four sectors:residential, commercial, industrial and transportation.”

My comment: OK . . . Then this:

“For each sector, they then analyzed the current amount and source of the fuel consumed – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables – and calculated the fuel demands if all fuel usage were replaced
with electricity.”

My comment: What? They are going to use electricity as a “fuel” to generate electricity, substituting it for, e.g., coal? “Renewables” is a “fuel”? I am missing the logic. Next:

“This is a significantly challenging step – it assumes that all the cars on the road become electric, and that homes and industry convert to fully electrified heating and cooling systems.”

My comment: This does not seem to be a “step,” but rather a prediction that confirms that additional energy-consuming services are expected be broadly converted to electricity. The reasonableness of this prediction, given the complexities of the real world, and its multiple incumbent interests and habits, is not articulated Next:

“But Jacobson said that their calculations were based on integrating existing technology, and the energy savings would be significant. “When we did this across all 50 states, we saw a 39 percent reduction in total end-use power demand by the year 2050,”

My comment: You “saw” this reduction. The issue of interest is: how did it materialize? This could do with some explanation. Next:

“Jacobson said. “About 6 percentage points of that is gained through efficiency improvements to infrastructure, but the bulk is the result of replacing current sources and uses of combustion energy with electricity.” ”

My comments: 1) It would be useful to understanding if these advocates could either a) identify a 35 year period where electricity use has fallen in the US, or b) explain to interested why it is reasonable to expect this development in this time frame, and then explain, in English, with supporting numeric analysis, how absolute use reductions are to be accomplished while simultaneously transferring most energy use to electricity.

Note: It seems Jacobson’s analysis depends on, e.g., getting more miles out of an electric car for less motive-power energy input. It further seems that he anticipates analogous reductions in energy use by substituting electricity for other fuels. This certainly could do with some explanation.

The prediction of overall energy use reductions combined with a simultaneous transfer of uses to electricity, merits explanation. The advocates of this analysis are positing that nuclear energy should be categorically excluded from consideration, and that those who disagree are willfully deceptive (see: Oreskes’ characterization). They are assuming leadership positions and preaching to the world, e.g., conducting conclusory presentations at COP 21. They owe their followers, policy makers whose attention they want, and critics, a readily understandable explanation for which the numbers make sense. They have not produced it.

Anyway, thats my opinion. Again, glad this is an open thread.


I agree.
I found the reading of Jacobsen’s plan quite onerous and difficult. It seems it was just not me.
To sell me on their plan they need to provide a clearer explanation of how we are going to gravitate from our current methods of energy consumption to the new renewable electrified world and how much it costs. I am not sure whether this report is not just another example of the 3B’s.


PeterF — The retail power distributor is required to have enough generation available to meet the demand. If that means asking the utility commission for higher rates, the retail utility does so.

So some form of generation is available for peak loads. Frequently these are OCGTs but I pointed out that is not necessary.

A claim that the last 4% of required generators are never built flies in the face of reality.


They will be built either as storage, OC gas, wind or solar or even coal slurry fired diesel, they won’t be nuclear if it is anywhere near current prices


EN quotes – “When electricity demand rises, the boron recycling plants would just throttle back and produce less boron”. Unless you want us to go beat up the absent author, we can only conclude that you wholeheartedly believe what he has said. But I don’t think you have quite thought it through.

Boron is similar to, though more energetic than, aluminium. A process extracting boron metal from boron oxide would be at least as energy-consumptive as an aluminium smelter. Central to an aluminium smelter are giant pots containing molten cryolite (MP 1012° C), on which molten aluminium floats. The pots are kept hot by the passage of an electrical current.

Now, do you really believe that you could intermittently switch off the electric power to such a plant?


MODERATOR I have failed to terminate a string of italics correctly. A previous similar error damaged subsequent posts. So please delete my previous comment (probably the comment immediately preceding this one) and allow my following comment to survive.


EN quotes – “When electricity demand rises, the boron recycling plants would just throttle back and produce less boron”. Unless you want us to go beat up the absent author, we can only conclude that you wholeheartedly believe what he has said. But I don’t think you have quite thought it through.

Boron is similar to, though more energetic than, aluminium. A process extracting boron metal from boron oxide would be at least as energy-consumptive as an aluminium smelter. Central to an aluminium smelter are giant pots containing molten cryolite (MP 1012° C), on which molten aluminium floats. The pots are kept hot by the passage of an electrical current.

Now, do you really believe that you could intermittently switch off the electric power to such a plant?


To Frank Jablonski

I am not defending Mark jacobson because I have not read the paper but neglecting for the moment the issue of embedded energy in the renewable power sources (I know a big omission).

Thermal power stations on the grid at the moment have a weighted average thermal efficiency at peak load of around 33-36%. However at any moment in time some are spinning at part load, some full load and a few on spinning reserve so the average thermal efficiency at the generator terminal is about 25-28%. Then mining and transport of coal, oil and gas, processing of gas, running coal washing plants, coal pulverisers, oil refineries etc uses between 10 and 20% of the energy generated. So the net thermal efficiency is around 20-23% of the embodied energy in the fuel. i.e 3/4rs of the oil and coal we buy does not do any useful work

If you have a zero carbon system the primary energy demand is therefore reduced by a factor of around 3-5. .

Re declining demand. In most economies around the developed world there has been a slight trend down of energy use per capita. This is driven by two trends, de-industrialisation and increasing energy efficiency. Not only are actual processes becoming more efficient (eg LED lighting, automotive fuel economy etc.) but more efficient processes are being substituted for less, Heat pumps vs resistive heating, rail transport for individual cars and trucks etc. and people are consuming less energy intensive stuff as steel and concrete use per capita falls and people spend more on health, education and entertainment which are less energy intensive than new cars etc.

Thus the direction of their assumptions is reasonable, the magnitude is another thing. To support their thesis, Germany, France, Spain and the UK have as a group, similar climate and industrial structure to the US but on average today use half the energy per capita so if the US sets out on a path to energy efficiency even approximating those other countries then a 1% per annum reduction in energy use is not at all implausible


Peter F and Roger Clifton have a point. If you are not going to ramp up and down supply, but instead apply “excess” energy derived from sufficient (for peak) capacity to some useful purpose, then that useful purpose has to have characteristics that enable it to be met with excess power that will, by definition, not always be available.

While this is true, the the ease of finding a suitable use for that “excess” energy is greater if you have sources that are mostly controllable, coupled with variations in use that are mostly predictable. While the problem does not disappear, it becomes more manageable.

More manageable problems are preferable to less manageable ones.

Resource management, engineering and planning problems are multiplied, perhaps exponentially, when you require a framework where the power sources are themselves intermittent, and are likely to be, at least occasionally, entirely absent for an extended period.

Solving the problems takes resources. This, in turn, triggers issues of EROEI, etc., that I won’t go into in detail, as they has been covered elsewhere.


Demand is intermittent, trips on large generators are unpredictable, the system copes. If you care to look at data outside your usual sources you will find that wind and solar can be integrated easily and have more predictably supply profiles over minutes and hours than large generators.
Ercot studies indicate that the cost of backup for wind is half that per generated than that for large thermal generators


“Wind and solar power generation are prized for their environmental benefits, their low and stable operating costs, and their help in reducing fuel imports. Advances in both technologies are reducing capital costs and providing significant control capabilities. Still, the primary energy source for both technologies is variable and uncertain and a power system with significant wind or solar penetration must be operated differently than a power system based exclusively on conventional resources. It is very natural to ask what the additional cost of accommodating wind and solar generation is. However, calculating the integration cost of variable generation turns out to be surprisingly difficult.”


I really do not have time to go and review the references that Peter has given. Every time I have in the past I have found them to not be on point and after a cursory examination in this instance nothing has changed.


“The cost of reliably integrating large conventional power plants onto the power system in Texas is more than 17 times larger than the cost of reliably integrating wind energy”


You can find any nonsense on the web you want
Reference: “Google and the myth of universal knowledge” by Jean-Noel Jeanneney 2007 The original is in French..

The search engines do not understand the web pages they find for you. They are
just machines. They have no idea of whether or not the web pages they find tell
the truth. In the US, we have “freedom of speech,” which means that nobody has
to prove that anything is true before publishing it. We also have a coal industry
that has a gross income of $100 BILLION per year.


From World Nuclear organization page “Nuclear Power in the World Today” one finds that the recent capacity factor of French nuclear power plants averages 74%, in contradiction to the claim by PeterF of less. Recall that French reactors load follow.


To Tony

Thankyou for the link, I do try to read yours and I try to learn, even if others don’t. It is unfortunate that some papers are written in very safe turgid science speak and others fanboi style and it is often hard to discern the truth from either.

From the same paper Edward quotes

“The concept of balancing the net load with conventional generation is well understood
in the integration literature and power system operations. In fact, the NERC Area
Control Error (ACE), Control Performance Standards (CPS1&2) standards, Disturbance Control
Standard (DCS), and balancing requirements are based upon it. However, within the past year we
have seen two integration analyses that have attempted to balance wind and solar in isolation
from the remaining load. This means that when wind/solar and load are both increasing, a
conventional generator must decrease output to hold the wind and solar constant, but at the same
time, generation must increase to meet the increasing load. This does not reflect how power
systems are operated and greatly overstates the balancing costs of wind and solar”

So in the same paper we have an opening comment saying that integrating wind and solar is complex yet further on it says that it is much less costly than others have projected.

Here is a short article (from a pro wind site) about the costs of integration with links to other papers to support their argument
and a later NERC report than the one you have linked to

Click to access ERSTF%20Framework%20Report%20-%20Final.pdf

Here is another way of stabilising non synchronous grids


“Wind generated more than 40 percent of ERCOT’s power for 11 hours from November 24-26, and more than 30 percent for most of that three-day period”

“For the month of November, wind provided 18.4 percent of the electricity on the main Texas grid, and so far this year wind generation in ERCOT is about equal to the state’s nuclear output, with each providing 11.3 percent of ERCOT’s electricity.”

“The main grid operator in Colorado set a U.S. record for the largest share of electricity use from wind, averaging 66.4 percent for one hour on November 11.”

PeterF: We do not need wind power for an hour or a day. In fact, such records are nothing more than a nuisance. Your constantly bringing these bones to show us is very dog-like. We don’t want them in our office. That isn’t how you run a power company.


BAD idea. If it is out of phase or off frequency, we want it off of the grid for this reason:

Out of phase = short circuit.

Short circuit = burned up generator.

Off frequency = out of phase very soon.

One wind turbine is a much smaller source than the other generators, which is why the wind turbine can be tolerated.

The automatic controls: Convert the AC to DC and then back to AC. That has been around for a long time. We would rather have a big spinning wheel that can stay on frequency and phase. Or change the “gear” ratios in the wind turbine. NERC is correct in saying that a large angular momentum is a good thing.

“Ride through” has nothing to do with the source of the energy.


PeterF – As DBB has, I also have been having problems taking your numbers seriously. Peter Lang gave up on such numerical exchanges. I agree with Tony Carden similarly.

For example, the aspiration to 1% reduction per year is far from laudatory. If one checks what you get by 1% pa until 2100 (target for zero emissions), it turns out to be only 0.99^85 = 43%, far from the near-zero required at the Paris Meeting.


1% of total energy reduction not 1% of carbon. Therefore assume the total energy use in the US today is 100 units of which 30 is electricity and of that 6 is renewables. If you just replace the current system with renewables you would need 18 times as much renewables as you have now or 40-60 times as much wind and solar. If you reduce the overall energy use by 1% per year in 50 years time you only need 60 units as you still have about 10 units of other renewables you only need 50 units of wind and solar not 90.
If however you replace much of the heating and transport with electricity (particularly heatpumps and rail respectively) then the total primary energy demand will fall much faster because you avoid the inefficiency of heat engines


to David Benson

The world nuclear association figure is an average power share over the last few years not the capacity factor. The YTD Capacity factor figure I found till the end of August was 67%. The figure for the second quarter p29 was about 67%

Below is another paper from those radical greenies at ETH Zurich suggesting that even though France does load follow with its nuclear it still cannot ramp fast enough and it uses thermal, hydro and imports/exports to balance its grid.

It also demonstrates that nuclear power above current penetration rates is uneconomical in France. It is a little bit out of date but you can also see that at that time, export power prices were less than half of import prices (P9)

Click to access p26.pdf

Perhaps this is the logic that is driving France to more renewables


PeterF is playing word games. Obvious it is that PeterF is not an engineer or a scientist.

Whatever the French are doing with 30 year old American technology demonstrates nothing about modern nuclear power’s ability to change power settings.

Nor does anything here demonstrate a limitation to any penetration rate for nuclear.

PeterF is the problem. PeterF is a humanities or fine arts graduate if he went to college at all. PeterF, if you want to comment in the adult league, go to or go back to college and get a degree in physics, chemistry or engineering. Otherwise, sit at the children’s table.


Sorry to disappoint you Edward and Tom but I am an engineer have been so for 44 years and am still practicing and winning awards around the world for my work. My work is involved with the design, simulation and marketing of large machines. I also have an economics degree and understand a little about markets and systems theory, not to mention practical politics. I even understand the difference between Capacity Factor and market share

All of these things lead me to understand that as HL Mencken said. “For every complex problem there is an answer that there is clear, simple and wrong.”

If anyone proposed an all wind of even all wind and solar grid I would be equally critical as I am of an all nuclear grid.

Please find any reference in anything I have written to suggest we should be shutting nuclear early or even not building more in some grids.
My whole thesis is that today’s renewables are cheaper per than today’s nuclear. This is clearly demonstrated in India and China where the current plans call for an increase in generation (i.e. TW.hrs per year not MW nameplate) from wind and solar at 3 times the rate of their nuclear plans. Is this because of a lack of will or commitment to nuclear in those countries. There are references to both above.
As to the future. “If the facts change I change my Opinion, What do you do?”

In the Australian case I would be happy if we were to
A. Apply a comprehensive pollution tax to hydro-carbon fueled power, with annual steps up.
B. Set up some modern i.e similar to France more than the US safety regulations for all power sources
C. Let the market decide. If it is 20% nuclear 70%, or zero I don’t care and probably most of us here will be dead before anyone knows the answer.

While all data is contentious and changes over time and I have clearly made mistakes. It is a bit strange for people who post numbers suggesting Europe’s nuclear capacity is 3 times the actual or wind 1/10th the actual or solar cost 5-8 times the actual calling me a liar. Or people implying that nuclear plants will last 60 years when the oldest plant in operation is 46 years (and currently out of service) and the average age at retirement of those already closed was less than 25 years.

Anyway Happy New Year to you all, try to read outside your current boundaries and I hope we can all be a little more flexible


Searching the IEEE and Google, I did not find Peter Farley, but I found Peter Fairley there.

Google finds a number of Peter Fairleys such as Peter Fairley is an Australian-born journalist, metaphysical researcher, and spiritual healer.

There are Peter Farley accounts on twitter, Linked-In, Facebook etc.

For David B Benson I get
David B. Benson, Emeritus Professor of EE and Computer Science, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99165-2754. Benson’s algorithm


Peter F
Your argument about inability to load follow limiting the utility of nuclear doesn’t point to more ‘renewables’ unless you specify which renewables. The quick load following of hydroelectric power makes it a very good complement to the steady output of nuclear. The inability of eg: wind to follow demand & instead to quickly vary at the whims of the weather makes wind power a nuisance rather than an asset to anyone trying to provide reliable electric power.


PeterF — I stand by my assertion of what the article stated, based on the previous paragraph. In any case, 67% is higher than your statement of 60% in an earlier post.


Peter F says “Perhaps this is the logic that is driving France to more renewables”

There is no logic to the move from nuclear to renewables by the French President just political ideology and a desperation to hang on to power even at the cost of the climate.

Thank goodness wiser heads see the wisdom of retaining nuclear with the service life to be extended from 40 to 60 years. If it is ain’t broken don’t fix it, French electricity emissions at just 40g/kWh are amongst the lowest in the world and more than 10 times lower than the green “poster boy” Germany.




You have again confused my statements.

The current French nuclear penetration rate is 75% we agree. The capacity Factor on their nuclear power plants is 67%. See reference.

If the remaining demand is intermittent which it is from your very own reference at RTE then the Capacity factor of additional generation will be less than that of the existing base load generators. This is not word games it is logic and it is supported by the ZTE paper above.

My statement was that in a modern grid overall capacity factor for the total generation system cannot exceed 60% unless you have very large storage capacity. If you have very large storage capacity then you can recharge with whatever is the cheapest per power source because intermittency is irrelevant.

To confirm my opinion every advanced grid in the world today has an overall capacity factor less than 55%


Intermittency of the power source cannot be irrelevant. Intermittency is what turns wind and solar into nothing more than decorations.
Peter Farley is full of nonsense.


Give us that ZTE paper reference.

“My statement was that in a modern grid overall capacity factor for the total generation system cannot exceed 60% unless you have very large storage capacity.”
How does that fit back in the day when one generator was 100% of the system? With no storage?



By the way I have told you my experience please share yours.

The ZTE paper is referenced twice above

Another paper to improve your understanding of how wind can improve grid resilience,d.dGY&cad=rja

Here is how Siemens provides reactive power from wind turbines even if they aren’t operating

I am still waiting to see even a rough model of the costs of a 100% nuclear energy system

is a dead link

I have not seen Peter Farley’s resume/CV

We have ~100 reactors running at the moment in the US. 11 of them are in Illinois. I am paying 7&½ cents per kilowatt hour. Some coal is mixed in.

From: Jim Jones at

Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 2:27 PM
Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

$60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
$2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
$480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)


$60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
$3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
$600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)



Two apologies. the Siemens link should work.

Click to access Reactive-Power-at-no-Wind_flyer.pdf

If it doesn’t go to and search for reactive power.

Second I did post a link above to ETH Zurich and mistakenly recalled it as ZTE anyway here is the link again.

I have looked up Hyperion power which is now Gen4 power. It hopes to have its first 25 MWe prototype licensed and operating by 2030. This is a promising technology but one of the posts on this site is entitled “Two decades and counting”. was it referring to renewables or small nuclear. By the way there are no numbers at all about projected cost of power.

I am still waiting for your costed nuclear solution and your experience in building large systems


Reactive power: If you are driving an inductive load or a capacitive load, the current gets out of sync with the voltage. What Siemens is telling you is that the equipment in their wind turbines can help you compensate the inductance or capacitance in the load and get the current and voltage back in phase. That is not new and is not a source of energy. The grid already has equipment to compensate for reactive loads.

Experience with the grid is not required to know this because it is covered in physics undergraduate courses and in EE undergraduate courses. It is common knowledge.


to Edward Greisch

The beauty of an asynchronous generator is that it doesn’t have to trip out. Synchronous generators facing a large disturbance can and often do.

When I was a young machine tool developer, system inertia was very important to ride through disturbances. However it also made systems less responsive. Over the years, new control systems have enabled better disturbance control and far faster load changes with inertia ratios less than a tenth of what was good practice 35 years ago.

The same is true in any energy system. Inertia was a “free” good in a thermal system because of the rotating inertia of the turbo-generators. With asynchronous generators the inertia is not there so engineers can, and in fact have done, three things.

A) Increased the bandwidth of the control system so that the convertors on wind and solar generators play an active part in power regulation
B) Introduced enhanced load stabilisation through the remaining rotary generators and synchronous condensors (often converted obsolete turbo generators)
C) Introduced fast response storage systems such as fast start hydro and a small amount of batteries. That is why battery systems are being introduced to the grid in Japan, Germany and the USA and other countries because they can respond to disturbances or load changes faster than any thermal system and therefore allow the thermal systems to be run more efficiently i.e as required rather than “just in case”

If you updated your control system knowledge you might understand, as all the ISO’s seem to be now appreciating, that every power source imposes regulation and backup costs on the grid because the load has to be matched to the demand and supply has to be replaced if it trips out or is undergoing maintenance, loses fuel wind or sun or even gets too hot.

As ERCOT has shown, the cost of spinning reserves for thermal power stations exceeds the cost of reserve power for wind (on an annual $/ generated basis). This may not fit with the older idealised, centralised pseudo static view of the power system but that is what the current numbers show

Some people talk about load following naval reactors as if they are are substitute for commercial power generators. They have a lifetime capacity factor of less than 15% and an average life of around 25 years and most of them use more highly enriched (i.e. more expensive fuel). Feed those three facts into your power cost models and give us the cost of power.

Fortunately for the world, electrical and power systems engineering has progressed in the last 35 years and the total system cost of a mixed power system turns out to be less than a mono technology one size fits all system


asynchronous = DC Because the electronic DC to AC converter can make the frequency and phase be whatever is needed.

The rest: Please give the reference.


As Rod Adams of Atomic Insights points outcome on 2015 July 22, ERCOT gives wind capacity a credit of under 9%.

I would post the link if I knew how on this mobile device.


Edward Greisch — Intermittent generators have an economic role up to the ability to provide backup. Here in the Pacific Northwest this is called balancing agents and are dispatched by a balancing authority. As examples, BPA is a balancing authority using its massive hydro as a link in an earlier comment by Roger Clifton shows. My utility, Avista, is the balancing authority for the 3 or more utilities in this area. There is almost no wind power and even less solar right around here but it is still the case that generation must match the varying demand. Fortunately, Avista has several dams for this purpose.


Are you saying that they use some of the electronics in the wind turbin to balance lines and loads? Are you saying that they use wind generators as rotating transformers?


Edward Greisch — As the wind waxes and wanes the contribution from hydro shrinks and grows. That is the balancing.

I’m not writing about ancillary services, just bulk power flows.

If a grid has little hydro then the balancing is accomplished efficiently by OCGTs or inefficiently by other thermal generators. Nuclear would be a good choice if there were a carbon dioxide emissions fee…


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see ZTE (disambiguation).
ZTE Corporation
ZTE logo new.png
ZTE Shenzhen.JPG
ZTE corporate campus in Shenzhen, China
Native name
Formerly called
Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation
Traded as SZSE: 000063
SEHK: 0763
Industry Telecommunications equipment
Networking equipment
Founded 1985; 30 years ago
Founder Hou Weigui
Headquarters Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Area served
Key people
Hou Weigui (Chairman)
Shi Lirong (President)[1]
Products Mobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, hardware, software and services to telecommunications service providers and enterprises
Revenue Increase CN¥81.471 billion (2014)[2]
Operating income
Increase CN¥3.538 billion (2014)[2]
Net income
Increase CN¥2.634 billion (2014)[2]
Total assets Increase CN¥106.214 billion (2014)[2]
Number of employees
69,093 (2014)[1]
Simplified Chinese 中兴通讯股份有限公司
Traditional Chinese 中興通訊股份有限公司
Literal meaning China Prosperity Communications Corporation
ZTE Corporation is a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company headquartered in Shenzhen, China.

ZTE operates in three business units – Carrier Networks(54%)-Terminals(29%)-Telecommunication(17%). ZTE’s core products are wireless, exchange, access, optical transmission, and data telecommunications gear; mobile phones; and telecommunications software.[3] It also offers products that provide value-added services,[4] such as video on demand and streaming media.[5] ZTE primarily sells products under its own name but it is also an OEM.[6]

ZTE is one of the top five largest smartphone manufacturers in its home market,[7] and in the top ten, worldwide.


In a concurrent thread, Tony Carden suggests that the Chinese development of liquid thorium fluoride reactors could solve their energy problems, presumably without recourse to windmills.

The development of the liquid thorium fluoride reactor is decades behind the well proven PWR’s that China is committed to, planning to have 200 GW of PWR’s by 2040.

Whereas the lack of plutonium byproduct in a LTFR is a major selling point to the Western public, the Chinese appear to be planning to accumulate plutonium from their PWR’s, which they would need to fire up each of their fast reactors, based on the well developed Russian BN800, to a total of 200 GW (fast) by 2050.

In Plentiful Energy, the authors estimate that a 1 GW fast reactor would need five tons of fissiles to start up. Although the Chinese might be planning to separate out 200*5 = 1000 tons of U235, requiring 200,000 tons of natural uranium, it would be more logical for them to be harvesting Pu240 etc from their PWR’s used fuel.

Where the LTFR might have a competitive edge in China’s future, is if the developmental versions can be tweaked to breed U233 for start-up fuel faster than the PWR’s can breed Pu240 etc.


As you read in “Plentiful Energy,” PWRs don’t make pure Pu240 or pure Pu239. So we need to tell everybody we can that spent nuclear fuel is not a proliferation risk because a power plant makes the wrong isotopes of plutonium for bombs. To make a good bomb, you need pure plutonium239 [Pu239].

Isotopes: Any chemical element can come in several isotopes.
To make Pu239, you have to shut down the reactor and do a fuel cycle after one month or less of operation. Since removing and replacing fuel takes a month, a short-cycled reactor operates half the time. A power plant that has a one month on, one month off fuel cycle would stick out a lot more than the proverbial sore thumb.

A reactor used to make electricity runs for 18 months to 2 years between refuelings. An individual fuel rod will stay in the reactor for 3 cycles since only ⅓ of the fuel rods are exchanged at each fueling, so one fuel rod stays in the reactor 4.5 to 6 years. In that time, many trans-uranic elements are created. In that time, Pu239 absorbs extra neutrons, becoming Pu240, Pu241, Pu242, 95americium243, 96curium247, 97berkelium247, 98californium251, 99einsteinium25, 100fermium257 and so on.

All of these higher actinides are good reactor fuel but bad for bomb making. Bombs made of spent fuel have been made and tested once or twice [US and North Korea]. They pre-detonate and fizzle so badly that a very large conventional bomb can equal the yield. They are so radioactive that a poor country can’t build one without killing the scientists. They are militarily worse than useless [Till & Chang book “Plentiful Energy”]. There is no country that has a spent fuel bomb, nor will anybody build one in the future. An insane person trying to build one would die a few seconds to minutes after having acquired the spent fuel.

7% Pu240 is enough to spoil a bomb and you get a lot more than 7% Pu240 from a reactor that has been running for 18 months. Separating Pu239 from those higher actinides is a technology that has not been developed. Nobody would try to do that separation because the easy way to make Pu239 is with a short cycle reactor. Governments that have plutonium bombs, have government owned government operated [GOGO] reactors that do nothing but make Pu239.


I would hazard a guess that any money spent on making nuclear weapons is a waste of a military budget. However I should not pretend to be knowledgeable on what is essentially a police matter. The power industry can stay out of trouble with the police by ensuring that all plutonium in the cycle has more than 7% Pu240.

According to the IAEA the equilibrium mix in PWR used fuel is 20:50 = Pu240: Pu239, so the starting mix for fast reactor fuel is well above the 7% limit for weaponising. The equilibrium mix after many cycles in a fast reactor is closer to 50:50, so it never gets below 7%.

Interestingly, the same article argues that plutonium separation is not a proliferation hazard, whereas uranium enrichment is.


One of the trite Antie arguments is that “The grid is large enough to cover the outage of a whole 1GW power station at any moment, so it ought to be able to handle a small wind farm going off line.” But this overlooks the fact that the grid is backed up by other large scale reliable baseload power supplies.
Wind can cut to a fraction of capacity across a whole state, not just a small wind farm, while solar suffers from this half-globe phenomenon called ‘night time’.
In short, it seems to me that the windy’s like to quote a backup phenomenon that only works on today’s baseload grid. They’ll quote Denmark being 50% wind on some particular day, but not mention the rest of the year when it was down, or that there simply is no such thing as the Denmark grid: the electricity is bought and sold across the whole Nordic grid, of which Denmark’s wind is only a small fraction.
But here’s my question: what is the ratio of running baseload to backup power stations on a normal day? Does anyone have this from official reports? Is it 5 regular coal stations to 1 backup station? Or is there some other way of discussing this?


From my recent reading in the various sectors of the North American Grid such as ERCOT each sector is required to keep a reserve equal to the largest generator in that sector.
I think the largest generator in the NEM is about 3 GW.
So my guess is about 3 GW.


How many backup stations? It depends on what is happening. On a really hot day in a hot climate, they can run out of backup and even have rolling blackouts. The electricity dispatchers have a tough job. On cool nights, there will be a lot of power plants doing nothing. The newest and cheapest power plants will be kept running the most.

Dispatcher: They buy and sell electricity all the time. The price can go negative or very high. I picked up some knowledge by reading a lot. I don’t know of a single place that would be a good textbook.



Wow. Burning oil for electricity on a hot afternoon to meet demand. That’s gotta be some expensive electricity. But here’s the thing. There’s no clear ratio of baseload reserve to operating reserve for a ‘normal’ part of the day. That graph seems to be illustrating dealing with peak events, maybe even annual highs? Even windy fan Mark Diesendorf would agree with that graph, and would claim he can model bio-gas substitution of the gas & oil phases.

My question was not so much about peaks but just the more regular backup the grid has in case another power plant goes down. As Diesendorf always says (in The Baseload Myth),

*In practice, base-load power stations break down from time to time and, as a result, can be out of action for weeks. Therefore, base-load power stations must have back-up.

That’s why I’m asking what the normal spinning reserve for normal power demand would be to backup a regular day. I guess peaking power can jump in to help, but I was wondering if there was a more general rule of thumb to help illustrate the difference between nuclear and wind. The basic point I was hoping to highlight is that there is a vast difference between one nuke getting serviced (which is generally predictable weeks or months in advance) and the unpredictable variability of wind, which can knock out the majority of supply for a whole state, or even half a continent.


@ Eclipse Now
Here is a reference titled
Cost-Causation and Integration Cost Analysis for Variable Generation

Click to access 51860.pdf

It deals with many of the questions you are asking.

Here is another reference to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

It shows in real time Actual Demand, Actual Capacity, and Operating Reserves.

Whilst the idea of burning oil to satisfy demand on a hot afternoon may seem crazy, I have seen mentioned on these threads somewhere that a price of $10000/kwhr has been paid for electricity at times of peak demand now that is a little bit crazy as well.

This brings me to the point of idealism or being a zealot. I do not see the future as being 100% Nuclear or 100% anything but rather a mix of whatever is most economic and sustainable.
Indeed I am sure that next century somewhere in the world, there will be coal, gas, wind , solar, hydro, and diesel power operating, sorry forgot biomass.


Hi Tony, thanks for that and I’ll have a thorough look when my social commitments abate.

PS: As a ‘zealot’, I would prefer to see any fossil fuels ruled out of the energy game as even if we zeroed energy emissions out, we’d still have all those land-use emissions to deal with.


Well the war on GHG will need a certain amount of pragmatism.
I saw something posted somewhere saying that in a year one large container vessel emits as much GHG as 760 million cars.

Hence my interest in SMR’s particularly LFTR’s, we could use them to power the majority of the worlds commercial shipping fleet.


Well, on second thoughts, that idea would only ensure that all fast reactor core fuel was above 7% Pu240. But heck, maybe a policing problem is a problem for the police to solve. Regulation, yes. Prohibition, no!



It is not the maximum output of wind/solar that is important but the minimum! (ie) when not in production the amount of baseload generation needed. This leads to the specific question of why build intermittent power generators when you have to build baseload to cover non-existant output! This is exactly what Germany is doing today.



Of course you are right that the minimum is important, but so is cost.
As I have said all along If you sign a contract today for wind power it runs out around US$45-75 per fixed for 20 years. The only visible contracts for new nuclear power are in the range of US$100-160+ inflation. Given that both wind and nuclear need storage and backup to operate at their best economic efficiency then an economical mix has some cheap solar and wind and some more expensive but dispatchable, hydro, geothermal, pumped hydro, biomass and probably nuclear.

It will also probably have for a long time a small amount of gas which contributes 10-15 or even 20% of power on peak days but only 1-3% of power over the year. In some grids there will be a little nuclear, some there will be significantly more nuclear, in some there won’t be any.

When it comes to addressing GHG emissions the additional cost of phasing out the last gas plant will be much higher per tonne of GHG removed than if the money was spent on transport or building efficiency, not to mention land use changes, that is why I feel that leaving some gas (or even a few small USC coal plants) in the system is not a big issue.

The other issue is speed. Comments here indicate that nuclear is faster to build out than renewables. However the fastest rate that the world has commissioned new nuclear is around 10GW per year. This year the world has installed around 55GW of Solar and 59 of wind. Allowing for different capacity factors, this is equivalent to 25-30GW of Nuclear


Peter Farley,

You miss the point entirely, whether deliberate or you are willfully misleading. The cost is NOT important and I know your costs are wrong. If Wind energy works as low as 5% (and it does) then it needs a 95% backup – true or false? The cost of the turbines in the first place is wasted resources, because you need to duplicate the 95% that may or may not be working.

NEM last year showed that wind in Australia worked at 29% overall. Not 40% as trumpeted by the Greens. One or two wind farms may have approached 40% but the average total output was 29%.

Now no one knows when that wind power will occur so it needs constant load following by base load generators which in Australia are mostly coal fired generators – choofing out CO2 whilst the Green movement claims that on a particular day wind provides 50 to 70% rated capacity for wind output, but somehow forget to tell the public that this intermittent source is backed up by CO2 producing power. If it was Nuclear we could START to reduce CO2 emissions, but it isn’t so we cannot!

As for pumped hydro there appears to be only one source and that is at Wivenhoe dam. It is piddling in size. The Greens have and will not allow new pumped storage dams so this source is a non entity. Anyway Australia does have droughts, just ask Tim Flannery who boldly predicted that rains would evaporate before they hit the ground, and all the dams would dry up!

China is building 150 Nuclear reactors at a nominal 1000Mw by 2030 but still they will increase coal generators. In Paris the Chinese spoke with ‘forked-tongues’!




You might try a little less abuse and more understanding. Wind does drop to 5% but never instantly. Even in the rare event that a single turbine does ramp from rated power to zero over a of minute or so, the whole fleet across a state or grid takes 30 minutes to 3 hours to ramp down, that gives plenty of time to ramp gas or hydro from cold. Not only that, the 24hour ahead forecasts of wind output are usually within 5% of actual. That is why the CEO of 50Hz (The North German grid operator) says he can get to 70% wind and solar without additional storage, but he clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about

Thus wind requires very little hot spinning reserves. It does require backup which can be hydro, pumped storage (just like nuclear) or OC gas or even CC gas.

In contrast, thermal does require hot spinning reserve because the generators are so large that gas turbines or partly loaded coal units have to be on line and running because even fast start hydro is not fast enough to prevent cascading failure if a large fully loaded generator goes off-line suddenly

Secondly In most warm climates peak demand never occurs at minimum wind + solar. Sea breezes increase in the evenings as solar ramps down so that when you compare actual demand with actual output there is no requirement for 95% backup of peak generation.

Third as I said nuclear systems need fast acting backup. France uses 2 of nuclear power per quarter pumping water up hill to run it down during peaks. If the storage is there, it is actually cheaper at current costs of new generation to recharge it with wind and in some places solar than nuclear. If you can find a reference to refute that rather than your opinion I will be glad to see it.

You need to do your research a bit better on pumped hydro. There are 3 schemes in Australia Tumut 3 – 1.5GW, Shoalhaven 240MW and Wivenhoe 500MW. In addition if you install more wind and solar the existing hydro can be a) reserved for droughts and b) back up wind and solar over the short term. Thus existing hydro + pumped hydro can generate about 8GW or 1/3rd of the average demand. There are also literally thousands of sites adjoining existing water bodies where small pumped hydro schemes can be built. The upper reservoir can be built above existing water bodies or the sea and if using an existing dam as the lower reservoir, the capacity actually increases as the dam level falls, so drought is more or less irrelevant.

You say China speaks with a forked tongue, well it probably does but it is still building about 3 times as much renewables than nuclear in terms of annual TW.hrs generated and India is doing the same. There are only two countries increasing their nuclear energy generation faster than renewables, the Czech Republic and Finland and even Finland will have less than 35% of its power from Nuclear when it’s current plans are completed.

So as Edward Griesch would like to say “facts trump opinions”.


Peter Farley,

The SA Wind Study Report in 2014 recorded a SA drop of 294 MW output of wind in a 5 minute period. It’s all very well to say the authorities can predict wind. It was over 30% of installed capacity!

There is another fact that the Greens and their ilk appear to not know about and that is the gas backup needed in small amounts – but probably significant amounts if base load Nuclear is not used. ALL gas fields have inherent CO2 contents. One in SW Victoria is over 90% CO2, it is tapped for the CO2 content and taken to Melbourne to produce fizzy drinks. This CO2 is vented at the first process point and IS NOT included in Australia’s CO2 production. How small a player are we in producing natural gas in the scheme of things? First or second!

The only gas field that will practice geosequestration is the Gorgon field off Barrow Island in WA. My prediction is that with low gas prices this $69bn build is totally uneconomic unless they stop geosequestration. I am awaiting their application.



PeterF: I think you were talking about those automatic trip/shutdown events that nuclear power plants can have. I think you said coal and gas steam plants can have sudden shutdowns as well. Are all of those shutdowns really necessary, especially for the nuclear ones? My impression is that people are so safe that they are unsafe. Maybe some of the scrams would be better handled by continuing to operate while correcting whatever happened so that energy would continue to be dissipated into the grid. The grid absorbs a huge amount of energy, after all.

Phase, frequency and voltage irregularities are handled, as I understand it, by either older mechanical systems or by newer electronic systems.

And you are saying that any one wind turbine or solar farm fade in and out slower, so they are more manageable as long as solar and wind aren’t at the billion watt level.

Except that what I got from:
talked about getting more natural gas spinning reserve because of adding wind power.


Tony Carden — Wholesale prices are quoted per megawatt-hour. You inflated these peak rates by a factor of one thousand.


Oops, Sorry David I was not trying to do that and I apologize to all especially Eclipse Now for the mistake.

Here is a reference to The Australian Energy Regulators report
into an event on September 23, 2015 where the spot price reached $13,420 per MWH. All figures are Australian dollars.

Here is an exert from page 5 of the above report

‘The spot price in New South Wales reached $13 420/MWh and $6717/MWh for the 6.30 pm and 7 pm trading intervals respectively. The dispatch price exceeded $13 400/MWh between 6.05 pm and 6.45 pm, inclusive. Both four and twelve hours ahead, the forecast spot price for these trading intervals was around $300/MWh.’

That’s better


This part of the western USA interconnect I’ll call the greater Pacific Northwest, essentially everywhere north of California. All the balancing authorities in this region share an operating reserve consisting of 5% of hydro generators and 7% of all the others. This is much larger than the nameplate rating of the largest single generator.

This operating reserve is solely to replace generators which trip off. It is not the balancing reserve nor the balancing agents used to make up for the variable generation provided by the wind turbines. One may watch the BPA balancing act in operation by going back many comments to a link to the appropriate BPA thread.

BPA is fortunate in having enough fast acting hydro for the balancing. Elsewhere in the USA natgas turbines are used for this balancing as fracked natgas, with no emissions fees, is quite inexpensive currently.

Europe uses lignite and even peat burners. Roughly, these always run but sometimes without generating when winds are strong. The EU has a collection of rules which don’t make economic or carbon dioxide emissions control sense, as best as I can tell.


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