Open Thread 25

Time for a fresh open thread! (the old one being weighed down by over 1000 comments).

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.


  1. What could happen in 20 years to decision-making processes that could affect responses to climate change?

    If things continue as there are there will be increasing dissatisfaction in different nations and there will be growth of the left and right extremes of politics with unstable fluctuations between the two.

    I am trying to infer into the future what better possibilities there could be. There are differences that could count. There are informed decision-making processes and advances in theory on governance and management practices. There are enormous opportunities for communication that could overcome ignorance.

    Cultural changes are needed; we need to move from using the social media to reinforce whatever views we have to one of valuing unity (or something like that) such that we are all willing to change and seeking to persuade others to reconsider their views. We need the respect to understand that it is difficult for people to change their paradigms.

    I think there will be changes that are difficult to conceive that bring together technical advances in databases, artificial intelligence, political theory, psychology and social media into a process that addresses and resolves complex issues facing society.

    It is my hope that we will see such a change in the next 20 years. Hopefully these can happen before we reach dangerous climate change.


  2. I suggest we start by talking to grocers and farmers. I have found both willing to listen to discussion of GW because it is in their business interest for the weather to remain good for agriculture. Farmers remember those recent years of unusual weather.

    Farmers and grocers make a voting block.
    –Hmmm the lights are blinking. There may be more severe weather nearby.–


  3. Something I just posted at The Energy Collective (awaiting moderation):

    If you have the deep geological repository, you get more bang for your buck if you have any atmospheric carbon capture method that requires less energy (or cheaper energy) than calcining limestone does. Calcining lime requires about 180 kJ/mol while the thermodynamic limit for concentrating atmospheric CO2 is 20 kJ/mol.

    If you can hit twice the thermodynamic limit with some thermally-regenerated sorbent which desorbs at 250°C or less (perhaps a tailored zeolite), you can use direct LWR steam to drive the process. If the Diablo Canyon units are roughly 3.4 GW(th) each and half the thermal output is diverted to carbon capture @ 40 kJ/mol, that’s 85,000 mol/sec or 3.74 metric tons per second. Off-peak steam from Diablo Canyon could extract several hundred thousand tons of CO2 per day, almost 120 million tons per year.

    Multiply this by 50 (roughly the nuclear capacity of the USA) and you get 6 billion tons per year. Total US CO2 emissions from energy use were only about 5.5 billion tons in 2011. This appears VERY doable.

    There’s your triple threat from nuclear:  it displaces fossil fuel combustion directly, diversion of heat to a chemical desorption process provides an alternate load for load-following on the electric grid, and it can sweep up after our fossil-fuel burning habits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Lawrence: The jet stream crossing the equator thing makes me worry about this year’s harvest. I think most people will die of starvation still “believing” nonsense. The history is that when a collapse happens, people change religions, but they don’t change to no religion. Maybe this time will be different. There is an alternative and we represent it.


  5. Hi Barry, What are your thoughts on replacing legacy coal fired power stations in La Trobe valley with nuclear plants in same locations? Would it save on infrastructure costs? Would it help the region transition to a new economy (jobs etc)?


  6. Ultimately the root of the problem is that while everyone seems to have an opinion on the subjects of climate change and energy, few have the grounding in the basics to follow the arguments. There is a breathtaking degree of ignorance out there over what electric power even is, let alone the factors involve with its generation, transmission, switching and distribution. Nor is there any idea of scale. The same holds true of climate change where there is no real grasp of the impacts and consequences. Productive discussion under these conditions is next to impossible.


  7. Why bother? In looking at some of what he has written, it is clear that he sees renewables as the complete solution to CO2-free power.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Sun, Jul 3, 2016 at 7:04 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > David B. Benson commented: “Juan Cole, on his Informed Comment blog, > carries on today about green electricity. Some others may care to comment > there.” >


  8. Jack: Yes, we did that computation. The waste heat from power plants [all kinds] makes no difference for the next 2 centuries. Nuclear doesn’t reject enough more heat than coal to notice. The problem is CO2 for the next 275 years.

    “Galactic-Scale Energy | Do the Math”
    “In 2450 years, we use as much as all hundred-billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.”

    Really? No. We haven’t invented warp drive. And the human population will crash very soon.


  9. If we could extract CO2 from air that cheaply, wouldn’t we first want to replace petroleum by making liquid fuels with that CO2?

    I don’t think so.  The first priority should be to displace as much liquid fuel as we can with electric power.  Synthesizing liquid fuels is inefficient and costly, and should run a distant second.

    Fortunately, using carbon capture as a “dump load” for nuclear power allows nuclear to follow a much “bumpier” load profile and help charge PHEVs when they need to be charged.  Even 10 miles of all-electric range, used most times after any stop of an hour or more, would eliminate a large part of most people’s fuel consumption.


  10. Jim says: If we could extract CO2 from air that cheaply, wouldn’t we first want to replace petroleum by making liquid fuels with that CO2?

    It’s a good idea. And face it, having removed the CO2 from the ultimate rubbish dump, we would have nowhere left to dump it.

    Beware that a token removal operation would almost certainly be used as an excuse for vastly greater emissions elsewhere.


  11. climate code red
    What Brexit teaches us about climate change communications
    Posted: 03 Jul 2016 03:21 PM PDT
    by George Marshall, COIN

    See my comment there. OF COURSE the elite did a disinterpretation on the Brexit vote. What it is all about is stopping the divisive disinterpretations that the elites always do to prevent popular action and democracy. We have to keep immigrants out because there are too many people. The very wealthy can’t see that.

    We are headed for a human population crash from 7.5 Billion to 70 thousand or zero people some time between 2022 and 2040. We don’t have time for research or fooling around with renewables. Causes of a population crash:

    Global Warming [GW] will cause civilization to collapse within 13 years give or take 6 years because GW will cause the rain to move and the rain move will force agriculture to collapse. Famine has been the cause of many dozens of previous population crashes.
    Reference “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009. Catton says that we humans are about to experience a population crash. Population biologist William Catton says that the US is the most overcrowded country. Collapse from overpopulation could happen any time now. The Earth has 4.5 Billion too many people. An overshoot in population requires an equal undershoot. We overshot by 4.5 billion, and the consequence is an undershoot by 4.5 billion. The carrying capacity is 3 billion. 3 billion minus 4.5 billion is zero because there can’t be minus 1.5 billion people. This can happen even if there is enough food.

    Catton tells the story of an island with deer but no wolves. The deer population increased to ~3500. There was still plenty of food, but the population crashed to 35. The reason was overcrowding.
    Sharing kills everybody because you can’t survive on half of the required calories. 7 billion people is 4 billion too many no matter how you slice it. “We” didn’t make “Them” have too many children.

    Aquifers running dry No irrigation, no wheat. No wheat, no bread. The “Green Revolution” was a bad idea. It caused India to double her population rather than get out of poverty. Now Indian farmers have “discovered” that water is a limiting resource. Water is a limiting resource in the US as well. When, not if, the aquifer under the high plains runs dry, there will be no bread and no pasta in the US.
    We didn’t “cause” third world poverty. They were never “unpoor” in the first place. They were stone age, not poor. We invented science. They didn’t. Their failure to invent science is not our fault.
    Resource depletion
    4A oil
    4B minerals
    In the book: “Too Smart for our Own Good.” by Craig Dilworth, says we were better off in the stone age. Dilworth is a sophisticated luddite, not recognizing that we cannot stay on one planet for ever. Dilworth denounces capitalism and profit as the main culprits in our demise by Global Warming. Dilworth also denounces the solutions.

    War will kill a lot of people. Famine will kill 8 billion out of 7.5 billion. 7.5-8=-0.5, but with population, the crash ends at zero.

    Will there be survivors? Nobody knows. Nor does anybody have any idea who or where the survivors might be, if any.

    NATURE has lots of other ways to kill humans. Don’t provoke her.


  12. having removed the CO2 from the ultimate rubbish dump, we would have nowhere left to dump it.

    Put it in deep ocean sediments, as clathrate.  Wrap it in polyethylene if you have to.  Or if you want to accelerate the ultimate disposal, electrolytically acidify a saltwater solution to dissolve silicate minerals and free up calcium and magnesium ions which can bind CO2 as carbonate.

    I haven’t done the calculation of the actual mass involved, but we’ve got a huge amount of CO2 to get rid of to get the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm.  We’re not going to do this by making synthetic gasoline.

    We need the Koch Brothers dead or in jail for 100 years

    Scapegoating the Kochs won’t stop emissions in Chindia.


  13. The Koch brothers represent a class. It would have to be world wide. The idea is to create a penalty for genocidal behavior that would actually deter coal burning. Fines would do nothing. A fee and dividend would work once it got high enough, but there must be a penalty for cheating. The penalty cannot be just money.

    How would you do it? This requires some thought.


  14. The idea is to create a penalty for genocidal behavior that would actually deter coal burning.

    People need the things that coal burning provides.  To get them to stop, you need to provide the same things another way.

    The Koch brothers represent a class.

    People who need warmth will dig coal with pickaxes and carry it back to their homes in burlap sacks to burn in cast-iron stoves.  We are barely half a century past this being the NORM in England, and it’s still common in China and elsewhere.

    Coal serves a need.  We need to serve that need better.


  15. No doubt they would find electric heaters more convenient than coal. With plenty of nuclearly generated electricity available, that would be possible. Otherwise, this attitude would prevail:

    “Lots of coal making lots of heat….”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Engineer-Poet: Of course you are right in saying that people will get energy any way they can. I never said they wouldn’t. But we have an obvious alternative today. Nuclear.

    Are we going backwards? Or only reacting negatively? We have all read the following: “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan
    “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway

    We all know that the only reason the building of nuclear power plants stopped was because of propaganda from the fossil fuel industry, notable among them Koch Industries.

    Nuclear power has always served them better, safer, etcetera. There shouldn’t be any need to repeat all of that.


  17. haven’t done the calculation of the actual mass (of excess CO2)

    It’s a very easy calculation: there is 2 kg/m2 of excess CO2. Getting all of it somewhere else is so difficult as to be impossible. Consider the average square metre, with 2 kg or 1000 L of gas above it. Where are you going to put it? Wrap it in a plastic bag, you say, okay now where are you going to put a cubic metre balloon except above the square meter it belongs to?

    (130 ppmv of excess CO2 is 2.0 kg/m2 and 1.0 kL/m2 at STP. But that is only as of July 2016, next year it will be 14 L/m2 more.)


  18. Roger Clifton — We have been through some of the places to put it. Biochar wood, compress the biochar and then bury it. Also, some of the biochar can be buried to improve soils. Finally, enhanced weathering of mafic rock.


  19. And every one turns out to be totally inadequate for anything ecept token gestures. Two kilograms cannot be made to vanish into thin air when it is already up there. Neither is there room for a permanent tomb for it under that square metre. These sequestration schemes are as useless as the desperate medications of a dying patient.


  20. By focussing on the average square metre, the vast quantity of excess CO2 is made tangible – and claustrophobic – at 2 kg/m2 above and a similar mass below. We can imagine extraction processes that only cost a dollar or so and a few kWh to capture that 2 kg, turn it into a block of synthetic coal or a few litres of active sludge, and then bury it deep under that square metre.

    But the analysis must be followed by the multiplier – the area of the Earth, 510 Mm2. Those few dollars, energies, kilograms and litres must each be multiplied by a factor of 5×10^14, five hundred trillion times. The cost alone is many times more than gross world product, and the energies, masses and volumes to an engineer spell “impossible”.

    The problem is that we are dodging doing the arithmetic. When the numbers are so simple as “2 kg/m2”, we should not excuse ourselves.


  21. $200 billion should first go into nuclear, IF it was a choice between nuclear & carbon capture and storage. But if our world leaders gain a glimpse of how serious climate change really is, I don’t see why we can’t spend ALL we need to on building 115 reactors a year AND increasing public transport AND electrifying transport AND using biochar more in farming AND olivine to soak up excess CO2 permanently.

    Olivine could soak up all our annual emissions for $200 billion. Download the author’s PDF (not mine!) that is merely stored on my website.

    We need a carbon free energy system, reforms in agriculture to save us from that sector’s emissions, AND a massive carbon extraction industry to return us to 350. According to the papers I’ve quoted previously and, on olivine, that paper above, I think it’s all doable. Affordable even, especially when one considers the cost of inaction!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Every square meter of my yard produces what seems like several kg of biomass per year.  What this is in dry carbon equivalents I don’t know, but it can make impressive piles when I forget to mow it for a week and have to deal with the overgrowth.

    Putting 10 kg of biochar into every square meter of my lawn scarcely looks difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Molecular weight of carbon dioxide is 12+2×16=44 versus 12 for ordinary carbon. So for each kilogram of carbon dioxide it is only necessary to find a place for 12/44, a little more than one quarter, kilograms of carbon. Most of it came from coal mines so most of it can go back there together with all the other abandoned mine shafts, drifts and adits.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Putting 10 kg of biochar onto every square meter of your lawn, or anywhere between the grass and the water table, would poison it immediately. The area would remain poisoned for the several years (LOL!) it would take for the most active of the pyroligneous acids to break down and return to the greenhouse.

    Now to do the arithmetic… Five hundred trillion, right? Quite apart from the capture, the equipment and the persuasion, you still have to put back into the carbon all the energy that had been extracted from it. That was thermal energy, so about 5 kWh per kilogram. Times that factor, right? Considering that the entire land biomass productivity is only about 200 Gt/a, it seems that electricity must be used instead. Several times as much as was obtained from emitting the CO2 in the first place. Generated by ….?


  25. The current gross world product in nominal terms is close to US$84,000 billion.

    Assume the desired 115 nuclear power plants per annum are US$5 billion each. That’s 575 billion per annum, not even the US DoD yearly budget and besides, there is a cash return on this investment. Now US$150 billion per annum ought to be enough for the irrigated afforestation of the Sahara desert and the Australian outback. That will sequester more than 1 but less than 2 ppm of carbon dioxide per annum according to Ornstein et al. Ultramafic rock accelerated weathering at US$200 billion per annum would sequester about the same.

    So a flat tax, not that I recommend such but it is easy to calculate, of but
    925/84000=0.011012, just over one per cent, suffices for it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Roger Clifton — I fear you mean something else by the term ‘biochar’ than is commonly accepted now. Biochar, produced by fast pyrolysis, is a form of activated char which many farmers and even more gardeners know is a highly desirable soil additive. It is easy to build a home reactor. Try it yourself if you don’t believe the statements and photographs on many web sites devoted to the topic.


  27. DBB, thanks for putting numbers to paper. Where does the ”115 reactors” come from? Reduction of 4 kg/m2 @ 5 kWh/kg, times the planet area, would require a million GW-annum of energy, back in the category of “impossible”.

    Composition of biochar? Web entries on “biochar” variously avoid specifying the chemistry, implying only that it is full of natural goodness, retains all its original carbon despite yielding profitable heat, and lasts forever in any type of soil, which it vaguely “improves” regardless. However the general absence of such material in soils naysays its longevity. In my own experience with pyrolysis, most of the carbon is lost as volatiles and the residue consists of charcoal and some of the heavier tars. As thermo-cracked compounds, the tars are unstable and slowly break down. At temperatures above 100 C and short of full pyrolysis, wood is caramelised – partial dehydration of [CH2O] polymers loses some of its order, delaying biological attack.


  28. Roger,
    Biochar itself is not the sole answer for soil. Biochar is not terra preta, but terra preta includes biochar. It’s one factor, there are many. But biochar does seem to form the backbone or coral reef of the soil, allowing other microorganisms to bring the soil back to life if the right other conditions are also present. In other words, biochar with the right other nutrients will last longer and eventually produce far better soil.

    Roger, the biochar process is the source of the energy. They can fine tune it so that the syngas runs the next burn.

    Personally, I’d prefer it to be running on nuclear so we can prioritise ANY sources of cheap alternatives to natural gas and oil where they are most needed.

    Who said we’re trying for 100% of our emissions from biochar? It’s one segment that has such important win-win-win conditions it is worth talking about, but it’s only ever been proposed to absorb a ‘wedge’, about a seventh of our annual remissions. Now please remember, I want to see this as reverse wedge, with the ultimate goal to have an economy that is not just carbon neutral, but as carbon negative as today’s economy is carbon positive. In other words, this is just one reverse wedge. There are others, such as reforestation & afforestation that DBB has mentioned, and of course Olivine could absorb the WHOLE lot for $200 billion, much of which eventually goes back into the oceans to help de-acidify the oceans.

    And if you don’t think de-acidifying the oceans needs to happen, then I think you need to watch a few more documentaries on just how bad our oceans are!


  29. Roger Clifton — Eclipse Now supplied the figure of 115 nuclear power plants per annum. That is not original with him, but I disremember the source.

    One has to do biochar correctly. If medium speed pyrolysis is used the result is a mess. The lack of biochar in soils is due to the fact that nobody added the biochar. There are a few places where wildfires, presumably, buried charred wood which has persisted for thousands of years. Of course, agriculturalists have done this in the Amazon and in West Africa for a long time. Radiocarbon dating shows the biochar is up to thousands of years old.

    The biochar is the result of pyrolysis of plant materials. Other than irrigation the energy added comes from the great fusion reactor in the sky.


  30. This is a regular copy & paste I use all over the net, as appropriate.

    Sadly, many groups quote Dr James Hansen on the problem of climate change, while ignoring his preferred solution.
    He says:
    1. Believing in 100% RENEWABLES is like believing in the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. (Yes, he’s aware of all the ‘studies’ that say we can, but still thinks storage is ridiculously expensive and cannot do the job).

    The world should build 115 reactors a year*
    (Note: on a reactors-to-GDP ratio the French *already beat this build rate back in the 70’s under the Mesmer plan. 115 reactors a year should be easy for the world economy. France did it faster with older technology, and today’s nukes can be mass produced on an assembly line. Also, GenIV breeders are coming that can eat nuclear waste and covert a 100,000 year storage problem into 1000 years of clean energy for America and 500 years for the UK with today’s levels of nuclear waste).


  31. Now to do the arithmetic… Five hundred trillion, right? Quite apart from the capture, the equipment and the persuasion, you still have to put back into the carbon all the energy that had been extracted from it.

    The grass and weeds I cut on my lawn capture quite a bit of energy all by themselves.  This energy is currently going to waste.  If 50% of the captured carbon was lost in the process of converting it to char, it’s better than the 100% that’s lost in the process of rotting.


  32. If I was willing to bag my grass instead of mulching it, I could sun-dry it and then convert it to char somehow.  If I could run my lawnmower on char (gasogenes can do that), I could close the loop on that part.


  33. The closest basalt to me that I know of is up in the Keewenaw peninsula, in copper country.  There are thousands of acres of crushed basalt “stamp sand” heaped tens of feet deep, the tailings from copper mining.  Nothing grows on it; there’s no soil and water goes right through it, leaving desert-like conditions on the surface.

    Why you think I’d want to kill off everything living from much of my land, I don’t know.  On the other hand, if I can get a battery-electric riding mower which can handle a couple of acres I’ll happily switch one more load away from petroleum.  That goes double for a robot mower that I don’t have to fuss with so much.


  34. Engineer-Poet: If anybody mows my yard I have a breathing [lung] problem for about 3 days. I’m allergic to the pollen, mold spores and fine particles of grass, among other things. As far as I am concerned, a dead yard is a good yard. Forest is second best, except for certain kinds of trees. Checked Google maps. A yard made of water would be better yet. You must have great air there if you didn’t mess it up by mowing grass and planting flowers. Of course I have air conditioning and the best filtration, but houses are not air tight. If I believed in the devil, I don’t, I would say that lawn mowers must have been invented by the devil.

    If you had a yard of olivine or pyroxene wouldn’t that take CO2 out of the air whenever it rained? It does rain where you are, doesn’t it? So the stamp sand must be dissolving into the lake, taking CO2 with it.


  35. Since about 2005, the Council has annually assessed the adequacy of the power supply five years out as an early warning system. The 5 percent maximum limit for a likely interruption is the current Council standard. But, as the power supply becomes more complicated, with more wind and solar and with greater interconnectedness among regions, the standard will need to be revisited. The goal is to continue to improve these assessments so that when you flip a switch in the future, the lights will still turn on. from
    which I take as a fancy way of stating that they are worried.


  36. EN linked us to an article (James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley) estimating a need for a building rate of 115 “reactors per year” by which they apparently mean 115 GW/a.

    Considering that the electricity (alone) consumption by Australians is 1 kW each, and that there will ten billion people by 2050, implies a market for 10,000 GW. But the quoted rate would take until 2100 to build that capacity. And we would probably need double that to provide carbon-free heating and transport.

    However a target rate of 115 GW/a is scary enough. I wonder, what it would take to maintain that rate?


  37. Roger Clifton: I don’t understand why you say: “a target rate of 115 GW/a is scary enough” since there is nothing scary about nuclear power. We can build a lot more than 115 GW/a nuclear.

    10 Billion people? Isn’t going to happen. We are going to have a population crash long before then. See Syria, South Sudan and other places where it has already started. IF, and it is a big if, anybody survives…… You are not going to be among the survivors, and neither am I.


  38. What’s scary about 115? As the article says:

    <For example, a build rate of 61 new reactors per year could entirely replace current fossil fuel electricity generation by 2050. Accounting for increased global electricity demand driven by population growth and development in poorer countries, which would add another 54 reactors per year, this makes a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system in this illustrative scenario. We know that this is technically achievable because France and Sweden were able to ramp up nuclear power to high levels in just 15-20 years.

    Now, if anyone has the time, I’d love them to double check Tom Blees claim that the French already had a faster build out rate per unit GDP back in the 1970’s. French GDP / reactor in 70’s, compared to world GDP / reactor today.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Yes, we must convert the world’s power supply to nuclear. I believe the political will be found after a happenstance series of horrific climatic disasters breaks through the prevailing public apathy. I say happenstance, as the increasing rate will make a chance cluster of events occur that much sooner.

    It is the likely bottlenecks that I find scary, as little work is going into solving them. Tooling up for a mass roll-out requires planning and preparation. And international agreements, signed with fanfare and photographs.

    Mass production is possible with the SMRs. But 115 GW/a of 50 MW NuScales would imply 115/.05= 2300 units/a. That would be how many factories in which countries? Big PWRs require big pressure vessels, whose heads require massive forges, each capable of only a few jobs per year. There are currently few such forges.

    Each GW would be fissioning 1 ton of U235 (Pu and MOX would not be deployed outside the nuclear countries initially), so each year of extra 115 GW fissioning capacity would an extra 115 tons/a of enrichment capacity. The most likely type would be PWRs, requiring low-enriched uranium, whose enrichment requires the least separative work. But the proliferation of separative capacity will be a nightmare for the nuclear prohibitionists. Iran as a supplier?

    Heavy water moderated reactors would relieve the enrichment bottleneck, but they in turn would require an acceleration of deuterium production. Off-peak work?

    Fast neutron reactors require too much start-up fuel to get priority in an urgent roll-out. They must wait for a future where the increasing tonnage of once-used fuel can supply them with their initial loads of ~5 tons of fissiles per GW. Hot recycling plants at repositories worldwide ?


  40. I think I should have obtained a box of clown stickers about 60 years ago, for use in answering letters by provokers and clowns. Of course, being retired, I am no longer forced to take clowns seriously. I can even send clown stickers to the draft board.


  41. These all seem to be in situ constrution for the most part rather than the prefab type of construction you envision. Nor is that sort of manufacturing likely to happen until there is a market for some SMR design that would yield the sort of economies of scale that would make it practical.


  42. EN wrote, “Accounting for increased global electricity demand driven by population growth and development in poorer countries, which would add another 54 reactors per year, this makes a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system in this illustrative scenario.”

    Actually, increased global demand for electricity would also be driven by moving away from gas and other fossil fuels for heating and cooking, by the need for more air conditioning, by the need for far more sea water desalination, and by the need to eliminate using fossil fuels for transportation. Also, population migration from uninhabitable areas will require more residence building and other building to accommodate them. That makes it significantly more challenging.

    Perhaps I should consider myself fortunate to be old enough that I won’t live to see the worst of global warming.


  43. DV8’s target of 61 or 66 new reactors per yearis still a long way short. Following the links to the original report gets you to:

    61 per year is far more than quoting a figure of 66 “under construction”. It is perhaps 10 per year maximum.

    The salient Ecowatch quote is:
    “Currently, the industry provides 10 percent of the world’s electricity, but its target is to supply 25 percent by 2050—requiring a massive new build program. The plan is to open 10 new reactors a year until 2020, another 25 a year to 2030 and more than 30 a year until 2050.” The figure of 25% needs to be raised to within the range 50% to 100%. (Factor of 3, say.)

    Thus, the current nuclear power industry’s PLANNED build rate is a factor of 6 short of DV8’s 61. The industry’s goal amounts to 700 by 2050; ie about 12 years’ worth of DV8’s goal of 61/year. 61 * 34 = 2074. (Another factor of 3, say.)

    DV8’s targets presumably include an assumption that all of the remaining electricity is produced by hydro and weather-dependent sources.

    But what about energy other than electricity? Gas, liquid, industrial, fertilizer, plastics, cements, metal smelters, military, district heating? They have to make the switch also and they are two thirds of global energy. (Another factor of 3.)

    Round trip energy cycles from electricity to battery or H2 or other gas or liquid energy stores or CAES or whatever, involves losses of that magnitude. (Yet another factor of two or three upwards?)

    Sticking with a notional timeline of 2050 and given that every CO2 molecule released has to come from the remaining budget, then even 60+ nuclear builds per year will be grossly inadequate. It seems to me that 300+ builds per year is closer to the mark. That is 10 times the industry’s plan for 2040 onwards.

    This still doesn’t address growth arising from relieving the poverty of the world’s poor, land use or vegetation loss. It doesn’t address compensating for the effects of sea level rise, or the effects to global fisheries, etc, due to acidifying oceans. It doesn’t allow for security issues such as increased migration pressures and risks of asset wars, even up to thermonuclear war.

    It doesn’t even allow for retirement of the current and future nuclear power station fleet at 30 to 60 years of age. Indeed, the current 10 builds per year are comparable to the annual retirement rate of capacity withdrawn from in-service fleet of 450 or so. The net capacity increase at current planned build rates of 10 per year is effectively zip, nil, nada.

    There’s a world of difference between annual build rates of 10 and 300+. By “world” I mean the biosphere.

    In 2050, my beautiful grand-daughter will be 35. Our grandchildren need us to do this for them at 20, 30 or 40 times the current nuclear build rate as planned by the industry. Even then, they will need everything achievable by way of renewables and efficiency.

    10 GW of new nuclear annually is going backwards, not forwards.

    Where am I wrong? This has been a very depressing message to type. I really do hope that I am wrong, but where?

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Probably we will need to get close to 100% of our power from non-CO2 emitting reliable sources BEFORE the year 2050. I very much doubt that we will do it because it would take more commitment than is likely. Even if we do it, global warming will still be a serious problem.

    Your grandchildren will have some very difficult problems to face.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 6:38 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > singletonengineer commented: “DV8’s target of 61 or 66 new reactors per > yearis still a long way short. Following the links to the original report > gets you to: 61 per > year is far more than quoting a figure of 66 “under constructio” >

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Yes I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole there just to table a link to that report. Clearly current builds fall far short of what is required and indeed as mentioned above, to even hope to meet projected needs, a turnkey design that can be built in a dedicated facility and shipped to a site for quick installation is required.

    As I’m sure we all know, there are several candidates out there that only need the political will to move forward, indeed there is no reason why there should be only one sent to market – after all several makes of aircraft are available at any given time.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I don’t see anything close to a realistic solution emerging for this world’s climate woes.

    I will now hide under a rock for a day or two while I concentrate on problems which are, in the long run, irrelevant but at least they have a chance of successful completion.

    They include attending to the lawn and the wood-heap. Both of which involves carbon emissions.

    I will leave to others, at least for a while, do decide:
    (1) How to focus on the task ahead (200 or 300 GW new nuclear energy/year starting tomorrow) and
    (2) How to avoid celebrating as successes, each announcement of another acre of glass panels or wind turbines or a build rate for nuclear reactors that is, in reality, only a single digit percentage of the absolute minimum requirement,each of which confirms a very steep slide towards failure?

    In truth, no single country of our ever-smaller world’s 200+ is on track.

    Why celebrate failure?

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Singletonengineer has at least pointed to some important middleground: the world’s decision-makers also have grandchildren. Since that is also true – or imminently true – of the broader public, the possibility of a revolutionary change in public apprehension and political will is all that much greater.


  48. Roger Clifton: Reference book: “The sociopath next door: the ruthless versus the rest of us” by Martha Stout. New York : Broadway Books, 2005.

    According to Martha Stout, 4% of all people are born sociopaths/sciopaths/psychopaths. There is no cure because it is caused by a part of the brain simply being missing. A written test, the MMPI [Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory] can identify sociopaths before they cause destruction.

    Everybody should have to take the MMPI in high school. Psychopaths should be barred from CEO positions and high political offices. Most CEOs and politicians are probably psychopaths. Who is a psychopath should be public knowledge.

    Psychopaths do not care. Corporations are psychopaths.


  49. the world’s decision-makers also have grandchildren.

    Angela Merkel doesn’t, and some of them would rather have their own be top dogs in the best parts of a devastated world than preserve the world at the cost of their investment portfolios.  They’re used to being able to buy the best of everything; they don’t care about the rest.

    Psychopaths should be barred from CEO positions and high political offices.

    Do you have any idea how much harm e.g. a psychopathic judge can do?  That list of prohibited occupations needs to be VERY long.


  50. DV82XL says mass production needs “a turnkey design that can be built in a dedicated facility and shipped to a site”

    Well, that is what SMRs are supposed to be. The 50 MW NuScale can be bought off-the-shelf, trucked onto site and produce power within 2 years. That’s after approvals, ~2025. Larger SMRs, up to IRIS” at 300 MW are designed, but yet to go find funding, development and go through NRC checks. Prism (300 MW) is a more mature design, not needing a pressure vessel, but as a fast reactor, needs several tons of fissiles at startup.

    On that last point, there is currently 500 t of separated plutonium, including ex-military, which could startup up to 100 GW of fast reactors. The limit of 100 GW is temporary — when fully reprocessed, once-used PWR fuel would yield 0.2 ton of Pu for every GWa of PWR production. Eventually, reprocessed fast fuel would yield up to 1.2 t per GWa, depending on design.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Yes. GW-a is the symbol for gigawatt annum. It was used to denote the production of a gigawatt reactor across one year, by Ian Hore Lacey, when writing in the precursor to the World Nuclear Newsletter. It was an excellent compromise, allowing outsiders to the industry to understand in simple SI units how much this or that reactor was producing over a year or its lifetime. It has since dropped back into jargon, so many billions of kWh, which is not tangible to anyone, let alone the all-important intelligent layman.

    In the current discussion one GWa is equated with 1 tonne of fissioned fuel. It’s only a rough equality, more accurately it is 909 GWd/t, that is 2.49 gigawatt years per tonne of heavy metal fissioned. Since that is thermal rather than delivered electricity, it amounts to (roughly) one gigawatt annum per tonne, electric. Thus a 1 GW reactor fissions 1 ton of fuel per year, if it delivers one gigawatt annum of electrical energy.

    The annum is an “allowable” unit in the SI system, whereas the hour is in the lesser category of “accepted”. The year is the conventional unit for handling salaries, planning, geological time and the astronomical distance scale.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Another related approximation is to say that each of us creates only one gram of fission products per year. That is on the basis that Australians, like many other people, use about one kilowatt of electric power. So, if a gigawatt annum creates a million grams (1 tonne) of fission products, then a kilowatt annum creates only one gram of waste. We can say it out proud and loud, “only one gram per year, easily buried, deep underground”.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. “Thus a 1 GW reactor fissions 1 ton of fuel per year, if it delivers one gigawatt annum of electrical energy.”

    It’s all so neat and tidy, with our 365 days actually equalling a 1GW (e) reactor burning 1 ton, that one would almost think it a universal constant to GET US TO USE THIS STUFF NOW! Sorry. Feeling frustrated that, if even I can get some of these basics, that our politicians are still bowing to the god of fossil fuels.


  54. *DV82XL,*

    *Until I attended a meeting at the local power company I did not completely understand the importance of small modular reactor units which could be factory assembled. Generally, larger items are more cost effective, but there are other considerations. The huge reactors which are assembled on site are commonly larger than necessary and require a larger investment than many power companies are willing to make. Smaller factory manufactured reactor assemblies permit power companies to add capacity as it is needed. So, even they cost a bit more for the capacity they have, they make more sense in many situations. And, because they would be cookie cutter similar, licensing should be faster and easier.*

    *It would be good to know how close to being available these smaller factory assembled reactors are.*

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 8:00 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > singletonengineer commented: “I don’t see anything close to a realistic > solution emerging for this world’s climate woes. I will now hide under a > rock for a day or two while I concentrate on problems which are, in the > long run, irrelevant but at least they have a chance of successful ” >


  55. EN says it’s neat, 1 GWa “actually equalling a 1GW (e) reactor burning 1 ton” of fissiles. It’s only the value of 909 GWd/t thermal that is exact from the physics, the further step to 1 GW electric assumes the generators to be 40% efficient, which is somewhat more than achieved in the average NPS. (Yes, it is kind of neat.)

    Around the world, electricity consumption varies a lot from 1 kW per capita, but among “high income” countries it averages 9084 kWh/a or 1.04 kW per person.


  56. Does frequent discussion of SMR’s as alternatives to Giga-watt size nuclear plant help or hinder decarbonisation of our energy?

    It seems that whenever nuclear power is mentioned, SMR’s bob up as alternatives to massively expanded nuclear power. Thus, the discussion generates nothing except expectations and more delay of the roll-out of nuclear power of any description.

    Possibly, when SMR’s become available in quantity, this same argument will be had in reverse.

    Delay, in climate terms, equals death.

    What is needed is an “all of the above” real world push for zero carbon energy. Everything is needed, is useful and can be encouraged. The markets will separate the best from the rest.

    Argument along the lines of “Wait till 2025, when the Great White SMR Force will ride over the hill and save us all” are as misguided as would be an argument that SMR’s or Gen IV not be developed at all because Gen II is able to be scaled up.

    What’s wrong with “Get moving as fast and as soon as possible with whatever is practical today (including Gen II+, which has been around for almost 50 years)”, followed up immediately with..

    “And hydro, geothermal, wind, solar PV, solar thermal and, when designs are approved and manufacturing facilities are available, SMR’s, Gen III+, Gen IV, more advanced solar, electricity-to liquid oil replacers, and more?”

    Why the incessant and unproductive efforts to knock each other out of the ring? This isn’t a zero-sum game. Success on one front should be the springboard for other successes – that’s the way things develop. If, by plan or by accident, all the zero-carbon eggs were placed in one basket, will that work?

    Maybe the discussion should be broken down into fields of endeavour:
    1. Where can the greatest gains be made within one year? Perhaps LULUCF will top this list, or extension of life of existing nuclear plant (eg Japan,Germany, Sweden…)

    What can be achieved within 5 years?
    Strategic HV transmission upgrades to enhance low carbon electricity’s availability to consumers?
    Advanced solar and wind?
    Life extension of existing plant?
    Commencement of construction of plant using existing designs?
    25 years
    Direct carbon removal and sequestration from the atmosphere.
    First roll-out of commercial SMR’s…

    … and so on. This will be a very long list.

    Notice that this removes the false perception of competition between low carbon options.

    It is entirely possible that zero carbon energy’s greatest challenges are not due to the much hated fossil fuel industry. Struggles within the zero carbon energy sectors could well be the greatest threat to effective action against climate change.

    Another example: despite my doubts about the prospects of large scale soil carbon, knocking it acts only to slow progress in the field, not to advance any of the many other potentially fruitful carbon emissions reduction pathways.

    Among friends and family, I learned long ago that arguing against solar panels is not going to win support for nuclear power. It does, however, promote defence of rooftop solar. Careful discussion of nuclear power’s cost, safety, waste management and so forth have occasionally softened strong resistance, even from the politically active committed anti-nuclear friends.

    If my observation is correct, then why is it happening on Brave New Climate? And, yes, I am guilty of posting strong words about weather-dependent and thus unreliable electricity generation. To that extent, I have been part of the problem that I’m trying to address.

    BNC already has a policy of not welcoming discussion about whether damaging anthropogenic climate change is or is not happening.

    Maybe a similar policy is appropriate when it comes to criticism of parallel efforts to deal with facets of the conundrum called climate change.


  57. The fact is that SMRs are not necessarily novel technologies that are untested or unproven – marine reactors are in essence SMRs afloat. Bad attitudes based on hollow reasons over using HEU for civilian power plants are the only thing preventing their use.

    There are other small reactor types like Canada’s SLOWPOKE series that could have been deployed, several of those were built and are still operating. They are the only design deemed so safe they were licenced be left for extended periods unattended. There were scaled up versions for small community heat and power never built due to lack of market.

    These and a few other types could have been deployed any time in the last thirty years, had there been the will.

    Large nuclear stations are mostly built because the approval process is so onerous that utilities want the most bang for the buck.


  58. @DV8:
    This is not a discussion about SMR=Good, Large NPP’s = Bad.

    Agreed, various small reactor designs are not novel, but the reality is that prospects for commercial production of SMR’s before 25 years is very small.

    The examples you cite have been around for 30 years on paper but have not progressed. Surely that tells you something!

    The nuclear power industry’s plans are only to achieve a miserly installation rate of 20 GW capacity per year in 25 years’ time.

    The question is not how much of that 20GW will be SMR, but what SMR can achieve in addition to their larger cousins.


  59. The power industry does not have a free hand; it has to abide by the demands of various state and local governments which greatly restrict what can be done.

    Here in the U.S. state of New Mexico, Power New Mexico (PMN) is actually required to instal and encourage customers to instal renewable systems. The risk of installing a large nuclear power plant is too high for them although if it were practical they might consider installing a small modular system.

    To instal nuclear power plants at a reasonable rate would require changes in regulations by state and local governments and possibly the federal regulators. That would require changing public attitudes. At this time, the most productive approach would be to work on changing public attitudes to favor nuclear power.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 7:01 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > singletonengineer commented: “@DV8: This is not a discussion about > SMR=Good, Large NPP’s = Bad. Agreed, various small reactor designs are not > novel, but the reality is that prospects for commercial production of SMR’s > before 25 years is very small. The examples you cite have been ar” >

    Liked by 1 person

  60. None of the small reactors I mentioned in my previous post are ‘paper reactors’, all are very real and have many working examples, and units still in service at this very moment. These are proven commercial products, particularly the marine power plants, and production could be ramped up tomorrow if the will was there. The only thing that keeps them out of the market are site licencing costs due to the massive bureaucratic overhead, stupid attitudes over highly enriched fuel AND NOTHING ELSE


  61. Marine reactors are a diversion if the topic is large larger scale reactors such as the industry was referring to in and as cited by DV8 in his post which set the stage for this discussion.

    My point that marine applications, and SMR’s are separate to and run parallel courses from the others stands.

    We can and probably will have civilian marine, SMR and other families of nuclear power plant, but in the context of the current discussion, introduction of them is a diversion AND NOTHING ELSE.


  62. @ freggersjr:
    Understood. Freggersjr has highlighted a precondition to progress.

    In Australia, the world’s largest repository of uranium after the oceans, it is forbidden by federal statute to plan, construct or operate a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power, per se, is not the true goal, which is carbon-free electricity, as a step towards the ultimate goal of safe global climate.

    An early activity on the critical path for establishment of nuclear power as an option for either PMN or Australia is changing the law. That is, in project management terms, an essential preceding activity to others such as selection of preferred power station design and obtaining planning approval for the site.

    That does not prevent achievement of other shorter term goals in other locations as parallel paths to the shared objective of a safe climate.

    We can and must consider, plan and discuss each path on the network separately. NPP, SMR, Marine, Solar… there is nothing to be gained by trying to force other options off the table or to follow a diversion such as SMR and then marine.when one’s earlier post (DV8) was exposed, in his own words, as “engaging in a bit of hyperbole”.

    If you want to discuss SMR’s, etc, then do so, but please not at the expense of other alternatives.


  63. the further step to 1 GW electric assumes the generators to be 40% efficient, which is somewhat more than achieved in the average NPS.

    That’s because S-PRISM supplies steam to the turbine throttle at 468°C, as much as 200°C hotter than PWRs.  Higher temperature yields higher thermal efficiency.

    What is needed is an “all of the above” real world push for zero carbon energy. Everything is needed, is useful and can be encouraged.

    Sadly, that is NOT true.  Some things cost more in money and energy than they can ever pay back in grid service.  PV is one of those things.  Wind is only energy-positive up to a certain penetration level, where the inefficiencies it creates in the balance of the system consume more energy than its useful payback.

    Perhaps we could have “all of the above” if all the renewables had to sell at spot wholesale rates with no mandates, RECs or tax credits of any kind; enough hours of zero or negative rates would stop new installations cold.  We don’t live in this world.  Heck, if I was Cal Abel I’d probably be crunching numbers to see what sort of profit I could make by taking wind and solar electricity for free and dumping it to heaters in my molten-salt storage tank.

    1. Where can the greatest gains be made within one year?

    a.  Eliminate ALARA both for nuclear workers and the public; set all standards based on prompt and chronic tolerance doses of not less than 10 rad/yr.
    b.  Eliminate absurd security standards for nuclear plants.  If crucial electric substations have no armed guards, nuke plants don’t need their own SWAT teams.
    c.  Mandate that nuclear generation be treated the same as renewables for dispatch priority, market preferences and environmental purposes; put them all under the same umbrella.

    What can be achieved within 5 years?

    d.  Go to a war footing and have Lightbridge fuel certified and prototypes of NuScale and S-PRISM operating by 12/31/2021.

    Notice that this removes the false perception of competition between low carbon options.

    They ARE in competition.  “Renewables” are the biggest front of attack on nuclear power.  When an unreliable source of generation ramps up, something else has to ramp down (absent storage which we don’t have and couldn’t build fast enough).  The whole shutdown of Diablo Canyon was based on the grid priority of wind and PV generation over nuclear.  This CANNOT be ignored.

    It is entirely possible that zero carbon energy’s greatest challenges are not due to the much hated fossil fuel industry.

    The fossil industry knows that “renewables” are its best weapon against nuclear; Robert F. Kennedy Jr. admitted as much one day.

    The first and biggest barrier is the superstitious fear of radiation.  The rest is just engineering.


  64. Figure out the price of the battery. For the US, it is about a quadrillion dollars. We can’t build it in real time. Maybe in a century, but that is 80 to 90 years after the crash.

    Fact: Nuclear is our only hope, and this is not hype or hyperbole.

    Yes, I know a lot of battery research is going on, in particular in batteries that involve molten metals.

    Engineer-Poet is correct in the next comment.


  65. E-P is correct.

    He and I probably agree that the missing ingredient from my post is leveling the playing field.

    Is this achievable in 5 years? Maybe 10?

    That adds another suite of constraints that must be accommodated in the immediate term and overcome asap; more delays.

    Unfortunately, the rest isn’t “just engineering” when so much money rides on the outcome.


  66. “the issue remains balancing generation to meet … demand”

    Yes, currently the increases in spikey wind generation are being balanced by increases in use of fast-responding open gas turbines. Wind fanatics insist — via the must-take provision — that it is the grid operator’s problem to balance the spikes . Sooner or later, carbon-cutting programs are going to have to cut back on the use of OCGT. (If we don’t, the world will be stuck at 100:100 wind:OCGT. That’s a capacity ratio, the generation ratio would be more like 30:70)

    At some point, the grid operator must be relieved of the must-take requirement, so that the auction system can pursue ever-lower carbon generation mix by including more CCGT and nuclear. The responsibility would shift to the wind generator when to buy balancing OCGT and make a mixed bid, or to not bid at all.

    Elimination of carbon emissions requires that gas must go. As it goes, so must unbalanced spikey generation. Wind must eventually decline to allow carbon to vanish.


  67. Limiting discussion to large nuclear reactors, and only large nuclear reactor ignores some real bottlenecks beyond bureaucratic ones that will inhibit any deployment of the sort of scale needed to address carbon reduction, the biggest of which is the lack of foundries that can produce the required number of huge pressure vessels needed. With the exception of the CANDU design, (which is likely dead as far as new builds are concerned) this lack of capacity will limit the rate of new nuclear power stations that can brought on line for any given interval.

    Currently Lloyd’s Register shows about 200 nuclear reactors at sea, and that some 700 have been used at sea since the 1950s. These are hardly the numbers of a marginal technology, and Lloyd’s certainly cannot be accused of engaging in hyperbole. With more than 12,000 reactor years of accumulated operation these can hardly be described as novel or unproven designs.

    While it is true that these marine type reactors are currently unsuitable for deployment in the Third World there are no major technical reasons why they cannot serve in civilian rolls particularly in those countries that already have nuclear powered ships in their fleets.

    The economics of a district-heating system based on SDR technology like the SLOWPOKE (again a design with several working examples) were proven to be competitive with that of conventional fossil fuels back in the late Seventies particularly for isolated Arctic and Sub Arctic communities. Indeed this idea is still being considered, albeit with different designs. While this is by no means a market of the same magnitude as that of electric generation, the use of fossil fuels to provide heat in these places exposes some very vulnerable areas to damage by both combustion products and the risks of transporting fuel to them in the first place.

    Given these facts it is ludicrous to contend that these should not form part of the core discussion by asserting that they are not ready to contribute to the overall solution. The fact is that they face basically the same problems of policy and fear restrictions that large designs are contending with but fewer of the technical points of congestion of the latter.


  68. Edward Greisch wrote, “Big green organizations have been bought by the fossil fuel industry.”

    I wouldn’t doubt it. However, documentation might help us to propose a course of action.


  69. “Big green organizations have been bought by the fossil fuel industry.”

    Actually, I do doubt it. Evidence?

    This is exactly the kind of alienating and divisive post we need to be wary of. We don’t need to be unnecessarily rude about the intentions and motives of Greenpeace etc. We don’t need to see them as “the enemy”. We need to be saner, calmer, and more logical. We need to be patient. We need to watch Ben Heard’s talk on how to reach out to them. These are our brothers and sisters in fighting climate change: we just need to educate them. They can be won over. How do I know?

    I was once one of them.

    Now there are certain coalitions of gas funded wind and solar groups in America that are currently funding anti-nuclear activism in certain regions. The Breakthrough institute is tracking such groups. But to generalise that all wind and solar activists have been bought by fossil fuel groups is simply wrong, and ultimately shooting ourselves in the foot. Rather than drawing paranoid conclusions about these people, we need to reach out to them. Be friendly. Put up positive posters about nuclear power. Again. And again. And again!

    Liked by 2 people

  70. Actually, my post was a diplomatic attempt to determine whether there was actual proof. I also have doubts that the fossil fuel industry is actually funding renewables but thought that attacking the position would be less effective than encouraging him to do some research.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 5:30 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Eclipse Now commented: ” “Big green organizations have been bought by the > fossil fuel industry.” Actually, I do doubt it. Evidence? This is exactly > the kind of alienating and divisive post we need to be wary of. We don’t > need to be unnecessarily rude about the intention” >


  71. @DV8:
    “Limiting discussion to large nuclear reactors, and only large nuclear reactor ignores some real bottlenecks beyond ”

    I did not state that, DV8 did.

    A thread was introduced by one person who claimed that 64 NPP’s under construction currently is a good sign, when actually it signals failure on a grand scale. It did not equate to 61 new large NPP’s per year, as referenced by DV8.

    The response was that he had used hyperbole, when in fact it was either exaggeration beyond rational belief or straight out fibbing – or someone simply didn’t know the magnitude of the error that his “hyperbole” introduced.

    That person again responded with a “look over there” argument, by diverting the topic which he had introduced to SMR’s and subsequently expanded that to include marine nuclear propulsion, which are two different families, as I pointed out. That totals one excuse followed by two diversions, so far.

    I repeat here that contributions from SMR’s in 25 years would be welcome avenues to decarbonisation, but they are not on the same critical path as larger NPP’s. They merely are irrelevant to the statement made by DV8 when introducing the topic of the build rates of large NPP’s. The 25 years figure came from somebody else, not me.

    I also wrote to the effect that we need to include everything in our responses to the climate change problem – everything including technologies that others will recognise as not receiving my current support – eg the dream of 100% electricity from weather dependent unreliables such as wind and PV. It is not productive to stand in their way. If something that looks good today turns out to be less good, eventually that will be evident to all, the primary effect being only wasted money, which is, in the long run, only pieces of paper.

    I also agreed that the regulatory playing field, which is not fair to all, should ideally be level.

    I recognised the need to advocate SMR, marine and large NPP’s.

    I remind DV8 that discussion of large NPP’s was introduced by him but that it was I who dug two layers deeper to find the source of his reference, which was a spokesman for the nuclear power industry. Of course the industry was referring to LARGE NPP’s when mentioning (a) the present target of 10 new LARGE NPP’s and (b) projected future production to 2050.

    This side-track has been interesting in parts, because it illustrates that we must be very clear about what we are discussing. Why can’t we consider small, marine and large NPP’s separately, in their very different contexts?

    It is not either/or, it is all three, but each in their own niches and time frames and with different logistical, safety, regulatory and other concerns. I never stated otherwise. Conflating the three muddies the waters and gets nowhere, except adding to the already substantial supply of FUD. It will certainly not alter the fact that the original quote and comment were presented as evidence of of acceptable progress, when it actually demonstrated current and planned future failure of large NPP to achieve construction rates that are consistent with meeting the target provided indirectly by DV8 for decarbonisation of global electricity generation by 2050.

    It is not a zero sum game. Losers will eventually lose, regardless of the outcomes for the other technologies. Technological and other developments will, over time, turn winners into losers and vice-versa. Let it happen.


  72. You know it was dealing with pendants and jackasses that made me realize that I had been wasting my time on nuclear blogs and was one of the reasons I stopped doing so years ago. I see that things haven’t changed, and furthermore the discussion is still circular and non-productive and I have better things to do.


  73. Re the cost of balancing wind.

    The current system whereby wind (etc) does not pay for balancing the fluctuations of supply. Agreed.

    There is an alternative to requiring wind generators to bundle their support from (usually) open cycle gas is for the regulator to view non-supply of wind exactly the same as it views non-supply of (for example) coal fired power.

    The supplier which fails to achieve the agreed generation profile is paid market rates for overs and (ie no change) and has two choices regarding unders.

    The first is Roger’s: arrange with other suppliers, via contracts, for them to respond at agreed rates. That removes the market uncertainty from their business model.

    If the undersupply exceeds contracted limits, then the market price for additional power applies. In Australia, that can be very large indeed – up to $1200 dollars Australian per MWh when I last checked.

    Most, perhaps all, Australian large generators have long term off-market replacement power agreements in place and have done so for decades and the system works faultlessly, provided that transmission capacity is not constrained.


  74. Anybody Eclipse Now disagrees with, Eclipse Now calls “rude.”

    “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations”

    Reference: “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan
    “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway
    “Denying Science” by John Grant

    Massive Online Open Courses from Coursera and others.

    If Eclipse Now was not rude, Eclipse Now would not make such accusations/insults. Eclipse Now: Lurk a while before making assumptions. The rest of us read the above references long ago.
    It is a matter of simple mathematics that wind and solar are decorations, not sources of energy. If you can’t do the math, start with bravenewclimate from about 5 years ago and read up on it.

    Eclipse Now: What is your real objective here? If you are trying to get paid for advertising, forget about it.


  75. Fred Eggers — Rod Adams, on his Atomic Insights, wrote about the formation of Fiends of the Earth, misspelling intentional, by David Brower using funds contributed by a major stockholder in a large oil company. Carl Pope, while director of the Sierra Club, accepted a large donation from the natural gas industry to start the Say No to Coal campaign. The Sierra Club still has nothing nice to say about nuclear power which is why I do not contribute there anymore.


  76. Actually, I do doubt it. Evidence? has piles of links between anti-nuclearists and fossil-fuel interests.

    We don’t need to be unnecessarily rude about the intentions and motives of Greenpeace etc. We don’t need to see them as “the enemy”. We need to be saner, calmer, and more logical.

    We TRIED being sane, calm and logical with them.  For the last 40 years they have run roughshod over us with their hysterical nonsense.  They are neither sane nor logical.  They must be humiliated with their failures and contradictions so they question their dogmas; only then will they be open to new (to them) facts.

    These are our brothers and sisters in fighting climate change

    No they aren’t.  Too many of them are simply against industrial civilization, and want it to fall.  Gigadeaths do not bother them one bit if it helps achieve their romantic vision, even if they wouldn’t live to see it.  These people cannot be converted, they can only be defeated.

    Most people do not want what they’re selling, but it’s sold with lies.  Expose the lies and attack the liars.  Positions do not hurt; people do.  Make lies hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

  77. I’ve met some of the misanthropic doomers, the Stone Agers. They led a young man I know of to commit suicide. So I’m hip to the fact that some of them are like this. But I doubt it’s the majority of climate activists. I doubt it’s the majority of fans of wind and solar. But maybe we’re not even trying to convert the hardened Diesendorfts or Lovins, or even their avid disciples.

    I think we’re after the middle ground. The fans of the idea of clean energy and solving climate change, but only mildly aware of the energy debate. Those who, like myself years ago, feared nuclear power but didn’t really have a clue about it. Those who like the sound of ‘clean’ wind and solar, and just have some vague magical thinking that fills in the night time and winter hours. The bored middle. They’re the ones I think we need to win subliminally, because they’re not going to read all these blogs or do the maths, no matter how much some here demand they do physics and mathematics degrees. And as others here have pointed out, sometimes it’s just sheer psychological conditioning that prevents even mathematical physicist types from accepting the truth. All the degrees in the world won’t change their minds. But do we need them?

    All we need is a majority groundswell. That’s a political majority. Enough to get a nuclear sympathetic party into power. The vague, bored middle. Clever memes and soundbytes. Clever posters. Clever youtube clips. Short and sweet and easily comprehended, but with links to further reading if they’re interested.


  78. Engineer-Poet,

    You wrote:
    “No they aren’t. Too many of them are simply against industrial civilization, and want it to fall. Gigadeaths do not bother them one bit if it helps achieve their romantic vision, even if they wouldn’t live to see it. These people cannot be converted, they can only be defeated.”

    Here is a non-energy issue that supports your position.

    In some poor countries, where rice is an important part of the diet, the people suffer from serious vitamin A deficiencies. Golden rice, a GM product, contains vitamin A and was developed to eliminate vitamin A deficiencies. However, the anti-GM crowd, in its zeal to block GM crops regardless of the consequences of doing so, has denied access golden rice even though they know full well that by doing so they are causing immense suffering.

    There are idealogues who will cling to a position regardless of the consequences that millions of people suffer as a result.

    Regarding energy issues, perhaps it would help to write a vignette showing a salesman trying to sell power from renewables to power buyers. The vignette could make the salesman look silly by not being able to guarantee the availability of the power to the buyer.


  79. Regarding energy issues, perhaps it would help to write a vignette showing a salesman trying to sell power from renewables to power buyers. The vignette could make the salesman look silly by not being able to guarantee the availability of the power to the buyer.

    That could work as a poster or FB meme. Suggestions for text?


  80. Another example of the fossil fuel industry opposing nuclear development and deployment is to investigate the career of former US NRC Chairman, Gregory Jascko. After being an anti-nuclear activist at university and then serving on the staff of Representative Ed Markey and Senator Harry Reid, he was forced upon the NRC as chairman by the latter. Both Markey and Reid has very close ties to the US gas industry.


  81. I thought that the primary motivation for developing SMRs was to get regulatory approval of a reactor design as a unit item so that they could be deployed without the need for all the onsite inspections etc that are required for current large builds.

    The other advantages are arguable as seen in all the discussion in this thread (and others) but a type approval would seem to be a huge advantage for relatively rapid deployment


  82. Greg Kaan wrote,

    “I thought that the primary motivation for developing SMRs was to get regulatory approval of a reactor design as a unit item so that they could be deployed without the need for all the onsite inspections etc that are required for current large builds.”

    I also see that as one of the advantages. Although there are advantages to large sizes, i.e., although costs per unit are commonly less for large sizes, in this case it looks as though sizes small enough to be factory made and get faster approval may be more important than the advantages of large size.

    Sometimes general rules don’t work.


  83. OK, here is my quickly composed vignette to point out the problem with unreliable power:


    Mr. Feelgood, is a salesman for Myopic Solar Power, Inc. He just entered the office of Ms. Practical, a power buyer for the Reliable Power Company which buys wholesale power for a group of utility companies. Ms. Practical has just asked him to be seated.

    Ms. Reliable: It’s good to see you again. How are you doing?

    Mr. Feelgood: Fine, and you?

    Ms. Reliable: I can’t complain. We’ve managed to keep the cost of power lower than we expected to.

    Mr. Feelgood: So I’ve heard. But I have an offer that you cannot resist. We can sell you power for 40% less than you are now paying for it.

    Ms. Reliable: That’s wonderful! How much power do you have and when is it available?

    Mr. Feelgood: Well, we often have 0.5 gigawatts available from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, but not always.

    Ms. Reliable: That’s fine, but we need power we can count on at all times.

    Mr. Feelgood: Yes, but consider how cheap our power is!

    Ms. Reliable: It’s fantastic that it’s that cheap, but I’m very sorry. Even if it cost only 10% of your quoted price we would not be interested unless we could depend on it.

    Mr. Feelgood: I’m sorry that you are not interested. Perhaps we can find a buyer who is.

    Ms. Reliable: Good luck, but I would not count on it. It was nice meeting you. Good Bye.



  84. Re SMRs: “A type approval would seem to be a huge advantage for relatively rapid deployment”, avoiding delays due to site inspections.

    That advantage may be a necessity if hundreds, perhaps thousands are to roll out of factories worldwide every year.

    Although NuScales are small at 50 MW (and 250 M$) per module, a nest of twelve would deliver 600 MW, a medium-large power station. Unlike other such PS, the first module can be generating power within two years. If the financing and installation of the other eleven modules were spread across six years (current practice), the first modules would have been paying off their financiers for years before the final fund-raising. The risk is low.

    For Australia, the process could start right now, planning the grid for about 600 MW of so-far unspecified SMRs, preparing a suspicious public, raising capital funding, legislating capital guaratees and environmental regulations, etc. The current estimate of first production is only nine years away and there may be a long queue if they become popular quickly.


  85. The Nuscale modules are designed for 50 MWe each. That is gross and some electricity will be consumed in plant, primarily pumping for reject heat removal but also the feedwater pump. Nuscale used to estimate 5 MWe for these purposes. So a twelve pack makes available 540 MWe, except that each module is down for a few weeks every other year for testing, refurbishment and replenishment.

    Building a reactor to NRC safety standards is hard, to put it mildly. This is difficult and so expensive when done in situ. The process is considably less arduous when done inside a factory.

    By the way, it appears that Nuscale is going to set up their first factory in the UK, despite the fact the first customer is in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The current plan is to begin shipping modules in 2023 or 2024.


  86. Greg Kaan: See

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has certified 6 reactors for factory production.  More certifications for factory production are on the way.

    “Design Certification Applications for New Reactors”
    copied from:

    “By issuing a design certification, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves a nuclear power plant design, independent of an application to construct or operate a plant. A design certification is valid for 15 years from the date of issuance, but can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.

    The links below provide information on the design certifications that the NRC has issued to date, as well as the applications that are currently under review. 

    Issued Design Certifications
    The NRC staff has issued the following design certifications:
    Design Applicant
    Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) General Electric (GE) 
    System 80+ Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 600 (AP600) Westinghouse Electric Company
    Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) Westinghouse Electric Company”
    ABWR Design Certification Rule (DCR) Amendment
    South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company

    5 more Design Certification Applications are Currently Under Review.


  87. Regarding energy issues, perhaps it would help to write a vignette showing a salesman trying to sell power from renewables to power buyers. The vignette could make the salesman look silly by not being able to guarantee the availability of the power to the buyer.

    I have actually scripted a couple of ads along those lines, only from the opposite perspective;  dissatisfied RE customers faced with melting ice cubes and steaming-hot homes calling an alternate electric supplier, a nuclear plant.  These things practically write themselves.  Here’s an unformatted cut-and-paste of what I wrote 2 years ago:

    OPENING SHOT: Door opens. Woman walks through, closes door, fans herself while looking around as if it’s very hot. She moves to a thermostat on the wall.

    THERMOSTAT SHOT: Thermostat shows 87 degrees.

    FACE SHOT: Woman, with visible perspiration, dials her phone.

    OPERATOR #1: “Green Power Company, your Greenpeace-approved electric supplier. How can we help you today?”

    WOMAN: “I’m home and my air conditioning isn’t working.”

    OPERATOR #1: “Yes, we’re having an overcast day and the solar panels aren’t working well. We’ve had to cut back customers to avoid blackouts.”

    WOMAN: “But what do I do? It’s too hot in here to do anything.”

    OPERATOR #1: “We’re forecast to have power later tonight when the wind picks up.”

    WOMAN: “But what do I do until then? I need to make dinner.”

    OPERATOR #1: “I’m sorry, we’ll have your air conditioning on as soon as we have more power. But thanks for using Green Power Company, your Greenpeace-approved electric supplier.”

    CUT TO SHOT: 2-liter of nondescript soda hits the counter. Shortly, a glass comes down next to it.

    CUT TO SHOT: View from the inside of freezer door being opened, starting with totally dark frame. Woman removes ice-cube tray. Door closes, frame goes dark again.

    CUT TO SHOT: Closeup of ice-cube tray. Ice cubes are obviously melted.

    FACE SHOT: Woman, with visible irritation, dials her phone.

    OPERATOR #1: “Green Power Company, your Greenpeace-approved electric supplier. How can we help you today?”

    WOMAN: “My refrigerator isn’t getting power. My freezer is half-thawed!”

    OPERATOR #1: “Yes, our wind power is low and we’ve run out of biogas. We’ve had to cut back customer loads to avoid blackouts.”

    WOMAN: “But what do I do? All of my food will be ruined!”

    OPERATOR #1: “We’ll have your freezer running again as soon as we have more power. But thanks for using Green Power Company, your Greenpeace-approved electric supplier.”

    WOMAN: Rolls eyes, grimaces and emits a wordless sound of pure frustration. She starts punching things on her phone as the audio goes off.

    VOICEOVER: “Is your Green power truly coming from renewable sources? If you’re not putting up with this, it’s a sure thing that most of your electricity actually comes from fossil fuels. This is called Greenwashing. Greenwashing may look good at first, but it’s no way to save the environment.”

    WOMAN: Finishes punching things into her phone, holds it to her ear. Sound of ringing, phone picks up.

    OPERATOR #2: “Thank you for calling Fermi Power Company, how can I help you?”

    WOMAN: “I’m a Green Power customer, but they have my whole house shut down right now. They say this is to avoid blackouts, but I AM blacked out.”

    OPERATOR #2: “I’m glad to help. Fermi Power runs our reactors day and night, rain or shine to give you the reliable power you need and deserve with zero air emissions. Can we sign you up?”

    WOMAN: Smiles broadly. “Yes, PLEASE!”

    FADE TO SHOT: Nuclear plant seen past trees swaying in the breeze

    VOICEOVER: “Nuclear power. No coal, no gas, no waiting at the mercy of the weather. It’s the choice of climate scientists around the world.”

    CUT TO SHOT: Dr. James Hansen appears on screen. “I’m Doctor James Hansen, and I endorse this message.”

    Liked by 1 person

  88. singletonengineer — I suggest the Nuscale web site, World Nuclear News and possibly other sources of nuclear power industry news. I doubt you will find much more than I have already passed on.

    Oh yes, Nuscale expects the first units to cost US$5/W. Don’t count on it.


  89. 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?)


    Now called Gen4 energy.


  90. Engineer-Poet: I like your ads. They are dignified and tell the story. They are also brief enough to put on the air. Shorten to just this:

    “”THERMOSTAT SHOT: Thermostat shows 87 degrees.

    FACE SHOT: Woman, with visible perspiration, dials her phone.

    OPERATOR #1: “Green Power Company, your Greenpeace-approved electric supplier. How can we help you today?”

    WOMAN: “I’m home and my air conditioning isn’t working.”

    OPERATOR #1: “Yes, we’re having an overcast day and the solar panels aren’t working well. We’ve had to cut back customers to avoid blackouts.””

    Audience thinks: “Avoid blackouts indeed!”

    You need it to fit into 30 seconds for radio and maybe 10 seconds for TV.


  91. I know a lot less about TV than about radio. I should have been clear about that. If you do the ads for radio, you are going to have to have somebody say what the thermostat reads. That takes more time. Since you pay for 30 seconds or 60 seconds, you must fit the ad into the seconds.


  92. The stories so far are negative, and advertise renewables. Should we perhaps be entertaining the listeners, with a positive story, presenting the er, one true solution to reassure their concerns?

    “What is the only carbon-free source of electricity that can power our homes and industries throughout the darkest nights, the long grey winter depressions and the furious storms of the warming climate?”

    (Short footage of an aluminium smelter, fading to a family with dog and cat cosy beside the electric fire, shadow-lit by a single central reading lamp)

    “It’s the Fermi Electric Company! We will never tell you that the battery has run flat, because its nuclear reactor is the battery, lasting for years, though the town may be isolated by storm or snow, fire or flood, strikes or unwelcome guests. Check out our excellent industrial safety record, we are proud of it!”


  93. Posters are one thing, but even amateur actors and actresses can make a video. Videos have power.

    I know. My son does multimedia, and is going into professional editing. But it’s the quality of the writing, acting, props, etc…. but hey. If we have actors here, then awesome! I might even be able to get him to edit it for you guys.


  94. Hi, Edward, and many thanks.

    Your first reference appears to be to a site which has not been updated since 2012.

    The second, to the World Nuclear Association’s site, contains basic explanations of SMR’s, plus short descriptions of a very large range of potential and actual SMR’s. It is a great resource.

    At the foot of the second reference is a quotation form Admiral Rickover which advocates of SMR’s who contend that one or more are market-ready should read. Here it is:

    Postscript/ Appendix

    Some of the developments described in this paper are fascinating and exciting. Nevertheless it is salutary to keep in mind the words of the main US pioneer in nuclear reactor development. Admiral Hyman Rickover in 1953 – about the time his first test reactor in USA started up – made some comments about “academic paper-reactors” vs. real reactors. See: for the full quote:

    “An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap. (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose. (7) Very little development will be required. It will use off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.

    “On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.

    “The tools of the academic designer are a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. If a mistake is made, it can always be erased and changed. If the practical-reactor designer errs, he wears the mistake around his neck; it cannot be erased. Everyone sees it. The academic-reactor designer is a dilettante. …….”

    USS Nautilus was launched in 1955.


  95. I am reminded of software development.

    The development of the first 90% goes very quickly after which it is stated that it is almost ready for release. However, for some reason, the last 10% takes longer than the first 90% as unexpected problems turn up. Before I retired, I experienced that several times. Could the same thing occur with developing new reactor types?


  96. freggersjr: Keep remembering: “30 seconds, 30 seconds” and “repeat, repeat, repeat.” People can’t catch what you said the first 10 times they hear it. One spot has to stick to one very narrow subject. The same spot has to be repeated daily for 6 months at least.

    Nuclear: We have to do several things, one at a time:
    #1: Natural background radiation has always been there.
    #2: Chernobyl gave you less radiation than your own natural background.

    When making an ad: practice, practice, practice, and that is for a professional announcer.

    You have got one thing right: People can despair if they think that there is no way out. So we have to tell them that there is a way out that won’t even affect their lifestyle. So what are we going to tell them first? We can’t jam 6 or even 2 ads together in the same few minutes, but the opposition will retaliate instantly. The answer is beyond my pay grade.


  97. The path to full commercial production of complex manufactured items is never easy, IMHO. That is precisely why we need to avoid being dazzled by the near term prospects of an innovative product, whether they be small reactors, advanced solar thermal with storage, batteries or hamster wheels.

    WNA’s 30 or so short summaries demonstrate this more by what they leave unsaid than by what appears on the screen.

    A rolled-up Gant Chart for a typical proposed factory-manufactured SMR based on existing examples of field-constructed predecessors might have milestones and progress percentages including the following. No doubt the proponents have actual project management plans that extend to many pages. Equally beyond doubt, these plans will be commercial in confidence and distributed only in-house, on a “needs to know” basis.

    Technical (90)
    Engineering (20)
    Balance of Plant – concept (60)
    Balance of plant – detail (10)

    APPROVALS (Assuming modification of earlier prototype field-constructed design)
    Reactor – Concept (95)
    Reactor (FOAK) – Detail (90)
    Site & BOP – FOAK (0)

    Assemble consortium (80)
    Finance design and approval – FOAK (30)
    Select customer and site – FOAK (0)
    Finance construction – FOAK (0)

    The concept may be excellent, but as so often, the devil is in the detail.

    The 90/90 Rule will not be mocked.

    Because timelines for uncommercialised designs are very elastic, it is essential for claims made in the public arena to be based on actual commercially available completed projects, or at least on completed prototypes.
    Otherwise, the claims are quickly turned against those who make them, resulting in those who make them looking stupid and/or gullible.

    That, dear readers, is why I have been so cynical about projected future great technological leaps forward, a.k.a.crystal ball gazing.

    In other words, plan your future using current tools, then hope to improve with time and experience.
    Do not assume that a learning curve will continue exponentially heaven-wards.
    Dreaming results in hopes… Only experience results in progress.


  98. SingleEngineer – by quoting a man who was ignorant of SMRs, I gather that you havent found any author who does know about SMRs? Try searching the NRC site for “NuScale”.

    Mass production of 540 MW nuclear power stations is a historic shift in the elimination of carbon emissions. That they are build piecewise from 45 MW modules is a heroic solution to the problems that beset the installation of big PWRs, as the PWR champion Rickover admitted in your quote.

    By the way, the mass production of Liberty Ships relied on using an old design (from the 1880s) because it was fully debugged. Their main problem was due to the new-fangled welding (instead of rivets). NuScales use a very conventional PWR (yes!) design, with the main innovation being a helical steam generator.


  99. singletonengineer: Correct: “plan your future using current tools.”
    Stick to pre-certifications already done by NRC. If you need more forges, they can be built by duplicating the old one.
    Why do I say that? I’m an old retired engineer. Been there done that. Keep doing R&D, but keep your promises to things you already did.


  100. NuScale apparently has an advantage over many other potential SMR’s, so their percentages in some activities are ahead of the field.

    However, since the WNA site was updated only last month and represents the association which name it carries, it seems reasonable to me to only count those chickens which have hatched.

    Is the concept exciting? Yes.
    Are the underlying principles well understood? Yes.
    Has one been built? Not yet.

    Don’t get me wrong – I also hope for a flowering of SMR’s in the very near future. My point remains that SMR’s are not yet available as tools with which to convince a reluctant audience. There is no convincing answer to the question “Show me one”. No doubt that day will come, but until then the SMR argument is flawed.


  101. That convection will suffice to transport the heat from the reactor core to the heat generator was demonstrated years ago with a one third scale pressure vessel and electric resistance heaters instead of a nuclear reactor. So nobody doubts that Nuscale can deliver.

    Especially as the current owner, Fluor, has deep pockets.


  102. Edward says – “If you need more forges, they can be built by duplicating the old one”

    The main bottleneck restricting the mass production of big PWRs, such as AP1000’s is the absence of heavy forges to press the massive RPV heads. (Summary) Fixing that shortfall may be as simple as Edward implies. Would you or anyone know how much and how long that would take? (Russia) (Japan)

    For anyone concerned that the AP1000 is real, it has passed the NRC and is in production in China and the US. Units are planned for Bulgaria, UK and India.


  103. Roger Clifton: I implied nothing. I said that, since we already have at least one forge, we can build another. I don’t know how long that takes. Notice that your reference says: “The changed position of the USA is remarkable. In the 1940s it manufactured over 2700 Liberty ships, each 10,800 tonne DWT [dead weight] – possibly pioneering modular construction at that scale (average construction time was 42 days in the shipyard).”

    The US could do it again. It is a matter of will. As opposed to an SMR that has never been built before.

    That is: I agree with singletonengineer. Promise only what we have already done. AP1000 is well known and if we want to make them faster, we know what it takes to make big forges. Of course I am never against research. But I know that research is not easy.


  104. “we know what it takes to make big forges”

    Okay, how much and how long? Mooted above was a capacity for 115 GW/a of new reactors. That would need more than one extra forge. How about new forges for throughput of 100 heads per year?


  105. I don’t know how big a forge it takes to make a NuScale RPV, but it appears to be less than 3 meters across vs. over 4 meters for the AP1000.  I don’t know how many forges there are which can make things of that size, but there has to be more of them than can make 4-meter ID vessels and I’m sure it’s also cheaper and faster to make more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  106. Forgemasters set for UK development of modular nuclear reactor development
    The Engineer
    2016 Jul 08

    Sheffield Forgemasters is going to make the first 2.75 meter pressure vessel head for Nuscale before the end of 2017. The manufacturing method is unusual but appears to be simpler than the method used for large reactor pressure vessel heads.


  107. According to WNA, “Westinghouse says that the minimum requirement for making the largest AP1000 components is a 15,000 tonne press taking 350 tonne ingots… nothing in North America currently approaches… Japan Steel Works (JSW)… claims 80% of the world market”

    WNA doesn’t say what it takes to build such plant, so their low numbers may just be reflecting low demand. I would still be concerned about how fast they can be rolled out, in the (hypothetical) event of a global push into mass production of NPPs. WNA points out that such a forge needs a foundry alongside capable of supplying 600 t of hot ingots, which would have restricted the expansion of old sites in the US.

    Larger numbers of smaller modules could be built in humbler facilities all over the world, and factory assembled before being trucked to site.


  108. I read the article, but there is one thing that I do not understand.

    Surely it would have been possible to instal sensors where they planned to build the system and analyze the data from the sensors to determine what the actual installation would generate. That would have cost far less than building the actual installation and would have revealed that the installation could not be economically justified thereby preventing building the boondoggle.

    That sort of thing is one of my objections to how renewable systems are planned, or rather, not planned. They often fail to do their homework before beginning construction.

    I’m not a scientist or engineer, but it is not necessary to be a scientist or engineer to understand the importance of doing an adequate study before investing money.


  109. freggersjr: TRUE! Congratulations. If they did the homework, they would forget about wind and solar.

    Wind and solar are “red herrings,” diversions to prevent people from figuring out the problem. Who would want to do that? KING COAL!!! Wind and solar are crimes against humanity. Follow the money. The money for lobbyists comes from the fossil fuel industry.


  110. There have been extensive analysis and discussion of the El Hierro facility on Euan Mearns’s site.

    IMHO, the analysis was more about money and ripping it out of the Spanish taxpayer than it was about design and construction of a fully functional wind + pumped hydro + desalination + domestic water + irrigation + standby diesel combined operation.

    Discussion points to subsidies at retail level to peg consumers to Spanish mainland electricity rates. The distributor appears to be State-owned and thus its costs are swallowed by the mainland operational budget. The Diesel farm has continued to provide 50%+ of the total energy, despite goals of 3%.

    Happiest of all must be the wind and pumped hydro owner operators. 11MW of wind is constrained to max 7MW output. Hydro’s pumps are used as energy sinks. Hydro’s generation capacity is virtually unused, besides which the upper and lower reservoirs are too small to do their jobs and there seems to be a shortage of desalinated water to supply them in any case.

    The financial model prepared for the owners of the hydro and wind is probably working just fine, thanks.

    The real question should be asked at political levels: “Who approved this mess?”


  111. Who approved this mess?:

    Politicians listen to lobbyists because politicians can’t figure it out for themselves.
    Politicians are unable to figure out that a professor of engineering in the right field would be able to tell them. So politicians will never go to their local university unless you tell them to.
    The bureaucracy operates like an army: top down. The person who actually knows is never asked. That allows the deadwood at the top do whatever the politicians want, which means whatever the top briber wants.


  112. Frank Eggers says, “Eventually we may be able to make reactors which do not require a pressure vessel “

    Yes, doing without a RPV would remove that bottleneck from rapid deployment of nukes. Designs that use liquid salt or metal in place of water as primary coolant do not need big forgings.

    Of such designs, AFAIK the sodium-cooled PRISM is closest to being market ready. Elsewhere on BNC is a story of how its makers were rebuffed from applying to US NRC for certification, on the basis that their (NRC’s) resources were directed to other classes of design. Politics can change that!

    As fast neutron reactors, PRISMs face another bottleneck — their initial load for the 600 MW reactor needs about four tons of fast fissiles (U235 or any plutonium). Although 500 t of Pu is currently separated, an expanding fleet of PRISMs would require an expanding fuel reprocessing industry to initiate them and to clean FPs from their own used fuel. China plans 1400 GW of fast reactors by 2100, using their own reprocessing to charge them up.


  113. Oops. Saying “U235 and any Pu” would not be enough self-fissioning material to build up enough neutron flux to start up a fast reactor. The phrase comes from anti-nuke propaganda, which blurs them together as threatening “fissile” material. (Example) So the initial fuel for a 1 GW fast reactor would need enough to include 5 t of U235+Pu239, so the charge would need to include a lot more Rep-Pu to make up the “fissiles” that Till and Chang meant in Plentiful Energy.

    After a few generations of reprocessing, the regulator might permit the industry to separate out enough curium, which is a heavy neutron emitter, to make an ignition aid to start up less-rich fuel. And then again, he might not!


  114. Let’s not forget that GE has the S-PRISM nearly ready to go, with a commercial prototype for the first country that authorises it and then it’s factory produced reactors without an over-pressure LWR core.


  115. AP600 is smaller [600MW] and pre-certified. So there are both larger and smaller pre-certified reactors than AP1000. The non-pre-certified reactors are many. The problem is “political,” meaning caused by fossil fuel industry, and by ignoramus politicians and other people who know nothing about it.

    The research was mostly done a long time ago un the US.
    information is too huge to even read much of. Why don’t we leave it at: “If enough people want nuclear power, it is within our grasp to do it quickly.” Long delays happen because of “politics.”

    Molten metal cooling: A lot of this has been done and also experimented on. There are so many metals and combinations of metals to choose from. Then there is molten salt, various gasses, etcetera. It is an old nuclear engineer who knows them all [not me]. Was it Russian submarines that used molten lead? I don’t remember.


  116. Roger Clifton & freggersjr: To be clear: Reactors with molten metal coolant do not need pressure vessels, nor do they need containment buildings. There is nothing new about using molten metal as the coolant. In fact, it is rather old. If you research it, you will get lost in the metals and combinations of metals that have been tried. There are many. Sodium, lead, and combinations including bismuth are popular.


  117. That’s all true Edward, but the reason I specifically mentioned IFR’s and MSR’s is that there has been a rebirth of enthusiasm around these technologies. GE’s PRISM has had a number of rave reviews in the press, and seems so close to being approved. As you said, the problem is political. We need to increase the public’s acceptance of nuclear power with a massive, co-ordinated campaign, so that the promise of these breeders can be fulfilled.

    Just a quick reminder: I have friends who are anti-nuclear, but pro MSR! They don’t like IFR’s or even PRISM’s because of the sodium risk. They love MSR’s, and it’s all because of Kirk Sorenson’s videos. It’s amazing how people become Sorenson disciples and are attracted to his anti-LWR, pro-MSR message. He certainly has a lot of passion!

    I follow Gordon McDowell’s video series, which incidentally taught me some of the basic concepts of LWR’s and also IFR’s in passing.


  118. PS: The classic 2 hour MSR / LFTR promo is his “Thorium Remix 2011”. I had to watch and re-watch it, as there are some fairly technical parts explaining the physics and chemistry of this continually refuelling reactor. It certainly got me hooked!


  119. E-N is establishing a position as a time traveler by leaping over design licensing into the future. The first step is thus wait an indefinite time for design approval.

    The alternative is to stick to what is already licensed, and for which we have:

    Step 1. Seek approval and funds to do now that which has licensed reactor design now. Will still need site approvals. Steps 2, 3 etc: Construction, testing, commissioning, operation…

    Parallel Step 1A. Seek reactor design approval for as yet unlicensed designs, eg MSR. Then proceed as for Step 1 re funding and site approvals. Then Steps 2, 3…

    These are different critical paths. Some designs are more advanced than others. This might not suit some observers, but it is fact. This is a very important consideration for both project managers and gaining political/social approval to proceed, because until the reactor design has been licensed, do we really know what it will be? And reactors are the core of the project (pun intended).

    I also like the MSR concept and accept that it was trialled extensively 40 years back and that non-Western nations are proceeding, but how can an MSR be sold today when its approval process has effectively been stalled for decades and comes with no guarantee of approval in Western nations within a given timetable, regardless of political and social popularity?

    Keep PWR’s in the mix and continue to seek approval for the MSR. The probable outcome is that eventually, when the MSR fleet is being constructed, the spent fuel from the new PWR’s will be too valuable to be wasted.

    The optimist in me hopes that China’s, India’s and others’ enthusiasm will scare our regulators into fast-tracking review and approval of MSR’s and, for that matter, SMR’s, but until that happens we don’t have a plan.


  120. As all reactors are currently illegal in Australia, then I guess I’ll stick with the strategy of highlighting the positive future breeders in particular have in eating all that pesky nuclear waste Greenpeace worries about so much, and reducing it to ceramic plates that only have to be buried for 300 years. Hypothesising about whatever LWR we want versus IFR’s or SMR’s is all moot when they are ALL illegal.


  121. PS: But I hasten to add I hear you’re main point! EG:

    I also like the MSR concept and accept that it was trialled extensively 40 years back and that non-Western nations are proceeding, but how can an MSR be sold today when its approval process has effectively been stalled for decades and comes with no guarantee of approval in Western nations within a given timetable, regardless of political and social popularity?

    Yes. Well put. I’m imagining that as we win the public over due to these ‘magical new’ reactors that eat nuclear waste, we’ll also have some education about existing AP1000’s etc that we can run with in the meantime. That is, breeders are the promise that gets the public hooked on the solutions to longer term waste, and there’s a whole variety to choose from that will deal with today’s waste. But right now? We’ve got to deploy whatever is licensed ASAP.


  122. NB:  I’d have to dig but IIRC the fast-neutron fission cross-sections of U-235, U-236, Pu-238, Pu-239 and Pu-240 are not terribly dissimilar, and the probability of fission compared to other interactions is very high (98%?).  Even U-238 has a significant fission cross-section with 1+ MeV neutrons; breeding occurs when neutrons have been moderated down to a few eV.

    IIRC pyroprocessing captures americium and curium along with plutonium.  The high level of isotopes with high SF rates and high heat output in pyroprocessed Pu is part of what makes pyroprocessing so proliferation-resistant (the other is the high levels of Pu-238 and Pu-240 in high-burnup fuel).


  123. “Nearly ready to go.”

    Perhaps it is, but my experience with computer software indicates that when something is 90% ready for release, the remaining 10% often takes longer than the first 90%. Let us hope that it really is nearly ready to go, but not count on it. It would not be unusual for unexpected problems to be encountered.


  124. EP says, “fast-neutron fission cross-sections of U-235… Pu-239 and Pu-240 are not terribly dissimilar… “ Yes, that’s apparent in the middle range of this graph, Fig 12.6 in

    Click to access 00326407.pdf

    “Even U-238 …above 1MeV” Yes, as evident on the RHS of the graph, some of the U-238 will fast fisssion. However the so-called fast neutrons from fission are largely slower. CyrilR said they peak at 700 keV, but I forget whether that was the spectrum fresh from fission or in the spectrum in a fast reactor..


  125. Green cars in spotlight as lithium demand causes flamingo flocks to shrink
    2016 Jul 10

    Odd that this is on a Western Australia site as this is about lithium mining in Chile. The mining method wrecks flamingo habitat.


  126. EP – thanks for checking. Here is a graph of the energy spectrum of the fission neutrons resulting from fission. The mode – not mean – is at 700 keV. Its shape is described by the Watt function. The flux spectrum in a reactor depends on design, but I think that high-energy scattering would early trim the the high energy wing to the spectrum curve.

    As distinct from the average energy, the mode, or energy of the average neutron represents most neutrons in play. In the vicinity of 700 keV, Pu-240 has a significant fission cross section while U-238 has very much less. (see graph in previous comment. I would have pasted it in if I knew how.)

    Your reference defines “fission neutrons” as those over 1 MeV, then says they have a M-B distribution. Though M-B has a similar shape to the Watt function, both curves start at zero energy, so it is unclear to me what it meant.


  127. Interesting that Pu-240 fissions fairly well (what are the relative fission X-Cs in barns?) in a 700 keV spectrum.  What’s publicly available about the same for Pu-241, Am and Cm?  It looks like fast-spectrum reactors are very good higher-actinide cleaner-uppers.


  128. EP is interested in the relative fission probablilities for the higher actinides. There is a table 11-2 in “Plentiful Energy” for “transmutation probabilities”, which must include early beta decays. Fig 11-4 shows equivalent burnup for the Pu isotopes. Table 11-3 is a too-short analysis of equilibrium composition, and must be bettered elsewhere on the web.

    (Yes, Plentiful Energy is available on the Web!)


  129. As a general statement: Anything with more protons than uranium is a reactor fuel. My Chem-Phys handbook is from 1961. There is a table of isotopes in it. From Neptunium up, the nuclei are unstable enough to fission easily. There are so many synthetic elements now, like more than 30? 40? Many are too radioactive to accumulate more than a few atoms. Is there an island of stability? There would be good reason for that book to stop where it does on that table. Listing elements with more protons gets pointless. The only thing to do with most of them is to put them back into a reactor. Exception: Americium is used in smoke detectors.

    Equilibrium composition: Doesn’t last long enough to care, except for the first few. You are going to put all the higher actinides into new fuel anyway.

    There are some key words above for you.


  130. Edward, you’ve put your finger on it. There is a detailed isotopic breakdown of equilibrium fuel in a Table in Stacey. It shows that fast reactors are insensitive to the isotopic composition, so the Table 11-3 quoted above, showing just the three elements, is sufficent: fast fuel tends to burn back to a residue of 97% plutonium (endlessly topped up) with ~1% each of Np, Am, Cm and vanishingly small presence of higher actinides. It is, as a great thinker said recently, a great cleaner-upper.


  131. Great thinker?  Try great drinker, typing one-handed because the other is busy patting the butt of the purring cat resting her forepaws over my shoulder.

    And she’s going to be disappointed now, because I’m going for a refill.  Did I mention how neglected she is?  Constantly neglecting her to deal with other things of trivial importance (to her).


  132. “I’m Right and you’re an Idiot” by James Hoggan.

    Page 46: There has to be narrative, a good guy, a bad guy, a beginning, middle and end, moral and conclusion. A tale around a camp fire.

    NOT happening in science and engineering. Science and engineering are applied math. There is no narrative, a good guy, a bad guy, a beginning, middle and end, moral and conclusion.

    So much for that. The public is not going to understand science or engineering, and that is all there is to it.


  133. “I’m Right and you’re an Idiot” by James Hoggan. James Hoggan is not a scientist or engineer either. James Hoggan may think he can solve the problem, but he can’t. To actually solve the problem, every citizen has to have been taught science at the level that requires calculus. Why? To get out of the “stories by the camp fire” nonsense. Stories are not how you do science and engineering.

    The problem is not solvable with current humans. Evolution will have to happen before the problem can be solved. We can hope to evolve into a human species.


  134. I cringe when I realize just how little Greek mythology most people know. When I told a podiatrist that the problem with my Achilles tendon occurred because it was never dipped into the river Styx, she had no idea what I was talking about.

    There are aspects of Greek mythology what apply to the energy and climate problems we are now experiencing. And, knowing the Greek alphabet is essential to understanding physics and mathematics.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 10:25 AM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Engineer-Poet commented: “ I > cringe when I realize just how little history most people know, and how > true Santayana’s aphorism is.” >

    Liked by 1 person

  135. There are aspects of Greek mythology what apply to the energy and climate problems we are now experiencing.

    The punishment of Prometheus, the general Sisyphean task of trying to inform a superstitious public, the general hubris of climate-change denialists… yeah, definitely.


  136. Barry Brook (see “About”) describes himself as a “Promethian Environmentalist”, and we on BNC realise what fire he is alluding to. However international visitors without western, classical lessons may find the allusion obscure.

    Metaphors only help communication when we share the paradigms being invoked. Talking with say, Koreans needs more universal common ground than a knowledge of Greek myths. Or just less colourful speech. Sigh.


  137. Much as I want the whole world to share the SI, the International System of units, I squirm at using the Greek letter “mu” as the symbol for “micro” in a system that is otherwise entirely roman. Koreans etc should only be asked to use the roman character, “u”. Perhaps modern useage of “u” in emails will overcome the older convention.


  138. I was called by (i think) green peace asking for a donation. I told them i would gladly donate if the supported nuclear. I kinda whimped out and agreed that solar is kinda neat (just to keep him on the phone) but he said “you’ve got to be out of your jourd.


  139. New Soviet person: Has nothing to do with anything I said. Nor does George Santayana’s famous aphorism, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

    There is nothing political about science. Nor does natural evolution have a preferred direction. We could, and probably will, go extinct soon, by 2050. We could devolve to a less intelligent species.

    But, can I hope? Maybe not.

    There have been a lot of people who have tried to use corrupted science for political purposes. Not me. Engineer-Poet: don’t over-read what I say.

    I most definitely did not advocate anything political. I assume that the human population will collapse, and along with it, all governments. Read more carefully:

    ““I’m Right and you’re an Idiot” by James Hoggan. James Hoggan is not a scientist or engineer either. James Hoggan may think he can solve the problem, but he can’t. To actually solve the problem, every citizen has to have been taught science at the level that requires calculus. Why? To get out of the “stories by the camp fire” nonsense. Stories are not how you do science and engineering.

    The problem is not solvable with current humans. Evolution will have to happen before the problem can be solved. We can hope to evolve into a human species.”

    There is no politics there.

    James Hoggan doesn’t know what science is. Therefore, James Hoggan cannot solve the problem.

    Trying to make “stories” is a really bad idea.


  140. Further more, i told him to do the energy math, that solar only has a CF of 20% and therefore would need about a millIon sq mi to power itself, it’s terra watt battery system which is probably decades away, to power ALL the energy sectors, and to charge a few billion EVs every night, desalination required to green an entire desert and other CO2 sequestration efforts. I believe he was so firmly rooted in his fantasy (and possibly actually good stuff like saving the whales) that he glibly glossed over the energy math. I repeated “only nuclear our advanced nuclear can save the biosphere, search Alvin Weinberg, the molten salt reactor and deaths per terra watt”


  141. Hi, Roger.

    I completed my maths studies circa 1968. mu meant mu. Although I was pretty much in tune with the greek alphabet, both upper and lower case, back then my handwriting was so poor that distinction between various hieroglyphics was problematic after a few days and perhaps impossible after a month. Approaching the 3-score-and-10 allocation, my writing has become much worse, but I have not fully accepted u instead of µ.

    I’d be happy to see the end of Greek symbols, but what can they be replaced with? Hopefully not Korean.

    Here is a spare mu for you. I hope that you find it useful:


  142. DBB says: “lithium demand causes flamingo flocks to shrink … Odd that this (story) is on a Western Australia site as this is about lithium mining in Chile”

    Currently, the main world source of lithium is at Greenbushes, Western Australia. In 1970, I ran four geophysics teams across a target area to help identify and delineate the source of cassiterite in the creek. This pegmatite body became a large tin-tantalite mine, with spodumene (lithium ore) as a byproduct. Now the lithium is the profitable product.

    The competing process extracts lithium from low concentrations in brines in the Andes. Inevitably the heavy evaporation processes disturb the local water balance in the stratified soils of the salt lakes. Life within the layers is stirred up, apparently interfering with the flamingos.

    Liked by 1 person

  143. Concept required for evolution: “Deep time.” Evolution happens over millions or billions of years, unless humans are doing genetic engineering. Even so, figure 50 generations [1000 years] or many more for a takeover IF we did genetic engineering. No, 50 generations is too short for the natural world.

    Political revolutions: Figure 1 year. Politicians will say anything.

    Deep time is measured in meters and kilometers of rock laid down in microscopic layers. That is why it is called “Deep” time. There is a book entitled “Deep Time.”

    Everybody needs to know enough biology to realize that if the subject is change to the human genome, we are not talking about short periods of time. We are ~7 million years from our common ancestor with chimps.

    Somewhere in that ~7 million years, we acquired the power of speech/language. It didn’t happen everywhere at once, but the advantage was so powerful that speech/language genes did a genetic takeover. The remainder of the brain was not changed by that takeover, unless those genes affect more than one thing. Virtually all humans have the power of speech/language.


  144. You can have significant evolution in years, not millions or even thousands of years.  Evolution is the shifting of allele frequencies.  I’ll let you figure out how the frequency of certain alleles can be radically reduced in an area/population over a very short time.


  145. It should be obvious that the earth would not become uninhabitable in all places. There is evidence that at one time the polar regions were lush with negation and animal life. So, if conditions became similar as the result of global warming, people could live in those areas. However, that does not mean that it would be easy.

    The world’s political systems are even now having problems accommodating refugees. With climate change, the number of refugees would most likely be many times what it is now. In fact, there might not be enough land area to accommodate all the climate refuges, or at least to grow food for them. The resulting famine, insurrections, and wars would kill many people and likely destroy civilization as we know it. Surely it would be a disaster. But still there would be areas where survivors could live a rather primitive life which might remain primitive permanently.

    At my age, I do not expect to be around then.


  146. Here are posts from

    craigshields says:
    July 14, 2016 at 3:57 pm
    True, he hasn’t made the sun at night. Yet, solar PV continues to grow like a weed, and most of it is utility scale. Apparently, grid operators find solar energy valuable. Maybe you should look into this a bit further.

    Frank Eggers says:
    July 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm
    Recently I was at a meeting at Power New Mexico (PNM). The actions of PNM are NOT based on what they find valuable. Rather, their actions are dictated by the state legislature. They are REQUIRED to instal a certain amount of renewable power and REQUIRED to pay for power from roof-top solar systems. It is not an option for them. I assume that the situation is the same in many parts of the country.

    We need to get practically 100% of our power from non-CO2 emitting sources. Thus, our efforts should be directed accordingly.

    craigshields says:
    July 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm
    What you say about non-CO2-emitting sources is correct. And if we get there, it will be with a mix of resources, solar among them. Trust me on this. :)

    Frank Eggers says:
    July 14, 2016 at 5:45 pm
    Every KW of an intermittent capacity must be backed up with a source of power that is able to deliver at any time. So how does solar make it possible to eliminate CO2 emissions?

    Hydro power and geothermal power are available 100% of the time in the areas where they are possible, so unless their capacity is exceeded, they do not need backup power.

    Here is the link:

    I do not understand why it is popular to believe that intermittent power sources must be included in a mix of power sources to achieve near zero CO2 emissions. Would anyone, using the above link, like to debunk that idea?


  147. Call them out on their weasel words: “Whaddyer mean by near zero? To get to zero we must eliminate, exterminate, criminalise all emissions. You aren’t going to tolerate any gas turbines, are you?”

    Of course, gas is the beneficiary, guaranteed its business as usual as long as these dumb schmucks keep putting up its camouflage.


  148. Eliminating all CO2 emissions is neither desirable nor possible, and those who advocate it are often accused of wanting to take us back to the stone age. Our emissions target should be below zero, not only to help avoid that misconception and get people thinking about removing CO2 from the atmosphere, but also because the current atmospheric CO2 level really is too high.


  149. Sorry to rain on your parade, but 6 degrees C [11 degrees F] of warming is the extinction point for humans. It is H2S bubbling out of warm oceans that is the final killer. H2S +H2O + 3O = H2SO4 + H2 in your lungs. It happened 250 million years ago, but the source of CO2 was different. “Under a Green Sky” Peter Ward.

    Refugees: Will be shot at the border. So far Europeans have only used rubber bullets. Live rounds are not far behind. A population crash does not stop at any particular agreeable point.

    Ever heard of a run on a grocery store?

    Arctic areas: Lush polar regions: No humans. Natural gas bubbling out of methane-water ices make nuclear bomb sized explosions. Like a fuel-air bomb. You have to survive the explosions before you can live there.

    Being old has its advantages.


  150. And you think that is going to create a “Soviet Man?” Nope. Allele frequencies are not noticeable on the outside of the creature almost all of the time. You are talking about a small area at most.

    If you militarize a genetic engineering using CRISPR in a super-contagious virus, maybe you could change 1% of the population in 20 years, but you would still have to wait a long time for a genetic takeover.


  151. And you think that is going to create a “Soviet Man?”

    If you wanted to do that now, you could trim the gene pool to the population which understands calculus and their offspring.  Wouldn’t be a very large gene pool, or a nice process, but it is not impossible.

    Allele frequencies are not noticeable on the outside of the creature almost all of the time.

    Allele frequences are the only thing which distinguishes the population of Bushmen from the population of native Swedes.  Don’t try to claim that you can’t distinguish them at 200 yards; nobody’s that dumb.

    If you militarize a genetic engineering using CRISPR in a super-contagious virus, maybe you could change 1% of the population in 20 years

    Who said anything about changing?  It’s a selection process.  If you wanted to be more humane about it you could promote or even force the use of selected donated gametes.

    The problem is that such measures take generations at best, and we have only years… if we have any time left at all.


  152. EP: That is nonsense. “Scientists” do not breed scientists. It takes more than one allele to change a Swede into a bushman. It would take a bunch of both sides of a bunch of locations.

    I repeat: Most allele changes result in no external change. Here is one reason: A codon takes 3 “letters.” But there is double coding. 4 cubed is 64, but there are only 20 amino acids to choose from. Most allele changes code for the original amino acid. No change. Most of the remainder [999 out of 1000] are lethal and are never born.

    I take it that Engineer-Poet does not have children yet. Your children are not going to follow your career path. Eugenics does not work and cannot work. A minor selection process is not going to work. NATURE can kill by the billions and over billions of years.

    Correct that we have only years, not millions of years.

    AFTER THE CRASH, if anybody survives, if we are lucky, we will have some more time for evolution, but not enough time. How long did it take to evolve speech/language? A million or 3 million years? I am saying we all need a math co-processor added to our brains. Just like the language co-processors we actually do have.

    Not enough time: because in 33000 years, another star will enter our Oort cloud, causing a heavy bombardment of comets, causing another mass extinction event.

    Look up CRISPR.


  153. Guys guys guys. No need for population culling. If the climate starts to run away, we’ll bleach the skies white with sulfur for less than $50 billion a year. Job done. $200 bn will olivine the place. Job done. Doomer talk only makes teenagers commit suicide and adults give up to “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”


  154. Edward Greisch — Methane releases in the Arctic do not create fuel-air mixtures in sizable amounts. Methane is light and so disapates quickly.

    There are videos of people poking holes in the ice over methane pockets in lakes in Siberia. Lighting those produces a flame rather larger than that of a gas stove but certainly not an explosion. One video can be found on Siberian Times.


  155. “Doomer talk only makes teenagers commit suicide and adults give up to “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

    Yes, good point. Wrinklies are indeed having a whale of a time with business-as-usual becoming more than usual ever was before. The fit has to hit the shan before the couch potatoes burst into tears as their future crumbles before their eyes. They need a few revolutionaries shouting their promises, a few poets calling for a new world, so they will have someone to turn to when realisation breaks on them.

    Perhaps there are web surfers reading us now, young people with energy and angst, seeking the words to a song that we have yet hear. We could provide facts and visions. Visions of worlds beyond the disasters if there has to be disaster.


  156. I repeat: Most allele changes result in no external change.

    You can stop repeating it, because it’s irrelevant.  Mutation has nothing to do with selecting existing alleles based on phenotypes.

    I take it that Engineer-Poet does not have children yet. Your children are not going to follow your career path.

    Ah, the “blank slate” denial of anything resembling inheritance and family or broader-based traits.  Meanwhile, the number of Nobel-winning children of Nobel winners is grossly disproportionate to the global population, yet there are no sub-saharan African Nobel winners in the hard sciences.

    Eugenics does not work and cannot work.

    The +1 standard deviation IQ change in Ashkenazim came about due to strong selective pressures over just a few hundred years, and that seems to have involved a couple of mutations affecting lipid metabolism in the brain.

    AFTER THE CRASH, if anybody survives, if we are lucky, we will have some more time for evolution, but not enough time.

    If you’re trying to spread and fix existing traits like being able to learn calculus, you don’t need that long.

    Which is irrelevant.  We go into this crisis with the population we have, and come out with whoever manages to survive.

    in 33000 years, another star will enter our Oort cloud

    If we aren’t fully in control of our Oört cloud in 3000 years, we will have totally failed as a technological species.  Further, the entire species need not be involved; one exploratory fragment of humanity, such as a self-sustaining Martian colony founded by SpaceX, can do it even if the rest stay on Earth.  Read “The Ten Thousand-Year Explosion”, there is much enlightenment there.

    I’m more optimistic for affairs off-earth, because on the mudball the people who profit from the problems get to vote to keep anyone else from actually fixing the problems.


  157. DBB: I have seen those videos too. They are now. They are not the future gas release rate.
    “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas: “One scientific paper investigating “kill mechanisms” during the end-Permian suggests that methane hydrate explosions “could destroy terrestrial life almost entirely”. Acting much like today’s fuel-air explosives (or “vacuum bombs”), major oceanic methane eruptions could release energy equivalent to 10,000 times the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.”


  158. Bah.  Mars doesn’t have to be terraformed, it just has to be inhabited by a growing civilization.  Or some offshoot living on e.g. habitats made and provisioned from dead comet nuclei.

    Once you have a space-faring civilization in which mudball “back to nature” romanticism is impossible, outward is the only way to go.


  159. A mining colony on an asteroid lives on the profits of mining. Meaning, the outpost receives food supplies from Earth. An L5 space station grows food, we hope, because it is close enough to the sun. Can a Mars colony be self sustaining? Some day. Right now? No. How soon can a self-sustaining colony be built on Mars? Not before the collapse on Earth. And that is the problem. The collapse happens too soon, between 2022 and 2040. If wishes were horses…..


  160. Edward G, your doomer predisposition shows up in your approach to Mars. I’m with EP. Mars has PLENTY of thorium to run a civilisation for the life of the planet. Once they get that first city with multiple levels of redundancy in backup hydroponic farms, years of protein bars stacked away, and all manner of life growing in their underground farms, who knows what they’ll achieve? Forget the fragile farm we saw Matt Damon grow potatoes in “The Martian”, we’re talking a shiny, spacious, warm, secure and safe underground city that’s always growing outwards with a TBM knawing through the planet, siphoning out all the useful thorium and other metals as it goes!


  161. Include me in the doomers, alongside Edward G, but that name is insulting. How about “engineers”?

    Discussing options like terraformed planets and capturing comets seems to me to be far more “way out there”, in both senses of the phrase, than even the most rabid dreaming done by the lovers of unreliable weather-dependent energy sources on this blog.

    It is far more fruitful to spend our time and effort working to preserve that which we still have as a legacy for future generations, rather than getting massively sidetracked and by so doing, condemning our descendants to near term environmental and societal collapse, if not the premature extinction of the human race.

    Don’t get me wrong – in due course, the sun will enter its supernova phase or whatever, but that’s many thousands of years away. Anything that we say today on the topics of interplanetary travel and terraforming will by then be as irrelevant as any advice that our stone-age cousins might have offered to us, if that was possible, about the design of driverless automobiles.

    I think that I asked E-N previously what planet he lives on. We now have an answer.


  162. A mining colony on an asteroid lives on the profits of mining. Meaning, the outpost receives food supplies from Earth.

    Food?  Are you serious?  Food is more massive than the humans it feeds; it is one of the FIRST things that would be produced locally, and efforts to grow food crops on simulated Martian soil have already succeeded.

    Can a Mars colony be self sustaining? Some day. Right now? No.

    It’s really a matter of critical mass, and CM is dependent on inventions which leverage technology and labor.  For instance, silica aerogels are more than capable of insulating a surface habitat on Mars and keeping it at comfortable Earth temperatures.  Liquid CO2 is a feasible medium for evacuating the water from precipitated silica aerogels, and Mars is awash in CO2.  If you have a reliable temperature differential between Earth-environment habitat and Mars atmosphere, you can drive a host of processes which fix “impossible” problems with living on Mars.

    I’m far from smart enough to think of all of these things myself.  I am smart enough to be able to e.g. calculate the Gibbs free energy details and figure out what some likely routes of attack are.  Had I the financial strength of Edison I could employ a thousand technicians to test out the details, or program robots to do it automagically.  Sadly, I have neither Edison’s money nor his energy.

    The collapse happens too soon, between 2022 and 2040.

    I think Elon Musk had the right idea.  Enough smart people in space with their lives on the line will be able to accomplish amazing things.

    Liked by 1 person

  163. “Using that link, would anyone like to debunk that idea?”

    Come on, Freggers, don’t give us the homework, you debunk it. It isnt that you dont understand, it is that they have failed to persuade you. Ask them instead, how do they provide baseload solar in the middle of the night? Though that website looks from here like a sea of brainless followers, it includes real people, asking themselves, er yeah how do we provide baseload solar?


  164. OK, I just did more debunking. Read it and see what you think. Here is the link:

    But please note that although they are in the minority, there are a few on that website who agree with me that nuclear power is essential. Also, the website owner at least does not censor opposing opinions; surely he deserves some credit for that.

    I am neither a scientist nor an engineer although I am not completely ignorant of those fields. But at least some people here have a more thorough knowledge of science and engineering than I have which puts them in a better position to support nuclear power.


  165. EG,

    Are you assuming that the space elevator, no doubt built by Otis, thereby extending the Otisphere, would be to a geostationary space port? Presumably that would reduce costs by making unnecessary to launch rockets from earth and return them to earth. However, sending rockets from a geostationary space port to various locations in our solar system would still be expensive.

    This link shows the Otisphere as it currently exists:

    I’m sure that Otis would like to extend it. It will be interesting to see whether they, or another company, will succeed.


  166. The space elevator would have to extend past geostationary orbit. If of constant mass per length the cable would have to extend that much further again, just to maintain tension all the way to ground, let along carry anything crawling up it. Assuming that the cable (with future magic helping) strengthens past carrying its own weight, counterweights would be early loads – to be delivered past geostationary. Eventually, lunar and interplanetary flights could be launched from the cable above geostationary, just by letting go and drifting clear as the cable is whipped away by its centripetal tension.


  167. I have wondered of what material the cable could be made. It would be challenging enough to have a cable that could support even its own weight. In theory it could be tapered with the thickest point being where the force would be greatest, but I have doubts. Even if a cable that would do the job could be made, somehow power would have to be supplied to the cable climber. If the cable could be of uniform thickness, it could be made like a belt and rotated to lift the elevator car, but the inertia of such a long cable would be difficult to deal with.


  168. Love the space elevator chat, but getting back on topic.
    Here’s a good short lay person friendly Q&A I’m thinking of promoting. Environmental Progress also have a Facebook page where you can interact with them.

    What I hope to run by them is an exponential feedback loop. They seem to be a more activist friendly website than intellectual gab-fest. I hope they are open to the idea of facebook memes and downloadable posters that refer back to them, especially their Key Questions page. Then from there the newcomer is encouraged both to read more, and to download what they’ve learned and put up some new posters! (Note: The Key Questions answers are not the posters, but each answer could link to a poster).


  169. There’s nothing that really limits how fast/far you can go from a Skyhook launch.  You don’t have to ride out to the end and let go, you can pay out a tether of your own from a slightly-higher-than-synchronous orbit and then whip-launch like a stone from a trebuchet.

    My work on Phobos skyhooks for Mars:

    Long before we can build a synchronous skyhook, we’ll be able to build something like Lofstrom’s launch loop.  Even a short loop in the shape of an arch, lofting payloads to 120 miles and 5000 MPH, would enable single-stage-to-LEO access.


  170. We know about skyhooks. Lunar Elevator and Mars Elevator can be done with current materials.
    Earth elevator: the counterweight is at 62000 miles.

    There are lots of problems, like getting power to the “robot” /elevator car; oscillations of the ribbon/cable; etcetera, etc..

    But the reward is astronomical if you can make the material.

    Back to subject: I don’t think the elevator is going to happen within 6 years. Much less a Mars colony. So we are stuck with trying to save ourselves here on Earth. Remember, we have 6 to 24 years to avoid the crash. Remember the 6 years, not the 24 years.

    I am a realist, not a “doomer.”


  171. Having difficulty reading Engineer-Poet’s text box a few comments upthread?

    Here’s a reminder of a keyboard trick to help to read the text on this site, including text that is displayed as grey on grey or near to.


    That strips most of the graphics and shows the text as black-on-white and seems to work pretty much everywhere on WordPress.


  172. I note that the Bill McKibben video is now ~2 years old.

    The official position of is still anti-nuclear.  Bill McKibben must be brought to account for this.  His position approves the shutdown of nuclear power in Germany, in Vermont, in New York, in Illinois, and in California… where some of the most critical fights against the replacement of carbon-free power by fossil fuels are being fought.

    Bill McKibben has put himself on the enemy’s side.  Make him feel the pain.


  173. Alt-V-Y-N works for Internet explorer; otherwise ctrl-A-C captures the text that can be pasted ctrl-V into a text editor.

    I would like to hear of a setting (in IE or Chrome or …) to widen the frame from the width of hand-held devices to full-window width of a desktop or laptop computer. The keycodes above are needed every refresh, whereas a setting could be made permanent.


  174. Having difficulty reading Engineer-Poet’s text box a few comments upthread?

    I’m not, but I have no idea what sort of CSS and Javascript other people are allowing to munge what they see.

    I STRONGLY suggest using the FireFox plug-ins NoScript, Greasemonkey, and this Greasemonkey script of my own for BNC (which you will have to de-munge the quotes for, because I cannot prevent the blog software from perverting what I post as a comment):
    // ==UserScript==
    // @name BNC format fixer
    // @namespace
    // @description Devotes the BNC window to content, not sidebars of pretty colors
    // @include*
    // @include*
    // @version 1
    // @grant GM_addStyle
    // ==/UserScript==


    function fixBNCformats()
    GM_addStyle( “div.entry-meta.sidebar-bg { display:none; }”);
    GM_addStyle( “div#actionbar { display:none; }”);
    GM_addStyle( “div#comments.comments-area { margin: 0px 0px 5px 0px; }”);


  175. NoScript prevents Javascript from unapproved sites from running on your browser.

    Greasemonkey is a Javascript plug-in which runs scripts you install to peform changes you want on sites you approve it to alter.

    My script above deletes the BNC sidebar, deletes the BNC actionbar, and expands the comments area to make it much wider (and IMO easier to read) than the default.


  176. ALT-V,Y,N works fine in Mozilla Firefox without plug-ins.

    It does need, as somebody stated, repeating after every screen refresh, but it is simple enough for a mug user like me.

    As for increasing the width of the centre panel, I generally tap CTRL-+ several times increase the view ratio on my screen. This makes things easier for my myopic eyes.


  177. I don’t see what there is to add.  McKibben, Lovins and the rest of that group seem to be the romanticists promising paradise but leading us to hell.  Naomi Oreskes has jumped in with them.  (Or was bought.)

    There’s romanticism, and there’s empiricism.  The camp which holds Hansen, Shellenberger and Cravens is interested in actual results and duplicating what works.  McKibben holds them in contempt.  We should return the favor until he, in the immortal phrase from “Cool Hand Luke”, gets his mind right.


  178. It seems that one of the problems is that many people do not understand how to make rational decisions. Many of us understand that when an issue is important, the way to make a decision is to gather all the available evidence, including quantified evidence when it is available. Then, using all the available evidence, make a decision which takes into account the cost of making a bad decision. Unfortunately, many people (but not all) with liberal arts degrees have never studied any subject that would teach them how to make rational decisions. Thus, they are inclined to make decisions based on emotion and wishful thinking.

    I was unaware of how bad some people are at making decisions until, years ago when I was poor, I shared an apartment with a man who had a liberal arts degree from a highly respected eastern liberal arts college; he had graduated phi beta kappa. I was shocked when he asked my mother what the stock market was for. There were many very serious gaps in his knowledge, gaps which he didn’t see as important. His coworkers were the same way. They couldn’t even rationally discuss some important issues.

    It should be impossible to get a degree without having studied a year of physics, a year of chemistry, and a year of a life science. Also, enough accounting, economics, and risk management should be studied so that graduates will understand how to make rational decisions.


  179. In a group, most people defer their opinions to the loudest voice, or fall silent gracefully. In search of unanimity, the loudmouth of the group can only mouth off opinions that are somewhere near the median of the group’s feelings on the matter. It’s about what people want to believe. Faith overrides fact.

    We so want to believe that the levels in the greenhouse can be stabilised that there will always be a sub-group that holds faith that levels can reduced, yes, even as far as 350 ppm. “Romantic” is an apt description, as it is so human to hope, when the facts would lead us to despair.


  180. David,

    Yes, I agree with you; they should be required for high school then at a higher level for college.

    Also, after completing one’s formal education, people should be encouraged to advance their educations by informal means. Many of us have done that, but I suspect that many more do not, especially since the advent of TV. It is interesting to read personal letters written by people with an 8th grade education in the late 1800s with what high school graduates are writing now. At least in English composition, we seem to have moved backwards. In fact, we are turning out college graduates who cannot write; I’ve seen it.

    TV could be used to advance education. However, when one considers the number of people who watch junk reality shows and other garbage on TV compared with the number who watch educational programs, well you get the picture.

    Check out this link for a possible solution:

    After we moved to a different city, my father started a Great Books Club there. Erudition was always very important in the family.


  181. Roger, you are right. In fact, I successfully took advantage of that.

    When I bought a condo in Minneapolis in 1972, there was a security problem with the garages because there were no partitions between doors. I wanted partitions installed but a quick survey determined that I was in the minority. I solved the problem by manipulating a meeting. I introduced the partition measure and had two owners who agreed speak up immediately in favor of it. It passed with only one dissenting vote. One may question the ethics of what I did, but it did prove the point you brought up.

    Most people are easily swayed. I am not one of them.


  182. David, I should perhaps have used the term “politically impossible”. Having watched the seemingly relentless rise of atmospheric CO2 over decades, I have come to feel that it is unstoppable and our collision with Nature inevitable. Fortunately, I am as capable of denial as the next man, so when I look away, I see the weather as normal and timeless and the chidren in the street as being blessed with all the progress that industrial civilization has made since my day. Like many of us, I make a trivial reduction here or there then forgive myself for the ten tons per annum that I do emit.

    Surely a world that evolved such a wonderful creature as myself would never turn against its own creations? (Puddle thinking)


  183. Hi Roger,
    I’m sure the scientists involved in the peer-reviewed olivine research would enjoy their work being called “Romantic”, but you’d have to try harder than that to disprove their research. Whether or not it is possible is the scientific question: whether or not it is practical policy and could ever happen is another. Perhaps you were referring to the political implications of a worldwide carbon tax to fund olivine as ‘Romantic’?


  184. freggersjr: You didn’t require enough math. Make it 1.5 years calculus plus probability and statistics. Prob&stat will take most students at least a whole year. Prob&stat needs to include a physics laboratory, so that statistics is directly related to the real world in real time.

    I have said many times that everyone should take the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum. Humanities subjects could be reduced to make their majors fit into 4 years.


  185. singletonengineer,

    Engineers are generally not doomers.
    Doomers look at a problem and conclude (from its size) that it can’t be solved. Engineers look at the same problem and figure out how it can. Engineers understand how things can be scaled up.

    Good engineers can identify multiple solutions to the problem and determine what conditions each solution is best suited to.


  186. singletonengineer: Either way. The crash has already started. It looks looks a bell-shaped curve/ Gaussian distribution. Do you pay attention to world news from Germany, China and France [DW, CNC and France24]? PBS shows news form a lot of countries. Look at South Sudan, India, China, the Sahel, Australia, …… even the US if you are tuned in.

    Are you subscribed to “Climate Code Red”?


  187. Eclipse, my intended important point was that people generally cannot comprehend how serious the unfolding picture is. Why? Because we just don’t want to believe it. We say, surely it cannot be true, and then develop the logic of our thinking, based on false premises. We are in denial.

    Contemplate for a brief moment, the horror of all out nuclear war, a nuclear holocaust. The vision is briefly glimpsed and then rejected from our minds. We can instead deal with the possibility using science and statistics. We can similarly deal with the predictable consequences of climate change. The taste of an greater, ongoing horror visits us, and is as quickly dismissed. We do not want to believe it, no matter how compelling is the science. Because of our actions, hundreds of thousands of people will die every year, on into a worsening future, a holocaust of our own making.

    It is illegal to deny the Nazi holocaust in 14 countries, lest that denial lead to more holocausts. If denial of climate warming were globally forbidden, there might be a chance of avoiding the climate holocaust with a global defence of the greenhouse.


  188. Edward,

    My degree is in business administration. It required a year of statistics and also a course in risk management, so everyone with a business degree should understand that. Some course included Monte Carlo simulation and linear programming. I’ve also had 2 years of physics, 1 year of chemistry, and 1 year of zoology which most business majors have not had. Of course there are also other important courses such as history and psychology.

    In any case, everyone should understand how to make rational decisions and know enough to know what he does not know. Clearly our energy and continuing CO2 emissions problems are the result of too few people understanding how to make rational decisions.

    Actually, a person who has not studied enough physics can do just fine if he understands what he has missed and has respect for people who do have the understanding. Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, was educated only through grade 5. However, he became self-educated through doing a lot of reading and associating with well educated people. He depended on experts to run his steel mills. One of his important contributions was to help people understand that when making decisions, sunk costs should be ignored. Thus, if he built a steel mill he was willing to scrap it if it became obsolete even before beginning production. Many people would have trouble with that, but he was right.


  189. freggersjr: The reason for 2 years of physics: To get people to understand this:

    Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person’s head isn’t public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]
    We build confidence by repeating experiments.
    “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul, 1980, University of California Press.

    It will take more than 2 years for the above to sink in.

    Andrew Carnegie: I went to his school. CMU

    Sunk cost: Well drilled in to us federal bureaucrats. The gov has its own graduate schools for bureaucrats [federal employees] and military officers.


  190. Some people have used the Y2K experience to justify denying climate change. They assert that the predictions of disaster resulting from computer software that did not use 4 digits for the year were exaggerated so surely the warnings about climate change are also exaggerated.

    Actually, the Y2K problem did exist but a crash effort to prevent problems was largely successful. In any case, the two situations are not comparable.


  191. Edward,

    It may now take more than 2 years to get people to understand the nature of science, but does it have to? Also, it is only a minority of us who have 4 year or more degrees so we must get to kids BEFORE they graduate from high school. Perhaps, instead of simply teaching science, there should be a required course on understanding the nature of science. The course could be designed specially to deal with lack of logical thinking.

    I have come to appreciate greatly what I learned in high school in Manitowoc, WI. We were actually taught about how reasoning fails. Specifically, it was demonstrated how when a syllogism contains emotional content, people have difficulty reaching a valid conclusion. We also studied propaganda and how people are misled by it. We learned that how pictures of women were rated for attractiveness was influenced by the name assigned to the pictures. Thus, the same photo was rated higher when the name Sally Smith was attached to it instead of Rachel Finkelstein. How all that affected other kids I don’t know, but I sure learned from it.


  192. Help! Madness! Someone needs to write a peer-reviewed reply to this, explaining what a complete waste of money it is.
    China wants to build the world a WORLDWIDE GRID costing an estimated $50 TRILLION. This is on the World Economic Forum.

    If we replaced all fossil fuel use with nukes, how much would it cost? Can someone reply to the WEF?


  193. Hi, Aidan.
    Speaking as an engineer, I am not prepared to take a single brush and paint people either Doomer or Non-Doomer. They are ill-defined terms.

    However, I have considered the climate change issue and its causes for long enough to be convinced that:
    a. That the globe is on a trajectory to climate failure.
    b. That this is accelerating.
    c. Neither engineering nor science degrees are essential prerequisites to understanding points a. and b. above. Basic numeracy and an ability to read should suffice.

    NB I have not personally made a single calculation nor contributed to the logical analysis of the physical principles that demonstrate the reality of climate change. I have examined the consistency of the arguments for and against and weighed them according to my perception of the details and merits of the opinions expressed regarding the wide range of subjects that are regularly discussed on sites such as BNC.

    I try to continue to do so, but I’m not so vain as to think that I can add to the growing body of knowledge relating to climate change and its effects.

    My argument is that terms such as “doomer” are used only as insults. They are better avoided.


  194. EN: We have only seen one “peer-reviewed” paper on olivine as sequestrant, the one that confused forsterite (a chemical) with olivine (a mineral) and passed it off as representative of crushed basalt (a rock). His sole reference to the logistics of a many-gigaton process was that bulk transport would be difficult. The scheme only purports to tuck way the ongoing emissions of freshly extracted carbon, a contemptible cosmetic exercise. And as with any sequestration scheme, it has nowhere to put its waste.

    Any scheme to hide ongoing emissions in the deep ocean risks the stuff coming back up as methane. The best place for reserves of fossil carbon is to leave it in the ground.

    And the stuff removed from the atmosphere? DBB’s synthetic coal idea has the merit that since most of the carbon came out of coal mines, it can go back in the holes it came from. However the holes have long since been filled in, and the energy required exceeds the energy originally extracted.

    There is one useful, if temporary hiding place for it, as synthetic hydrocarbons in the fuel tanks of the world’s remaining combustion engines. Such synfuel could replace all coal-oil-gas extraction without wrecking the economies of developing nations.

    Stopping extraction (and burning) of fresh fossil carbon is the most urgent of any step towards stabilising the levels in the greenhouse. So, let’s recycle what we can capture.


  195. I once mused about the possibility of sequestering carbon by turning CO2 into HDPE and injecting it back into oil-bearing formations.  You’d have to pre-heat them but once they cooled the HDPE would be effectively locked in place.

    Today I’d suggest underground cavities left from solution-mining of salt or potash, and heavier hydrocarbons with aromatic groups and carrying a payload of carbon black.


  196. Global Grid: Let’s Build a Global Power Grid

    There are still technology we don’t have. One immediate need is fast-reacting, large-capacity circuit breakers that can handle short-circuit currents above 60 kiloamperes and respond to detected faults within milliseconds.

    It would take us longer to build this grid than the time available before collapse.


  197. freggersjr: Right. Reasoning isn’t it. You didn’t catch on to what I was saying. Science is all about EXPERIMENTS, not about reasoning. Why? Reasoning is wrong very often. Reasoning by scientists about science is wrong almost all the time, until they happen upon a theory that fits the experiments. It is more like numerology. You do the experiments and then you fiddle with math until you find math that fits.

    Quantum mechanics is the most unreasonable stuff around. But it works. The arbiter is EXPERIMENTS, not reason.

    That is why I insist on LABORATORY courses, a lot of them, and not philosophy courses. Truth is found ONLY in laboratories and never in old books.

    Yes, we are fighting religion, in case anybody didn’t recognize it.


  198. “Yes, we are fighting religion, in case anybody didn’t recognize it.”
    And yet there are huge numbers of environmental activists that insist their (various) religions command action on the basis of love, faithfulness, etc.
    All I can conclude, according to this evidence, is that you are in a one man war against relgion, but please don’t actively go about recruiting other BNC’ers to join your campaign of intolerance or it will have deleterious effects on the campaign here as you actively, stubbornly alienate a vas


  199. I for one did not see his post as a “one man war against religion.”, at least not against religion in general. But let’s face it; some religions, including even some branches of Christianity, seem to be opposed to thinking and reason; that is just a matter of clear observation. However, many religious people, as you know, are environmentalists in the reasonable sense of the word.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 4:29 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Eclipse Now commented: “”Yes, we are fighting religion, in case anybody > didn’t recognize it.” And yet there are huge numbers of environmental > activists that insist their (various) religions command action on the basis > of love, faithfulness, etc. All I can conclude, according ” >


  200. EP says – “Today I’d suggest underground cavities left from …”

    Arithmetic, EP, arithmetic! If you are going to put any CO2 in a hole, for heavens sake put all of it in a hole. Now we need the arithmetic. How big is the thing we are going to bury?

    Consider that there is one cubic metre of excess CO2 above every square metre of the Earth’s surface. (If you doubt that quantity, calculate it yourself, if only to wise up those unwilling to believe it. You’ll find that there is actually more). That is the starting quantity to be buried, the volume of the hole that would be necessary to give any credibility whatsoever for those who say that “we can bury the stuff”.

    Come on guys, calculate the dimensions of that hole for yourselves. I’m not trying to trick you into saying the word, “Jehovah”. But I am trying to disillusion our audience from any idea that “we can make that CO2 vanish into thin air”.

    That is the problem. We have been putting our waste in the rubbish dump, and now the rubbish dump is full. There is nowhere left to dump it.


  201. Frank R. Eggers: I am ignoring Eclipse Now. I know EN will not understand what I am trying to say about laboratory courses being necessary.

    Reference: “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch. Deutsch talks about The Enlightenment and Enlightenments plural. Will we fall into a new Dark Age? And a lot more stuff. I am going to be silent on that for now.

    I hope your prob&stat courses were transformative, that they changed you into a different person. Laboratory courses will do something transformative as well. Once you know where real knowledge comes from, you are not interested in impostors. Real knowledge comes from laboratories.

    epistemology |əˌpistəˈmäləjē|
    the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

    Scientists do not use the word “believe.” But scientists have an emphatic answer to epistemology. You are a scientist when you have the same epistemology as the other scientists. Laboratory courses are training in epistemology.


  202. EG,

    It is too easy to assume that scientists are 100% rational and objective at all times.

    Dr. Salk developed the first effective polio vaccine; it stopped the polio epidemic. Later, Dr. Sabin developed a vaccine that was somewhat more effective and was also easier to administer because it was an oral vaccine. Both greatly contributed to the welfare of humanity. However, the two were constantly at loggerheads. Both claimed that their contribution was better. That’s not exactly the behavior of rational and objective people.

    William Shockley started a successful semiconductor business. Later, he and three associates jointly won a Nobel prize for inventing the transistor. Unfortunately, prize went to Shockley’s head; he became arrogant and dictatorial after which his employees began to leave and the business failed. Again, that is not the way rational and objective people behave.

    I do have considerable respect for scientists. However, I also know that they have the same failings as everyone else and can be just as unobjective as people who have no understanding of science.

    That said, I do agree that laboratory courses are helpful to teach people to think clearly. So are courses in risk management, etc. Unfortunately, no amount of education can make people think clearly at all times.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 5:55 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Edward Greisch commented: “Frank R. Eggers: I am ignoring Eclipse Now. I > know EN will not understand what I am trying to say about laboratory > courses being necessary. Reference: “The Beginning of Infinity” by David > Deutsch. Deutsch talks about The Enlightenment and Enlightenme” >


  203. Helping people to think clearly: NOT what laboratory courses are for. I keep telling you that. Philosophy courses help people think clearly.

    Laboratory courses will amaze you. Unbelievable stuff happens before your eyes. Things do not happen the way you thought they would.

    Laboratory tells you ceaselessly that you are wrong. All of your former beliefs are wrong. Your new beliefs are wrong.

    Theory courses tell you how to get good enough answers and how to make theories. Only the math has any validity. If you believe other stuff along with the math, you loose. Theorizing is something like numerology.

    I would never assume that scientists are 100% rational and objective at all times. Your statement is another evasion of what I am telling you about laboratory. Quit evading and take lab courses.


  204. EN,

    Producing well-rounded people requires studying a number of different subjects as you will probably agree. Unfortunately, we cannot all be like Samuel Johnson; none of us can learn everything. I think that we should strive to get a good general education after which we will need to specialize in only one or two fields. I do see the natural sciences as important. In fact, no one can claim to be well-educated without understanding the basics of physics, chemistry, biology, and sufficient mathematics to understand them.


  205. EG,

    I have taken lab courses including physics, chemistry, and zoology. I strongly believe in a good broad general education which one does not have unless he has studied the sciences.

    For a country to do well, it is necessary for a large number of its citizens to be sufficiently well educated to understand the issues that the country is facing. That requires more than studying the sciences; it also requires studying history as an aid to understanding human nature and to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It also requires studying economics, accounting, finance, and risk management. Too many people who have majors in the sciences lack an adequate knowledge of those subjects and, as a result, are unable to evaluate adequately the performance of our lawmakers.

    Probably the biggest problem the world is not facing is global warming. That is at least partly the result of inadequate education in risk management and the sciences.


  206. Eclipse Now,

    Your assumption that a worldwide electricity grid is a waste of money is dubious. If you start with the assumption that the world needs more nuclear power, there’s still the problem of fluctuating demand so it makes sense to try and spread the load across as many timezones as possible.


  207. Arithmetic, EP, arithmetic! If you are going to put any CO2 in a hole, for heavens sake put all of it in a hole. Now we need the arithmetic. How big is the thing we are going to bury?

    Logic, Clifton, logic!  It came out of holes in the ground.  It is obviously capable of going back into them.


  208. Yes, it is true that since carbon came out of holes in the ground it is capable of going back in. However, when it came out of holes, it was in the form of stable compounds that weren’t going anyplace. The only way to put it back into holes and guarantee that it won’t go anyplace is to make it part of different stable compounds before putting it back into holes. That is the challenge; whether that can be done on a sufficiently large scale I don’t know. If it were easy, surely it would have been done by now, at least as a demonstration.


  209. That’s why I suggested using HDPE or carbon black.  If you wanted to get clever and had sufficient geothermal heat to work with, you could inject a mixture of phenol and formaldehyde and let it self-cure to Bakelite in place.

    This assumes that you can capture enormous quantities of CO2 and have the energy to convert it back to what is more or less fossil fuel.  We’re a long ways from this, but I think it’s important to keep knocking out the sides of the boxes our thinking gets into so we can see more of what we might otherwise miss.


  210. “This (burial) assumes that you can capture enormous quantities of CO2 and have the energy to convert it back to what is more or less fossil fuel. “

    I urge everyone to try it – the arithmetic is trivial, the answers impossibly huge. Any process that captures enormous quantities of CO2 and applies enough energy to convert it back to reduced form has a much more urgent destination for it as synfuel. In fact, it offers a means of gradually weaning a energy-hungry world off coal, oil and gas.

    Jim – that link brings us a beautiful image! The high CO2 in the Southern Ocean is I think due to the overturning of the deep water by the roaring forties/fifties. Organic carbon continuously drops from the near-surface life into the depths. However the greatest variation of CO2 is due to the seasonal cycles of the boreal (northern) forests.


  211. Wikipedia: “Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. ….. The term “gaslighting” comes from the play “Gas Light” and its film adaptations.”

    Science is a good defense against gaslighting. It is a purpose of science to eliminate influences from gaslighters.


  212. I urge everyone to try it – the arithmetic is trivial, the answers impossibly huge. Any process that captures enormous quantities of CO2 and applies enough energy to convert it back to reduced form has a much more urgent destination for it as synfuel.

    We need to get rid of roughly half the anthropogenic CO2 in the system (the oceans will outgas some if levels fall low enough) and there is no way that synfuel inventories will ever hold that much.  Even if we do make large use of synfuels, most carbon is going to have to go into something else.

    Yes, the carbon and energy numbers are staggering, but compare them to the energy in the 32,000 tons of uranium which flows into the world’s oceans every year.  The entropic minimum energy required to extract 1 mol of CO2 from the atmosphere is about 20 kJ.  Multiply this by 10 to account for a heat-driven process (cheap to do with off-peak nuclear heat) and assume 50% of a 3.4 GW(t) reactor’s output goes into it, extraction would average 374 kg/sec, ~1350 tons/hr, ~32,000 tons/day, ~12 million tpy.

    2000 reactors supplying the world’s electricity carbon-free doing the extraction in off-hours would pull ~24 billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year.  Current human emissions are on the order of 30 billion tpy, which includes emissions that the reactors’ day jobs would eliminate.  This is far closer to feasibility than infeasibility.

    Fission of 32,000 tpy of uranium at 200 MeV/fission is about 82 terawatts (thermal).  Total human energy consumption these days is around 13 TW(th).  The raw numbers say there’s plenty of headroom.


  213. The entropic minimum energy required to extract 1 mol of CO2 from the atmosphere is about 20 kJ.

    What process are you imagining, and where would this be stored? I thought the main energy component in this was mining and spreading the olivine. Are you imagining some other mechanism? Also, don’t we have to allow for night time electricity use to increase as we do away with oil and move to EV’s? Remember that NREL study that concluded 86% of American driving could go electric on todays grid if we also charge them overnight? (About 45% of American driving could be charged overnight on off-peak electricity).

    This article about in-situ olivine using seawater also offers food for thought.


  214. PS: My favourite quote from the article above is about the abundance of olivine.

    Olivine forms 60 to 80% of the Earth’s upper mantle, which in turn comprises about ¼ of the Earth.

    Another look at the same thing: underwater fracking to start a self-sustaining chain reaction. Fracking to the rescue!

    The researchers propose a carbon-sequestration strategy that would eliminate the need to transport carbon dioxide, as well as the need to heat up the rock. In this scenario, they would access rock formations in shallow ocean waters off the coast of Oman and elsewhere by drilling into them and fracturing the rock using existing oil-industry techniques. The researchers would drill two holes. Into one, they’d pump cool seawater. Rock temperature increases with depth, so as the water is pumped into the holes, it will get hotter, until it reaches nearly 185 °C. Carbon dioxide naturally dissolved in the water would then precipitate out of the solution. The hot water would eventually make its way through the fractured rock to the second drilled hole, where it would rise to the surface via convection. This seawater would quickly absorb more carbon dioxide, since shallow waters and surf mix well with the atmosphere. Because “the atmosphere transports carbon dioxide all over the world for free,” Kelemen says, this approach, if deployed on a grand scale, could be used to lower worldwide levels of carbon dioxide.

    This scenario would be limited by the concentration of carbon dioxide in seawater, so a cubic kilometer of rock would only sequester about a million tons of carbon dioxide a year. But since it wouldn’t be necessary to transport carbon dioxide or pay to heat the rock, Kelemen says, it would be possible to work with much larger areas of rock, and thereby reach a rate of billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year.

    Iceland ran an interesting trial, and found CO2 can turn to rock in just 2 years

    Ford are learning how to turn CO2 into bio-foams and industrial ingredients


  215. What process are you imagining

    TBD, there are many candidates including some zeolites which capture CO2 at atmospheric concentrations and have much lower binding energy than e.g. calcium oxide.

    where would this be stored?

    You tell me.  We can’t store tens of cubic miles of synfuels just as carbon inventory, so come up with something.

    I thought the main energy component in this was mining and spreading the olivine.

    The weathering process there is entropically downhill, replacing capture with the problem of increasing the surface energy of the absorbing minerals (crushing) and transport.  Different class of problem entirely.

    The neat thing about different classes of problem?  Many more possibilities.  The box got a lot bigger.


  216. EP, thank you for doing that arithmetic, it is an eye-opener!

    I find it helpful to turn the obscure “1 ppmv CO2” into more natural SI units. Seeing as the atmosphere is a layer, its natural units are in something “per square metre”. Consider that mean sea level pressure of 101.7 kN/m² is its weight. Also that “ppmv” is a molar proportion. Then
    1 ppmv = 101.7 * 44/28.5 / 10^6 = 16.0 g/m² (now, that’s handy to know)

    Currently (July 2016),
    – excess CO2 is (403-280) = 123 ppmv, increasing by 2.3 ppm/a – which when multiplied by 16.0 g/m² becomes
    – excess CO2 is 1.971 kg/m², increasing by 36.9 g/m²/a

    The “huge” bit comes when you multiplied by the surface area of the earth, (4pi6471000^2) = 510 Mm2, half of 10^15 m2, so that –
    – excess CO2 is 1005 Gt, increasing by 18.8 Gt/a (a similar amount in the sea surface will come out when the pp drops), or
    – excess CO2 is 511,000 km³, increasing by 9580 km3/a (as gas at STP)

    With that perspective, any process that purports to take CO2 out of the atmosphere must answer the question, “now, where would you put the waste?”


  217. @ Aidan Stainger, 19 hours back:
    There is more than a single way to match nuclear power to load. You may not have assumed that fluctuating load is not able to be followed by nuclear power plant. That is simply not true – the French have been load-following on a grand scale for almost 40 years using NPP.

    Thus, one alternative to hypothetical global electricity distribution systems is simple. It is load-following. The penalty and hence the primary cost, is that the capacity factor of individual plant is thereby reduced yet the fuel cost (U) is approximately constant regardless of plant load. The cost of additional generating plant to meet local peaks needs to be compared with the cost of constructing and operating the global grid.

    A second, much-discussed alternative involves storage in all of its forms (hydro, battery, synfuels, CAES, etc). The avoided costs need to be compared with the capital and operating costs of the storage plant.

    In any case, the starting point will never be the construction of the super grid; it will be construction of a very large number of carbon-free electrical power plant in lieu of the existing fossil carbon energy sources.

    The choice of option, as is often the case in many things, boils down to economics, not to technical considerations. Everything must be reduced to a price and every price must have a willing customer. Note: These economics must be applied system-wide if they are to be meaningful.

    DBB was correct a couple of weeks back when he welcomed the emerging recognition of the discipline of energy economics. Energy economists will play a huge and coordinating role in our energy futures, for it they who will steer us away from ineffective yet populist follies and toward affordable, effective actions. A local example here in Australia is Ross Garnaut, whose work in this area is remarkable though becoming somewhat dated.


  218. It is true that nuclear power plants can load follow and that the French have been doing it for years. However, load following shortens the life the the equipment including turbines, generators, and transformers, because of the thermal stresses. I don’t know how serious that problem is. Perhaps it costs less than the alternatives, but I do think that someone should quantify the cost.


  219. My book: “How to Tell Which New Car Will Last Longer” tells you something about that. Google can find it.
    Heavy duty means just that: It weighs more per horsepower. Light duty means it weighs less per horsepower. The relationship is cubic. Of course, corporations and salesmen lie.

    How long it lasts is included in the instructions to the chief design engineer. If you want it to load follow, that has to be part of the Prime Item Development Spec as well. It is a matter of engineering. We can design it to fail whenever the boss wants it to fail.


  220. Wear and tear due to load following has a lot to do with the rise time. After all, if the ramp up is in hours rather than minutes, stress gradients will be that much less.

    All the more reason to require intermittent generators to acquire their own fast-responding backup and commit to supplying steady power on an hour-by-hour basis.


  221. @freggers:
    Are you confusing load-following with two-shifting?

    Effects of load-following:

    Turbines: Minimal effect, if any, on annual maintenance requirements.

    Boilers and steam pressure parts, including steam feed pumps: Virtually zero impact in terms of cost of maintenance per hour run.

    Generators: Insignificant to nil. Maintenance is substantially scheduled on a condition monitoring basis rather than on the basis of hours in service or energy generated.

    Transformers: Insignificant to nil. Similar to generators. Transformers can be damaged when operated outside their design voltages, but that isn’t due to load following of associated generating plant – it is perhaps the result of NOT load following and thus of voltage swings.

    That which does significantly increase maintenance costs, primarily due to thermal stresses and increased creep strains, is two-shifting. This involves daily shutdowns and restarts due to system low loads or due to regular oversupply eg from PV during the middle of the day. That is not load-following and should be avoided with all steam plant where possible. The life of a steam system, provided that the original design is good, depends to a very great extent on how many starts it has experienced, especially starts from cold.

    Out in the real world, load following must be achieved somewhere, continuously. Virtually every steam driven turbo-generator does so, except for a fraction of the less than 500 NPP’s globally that are connected to a grid with a large fraction of stored hydro. Coal fired plant very frequently is planned to operate below maximum capacity in order to provide spinning reserve and thus frequency response to cater for unexpected loss of a generator in the system or to chase peaking loads.

    Every gas turbine that I have witnessed load-follows as part of its normal operating regime. There is nothing fundamentally different between the effects of load-following on GT and other turbines and generators.

    Weather-dependent generators and any other non-dispatchable generators are incapable of load following. This results in their owners seeking to offload this requirement onto other market participants, even though much of the need arises from the operational characteristics of their own plant and the vagaries of the weather. In a fair marketplace, they would be required to purchase frequency response services or to provide their share of an equivalent using any of the above, batteries or otherwise. But markets are not all fair.

    Two-shifting of steam plant is especially pernicious. It is essential that the difference between load following and additional starts is not confused. Two-shifting has emerged in some networks as a response to system oversupply due to PV, followed by massive needs for evening peaks, for example. The manyfold increase in cycles of thermal stresses, combined with the thermal inefficiencies inherent in this mode of operation absolutely shorten the operational life of the affected plant and increases their fuel and operator labour costs per MWh sent out.

    NB I have not discussed fast start or achievable ramp rates up and down. GT’s and hydro typically excel in those areas.


  222. “ramp rates up and down. GT’s and hydro typically excel”

    Just how fast can hydro ramp? There is a large column of hurtling water to be slowed down during shutdown, and the same column to be accelerated during ramp up. Avoiding water hammers surely takes minutes rather than seconds? Load curves from DBB’s links (US Pacific NW hydro) show smooth ramps for hydro despite (our) wind production curves looking as spikey as a hedgehog. It would seem that it’s the GTs that are doing the buffering.


  223. I agree with singletonengineer.

    Utility scale power plants will all be ~ the same dependability grade.

    Roger Clifton: I doubt that the water pipe to a hydro turbine would be allowed to become empty. They would avoid water hammer like 2 plagues.

    Gas turbines: Would be allowed to warm up, at least, before needed. It is switching between cold shutdown and on, or back, that would cause the most thermal stress. This isn’t a car.


  224. Roger Clifton — Pelton wheels are the water turbines turning the electric generators. These run at a constant frequency being a fixed fraction of the grid line frequency. The power generated depends upon how far open the supply gate, sometimes called valve, is open. For the BPA operated dams, most of the ones in the Pacific Northwest, the gates can be opened and closed fast enough to load follow.

    By conservative design and some good fortune most of the gates can respond quickly enough to follow the net load variations resulting from adding must-take wind power. There is additional wear on the gate mechanisms. BPA has to ‘eat it’ as it cannot be charged to the wind farms, other than in the power purchase agreements.

    It does work up to the amount of wind power that BPA can provide hydro balancing. In Spain, the intake gates are not that fast so the Spanish utilities control the wind power so that the variations are not more than the intake gates can regulate.


  225. What did you make heavier? The turbine housing you might make lighter. Or maybe you would limit the horsepower and build more turbines, or leave them hot all the time. The solution isn’t free, but it does require the design engineer to do work.

    Start with “what breaks?” But let the engineers do the engineering.


  226. Engineer-Poet: You knew a reactor can already ramp at 5% /minute, right? The problems are wind and solar, not making the nuclear ramp faster.

    So the real problem is people who think that the public should do engineering.


  227. @ David B. Benson “By conservative design and some good fortune most of the gates can respond quickly enough to follow the net load variations resulting from adding must-take wind power. ”

    The length of the penstock is also important for hydro ramp rates – if it is too long, then Roger Clifton is correct in that response may be limited by hydrostatic surge effects. The Snowy Mountains scheme is limited in this manner due to the very long pipelines used.

    singletonengineer can elaborate from his personal (as opposed to my theoretical) experience.


  228. GAS turbine, not steam turbine for quick response. Consider the length of the steam pipes.

    Consider distance from throttle valve to steam turbine casing.  There’s not a whole heck of a lot of mass to move in those steam pipes, and intercooled gas turbines like the LMS100 have plenty of piping also.

    You knew a reactor can already ramp at 5% /minute, right?

    Why should I care, when we can get 100%/minute AND decouple the nuclear island from the grid and let the system operators control the generator?  Read the paper, it’s an eye-opener.


  229. DBB is, in my experience, correct – coal fired stations can load and unload at rates typically 5% per minute and hydro, where it is present, is adequate for short term response to most load changes, provided that they are in service, stable and otherwise healthy.

    My experience includes 20MW/min ramp rates for older designed 500 MW units and 40MW per minute for not-so-old 660 MW designs incorporating steam bypass lines to the condenser.


  230. And Greg, they seem to have a big emphasis on activism with invitations to get involved. They’re my kind of nuclear activist! I’m going to approach them about a Facebook meme campaign.

    Check out what Shellenberger’s been into lately!

    Michael is Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” (2008) and coauthor of An Ecomodernist Manifesto (2015) and Nature Unbound (2105). He writes for publications including Scientific American, The New York Times, & the Washington Post. His 2015 TEDx talk was on “How Humans Save Nature.”

    He has appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” in a feature-length documentary about pro-nuclear environmentalists, “Pandora’s Promise,” and has debated nuclear on CNN “Crossfire” & at UCLA (2016).

    His 2007 book with Ted Nordhaus, Break Through, was called “prescient” by Time and “the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” by Wired. Their 2004 essay, “The Death of Environmentalism” was debated around the world. Michael was president and co-founder of Breakthrough Institute from 2003 – 2015 and left at the end of last year to start EP.

    In coming months and years EP will work as intensely on protecting the right of poor countries to access cheap credit and power for the development and conservation objectives as it does on nuclear. Two recent essays — “Why African Leaders Should Listen to Asian Economists and Ignore Western Experts,”and “Why Energy Transitions are the Key to Environmental Progress,” written with Rachel Pritzker — offer a peek into the next phase of EP’s work.


  231. Re: water hammer when rapidly changing hydroelectric output.

    Some of the hydro plants in the mountains west of Calgary have fairly long pipes from the reservoir to the turbines. In these cases there is a vertical pipe beside the turbine/generator for water to flow up into when the water flow is diminished or shut off.

    I expect this is standard design used in similar situations elsewhere in the world.


  232. During the Republican convention, there was considerable support shown for coal. It appears that climate denying is widespread. On the other hand, it appears that the Democratic platform will strongly support wind and solar power which will delay the expansion of nuclear power. Obviously neither will result in the strong action required to reduce CO2 emissions.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 9:43 AM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Jim Baerg commented: “I found a photo of such a tower on page 150 of this > PDF > > ” >


  233. Jim Baerg has drawn attention to balance towers or balance tanks which have the job of minimising water hammer.

    Waterhammer is a design consideration for hydro, not a game changer.

    Surge prevention devices have long been features of large piped systems. Smaller systems might use pressure relief valves to minimise high pressure surges caused by closing of valves, but balance tanks can be used to minimise both positive and negative transients in piped systems of any size.

    Options include open-topped towers, open topped tanks and large partially filled pressure vessels with either nitrogen or air above the water inside the vessel.

    Other means to minimise waterhammer include hydraulically or electrically operated valves with pre-set maximum operating speeds. Pumped systems often use speed controlled starting.

    Competent design engineers will present a variety of costed options to the client to manage it. My experience has been that physical and digital modelling in great detail for hydraulic systems is now common practice and that the results are excellent. Digital modelling has the advantage of being able to model all parameters, some of which are not able to be replicated by scaled physical models – eg vortex formation at pump entries, or flow through closing gate valves.

    Bottom line: Starting and stopping long columns of water in large pipes might typically take a few minutes and will require controlled conditions, but need not become a major issue for most systems.


  234. “Starting and stopping long columns of water in large pipes might typically take a few minutes”

    So hydro is limited to ramp times of some minutes. Perhaps large wind turbines might have similar inertia. A solar unit rises and falls faster than one second, and a cloud would travel across a solar farm in ten seconds or so. A hybrid system of all three would still have to provide backup for periodicity of 10 s – 300 s.


  235. Further to the last: The authors are Queensland academics and the cited paper is behind a paywall, at

    I followed a tweet from Crikey’s Bernard Keane, who has long championed solar and wind over all else.

    We need to find a way to challenge well-meaning but blinkered commenters such as BK, who has significant readership.

    Hopefully, feedback from peers will reach the research paper’s authors and their publisher.


  236. Roger, ramp rates are rates, not fixed times.

    To ramp from 0 to 100% in a couple of minutes is 50% per minute or about 1% change per second. Virtually instantaneous ramping can commence as soon as the need is detected. Multiply the components from many generators and significant contributions can be gained within a few seconds.

    The problems begin only once the number of uncontrolled factors such as weather-dependent generators, or perhaps failure of a single large one, overwhelms the ability of the remaining in-service units to maintain frequency within limits.


  237. If unreliables are limited to 33% of the notional market, then as they power down at the assumed rate of 2%/s they will be matched by the 1%/s from the remainder.

    Allow unreliables to reach unmanageable proportions of the mix and the South Australian picture emerges, the current so-called solution to which seems to be to construct a fatter pipe to carry power from lignite powered Victoria.


  238. Engineer-Poet: Ok, I read every word of the paper. I wouldn’t go that route; because:
    It is “decorated” with renewable energy.
    Fossil fuel, no matter how little, is an integral part of it.

    Both are moral hazards. The oppositions [plural] have hired the firm of Huckster Shyster, Finagle, Hassle and Weedle. They will use the moral hazards to maneuver you into a position of building a 99% fossil fueled power plant.
    Politicians will make all kinds of hay with it.
    Provokers have too many opportunities to get you angry with that perfectly reasonable [engineering-wise] design.

    I’m not being a “purist” for its own sake. We need to get to zero CO2 production, or as close as we can.


  239. The bad words are “GT” and “renewables.” It “looks” nice. Looks are deceiving. In a world of engineers and no lawyers, nope, not even then. We are already in too much trouble with the climate. We are going to have a population crash. No “maybe” about it.

    You can’t avoid burning fossil fuel by building anything that burns fossil fuel. “Less” is not “none.”


  240. “We are already in too much trouble with the climate. We are going to have a population crash”

    The second statement doesn’t follow from the first. Yes, there are big troubles ahead, and you and I can only repeat the vague predictions about what will happen, when and to whom. Even less can we predict how our national leaders and the man in the street will respond. But history is full of stories of heroic responses in adversity, with triumphant results. And our “Promethean environmentalist” founder seems to be asking us to be addressing the new climate, bravely.


  241. Hear hear!

    The second statement doesn’t follow from the first. Yes, there are big troubles ahead, and you and I can only repeat the vague predictions about what will happen, when and to whom. Even less can we predict how our national leaders and the man in the street will respond. But history is full of stories of heroic responses in adversity, with triumphant results. And our “Promethean environmentalist” founder seems to be asking us to be addressing the new climate, bravely.


  242. Edward Greisch

    Less is on the way to none, and you shouldn’t oppose tangible improvements just because they’re short of what’s ultimately required.

    The gas for GT doesn’t have to come from fossil sources, but that’s something that can be dealt with later The last part’s always going to be the hardest; we should go for the low hanging fruit first.


  243. Roger Clifton: Global Warming is only one of a number of reasons for a population crash. One does not have to follow from another.

    We are headed for a human population crash from 7 Billion to 70 thousand or zero people within 13 years. We don’t have time for research or fooling around with renewables. Causes of a population crash:

    Global Warming [GW] will cause civilization to collapse within 13 years because GW will cause the rain to move and the rain move will force agriculture to collapse.
    Population biologist William Catton says that we in the US are overcrowded; immigration must reverse. Collapse from overpopulation could happen any time now. The Earth has 4 Billion too many people. An overshoot in population requires an equal undershoot. We overshot by 4 billion, and the consequence is an undershoot by 4 billion. The carrying capacity is 3 billion. 3 billion minus 4 billion is zero because there can’t be minus 1 billion people.
    Aquifers running dry No irrigation, no wheat. No wheat, no bread.
    Resource depletion
    4A oil
    4B minerals

    War will kill a lot of people. Famine will kill 8 billion out of 7 billion. 7-8=-1, but with population, the crash ends at zero.

    NATURE has lots of other ways to kill humans. Don’t provoke her.

    The population crash will happen before 2040, possibly as early as 2022. There is simply no time for this eternal refusal to take action. You should not expect to be among the survivors, if any.

    Moving people from place to place does not reduce the number of people. So don’t do it.


  244. singletonengineer: WRONG.

    Reply-To: “John Coequyt, Sierra Club”

    Dear Edward,
    Tell the World Bank to Stop Funding Dirty Fossil Fuels.


    Today, Sierra Club activists at the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, are working to publicly call on the World Bank to end its addiction to coal by distributing factsheets outside of events where Bank officials are attending or speaking — and we need your help. 

Tell the World Bank that no amount of rosy public relations can hide the fact that a significant portion of the Bank’s energy lending is going to destructive coal projects. 

The World Bank is positioning itself in Cancun to play a major role in delivering climate finance to developing countries. But the Bank’s track record of supporting centralized coal projects harms the health and livelihoods of local communities while doing little to imporve their access to electricity, making the Bank unfit for the role it is trying to assume .1 

However, the bank has an opportunity to show its commitment to sound climate finance by revising its energy strategy to phase out fossil fuel lending and ensure energy access for the poor. 

Send a message to the World Bank today to make it clear that there is no place for institutions with coal addictions in climate finance. 

The World Bank’s continued commitment to coal — the most energy intensive and destructive fuel source on the planet — is a black mark on its record that the Bank is attempting to bury in glossy brochures and hearty speeches. It’s up to us to expose the truth. 

Help us tell the bank that we’re watching, and without a strong Energy Strategy, the Bank should not serve even a trustee role in future climate finance. 

Thanks for all that you do to protect our environment.

John Coequyt
Sierra Club International Campaign

P.S. Want to know more about the Sierra Club’s work at the UN climate negotiations in Cancun? Check out our blog.

[1] World Bank Energy Strategy Review Fact Sheet: Funding Transformation or Propping up the Past?

    What that said: Adding ANY fossil fuel burning to a nuclear power plant is justification for the World Bank to fund new coal fired power plants, on the grounds that a high efficiency coal fired power plant makes less CO2 than a low efficiency coal fired power plant.

    Both coal fired power plants burn 100% more coal than not having a power plant at all.

    Survivors, if any, are likely to be people who are still living in the stone age.

    Why do paragraph marks not work in this blog?


  245. 4 reasons for population to crash:



    Overpopulation, especially the US is the most overpopulated country.


    Fresh Water depletion. See sink holes in California


    Other resource depletion


    There is no open, empty farm land. The last of it was occupied in the 1880s What is left is not farmable.


    In the book: “Too Smart for our Own Good.” by Craig Dilworth, says we were better off in the stone age. Dilworth is a sophisticated luddite, not recognizing that we cannot stay on one planet for ever. Dilworth denounces capitalism and profit as the main culprits in our demise by Global Warming. Dilworth also denounces the solutions.


    Roger Clifton: You are supposed to have some general knowledge. Read “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009.


    Let’s see if paragraph marks work this time.


  246. I wouldn’t go that route; because:
    It is “decorated” with renewable energy.
    Fossil fuel, no matter how little, is an integral part of it.

    From the paper:

    The reactor can operate at a 90% capacity factor while providing 99.9975% of all electricity.

    For those who don’t do arithmetic well, providing 0.0025% of electricity from fossil fuel at 400 gCO2/kWh (the system operates combined-cycle) adds a whole 0.01 gCO2/kWh to the average emissions.  If you were concerned, it would be quite feasible to supply the required turbine fuel as e.g. pyrolysis oil from biomass rather than fossil fuel.  Pyrolysis oil is not long-term stable but it is both storable and easily shipped.

    Being able to work around the crappy availability of ruinables while still making a profit leaves the nuclear industry in prime position to eliminate the ruinables when the public gets tired of subsidizing them.


  247. Frank – the question I raised was about the risetime, I doubted that Hydro could match the risetime of wind or solar. (The highest frequencies of a noisy input are inevitably lost because the risetime of its balancing generators simply cannot match them fast enough.) There are hundreds, possibly thousands of tons of water in each of those pipes leading from the reservoir to the turbine. These have to be accelerated each time there is an increase in the throttle. Yes, it would be possible to store the energy of the previous deceleration in the compression of gas in a closed chamber, along with enough water for a fast response when the throttle opens again. It’s a PV calculation needed here.


  248. Engineer-Poet: I can do the arithmetic just fine. To an engineer, you are making sense. The trouble is that my career also included ¼ century as a federal regulator and acquisition executive. 0.0025% of electricity from fossil fuel is enough of a loophole to drive shiploads of coal through.

    If you want to get the CO2 level in the atmosphere down to 350 ppm, you don’t give anybody any wiggle room. Right now our CO2 is over 400 ppm and hundreds of billions of tons of ice sheet are melting every year. Farm fields in the corn belt are too muddy to drive a tractor on.

    I knew you were going to insist in putting in that loophole. I won’t agree with it even if you specify that it must be pyrolysis oil from biomass. The presence of a combustion turbine is too much temptation to dangle in front of a politician from a fossil fuel state.

    Did you know that there are political campaigns going on right now? Did you realize that Congress and a president can change the law overnight? Did you realize that bureaucrats are obligated and sworn to do exactly as the law says, no matter how absurd?

    So far, nobody in the US has done anything about GW, but a lot of politicians have pretended to.



  249. Roger,

    I realize that special engineering is needed to deal with the fact that a long water column cannot instantly be accelerated, which would be the case with a Pelton water wheel operating from a head of a few hundred or more feet, but I think that we have engineers who are capable of dealing with that. Probably it’s not a new problem resulting form renewables on the grid since even before there were renewables, a large power plant could fail and go off line or a transmission line could fail. Surely it must have been dealt with before.

    That reminds me of something I heard when I was a kid, several decades ago. My mother told me about someone whose job it was to watch the sky and advise the power company about approaching clouds. At the time I was too young to understand it, but apparently the power company wanted warning to increase the steam pressure before people started turning on lights. Probably that would have resulted in a more gradual increase in demand than some other situations.


  250. Roger, the vertical length of pipe doesn’t store water to a significant extent. Its function is to allow high pressure surges to run into the pipe rather than to travel through the whole system. Some arrangements can, however, provide a ready supply of water to the system to avoid underpressure and thus to avoid cavitation (column separation). When the gap between two columns of water close, they meet with explosive force. I have seen the resulting damage many times in large long pipelines… the failure is typically a blow-out of an oval section of barrel, followed by individual pipe sections being washed out of the trench or off their pipe supports. Fibreglass, prestressed concrete,asbestos cement, cast iron… many pipes and many situations.

    As somebody stated upthread, competent engineers can design to avoid both underpressure and overpressure problems. The result is that a combination of rotational inertia (eg from turbines and generators that are in service) will take care of the first few cycles following a partial loss of available generating capacity or a step increase in load. By then, the column of water feeding those Pelton wheels will already be accelerating and meeting some of the load.

    Call it rise time if you like – others call it ramp rate or instantaneous response or other names, which properly designed hydro can do very well.

    Here is a Utube example of a pumped hydro scheme in Wales. It’s worth the 7 minutes.


  251. 0.0025% of electricity from fossil fuel is enough of a loophole to drive shiploads of coal through.

    Not unless you gasify and filter it first; gas turbines cannot burn anything with significant ash content.

    But let’s take that 0.0025% number and run with it.  US consumption of all fossil fuels for electric generation in 2011 was 26,477 trillion BTU.  One-four-hundredth of one percent of this is 66.2 trillion BTU.  Total US coal consumption in 2015 was 801.6 million short tons containing 17.93 quadrillion BTU of energy, or about 22.37 million BTU per short ton.  66.2 trillion BTU of coal would be about 2.96 million tons.  This is less than 8 Chinamax bulk carrier loads.

    Would that we only had 10 times that many Chinamax loads of coal to worry about.  We could get rid of far more carbon than that with some effort to reforest Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil.

    If you want to get the CO2 level in the atmosphere down to 350 ppm, you don’t give anybody any wiggle room.

    If they want to wiggle something in, it doesn’t hurt if they wiggle out at least twice as much elsewhere.

    I won’t agree with it even if you specify that it must be pyrolysis oil from biomass. The presence of a combustion turbine is too much temptation to dangle in front of a politician from a fossil fuel state.

    I’m afraid it’s going to have to be there.  The electric grid requires emergency reserves.  An S-PRISM just plain takes too long to put into service to respond to deficiencies in a timely fashion.  If you make the combustion fuel as clean as you can, use very little and (especially) tax anything that comes from fossil sources, you’ve done everything you can practically do.

    Did you know that there are political campaigns going on right now?

    Did you know that Citizens Climate Lobby has been campaigning for a carbon fee and dividend for years, and is getting roughly nowhere?  Until there is a practical ENGINEERING solution to the problem, like Cal Abel’s sketch, I don’t think anything much (of value) is going to happen on the political end.

    As for water hammer, you’ll still have it even with a standpipe at the end of a long penstock if you shut off the outflow at the bottom fast enough.  The water in the standpipe has less inertia than the long penstock, but not zero.

    How much of a problem is it?  Take Ludington pumped storage facility.  It’s roughly 1000 feet from the power station to the edge of the reservoir, maybe 2000 to the reservoir center.  I recall that the ΔH of the system is about 400 feet (122 meters) and the penstocks are 28 feet (8.53 meters) diameter.  Producing 372 MW(e) from the upgraded pump/turbines at 90% efficiency, the water would be moving at a whole 6.3 meters per second.  The kinetic energy in a 600-meter water column moving at 6.3 m/s would be 654 MJ, or about 1.8 second’s worth of max output.  Water hammer is not a significant issue at Ludington.

    If you want or need almost-instant power, one or more hammer-stops with air bladders can supply or take up water flow without waiting for the water in the penstock to change speed.


  252. Aidan Stanger: The low hanging fruit is to build reactors that have already been approved for factory production by the NRC. See

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has certified 6 reactors for factory production.  More certifications for factory production are on the way.

    “Design Certification Applications for New Reactors”
    copied from:

    “By issuing a design certification, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves a nuclear power plant design, independent of an application to construct or operate a plant. A design certification is valid for 15 years from the date of issuance, but can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.


  253. Engineer-Poet: SO you didn’t understand the political implication of Cal Abel’s sketch.

    OF course the coal wouldn’t be burned in Cal Abel’s system. So what? The point is that the coal would be burned.

    The Cal Abel and Bojan Petrovic system would be a further excuse for causing confusion. The way to make nuclear cheaper is to remove unnecessary safety stuff, like soldiers guarding the reactor.

    Yes, I know about Citizens Climate Lobby. I doubt that any progress will be made until Americans start dying of starvation in large numbers. In other words, civilization is going to crash. And the 1% are going to be hunted.

    The engineering is done. We have all the engineering solutions we need, and a lot more. Concentrate on psychology, social engineering, advertising, learning how to deal with the people problem.


  254. Online Opinion has another article suspicious of nuclear waste dumps in Australia, and suspicious of the political process to get one. I wrote the following comment in reply.

    Shock! Horror! An industrial process has dangerous waste by products!? Wow. This is somehow news?

    Solar PV uses the “heavy metal cadmium, which is both a carcinogen and a genotoxin, meaning that it can cause inheritable mutations.”

    “Many of the solar panels that now adorn European and American rooftops have left behind a legacy of toxic pollution in Chinese villages and farmlands.

    The Post article describes how Luoyang Zhonggui, a major Chinese polysilicon manufacturer, is dumping toxic factory waste directly on to the lands of neighboring villages, killing crops and poisoning residents. Other polysilicon factories in the country have similar problems, either because they have not installed effective pollution control equipment or they are not operating these systems to full capacity.”

    But FOE LOVE Solar PV! Surely, following the same logic, we should ban Solar PV the way they’ve banned nuclear because there are some waste products?

    The bottom line? I’d rather LIVE in a low, no, let’s make that high level radioactive waste bunker than live in a quaint Chinese village next to a Solar PV farm. Why? Because the high level waste bunker would be over-engineered to the nth degree for safety because everyone is so utterly paranoid about the word ‘radiation’, (newsflash: people are radioactive!), while the Chinese solar manufacturers are just dumping cadmium in the river or neighbour’s farm.

    The project of civilisation has wastes. We know how to deal with it. Let’s build the fastest way to wean off fossil fuels, which is nuclear, and get over the fact that there will be a tiny amount of waste. (Approximately 1 golf ball per human lifespan, cradle to grave!)


  255. My responses to the OLO article are #3 and #6.

    It’s early days yet, but only 1 of 8 comments endorses the article.

    In the same vein, I saw Dr Karl Kruzelniki (spelling) on ABC-TV this morning singing the praises of “renewables”. Unfortunately, the ABC and its associated luvvies seem to consider that the bad guys are coal and the good guys are “renewables”, even though those renewables have exposed South Australia again to blackouts, wholesale market prices of $14,000/MWh and fleeing manufacturing industries, as reported in yesterday’s A
    “Australian” newspaper.

    Akin to Californian accounting, South Australia proudly trumpets its goal of 100% renewable electricity while throwing money at a smaller generating base which only functions when the interconnector across the border is available to bring brown coal generated power from Victoria.

    South Australia is daily living a low or no carbon lie. If they included in their calculations carbon emissions from their imported electricity (1.3t/MWh), their carbon intensity would be heading towards that of NSW (1.0 t/MWh), ie, not good at all.

    One source of indicative carbon intensities for all NEM power stations, large and small, is:


  256. EN – a glance at your link shows a familiar polemic, pumping life into an old bogey. This is the sort of text that is designed to be shouted through a megaphone, interspersed with choruses of slogans. Because it is designed to make us angry, we should not tackle her arguments head-on. So I wouldn’t take it literally. In fact the webpage advertises her as “Anica Niepraschk is a political scientist specialised on governance issues and civil society participation in democracies”. Ahah, she nearly had us fooled!

    As a rabble rouser, she has the skills that a rescue of the greenhouse needs. As a spreader of a political position, she would want technical advice that could be chanted without contradiction. But as far as a movement being politically effective and timely, it would be us seeking her advice and not vice versa.


  257. A closer look at the webpage tells us more about her role: “She is a member of Friends of the Earth’s Anti-nuclear & Clean Energy Collective” and a further link to her other works shows her as fully anti-nuclear. So I regret apologising for her bilious claptrap. However, the struggle against fossil carbon does need voices like hers – one-eyed, self-righteous and loud. But for credibility, it needs to be uncontaminated by “Clean Energy” funding, no matter how laundered through charitable foundations.


  258. Maybe I could have answered Engineer-Poet a bit better:

    Over the last half century, when the fossil fuel industry propaganda said: “Nuclear is too dangerous and too expensive, so let’s increase the cost of nuclear.” we have always bent over to receive another spanking. That is the wrong response.

    What we should do: Stand up, turn around, and fight back by telling the truth on them. Whatever you do, don’t agree with the coal industry by doing more engineering. We are adult now, and big enough to fight back.

    We like to do engineering. Engineering is fun. Engineering pays well. We need jobs. But doing the fossil fuel industry’s bidding is self-defeating. We will get more jobs by putting the fossil fuel industry out of business.

    Insults, assaults and battering should be returned in kind or handled by the police. We are not King Coal’s whipping boy.


  259. Nuclear Power Daily has an article stating that the Madras nuclear power plants is producing potable water for just US $0.0015/liter using a thermal desalination method. I assume this uses the reject heat at the bottom of the Rankine cycle.


  260. DBB’s story is also covered in the Hindu, which includes a good description of their process, also in MED. I am keen on water-producing MED as an alternative to water-consuming cooling towers. MED also provides a use for off-peak electricity, to increase the number of stages in action.


  261. singletonengineer: Laser enrichment depends on the laser being fine tuned. We need to read original articles to check, but the laser has to ionize either U235 or U238 and not the other. The difference in the frequency for ionization depends on the gravitational influence of 3 neutrons on the orbits of electrons. That is a small difference indeed. My guess is that only the US will be able to do it any time soon. So find an article with more details before panicking.


  262. It’s the magnetic influence of the odd neutron in U235 that couples with the electrons to split their energy levels. Thus energised, these atoms react and can be separated by chemical means. If there is to be a mass rollout of non-carbon power generators, there needs to be a matching tooling up of enrichment facilities, and it may be that this process fits the bill.

    The possibility that this expansion creates work for the proliferation police should be of no concern to us. Considering the vast influence of fossil carbon, we must expect its PR machine to be throwing out red herrings about non-existent threats requiring prohibition. We can leave it to the inspectors etc to do their work – as long as they don’t get in the way of decarbonisation.


  263. Just after California has reached an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to close their last nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, there has been a proposal by an environmental group,Californians for Green Nuclear Power, to bring the closed San Onfre plant back on line by reversing the decommissioning process and fixing the steam generators (the reason excuse for closing in the first place)

    The website for the group is pretty basic but they cover the reasons for supporting nuclear power quite well

    The Environmental Progress site is the one discussed by Eclipse Now and myself a week or so ago. There’s is undoubtedly the most well presented argument for why environmentalists should support nuclear power, that I have ever come across.


  264. Computers may need more power than the world can generate by 2040
    Thomas Overton
    2016 Jul 26

    which is a way of saying that computers will become another major consumer of electric power. So better mothball those turned off nuclear power plants which still have operational life.


  265. It appears there are 2 approaches for laser enrichment of uranium – atomic vapour and molecular. Silex falls into the latter category and still required UF6 so it’s not a process that can be used with a fair level of supporting industrial equipment.

    Interesting stuff – I have a hard time imagining how it can scale to commercial quantities.


  266. EG asked for the ballpark of the energy difference in hyperfine splitting, where Silex separates U235 from U238. I couldnt find one, but the definition of the second (CGPM13) comes to mind: “the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom”. So the ballpark delta-f is about 9 GHz, and delta-E is 38 ueV. Since that delta-E is k*delta-T for 0.44 kelvin, thermal jostling would seem to swamp any distinction between the isotopes, so it is still a mystery to me how it works.


  267. Hi all,
    Because these open threads fill up so quickly, I’ve started this next conversation over in the Brave New Climate forums. Just remember to bookmark the thread if you want to receive an email every time someone replies, and we’ll be able to continue this very interesting conversation over there rather than clogging up this thread.

    Basically, can extremophile bacteria become 10,000 times more land efficient than modern agriculture? Please don’t answer here as I don’t want to take away from any conversations above. These Open Threads fill up so quickly, maybe we should use them to direct BNC regulars over into topic-specific forum threads over on the actual forums? They have all sorts of powerful formatting tools and allow graphs and a wider variety of formatting options. And it means the moderator doesn’t have to open as many open threads here. ;-)


  268. Roger Clifton — Unsure the question is addressed to me. All 5 utilities are facing the loss of baseload generators as coal burners come to the end of their usefulness. It seems that these 5 utilities prefer the certainty of prices which comes with a nuclear power plant to the vagaries of the market for natgas, which are at historic lows and so may well rise from this day forward.

    Two of the projects are going to start site preparation, no more just now. One has all llicenses in place and has sent out a ROB for a contractor to construct a brace of Westinghouse AP1000 units; I predict Fluor will win the bid. A fourth is determined to put in some Nuscale modules, I don’t know how many, and is selecting the site within the boundaries of Idaho National Laboratory. The fifth is a 12-pack of Nuscale modules right next to the Columbia Generating Station, the nuclear power plant the utility already owns and operates.


  269. Greg Kaan — Yes. The other site preparation is TVA at Clinch River for a generic SMR. TVA had originally planned on an mPower unit but B&W is not moving forward fast while Nuscale is committed to sending everything to the NRC at the end of this year. So TVA is considering a Nuscale module or several.

    Interestingly, Nuscale seems to be seriously considering building their module factory in England despite the fact that all the current interest is in the USA.


  270. DBB, that is encouraging to hear. The AP1000 is being selected in several countries as though it is a well-proven design. It is certainly a well studied design, having passed not only the NRC requirements, but also the scrutiny by the Chinese nuclear community, rebuilding their own version of it. Certainly a gigawatt sized design is going to make a decent dent on carbon emissions.

    An exciting thing for me about the commitments to the NuScale reactor is that the industry seems to have faith in the idea of the factory-built reactor. Each 600 ton reactor is to travel from the factory to the site as a complete module, to be popped into its pool and delivering power and paying its rent within two years. By the same token, that means that purchases in the United States are going to need NuScale factories in North America. Such an object could travel on a barge around the coast and up the big rivers of each continent. It seems that crossing the North Sea would be practical for British-built units. However the logistics of transporting such an object across the North Atlantic would indicate the alternative of putting factories on both continents.

    If there is to be an urgent global rollout of carbon-free electricity, such factories would be popping up in all corners of the world.


  271. In the 1960’s to the 1980’s, 300 tonne components for 500 MW 660 MW turbo generators and transformers of inland coal fired power stations were transported from Japan by sea and trans-shipped via barges and rail to power station construction sites in New South Wales, Australia. Examples are Bayswater, Liddell, Wallerawang and Mt Piper Power Stations.

    It is not unusual for similar sized components to be transported by road for hundreds of kilometres for maintenance and rebuilds, eg 750km Singleton to Brisbane, although side tracks have been needed around a few bridges which are not strong enough.

    It is entirely reasonable 50 to 60 years later, to plan for 600 tonne Nuscale components to be delivered by barge and/or road to these same sites as the ageing coal fired power stations are redeveloped on the same sites as carbon-free, low cost generators which make use of the existing cooling water supplies, land and HVAC transmission lines.

    Sure, a handful of bridges will need to be reconstructed or duplicated, but that is trivial. The sea voyages are far from exceptional, whether across the Pacific or the Atlantic.


  272. The issue I see with the NuScale is the relatively low power output. The Westinghouse SMR (virtually a mini AP1000) is only a little larger than the NuScale but has over 4 times the output (225 MWe vs 50 MWe) using similar fuel (< 5% enriched U235) and has similar safety features. I can’t see how NuScale can build their reactor at a quarter the cost of the Westinghouse.

    Click to access Brochure.pdf


  273. I just a more detailed presentation of the Westinghouse SMR.

    Click to access 12.SMR-Westinghouse.pdf

    Hopefully, the NRC application for certification goes smoothly and hopefully for an ONR GDA, too.

    The UK seem keen to be involved in the production of this SMR as well as the NuScale


  274. Roger,

    You’re right. I’ve been at meetings at Power New Mexico, the local electric company, and a reason that they will not consider nuclear now is that the risk would be too high. The state legislature has (successfully) encouraged solar systems but the attitude seems to be anti-nuclear.

    One really cannot blame power companies for eschewing projects that might cause bankruptcy.


  275. Greg points out that NuScale modules at 45 MW apiece, are tiny compared to conventional standalone reactors. However, these are just modules, not the final power station.

    As I understand it, the first module is put in place and into operation along with a control room, to be followed in due course by further modules. The site and the control room is set up to handle 12 eventual modules to a total of 540 MW.

    In this way a quite hefty power station is being built up with off-the-shelf modules. On a brownfield site, where an ageing but not quite dead thermal power station is to be replaced, the transition can be gradual, with the load shifting piecewise to the new, carbon-free power station on the same site. As the first units prove their worth, funding for successive modules becomes cheaper and easier to get.

    For carbon-rich and nuclear-fearing Australia, one module at a time might be all that the public can handle during the introductory period. By that time, they may be so common around the world as to be seen as power pills, to be popped in wherever necessary. In the event of a global emergency rollout, the factories for mass-producing the rescuing module can themselves be mass produced and spread around the world.


  276. Roger, my concern is that the unit costs for the NuScale reactors may not prove cost/resource effective. For what looks (given the limited information available) like a very similar size and therefore, likely cost, the Westinghouse SMR delivers over 4 times the output. NuScale would need to be able to deliver their reactors for a quarter of the cost and then there is the still the 4x overhead for shipping/installation/control/refueling cycles…

    The NuScale would be good for more localised generation if the additional overheads for deployment and maintenance were acceptable (most likely for medium sized island grids IMO).


  277. At 225 MWe, the Westinghouse SMR (they really need to give it a snappy name or acronym) is granular enough for Australian main grids.

    One for one swapouts could be done for the Yallourn boilers and they would pretty much be a unit replacement for boilers at the closed Northern and Playford plants in Port Augusta. Especially since all of these are/were subcritical coal plants

    Of course they aren’t even certified yet but then Westinghouse have proven expertise in building and maintaining reactors.


  278. Sorry, the Playford generators were 60MW each so the NuScale would have possibly been the ideal reactor to have driven these.

    Still, I don’t think there are many baseload generators this small in Australia still operating.


  279. As a point of clarification, do the modular systems include everything to generate power, i.e., turbines, condensers, and generators, or only the reactor?

    It seems to me that having multiple reactors, turbines, condensers, and generators would run up the cost.


  280. Greg, by all means collect the relevant information from the websites and do the cost comparisons. For a start, the NuScale site projects 5 $/W for a NOAK, averaging to 90 $/MWh over its life.

    Cost isn’t the criterion if you can’t roll out your NPP’s as fast as the orders roll in, and climate urgencies may require a fast rollout. AFAIK, only NuScale could be scaled up to produce generators on the scale of 100 GW /a. That’s 100 GW of increased capacity every year, something for our leaders to know when they head off to the next climate summit.


  281. Fred Eggers — Having smaller components holds down the costs as all components are factory made and easier to assemble on site.

    Greg Kaan — My understanding is that the Westinghouse SMR is sufficiently large that it is not road transportable.


  282. NuScale containment vessel – 76′ x 15′
    Westinghouse SMR containment vessel – 89′ x 32′

    So the Westinghouse would be too wide for the 5.5m limit for Australian roads but the NuScale would be marginal.

    As for production scaling, I don’t see much difference between the 2

    Frank, have a look at the following link to see what is inside these 2 SMRs (the NuScale is very similar)

    Click to access 12.SMR-Westinghouse.pdf


  283. The economics of NuScale change radically if you can get approval to make the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) inside the reactor building and thus site units inside cities.

    Brent crude is currently going for about USD6.80/GJ; I’m not sure what natural gas costs delivered to NYC, but I’m sure it’s similar.  A NuScale putting off 110 MW(t) of waste heat has a potential revenue of $65,000/day from steam sales.  Nuclear fuel at $0.015/kWh means heat at about $1.25/GJ (figuring 160 MW(t) to make 47.5 MW(e) net).  Heating northern cities like NYC using NuScales to feed district heating systems looks like a huge money-making possibility, and the local generation means that there is no issue with failed LD power lines in the summer either.


  284. The tray of a CAT 777 truck is 280 inches (7+ metres) wide. They are carried routinely on local highways.

    500 MVA generator transformers are transported by road from LIddell Power Station to Queensland for maintenance routinely. That’s a 300T load. The insulator horns are removed but not the conservators. I don’t know the height, but it must come close to 6 metres. They do need special escorts and occasional sidetracks, but they get there.

    I once personally arranged road transport for a 110′ x 14′ conveyor gantry – it arrived on time and with only two police vehicles as escorts… on Easter Sunday, a day when oversize loads are normally forbidden to travel.

    If 300 tonne, overwidth and overheight loads are needed, then it can be made to happen. The real problems are political, not logistics.


  285. This seems too good to be true.

    Well, you know what they say.

    Here’s the full paper:

    I’m not going to have the time to dig through it, but you can be certain that it obeys all the laws of thermodynamics.  Worse, the production of aluminum by electrolysis of molten fluorides with graphite cathodes generates perfluoromethane which is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.  So far as I can tell this is interesting chemically but not anything like a way to scrub the output of powerplants.  Then again, I’m an engineer, not a chemist.


  286. Re:

    When the first line of the abstract insinuates that the paper reveals an effective way of vanishing carbon dioxide out of the greenhouse, its authors should be placed immediately at at sword point, against the city gates, and invited to explain just how effective it is. In fact it is not effective at all, the paper is addressing some obscure points of academic chemistry, and en passant is seizing the opportunity to pitch for funding from a worried public.

    Voices like these are just parasites, siphoning off our resources needed to respond to the global carbon crisis.

    If we ever find ourselves saying, “every little bit helps”, then we will find such voices emerging from everywhere, whispering their gimme-gimme-gimme message that if we throw them a few coins, our emissions will be forgiven. Don’t fall for it. If we allow ourselves be distracted by every little bit, then a little bit will all we can ever achieve.


  287. Given the number of charlatains out there and the damage they do, I am very much inclined to favor the program of Roger Clifton.  Making them back up their claims or suffer dire consequences would inject a great deal of desperately-needed prudence into today’s insane noösphere.

    Liked by 1 person

  288. Unfortunately, they would not understand the need to back up their claims or even understand what it means to back up claims.

    To some people, thinking nice thoughts about something or really believing it is all the proof that is needed. If you disagree with their nice thoughts, you are a bad person who should at best be ignored. One can make something come true merely by constant repetition just as repeating enough times, “The moon is made of green cheese.” would change the composition of the moon.

    It might help to have better science classes in high schools. For example, instead of merely teaching the laws of Newtonian physics and Ohm’s law, they should also teach exactly how these laws were determined and verified, i.e., the history of science should be taught. That way a few more people might appreciate the need for testing, verifying, and quantifying.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 11:26 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Engineer-Poet commented: “Given the number of charlatains out there and > the damage they do, I am very much inclined to favor the program of Roger > Clifton. Making them back up their claims or suffer dire consequences > would inject a great deal of desperately-needed prudence in” >

    Liked by 1 person


    I have read only 25% of the above linked document and may not get time to finish for a few days.

    Better understanding will only come from reading the WWS Plan and related.

    However, I recommend it because it points to a strong parallel between the 100% WWS Plan (Water, Wind and Solar) of USA and the locally-grown variants which advocate 100% renewables by yesterday.


  290. Jacobson has been debunked a sufficient number of times already. There is no need to say again: “Jacobson assumes away the major problems.”

    As the paper you cited says: “I’ve gone through the 100% WWS Plan at some length, and here’s my critique of it. Spoiler alert: The amount of land that it needs is vast; the amounts of money and material are enormous beyond your wildest dreams; and it won’t work.”


  291. If Jacobson has been debunked repeatedly, and if peer review in academia means anything at all, then how does he keep his job and the title “professor”? Has his university no pride?

    Of course, the same can be said for a small number of illogical Australian academics who, while claiming to be professionals and offering their opinions as experts also wave away problems such as intermittency, build cost, transmission system upgrade cost (or even the need for same, while assuming that electrons can mysteriously jump across the Australian continent sans infrastructure).

    Others feed the fantasy that nuclear power is too unsafe, too expensive, too slow, too old-fashioned, too illegal, or simply ignoring it entirely in their analyses.

    Are there rogue universities that foster false experts, or is there some kind of “freedom of speech” thing going on that somehow morphs into “Freedom to say silly things without defending them or recanting when demonstrated to be silly things”?

    Does the court of public opinion have/need rules of evidence, in the same way that even the lowest court in the land has an Evidence Act and an Oaths Act at its foundation? I am reminded of the saying “It is hard to soar with eagles when in the company of turkeys”.


  292. Having served some time as a very junior academic, I know that senior researchers spend half their time writing research proposals, most of which fail to earn funding. Money has strings, so the proposals must show at least lip service to the interests or policies of the funder. It is familiar to us here that German researchers are as competent as any in the world, but their alternative energy work often shows anti-nuclear bias that seems dutiful to biased paymasters.

    That said, a senior academic wants to attract to his team the most brilliant and energetic of the young students coming past his lab. High flying students want to be seen to be working for the fashionable causes of the day, so we should expect their research team leaders to be beating the same drum. That must be true of universities all over the world. Many years after graduating, we realise how tired and reactionary our “revolutionary” ideas were.

    Liked by 3 people

  293. Could someone who is knowledgeable about HVDC interconnectors comment on the feasibility and costs involved in realizing the energy model presented to me recently by a solartopian?

    The solartopian claimed that we could meet all the world’s energy needs with CSP and PV, without needing to deploy any energy storage capacity (I presume he meant “large scale energy storage capacity”), in the following manner:

    Deploy CSP plants across the world’s deserts.
    Deploy solar PV in distributed fashion to cover the world’s built surfaces.
    Deploy large scale PV farms across the world’s time zones (including in the high arctic – but not in the antarctic which was deemed impractical – in order to harvest the midnight sun) to ensure that solar power is always being produced wherever the sun is at or near its zenith. (The problem posed by winter and the Pacific Ocean was not dealt with directly, but the solartopian did seem to indicate in hand-waving fashion that solar power from the Atacama and Australia would be sufficient to cover global demand at that time of year.)
    Use HVDC interconnectors to distribute solar power across the planet and thus circumvent the need for storage.

    This solartopian, who claims to be an engineer who works on HVDC projects, said the biggest HVDC interconnectors his model would require would be the ones connecting Australia with SE Asia, North Africa with Europe, and Eurasia via the Bering Strait with the Americas. According to him, no trans-oceanic submarine HVDC cables would be needed. He claimed that the additional interconnectors needed to link the world’s electric grids and forge a single global electric power distribution system would represent a relatively minor additional cost, and that the total construction cost of all the HVDC his plan envisions might come to not much more than $10 billion at most. He backed up his claim by pointing to figures indicating an HVDC construction cost of $250,000/km.

    I have a feeling this guy is massively low-balling his estimate of the pricetag for the amount of HVDC his model would require, even if I assume a world free of conflict snd geopolitical power politics. It seems to me that during northern hemisphere winter, for example, when the Americas are in darkness, their power demand will be in the terawatt range and all of it will have to be delivered via the Bering Strait-straddling HVDC line envisioned in this plan. That HVDC line will have to traverse 4,000+ km of virtually uninhabited terrain with some of the harshest weather conditions on the planet, and it will have to have a transmitting capacity that is perhaps two orders of magnitude greater than the highest capacity HVDC line constructed to date. These factors lead me to suspect his $250,000/km figure is likely to be on the low side. Then again, as I said, I really don’t know much about HVDC, and less than I’d like about transmission in general. I’d be interested to hear from someone familar with this technology if this solartopian’s HVDC ambitions and cost estimate is in the right ballpark or if my suspicions are correct and he’s delusionally optimistic. (I’m just focusing on the HVDC aspect here. The system he’s proposing would be astronomically expensive for other reasons, as this blog’s readership undoubtedly realises.)


  294. The impotence of universities when it comes to maintaining standards of academic excellence and their core reputations as places of “higher learning” (ie knowledge), is mind-numbing. It also impacts on the reputation of universities as a whole – even, in Australia and as witnessed recently, to gutting of the national CSIRO research organisation.

    After 13 years as an undergrad or postgrad student at two mainstream Australian universities, I understand that tenure is sacred to those who possess it and is much sought after by those who have not yet attained it, but are there not limits to the damage that individuals can be permitted to do in the name of the institution which feeds them and upon which thousands of students and staff rely? Are the governing bodies of universities without power to defend the reputation of the organisations which they lead?

    Professor Brook’s short book “Why Vs Why – Nuclear Power”, published circa 2010, is a rare example of where a debate on a contentious subject is brought into the public arena and discussed politely from both sides. The opposing case was provided by Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe. At least they were civil in their disagreement and responded to each other’s points.

    What really gets up my nose are the shallow academics who use their university’s reputation and resources to publish contentious material but who subsequently fail to respond to criticism. It’s past time that universities attacked the cancer within, despite the philosophical and historical arguments against doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

  295. A 2011 agreement between USA and Russia comitted Russia to burn weapons-grade plutonium in BN series fast reactors. Although the HEU from the disarmament treaties has already been blended in and burnt, there is still plenty of low-240 Pu to be burnt – or denatured by n-absorbtion in fast reactors.

    Increasing the Pu240/239 ratio is sufficient to reduce the weapons-grade stockpile, while allowing the increase of stockpiles of reactor-grade fuel for subsequent fast reactors. I think that is the British intent (to use S-PRISMs) , as they have a lot of ex-Magnox plutonium that has quite low content of Pu 240, a worry to the non-proliferationists.

    The Chinese plans for expansion of slow neutron, then fast neutron reactors allows them to start up the latter by reprocessing all their used fuel.


  296. Roger Clifton: Bomb grade Pu means less than 7% isotopes other than Pu239. The non-proliferationists are just paranoid. They lump all isotopes of Pu together. Most of them don’t know what an isotope is. Our job is to teach them enough science so that they will know that there is such a thing as an isotope.


  297. “Deploy CSP plants across the world’s deserts.”
    That sentence there should have stopped you. CSP is exponentially more expensive than nuclear. Forget PV, the upgraded grid, and storage required for when even CSP shuts down. Just the CSP is many many multiples of the cost of nuclear.

    I’m worried about your solartopian friend. Sadly, many groups quote Dr James Hansen on the problem of climate change, while ignoring his stated solution.
    He says:
    1. Believing in 100% RENEWABLES is like believing in the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. (Yes, he’s aware of all the ‘studies’ that say we can, but still thinks storage is ridiculously expensive and cannot do the job).

    The world should build 115 reactors a year*
    (Note: on a reactors-to-GDP ratio the French *already beat this build rate back in the 70’s under the Mesmer plan. 115 reactors a year should be easy for the world economy. France did it faster with older technology, and today’s nukes can be mass produced on an assembly line. Also, GenIV breeders are coming that can eat nuclear waste and covert a 100,000 year storage problem into 1000 years of clean energy for America and 500 years for the UK with today’s levels of nuclear waste).


  298. Marmoset – tell us what you think. Then we can respond to your opinion, perhaps developing your ideas. But asking us to comment on the work of an absent author is like shooing a dog onto the postman. For example, calculate the number of kilometres he can buy with that money at that price, and give us your opinion of his judgement. Then we can respond to your opinion. Yours, not his.


  299. The proposal to interconnect renewables across country boundaries to make the entire world was interesting. I suppose that in theory it could be made to work, but I see significant problems which have not been considered.

    With such an international grid, a hostile country could easily cut off power to its neighbor. That has already been done with gas; Russia cut off gas to Ukraine.

    Per the proposal, some of the power would come from solar installations in the Sahara Desert. That would indeed be challenging considering that the Sahara Desert constantly has sand dunes drifting across it which would block access roads and from time to time cover up the solar installations.

    I see the project as exceedingly high risk and unlikely even to be started.


  300. ” … asking us to comment on the work of an absent author is like shooing a dog onto the postman … tell us what you think … Then we can respond to your opinion. Yours, not his.

    Eclipse, I dont want to do homework, studying a document for you. But I would be happy to read your opinion of it.


  301. Eclipse Now — Unfortunately my mobile device isn’t up to safely traversing the New Matilda site. The comments there are full of errors, especially regarding the lifetime greenhouse gas intensity of solar, wind and nuclear. The IPCC part 3 study of this is more detailed than the study found on the World Nuclear Association website. The conclusions are highly similar: solar PV is twice as much as both nuclear and wind, which are essentially the same.

    Perhaps you can post this in the New Matilda comments for me.


  302. “Sheesh! “. sheesh |SHēSH|
    used to express disbelief or exasperation: sheesh! what fun is it to mock people when they don’t even get it?
    I know what Eclipse Now doesn’t get: Science. Any of it, starting at the high school level.

    I know what all those politicians don’t get: All of science and engineering since the high school level. The electric company will build whatever is mandated. But it won’t work as advertised,



  303. Hi all,
    I only posted the New Matilda link in case anyone wanted to back me up. It’s an activist opportunity, as the New Matilda piece mixes trite political cliche’s with a belief in wind and solar as the answer, and desperately needs some serious ‘education time’ from you guys. But given Edward lurks here, and by the way he treats me — a fellow nuclear activist — I’m beginning to doubt the wisdom of sharing such opportunities here. He might go there. That would just convince the anti’s that all nuclear activists are bastards. That’s NOT what Ben Heard recommends as the best way forward for nuclear activism, and I’d encourage the Moderator to watch Edward’s harsh manner here. He risks completely alienating any newcomers to nuclear power.


  304. Eclipse Now: Harsh? Who is harsh? NATURE is harsh. There is no politician who can order Nature to change the laws of Nature. You can find this out the cheap way, by going to college and getting a degree in a hard science, or you can find it out the hard way, by spending billions of dollars on something that doesn’t work.

    In the end, Nature wins every time. Not me, Nature. I am giving you a very gentle warning. Take my warning or get into the train wreck. Your choice.


  305. I’ve suspected for some time that I have a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. The symptoms fit very well. Probably it has much to do with my insistence on having all the facts, quantified if possible, before making decisions and my ability to change my positions when new information becomes available. Although Asperger’s is a blessing in some respects, it is a mixed blessing.

    On energy issues, I simply do not understand why so many people insist on pursuing energy technologies and spending trillions of dollars on them in the absence of reasonable proof that they will work. We know that nuclear power works; that has been proven and, in addition, there is good and established reason to expect significant improvement in nuclear technology. On the other hand, there is plenty of reason to doubt that intermittent sources of power can be made reliable with any technology which presently exists. It also appears foolish to assume that technologies will become available which would make intermittent sources of power reliable. Such technologies may become available, in which case we can use them, but surely it is unwise to rely on that which does not exist.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Sun, Aug 14, 2016 at 10:51 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Edward Greisch commented: “Eclipse Now: Are you God? On what authority are > you giving me a very gentle warning? Are you threatening me? Police: Please > note Eclipse Now’s post. I’m sure you know how to find him. Aspergers > Syndrome: Everybody needs a little. NATURE still wins” >


  306. Frank, I find your observation interesting. I’ve heard it said that autism is just one more personality trait that we all more or less display. Here is a “autistic quotient” questionnaire, in case anyone’s interested in finding where they are on the autism spectrum.

    I suspect that we commenters on BNC might score high (“might score well”, I could say!) because, much as you say, we are more interested in facts than passions. But by the rules I must refrain from getting more personal than that.


  307. My autism score was 40 out of fifty. According to the survey, “Scores in the 33 – 50 range indicate significant Autistic traits (Autism). However, my sister, who is a retired clinical psychologist, strongly asserted that anyone raised in our home would appear to be somewhat autistic; probably she is right.

    Anyway, I generally require a higher standard of proof than most people do; that seems to be true of most people on this site. That became apparent the last time I was on a jury (I’ve been on three juries) because I was reluctant to accept the unverified statements of a police officer.

    Frank R. Eggers Albuquerque, NM U.S.A.

    On Sun, Aug 14, 2016 at 11:28 PM, Brave New Climate wrote:

    > Roger Clifton commented: “Frank, I find your observation interesting. I’ve > heard it said that autism is just one more personality trait that we all > more or less display. Here is a “autistic quotient” questionnaire, in case > anyone’s interested in finding where they are on the aut” >


  308. 37 here. And I thought that I was both highly emotional (ie, that I care about things) and highly rational (ie, that I am interested in understanding things and not always ready to accept advice from others without substantiation).

    At least, that was what a potential employer’s HR person told me some years back. HR person said that the combination of the two traits is impossible and thus that I must have tried to cheat the test. I was culled on that basis.

    HR person didn’t appreciate my querying the amateur analysis and was somewhat less interested in a comparison of my psych studies history (meagre, but still two F/T years at undergrad level) against theirs (zilch – had never seen the inside of a university).

    I recommend healthy scepticism in all things. At least that minimises any tendency to blame others for my own decisions. The rationalists win.


  309. combination of both traits is impossible

    When doing a Myers-Briggs test as a mature adult, I protested that I was capable of all-of-the-above and was advised to hold in my mind’s eye an image of myself at 20 yo. Yep, much simpler.

    This time, mindful of my respected fellow commenters on BNC, I perceived a paragon of sober thinking and thus scored highly at 39. Just as well, I might have felt lonely!


  310. Eclipse Now: NO I could not have meant any perversion which you have changed my words to. Yes,I know humanities types can’t handle the truth, so they change it to absolutely anything, no matter how far out. You can’t avoid the train wreck that way, so I am not even going to your funeral.


  311. Hi guys,
    I wouldn’t have picked you all as Aspergers, just focussed. There’s a problem to be solved, and it’s a doosie. Maybe I’m also a little Aspergers, but I really cannot understand why everyone isn’t reading and talking about solutions to mankind’s greatest challenge. There is good news, after all. If we act. Soon. Instead, sadly, it seems the latest reality TV cooking show gets more views than climate documentaries, and cats still dominate BookFace. They don’t seem to understand what Rainman here compulsively screams at us every 30 seconds.

    NATURE still wins every time.


  312. PS: Although it occurs to me that a smart person like Edward should know better than to say “NATURE still wins ever time”. Nature is dying: we’re committing planet-wide ecocide. Edward should have said “THE LAWS OF PHYSICS still win every time.”


  313. This discussion is deteriorating into a slanging match. Please all cease with the personal attacks.
    Prof Brook is away at the moment, at the ESA Conference in the USA. He returns at the end of this week and will be posting again and also putting up a new Open Thread

    Liked by 1 person

  314. More from this morning’s reading.

    Australian discussion paper about the regulatory framework necessary for automated vehicles on Australian roads. It offers guidance as to the various levels of automation that are envisaged and the nature and extent of changes that will be necessary to manage the new forms of risk, which emerge when there is no human driver in control of a vehicle and whether this be for an instant or at all.

    It provides a glimpse of a possible future. Given the current popularity of GoGet and similar car sharing schemes in our larger cities I envision a time when the majority of private vehicles, at least in the congested inner suburbs of cities, are no longer able to be parked for days at a time on the street or in private garages, but will either drive themselves to their next task or return to a designated (central? peripheral?) parking and charging station. What? No Residents’ Parking Permits? All electric, of course.

    If and when this happens, my guess is that intermittent sources of electricity will not be up to the task of powering our private vehicle fleet… but that is another subject.

    The linked discussion paper provides us with an overview and an introduction to the vocabulary that we will need for us to understand each others’ contributions to the discussion.


  315. I’m keen on the idea of fleets of autonomous taxis charging up at the railway station park and taking up to several passengers each to and from their homes nearby in the 50 km/h suburbs. Charge rates would vary in sympathy as the railway power varied from trains braking and accelerating.

    In low demand hours, the cabs could serve as sleepers, their humans using the railway station facilities. The implied need for remote monitoring would help protect the stations and their fleets with vigilant watchmen.

    Liked by 1 person

  316. Roger, my commuting days are behind me. My next goal might be to avoid the mobility scooter phase when I deteriorate. Registration, basic maintenance and insurance for my ute add up to a standing charge of about $2.5k per year before a wheel is turned. Cabs are $30 each way. Two to three trips per week are the basic need, with side trips to pharmacy and doctor.

    At 9km from town, I doubt that a scooter has the necessary range or, on a 100km/h country road, the necessary visibility and safety.

    The question is: When will shared Google cars summoned via smartphone be available?


  317. Robot cars are one of my favourite things. They might enable more people to live without buying cars, but instead using more public transport in the knowledge that any missing bits or awkward changes in their journey can be covered by REV’s. (Robot Electric Vehicles).

    In 14 years, human driving could be illegal.

    “Smart cars are coming, but what about smart roads?

    Telstra’s chief scientist, Dr Hugh Bradlow, thinks Australian roads should be driverless by 2030.

    He tells RN Drive that Australia’s road infrastructure needs a rethink if we’re going to keep pace with driverless technologies.”



    Not everybody supports the hard line stance of Euan Mearns’s blog, but even the detractors have to agree that the two main contributors do a lot of seriously good work when it comes to costs, carbon emission reduction and nuclear power options.

    The latest, linked above, demonstrates that the German efforts to eradicate nuclear power have resulted in only four significant outcomes:
    1. More expensive electricity.
    2. Unwanted cost and system instability impacts on other European neighbours’ systems.
    3. Breaching of EU regulations regarding non-subsidy by individual nations of their industries (in this case, electricity) to the detriment of other members of the EU; and
    4. No real decrease in national CO2 emissions, because the gains from solar, wind and biological fuels have been matched by increases in CO2e emissions from expanding lignite.

    Germany has trapped itself so tightly that meeting its carbon emission goals for 2020, 2030 and beyond is now improbable.

    The only demonstrable popular outcome appears to be reduction in nuclear power. Will this popularity last when their citizens realise the full extent of the negatives?

    My personal view is that the Germans will be the last to admit their error. Here’s hoping that the rest of the world learn from the German experience.

    South Australia, are you listening?


  319. Nuscale now estimates their SMR will provide a net 47.5 MWe so a 12-pack nameplate rates as 570 MWe. The Idaho Falls area planners are using US $2.8 billion as the cost of the first Nuscale installation. That’s just US $4913/MW. Hope they are not being overly optimistic.


  320. Peter Davies — As I understand the plan, Nuscale starts delivery in 2024 and completes the 12-pack in 2025. The dates are urgent as the purchasing utility is going to shut down an old coal burner then.

    Presumably right after that Nuscale will deliver a 12-pack right next door to the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant.

    I know of no further orders, but Nuscale clearly is attempting to sell in England.


  321. Peter Davies — A search for
    Nuscale sales offices
    quickly finds the London office. You could likely arrange a presentation at a University of London venue scheduled for a suitable time during term. If so, you would then know more than I about Nuscale power modules.


  322. Frank asks, “Will any of these small modular reactors be able to burn current “waste” as fuel?

    The NuScale SMR is rated to burn MOX fuel, that is, recycled plutonium from used fuel. However, it is a slow-spectrum reactor, so the degree of certain recycling is limited to burning up 239. Efficient use of U238 and its neutron-added progeny requires fast-spectrum reactors. Toshiba’s 4S is a fast spectrum reactor but is not currently in the running for a mass rollout, unlike the NuScale SMR.

    A mass rollout of SMRs outside of the current nuclear countries is likely to consist of a slow-spectrum reactors, burning only uranium enriched in U235.


  323. As I see it, there is no simple Yes/No answer to Eclipse Now’s question.

    Non-technical guidance can be found at

    IMHO, it probably depends on the answers to two questions:
    1. Is the reactor pre-assembled in a factory?
    2. Can the factory-assembled components be transported to the site? Obviously, large barges are likely to be able to carry larger, heavier loads than either roads or rail, thus favoring coastal and river sites.

    If the answer to both questions is Yes, then the fast reactor under consideration would appear to be a SMR. If not, there are a range of smaller contenders, although few will be available in the near future.


  324. I think it is important for us to avoid using the word “waste” at all, because we would be reinforcing the paradigm that the only good thing to do with unwanted stuff is to s