Sign up | Login with →

Comments by Jesse Jenkins Subscribe

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Dan, my interest here (which seemed apparent to most everyone else and was stated pretty clearly in my post) was to start a focused dialog around key policy options to drive nuclear power development in the United States.  There's a wealth of information out there on the net, particularly at NEI and here at theEnergyCollective.com, and I've been reading as much of it as I can.  If you're not interested in participating in a focused discussion here, that's fine.  I'll keep reading your posts.  But don't assume my motives aren't genuine.  That's pretty insulting really.  

I also don't understand at all your assertion that advocating use of renewable energy technologies (even their possible use to meet baseload demand) is "de facto anti-nuclear."  That logic confounds and gets us back into the zero-sum nuclear vs. renewable debates that I have no interest in.  As I've stated, I clearly see a portfolio of energy sources needed to meet our global energy demand with low-carbon sources (as do most energy analysts, including the IEA, EIA and even the folks at NEI) so not sure why you insist on this zero-sum mentality.  

Anyway, thanks for the insights you're willing to contribute to this discussion.  Let's try this with less assumptions about motive and less zero-sum adversarialism though, please.
Jesse 
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Over at the excellent NEI Nuclear Notes blog, the nuclear experts at NEI note they've outlined a policy initiative to catalyze the U.S. nuclear industry detailed here

(And I just noticed David Bradish of NEI's comment above pointing to the same document!  Sorry for missing you David and thanks for dropping by).
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Charles,
Sorry I missed the conversation at Rod's post. I've been reading TEC posts on nuclear power for some time with interest (including the series you wrote in response to another earlier question of mine).  It was my impression (uninformed perhaps) that the TVA plant (you're talking about the Watts Bar Unit 2 right?) was the only one moving ahead and that it was the completion of a reactor begun in the 1980s and stalled in 1988.  I guess I considered that more of a hold-over from the last nuclear building boom, and not the resurgence of a new industry, but that may be mistaken.  I know there are plans for many reactors, but little concrete progress it's seemed.  Regardless, I've been struck though by the fact that new nuclear plants have gone online in the 1990s and 2000s in several other nations, yet we appear to face numerous challenges in the U.S., hence the desire to get to the bottom of these challenges and explore the role policy can play in that process.  Thanks for your comments in pursuit of that goal. Cheers,
Jesse
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Dan, thanks for answering.  It'd be great if you could update your post as well RE my "anti-nuclear" views.  You reference the TEC webinars as evidence of my views, but you may have confused me for another participant.  If my memory serves, I believe I was pretty clear in those webinars that I don't agree with those who see nuclear as an evil and demand we avoid all new nuclear plants and oppose any policies including support for nuclear (even as they cry about how urgent the climate threat is) and assume that nuclear will play a role in our energy future.  I've also pushed back and questioned those who tend to argue that "nuclear is all we need" or consistently get into nuclear vs. renewables debates (talk about zero sum) as I see a portfolio approach as the only way to realistically transform our energy sector on the pace and scale necessary.  Thanks,
Jesse
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Marc, thanks.  And thanks for the question of clarification directed at Dan.  Had the same question myself: why has DOE failed to get loan guarantees out the door?  Thanks for clarifying Dan.
Jesse
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

Dan, thanks for writing up responses to my questions.  I'm reading through them now, along with the other replies here at TEC.  

However, I'm not sure though why you assume that these very genuine questions are "disingenuous" and classify me as holding "anti-nuclear views."  Neither is the case.  And my interest here isn't in sussing out the "the existential nature of green political correctness v. using nuclear energy to meet baseload demand."  My assumption here is that nuclear power, which accounts for 20% of our current electrical generation needs to continue to play a significant role in our energy mix.  Given that the industry has stalled in the United States (while progressing elsewhere), as a policy analyst I have to ask, why? And what can policy do to change that picture?  
December 1, 2009    View Comment    

On An Energy Collective Discussion: Overcoming Hurdles to Nuclear Power in the United States

So who wants to take a first crack at it?
November 30, 2009    View Comment    

On Announcements of U.S.-China cooperation create a path to Copenhagen success

" The newly established U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will see real money to the tune of $150 million over the next five years committed equally by both sides."

"Real money?"  $150m over five years or just $30m per year?  That's a long way from what I consider "real money" for a research center, particularly one focused on capital-intensive energy projects.  Real money would be on the scale of the U.S. national labs, which receive several hundred million annually a piece (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab here in the East Bay where I live has a $500 million/year operating budget), or the scale of the BP-funded University of California at Berkeley energy research program ($500 million), or in a non-energy-related space, the scale of the National Institutes of Health research centers (which range from a few hundred million per year to over a billion dollar annual budgets for the larger centers).  

Sorry, but when we're talking about the multi-trillion dollar energy sector, "real money" has a few more zeroes on the end of it.
November 20, 2009    View Comment    

On The Real Policy Lesson From the Chinese Wind Turbine "Scare"

" In contrast Americas 104 reactors produce energy at a very low cost, and manage to make a profit without production subsidies.  "

No production subsidies, but government-financed research and government-backed loan guarantees and government-authored laws to limit overall industry liability in the case of reactor accidents...  The nuclear industry is hardly a paragon of the rugged self-reliance of the private sector.  I think we're going to have to get comfortable with the idea that well-designed public policies (and that generally doesn't include what we've got on the books yet) are needed to catalyze a variety of clean and low-carbon technologies and move them forward to the point where they can ultimately provide low-carbon, affordable power without ongoing subsidy.  Wind and nuclear included.  Cheers,
Jesse
November 12, 2009    View Comment    

On VIDEO: Jumpstart Clean Energy with a National Institutes of Energy

Rod, sorry for my abbreviated version of US DOE history, but ERDA was indeed responsible for both energy-related research as well as the research and management of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal and continued weapons-related research (including overseeing the National Labs, the first of which came out of the Manhattan Project).  ERDA was only in operation for two years before formation of the USDOE and during that time hardly differed from the rough description given above (e.g. focus split between nuclear weapons management, weapons research, basic science and energy innovation).  

The influence of money in politics is certainly nothing new.  And again: what's your answer?  The U.S. private energy sector invests paltry - almost criminally small - sums of money in research and innovation for a sector its size.  If this were, say, the dog food industry, I don't think we'd care.  But with our climate, national security and economic competitiveness all depending on dramatic clean energy innovation, I contend we face no real choice but to wrestle with the halls of power on this one.
Jesse
November 10, 2009    View Comment    

On VIDEO: Jumpstart Clean Energy with a National Institutes of Energy

Hey, snark is excused! And working as a DOE contractor is enough to make anyone a bit jaded and snarky I'm sure.

But if we can't work for government reform of the energy innovation system, as imperfect as it will be, then we're lost.  Private sector R&D investments are about one quarter of one percent of industry revenues.  That's just one tenth of the U.S. industry-wide average of 2.5% of revenues invested in R&D and two orders of magnitude less than what leading innovative sectors like biotech and IT invest in R&D (e.g. 10-20% of revenues annually).  So if you're waiting for the private sector and the "perfection" of markets to spur the dramatic energy innovation we need, we'll be waiting until I'm at least as old and jaded as you... ;)

Cheers,
Jesse
November 10, 2009    View Comment    

On VIDEO: Jumpstart Clean Energy with a National Institutes of Energy

Hi Ed, thanks for the snark... er comment. Please skim the brief report for more on why DOE is actually not the energy research agency we all think it is - and why a National Institutes of Energy is what our nation needs.  

DOE was cobbled together from a bunch of weapons research labs and a nuclear energy agency and to this day it's not really in the energy innovation business.  The majority of the agency's budget is still devoted to managing and cleaning up after our nation's nuclear arsenal and the research conducted at our network of National Labs is similarly focused on a wide range of activities, much (the majority I believe) not related to commercializable energy innovations, including high-energy particle physics, nuclear sciences, and weapons research.  Until the creation of ARPA-E, our nation has lacked ANY agency singularly focused on energy research.  While under the direction of Secretary Chu, DOE has hewn towards reforming and expanding the DOE energy innovation apparatus, it's got a long way to go (to say the least), and efforts to reform and strengthen DOE should proceed apace with efforts to establish new and innovative institutions to catalyze the energy research we need. 

Jesse
November 10, 2009    View Comment