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On IPCC Working Group III Recommends Nearly Quadrupling Nuclear Energy

@Willem

Did you even read my post? Working Group III of the IPCC was formed to provide suggestions for workable solutions. They have clearly stated that nuclear is part of the very short list of suggestions and they have identified to policy makers that the main obstacles in the way of using more nuclear are political and must be solved by policy makers, not engineers or scientists.

That is a good thing. We do not have time to wait for inventions like "reliable electricity storage" or cost effective "carbon capture and storage" but we have plenty of time to allow people to change their minds. Popularity of technology like nuclear can be changed almost as quickly as we can change our minds about the best available smart phones.

April 22, 2014    View Comment    

On Some Lessons Were Learned from TMI, Others Were Not

@Bob Meinetz

You wrote:

John, TMI is dwarfed by the Santa Susana Field Laboratory accident of July 1959, which is estimated to have released 400-500 times as much radiation to the environment, and resulted in as many deaths from cancer over the years.

You mean zero, right? I have to admit that your first paragraph threw me off -- when I initially read it -- because somehow my eyes skipped the key word 'as'. That left me seeing "resulted in many deaths from cancer," which did not jive with the context of the rest of your comment.

It just goes to show that words -- even tiny little words -- matter. 

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

April 8, 2014    View Comment    

On American LNG Won’t Solve Russia's Energy Bullying

@Willem

The prices you quote in your first paragraph are for 1000 cubic FEET, not 1000 cubic meters. That makes them wrong by a factor of 35.3 on the low side.

Russia also does not sell its gas to European customers for the equivalent of $4 per 1000 cubic feet (which is also frequently stated as MMBTU for million British Thermal Units.)

The monthly prices since September 2013 have remained relatively constant at almost $11/MMBTU.

http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=russian-natural-gas

Natural gas from the US based on our current -- artificially low prices -- would cost about $12/MMBTU, as you stated, but that it not as far from Russian prices as you stated.

On the other hand, I agree that it is irrational to think that very many investors are going to sink the kind of capital investment required into an LNG delivery infrastructure on the hope that current North American gas prices will remain in place for the next 20 years while they recover their capital investments.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

April 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Vogtle Construction Update Video

@wind smith

Here's the funny thing. A substantial portion of the money that Wall Street controls and invests is owned by millions of individuals who have invested in pension funds, mutual funds, and regular bank accounts.

We should demand to get more for our money than just bigger returns and paychecks for the bankers.

April 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Is The Energy Department Still Looking To A Give Coal-To-Liquid Plant A Loan Guarantee?

@Joe Romm

There is another way to sharply reduce the CO2 production rate per unit of fuel in a caol-to-liquid conversion process. The reaction is an endothermic one; most of the extra CO2 production associated with coal to liquid comes from burning about half of the input coal to provide the heat. That process releases CO2 and cuts the output liquid by about 50%.

If a high temperature, ultra-low emission nuclear reactor provided the heat -- as is proposed by the NGNP project and others -- there would be far fewer emissions and a substantantially greater liquid fuel output.

The overall cycle could approach the CO2 emissions per unit of liquid fuel currently achieved with conventional petroleum. The required raw materials are located in the US, not under the territory of potentially hostile nations or trading partners who happily export crude oil to the US in a highly profitable arrangement -- for them.

A great source of the coal for this process is the coal that will no longer be directly burned in US electricity production because it has been displaced by cleaner sources of power like natural gas, wind, solar, and, of course, nuclear energy.

If you're interested, there is more information here:

http://atomicinsights.com/combine-domestic-coal-with-nuclear-energy-to-make-oil/

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

April 6, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@jan Freed

It is too easy to simply say nuclear is too expensive without a reasonably good understanding of WHY it is so expensive. After all, fission is just another heat source that uses machinery very similar to that used to convert combustion heat into electricity. 

There have certainly been mismanaged projects, but there have also been numerous projects that were purposely delayed for many years. Delays during the late 1970s and early 1980s were very costly since interest rates were in the double digits and briefly exceeded 20%.

Solar and wind have been growing rapidly, but it might be worth your time to pay attention to what the American Wind Energy Association says every time the deadline approaches and their precious Production Tax Credit (or the Investment Tax Credit in lieu of the PTC) expires.

April 5, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@jan Freed

Dr. Jacobson is well aware of the numerous critiques of his work. He apparently believes he is correct.

Here are a few examples dating back nearly 5 years

http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/11/03/wws-2030-critique/

http://atomicinsights.com/mark-jacobson-pushing-plans-appropriate-location-late-night-comedy-show/

http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-comment-on-stanford-wind.html

http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/02/mark-z-jacobson-is-not-credible-as.html

I agree that the status quo will not get us where we need to go. Nuclear fission is a well proven power source that is clean enough to run inside a submarine. It is safe enough to fill that submarine with people who all live reasonably comfortably within 200 feet of the reactor.

April 5, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@jan Freed

Dr. Mark Jacobson is a civil engineer who knows next to nothing about operating an electrical power grid. He produces some pretty computer models that rely on several simplifying assumptions that bear little resemblance to the real world of machines, controllers, and wires.

April 5, 2014    View Comment    

On American LNG Won’t Solve Russia's Energy Bullying

The quickest way to reduce European dependence on Russian gas would be for Germany to restart the seven nuclear plants that the government arbitrarily ordered shut down after Fukushima. 

April 5, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@Elias Hinckley

One more thing - I do not think that the PTC is some kind of conspiracy to encourage moral decay. I think it is a pretty straightforward money transfer program from taxpayers to special interests like Iberdrola, NextEra, Vestas, GE, and Siemens. Other beneficiaries of creating an electric power grid with a higher concentration of weather dependent generators are companies involved in suppling natural gas, which is the fuel of choice for the rapidly responding fossil fuel generators that must compensate for the fluctuations in wind and solar, especially as they gain larger shares of the market in certain areas.

There are few, if any, companies in the world with more political clout than ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, GE (which supplies both gas turbines and natural gas drilling equipment), Chesapeake, Anadarko, etc. 

April 3, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@Elias Hinckley

You asked:

So the subsidy should be larger? (that's actually a real question)


No. If current processes are retained, the best way to encourage new nuclear is to make the subsidy real and timely. Right now, it is more of a mirage off in the distant future as a reward IF a prospective power plant team can make it over all of the hurdles and reach the finish line of bringing a large, complex, and highly contested project to completion. The promise of a future reward does not help pay any current costs.

If the government really wanted to enable (not force) nuclear energy to be a competitive energy supply option, there are numerous cost-free rule changes that could be implemented to make it less risky to start and complete a project. One of the most important changes would be to seriously reconsider the "public involvement" parts of the process.

Though they sound good and important, they are a terrific tool for competitors to slow progress and add costs. I have no beef with technically competent people who have questions and suggestions, but I have a real problem with intervenors who can insert a tremendous amount of work and delay AND get paid for that effort by the government - which actually ends up charging the applicant for those costs.

It would also help if the Administration stopped appointing professional antinuclear activists to be the Chairman of the NRC.

April 3, 2014    View Comment    

On What a Waste – Vermont Yankee is in Beautiful Condition

@Elias Hinckley

While it is true that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 included provisions for a production tax credit for NEW nuclear power plants, that provision has not yet resulted in a single dime going from the federal government to a nuclear project to help defray the enormous hurdles erected by the federal government to slow nuclear energy development down. The production tax credit does not start helping until after the plant is actually producing electricity.

The PTC included in the EPA 2005 was quite limited:

Only available to the first 6,000 MW of new nuclear using technologies licensed after 1998 - which means that Watts Bar Unit II will not qualify and neither would the completion of the Bellefonte plants (which is a project that was considered and is now back on hold.)

Not adjusted for inflation. While the PTC for solar and wind is now 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, the PTC rate for new nuclear - once the plants are completed - WILL be 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

No more than $125 million for any one reactor in any calendar year. If an AP1000 runs for a full year because it only needs to shut down for refueling, it could use up its PTC allowance in about 10 months and then operate for the next two months without any additional support.

Only available for the first 8 years of operation.

Only applicable for a plant that enters commercial service before the beginning of 2022. That means that it is unlikely to apply to any of the currently proposed SMR projects, though the very first B&W mPower unit MIGHT make it in time.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights 

April 2, 2014    View Comment