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On Population Growth: Addressing the Real Problem

@Robert Wilson

I am sorry that you find my accurate term for wind and solar energy to be "disagreeable". I cannot help the fact that systems using those naturally variable forces are inherently unreliable and uncontrollable by humans or human designed control systems. That is simply the way it is.

In contrast, our current prospects for using more nuclear energy are defined by human decision making in the form of either political or business decisions. Since the decisions are driven by humans, they can be influenced by humans. I will continue to believe that we can -- and must -- change course and speed in nuclear energy development.

I'm kind of a believer in the Serenity Prayer.

October 4, 2013    View Comment    

On Population Growth: Addressing the Real Problem


You will get no disagreement from me on the following point:

However significant long term declines in carbon emissions in the eyes of some American climate change "skeptics" are going to lead to inevitable declines in quality of life. Yet if North America simply consumed and produced energy like France and Sweden its emissions would be three times lower. 

It is self evident that we need no technological breakthroughs to emulate the way that France, Sweden and Switzerland produce their power, though we need to recognize that our terrain limitations are more similar to France's than to Sweden and Switzerland. We use hydro where possible and should use reliable nuclear reactors for nearly all of the rest.

We should electify more of our transportation infrastructure, especially in the form of intercity rail (electric trains are a more useful investment than "high speed trains") and intracity subways and surface trolley systems. We should replace oil burning furnaces with electric heat pumps, perhaps supplemented with natural gas heat for the days too cold to allow heat pumps to be effective.

You and I agree. There are best practice examples that we can follow. It is past time to get started. It is a good thing that we started building commercially competitive nuclear electricity generation plants in 1963 and have learned to operate them quite reliably. It is a shame that we have lost several decades worth of building experience and infrastructure development to ill advised opposition efforts combined with really poor nuclear industry project management and promotional efforts.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

October 3, 2013    View Comment    

On US Nuclear Energy Plant Performance August 2013

@Spec Lawyer

None of the shutdowns had anything to do with "hitting the right side of the bathtub maintenance curve."

At least three of them had a lot to do with wimpy management that rolled over and played dead in the face of politically/economically motivated maneuvers -- probably funded by energy market competitors -- to make it as expensive and uncertain as possible to satisfy an ever changing set of requirements for a restart.

Two of them had to do with attempting to compete in markets that were distorted by unfairly subsidized and mandated "renewable" energy sources. Supposedly, renewable subsidies are justified to help clean up our air and water - if those subsidies result in shutting down emission free nuclear, are they performing their intended purpose?

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

September 27, 2013    View Comment    

On US Nuclear Energy Plant Performance August 2013


I admire most of your work, but I think you are misinterpreting Job001 Gibson's position. I see him as being in favor of nuclear energy technology, but not so positive about the decisions made by the current business leaders in the "industry". I happen to mainly agree with his argument - the best way for nuclear energy to prosper is to pursue a low price strategy similar to the strategy pursued by hard disk and flash memory providers.

BTU prices will not fall as quickly as megabyte prices, but nuclear heat is a heck of a lot cheaper than fossil fuel heat, even with its huge advantages in safety and environmental impact. There is almost no way that an inferior product with a higher inherent cost structure can win in the market.

However, nuclear industry leaders have pursued a premium pricing model and allowed their competitors to layer more and more costs. I think that is almost completely explained by the fact that most "nuclear industry" leaders are actually just a part of the hydrocarbon establishment. They are willing to compete for a share of the growth in energy demand, but not willing to strive to displace fossil fuel from its existing markets.

The fossil fuel folks are savvy enough to recognize that they can effectively choke off nuclear energy at current nuclear energy prices if they can crush energy demand growth.

That strategy would fail if nuclear energy was actually cheaper in real dollars. Nature has given us the tools for prosperity, now we need to aggressively put them to use.

Rod Adams

Publisher, Atomic Insights. Host and producer, the Atomic Show podcast


September 26, 2013    View Comment    

On US Nuclear Energy Plant Performance August 2013

@Job001 Gibson

The average fuel cost for a US nuclear power plant was 0.75 cents per kilowatt hour in 2012, not 0.1 as you claimed.,-Operation,-Waste-Disposal-Life-Cycle


September 26, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on "Highly Radioactive" Water Leaks at Fukushima

Ms Sterrett

Can you quantify the danger that you see from water flowing from the mountains to the ocean? Are you aware that there are routine measurements being taken in the waters immediately off of the coast next to the power station and that they do not indicate any increases in radionucleid levels?

There is no cause for concern. There is no danger. No one will be harmed. Why shouldn't I be dismissive of fear mongering and get on with my life?

September 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Thoughts on Carbon Capture and Storage Coming from the European Parliament


Do you have any opinion on including nuclear energy as part of your recommended "technology neutral" approaches to the Union's 2030 energy goals? It is, after all, an ultra-low CO2 power source with life cycle emissions that are roughly equal to wind turbines.

September 9, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

Why do you call dilution a hypothesis? It is an inevitable physical process when you have a finite quantity of material and a continually growing quantity of water.

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

The reference that Darrell provided exposes itself as misleading clap trap designed to spread irrational fear in the following sentence:

"Sadly, it is the gift that keeps on giving... gamma rays."

It might sound like I am picking nits to some people who do not understand how radioactive materials behave, but the 2,200 mSv/hr dose rate that is also reported in the scariest possible terms is nearly 100% BETA radiation, not gamma rays.

That measurement is essentially what we call an "on contact" reading; it almost completely disappears when the probe is moved just 50 cm away from the concentrated source. If a reasonably thick sheet of paper is put between the source and the probe, the reading also falls off dramatically. Clothing is normally considered all the protection that workers need to ensure that they are not harmed by a beta emitter.

The GAMMA dose rate from that same source - the one that reads 2,200 mSv/hr - is just 1.5 mSv/hr. It is a "hot spot", but it is not nearly as dangerous as financial publications like ZeroHedge, that want to make money by spreading fear of nuclear energy.

Here are a few example plays that might be peaking ZeroHedge's interest. Oil & gas companies have been making many tens of billions per year selling fuel to Japan to replace the output of their shuttered nuclear plants and contracting companies are chomping at the bit to be in on the many billions that some want Tepco to spend to attempt to stop water from flowing from the mountains into the oceans.

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

The cores are still where they are supposed to be, which is inside the pressure vessels. You have not seen any pictures of them because it is quite difficult to get a camera into that location. It is, after all, a thick walled steel vessel that is designed to keep high pressure fluids and high temperature materials inside. That means that it is also designed to keep probes with cameras attached outside.

I wrote an article explaining my interpretations of the reported indications in more detail. It has plenty of additional references, so I am not just pointing to my own work to support my comment.

That article focuses on Unit 1, but that is the unit where the core was damaged the earliest and probably the most extensively. 

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Fukushima Radiation Affecting US Tuna

Do you have any concept of the size of the Pacific Ocean and the amount of water it contains? Do you understand that radioactive material is finite; it cannot be spread or diluted without reducing its concentration?

I will agree that the material is detectable to extremely low levels, almost every atom can be found. However, I will not agree that it is dangerous when dose rates or contamination levels are low.

If you want to learn more from a scientist's observations, here is a pretty good article:


August 30, 2013    View Comment    

On Fear Mongering Over Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Energy Plant


CNN is small potatoes when it comes to benefiting from fear. When nuclear energy is not used because people are afraid, that means that we burn more oil and gas. The numbers there are pretty incredible; Japan spent about $55 billion more on fossil fuel for power plants in 2012 than in 2010. That is a direct result of fear forcing the shutdown of about 50 operable nuclear power plants.

When it comes to terrorism, think about all of the billions being redirected to homeland security and the department of defense. It is not just the government jobs; think about all of the money flowing to the equipment suppliers for all of the gear used to combat "the terrorists". They want to keep us in fear so that they keep making billions protecting us - even if there is little to no danger.

August 29, 2013    View Comment