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On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@Stephen, CSP is completely impractical in much of the United States because of the percentage of time during which the direct sunlight is obscured by cloud cover.  For example, in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I currently reside, we only get unobstructed sunshine on fewer than 100 days a year.  On average more than 150 days a year we get no unobstructed sunshine, and another hundred days a year we get partial cloudyness.  Only in the southwestern United States do uncloudy conditions pregvail. But even in that area, CSP will drop significantly during the winter because suneshine ia avaliable for fewer hours a day, and because the sun is lower on the horizon.  The Southwest has a serious water shortage, and CSP cooling requires as much water per kW as nuclear power does. 

Finally if you are going to provide backup with Molten Salt storage, it would be cheaper and far more flexible to heat the molten salt in MSRs than with CSP.

June 14, 2011    View Comment    

On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@Stephen we are talking about a loss of less than 1.5 GWs on the Texas Grid.  you ar hoping that enough fully charged cars will be around to provide that sort of Grid, but how many cars will it take to back up the Texas Grid if wind Penetration reaches 20%, 30% or even 50%?  Consider energy demand in Texas on hot summer evenings as the sun sets and there is almost no wind.   All of your battery powered cars have exhausted their batteries with evening commutes with their airconditioners having run at full blast.  Where are you going to find your wind back up then?

June 14, 2011    View Comment    

On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@Stephen Projections of concentrated solar and wind price trends made a decade ago, anticipted dramatic drops in their prices over the last 10 years.  Inreality the price trend for both between  2000 and 2009 was tgenerally higher rather than lower. 

June 13, 2011    View Comment    

On Oversimplifying A Complex Topic - Measuring The "Sustainability" Of Renewable Energy

 @ Carl Steger: Carl, although you complain about Robert Bryces observations on lifecycle costs of renewables, in fact information on the lifecycle of renewables is hard to come by.  Renewable advocatsa would do well to publish their own lifecycle data, rather than pointing the finger at critics, for allegedly misrepresenting facts that renewable supporters have not seen fit to reveal.  My finding has been that when the lifecycle facts for renewable energy are accurately reported, Advanced Nuclear proves to offer many lifecycle advantages.  I note that you provided assurtuibs but no links to the sort of lifecycle assessments which you claim would favor renewables, and  challenge you to post renewables lifecycle assessments with comparisions to current and advanced nuclear technology. 

June 12, 2011    View Comment    

On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@ StephenGloor, it is my belief that when people know their ass is on the line, they will do what ever is necessary to save it.  As far as energy is concerned out ass is on the line, only people don't know it.  When the situation becomes truely desperate, the chances of people waiking up increases.  At that point the remarkable will become possiblle.

Stephen you miscounted the number of reactors that the Manhatten Project delivered.  Infact the Manhatten project delivered four prototypes of three distinct types of reactors.  One in graphite reactor in Chicago, one production prototype graphite reactor in Oak Ridge, One prototype heavy water reactor at Chalk River, and one prototype homogenious reactor at LAs ALAMOS.  In addition three production reactors were built at Hanford.  The first of three WWII Hanford reactor was went into operation less than two years after the Chicago prototype was first tested.  The Handford reactors was over 250 times more powerful than the Chicago prototype.  The first nuclear weapon based on plutonium from Handford reactors was tested, 2 1/2 years after the first test of the Chicago pile, and the first waretime militaty use of a plutonium bomb came less than a month later. 

Stephen I have repeatedly looked at energy storage, and have concluded that the most viable energy storage system involves the use of Molten Salts.  Unfortunately this storage system only works one renewable generating system. , conccentrated solar power, which ene EIA a mature technology, that is more twice as expensive than conventional nuclear power.

Some time ago, I discussed Mark Z. Jaconson's paper on the Car to Grid storage system.

I noted, "Jacobson would have us believe that only 3% of the current American car fleet or 4.5 million cars could provide backup for the entire wind powered grid. This would mean that Jacobson believes the entire grid can be backed up with 45 billion Watt hours of electricity from back up batteries, assuming the batteries were on a 24 hour a cycle. A single nuclear plant could produce 24 billion watt hours of electricity in a day, or over half the electricity that Jacobson claims will back up a wind penetrated grid. To appreciate the magnitude of the backup problem it should be pointed out that on February 28, 2008, Texas wind electrical production dropped from 1,700 megawatts to about 300 megawatt in a 10 minute period. 1100 MW of backup capacity were brought on line during the wind outage. This outage would require the battery storage of 110,000 Texas cars if the wind outage continued for an hour. Clearly Jacobson has failed to conduct a serious analysis of the V2G idea, and this failure is consistent with Jacobson's generally shoddy standards of analysis."

Thus clearly the case for car to grid storage systems in no where near a slam dunk, and requires a great deal more attention.

As for a business as usual approach to MSR development, commercial MSRs can be built using only MSRE tested technology.  The MSRE ran successfully and almost continuoulsly for three years without a problem.  A commercial MSR could be developed using that tested technology.   Dr. Kazio Furukawa, a Japanese reactor scientist, has stated that utalizing MSRE technology and a business as usual approach, he can have a commmercial mini-reactor prototype ready in 6 years, and a larger reactor ready in 12 years.

The primary reason for a Manhatten project type approach would be to develop a factory production system that would be capable of deplying thousands of MSRs before 2050, and to develop a sustainable MSR, the LFTR.

June 12, 2011    View Comment    

On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@ StephenGloor, Stephen, you forget that i grew up in the shaddow of the Manhattan project.  You may scoff, but the Manhattan project proved that given good leadership  by putting heaps of people with the right skill set on the job and hard work, thirty years of progress can be accomplished in three years.  There was no magic involved in the Manhattan project, but there was a lot of hard work.  The secret to the magic is hard but well organized work and a willingness to set aside business as usual.  If you follow this formula amazzing things can be accomplished.  

June 11, 2011    View Comment    

On Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap?

@Rick, As I have indicated, finding lifecycle studies studies or other studies that includes materials inputs has proven a challenge.  Your claim that "the nuclear industry has some old, serious messes to clean up before they start pointing fingers."  Has left me puzzled.  What messes and what bills?

@StephenGloor, Developing nuclear technology is simply a matter of work hours.  Skilled labor input is desired to perform a task.  If you assign a few workers to perform the whole task it takes a long time.  If you devide up the task into componants it may be completed in .10t% of the time.   During World War II, the graphite core reactor went through a therr stage evolution in a three year period of time, with the first stage emerging at Chicago, the second stagein Oak Ridge, and the third stage emerging at Hanford.  Thus in under two years after the first reactor ever built was first tested, a reactor 250 times mpre powerful was ready for operation.  This was because a huge amount of skilled labor was assigned to the task.  The key as that the reactor designers threw out the business as usual play book, and assigned enough people to the task to get it done quickly. 

Stephen, we have had this argument about imaginary technology before.  In the first place two successful Molten Salt Reactor prototypes were built and tested in Oak Ridge.  They were not imaginary.  I only propose that the technology proven in the second prototype be used in commercial reactor.  My argument is that a commercial reactor using proven MSR technology could be a commercial success, and could could compete with renewable generation facilities. 

@WT Your observations are in fact correct, but exceot for as I indicated lifecycle information on renewable technollogy has proven difficult to find.  If you can point me too better information sources, I would appreciate it. 

June 10, 2011    View Comment    

On Harnessing Variable Renewables: Where is the Beef?

@StephenGloor, Stephen you and I have no disagreement on your claim, infact we could save an enormous amount of energy if we went back to stone age technology, but most people don't want to do that, and infact the 80% of the world's human population that now does not enjoy a high energy lifestyle wants it.  The only question is how are hey going to find it.  Renewables advocates don't have a clue.  So their only answer is to do without. 

@Rick, I write and will continue to write on the ussues you mention.  Other may take a narrower perspective, and seldom look at the big picture, but I try to look at where we want to go, how we can get there, and what the cost will be.

June 10, 2011    View Comment    

On Efficient Cars and Nuclear Power Efficiency

Windsmith, actually a lot of public money is invested into highway, road and street systems, and into making those systems as safe as possible.  Auto design is highly regulated for safety purposes, and auto complanies have been successfully sued for knowingly selling unsafe cars.  Thus vehicle safety risks are assumed by the whole community, not just individual vehicle owners.  We attempt to minimize our road risks by supporting community and national efforts to promote auto safety.  As for nucleAr power, the risks are often greatly exagerated , especially be nuclear opponents.  In fact the march accidents in Japan, prduced no radiation related casualties, while the rupture of a near by dam, killed 8 people. 

June 3, 2011    View Comment    

On Critique of MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Report

This contents of this post amounts to an unsubstantuated protest by the IFR crowd against a well researched document by MIT.  I posted a response on Barry's excelent blog, Brave New Climate:

"Unfortunately this Critique does not document its claims. I am not going to say that these claims are false, but simply that I am unfamiliar with sources that support these claims. Thermal thorium breeders are capable of operating at a one to one conversion ratio with small fissile inventories. In fact such small fissile inventories that higher breeding ratios are not required to produce sustainable large scale nuclear power for tens of thousands of years. The one to one conversion ratio is very advantageous, as far as proliferation control is concerned. This is the primary reason why the MIT fuel cycle study concluded:

“A key finding of this analysis is that reactors with conversion ratios much higher than one are not materially advantageous for a sustainable fuel cycle – a conversion ratio near unity is acceptable and has multiple advantages.”

"Not only are high breeding ratio IFRs not needed, but it is far from clear what research backsup the claim that they are capable a breeding ratio potential in the range of 1.50–1.65. I would like to see studies which support this claim, and further which would demonstrate that there are no serious safety or proliferation related problems associated with such a high breeding ratio. I would also like to see detailed reports that lay out a development program intended to bring a high breeding ratio IFR to a prototype stage together with estimated costs of that program.

Finally, I would like to see a rational for developing high breeding ratio IFRs, as opposed to one to one thorium converters. Would the high breeding ratio IFRs have cost advantages compared to one to one thorium thermal converters?"

So far neither Tom nor Barry has posted a responce, although Barry has indicated that he intends too.  A number of other comments were also critical of Tom's post, including comments by David LeBlanc,

David also supports one of my complaints, "Trying to find actual IFR data is like pulling teeth sometimes, I’ve dug through countless documents to pull out numbers I can reference,"

One of the more Ironic moments in the discussion came when the moderator - I assume Barry - commented, MODERATOR:
"Alan has been reminded of BNC Comments Policy and the need to substantiate opinion with refs."

I must add that I have a lot of respect for both Tom and Barry, but I do not always agree with them. 


June 1, 2011    View Comment    

On Salt Of The Earth… : The Role of Salt in CSP

New message me, or email me.  Of course for me alternative energy is advanced nuclear. 

May 31, 2011    View Comment    

On Third Thorium Energy Alliance Marks Rapid Progress Toward Fulfillment of Dreams

@Mike Conley, Thabj you for your kind words.  My father was Dr. Barton.  I do not have a PhD. 

@Paul O., there are currently molten salt loups used in research, but no MSR is operating.  There is at least one project to build a small MSR in Japan.  There are no projects for sealed MSRs at present.  One of the big advantages of MSR technology is the ability to remove Xenon 135 from the core.  Xenon-135 is a neutron poison, so removing it improves reactor performance.  I think that Kirk Sorensen and David LeBlanc have been contemplating reactor designs for some time, and it is a matter of finding money to support their projects. 

May 28, 2011    View Comment