Comments by Charles Barton Subscribe

On Wellinghoff is a Dangerous Man

Rod, It would appear that pro-renewable shysters like Wellinghof take the same sort of attitude toward the generation of electricity that up until recently Wall Street Bankers took toward Derivatives, "we don't know how it happens or what it means, but it is going to happen.  Renewables advocates like Wellinghof talk about solar generated electricity without telling us how much it will cost or the fact that it won't be generated at night.  They talk about wind generated electricity, while ignoring its limited capacity, and don't tell us where the electricity will come from when the wind doesn't blow.  Renewables advocates live in a world where there is no inflation in the cost of wind generating facilities, where the cost of solar generated electricity is always dropping and where there is an unlimited supply of cooper and rare earths.  They live in a world where the the capital cost of renewable generation facilities never has to be counted, and where any gape in generation capacity can be filled by the magic word "efficiency".  Wellinghof resemble characters from the Wizard of Oz.  He carefully keep the limitations of renewables hidden behind a curtain of empty words, and make up for an absence of brains with university degrees.  
April 23, 2009    View Comment    

On Let’s Dump “Earth Day”

Some times I think there are two Joe Romm's.  One is a clear thinker, who has a lot of really intelligent things to say on environmental issues.  I like and admire that Joe Romm, when he shows up, as do most members of the pro environmental, pro-nuclear camp.   Then there is in anti-nuclear Joe Romm.  Mention Joe to pro-nuclear environmentalists, and you are not likely to hear anything good about him.   This post reminds me of what I respect and admire about Joe, and I will leave it at that for today.  
April 22, 2009    View Comment    

On Why don’t we pick the low-hanging fruit?

Low hanging fruits?  How about fighting the world wide epidemic of coal mine fires?
April 18, 2009    View Comment    

On The phony green jobs debate

What does it mean when Chinese and Indian nuclear powered generation facilities cost less per kW of generating capacity, than American wind and solar generators do?  What is going to happen when all those jobs tied to low cost electricity migrate overseas?  How do the wind and solar producers plan to compete with low cost Chinese and Induan nuclear?
April 15, 2009    View Comment    

On Consumption dwarfs population as main global warming threat

The rhetoric of responsibility is redundant and pointless.  Energy systems will have to change.  How much or how little people use now does not matter.  The point of future energy planning should not be to impose sacrifice, but to ask the question is abundant energy for everyone possible.  This is not a new question.  In fact Eugene Wigner and Alvin Weinberg looked at it all 60 years ago, and they developed a technologically feasible solution as early as 1945.  The energy is there is the form form abundant thorium that now goes to waste in mine railings.   The technology for converting thorium into nuclear energy is well understood, has been tested, and most of the developmental problems have been solved.  Thorium based nuclear power plants probably can be built for a far lower cost than current reactors can be.  Hundreds and even thousands of thorium reactors can be built rapidly in factories.  Complete reactor power units can be transported to power plant sites.  U-235 and Pu-239 for nuclear weapons, and "nuclear waste" can be used to start the new reactors.  After started the thorium reactors produce their own fuel, and long as there is thorium to continue the fuel cycle, and there is enough thorium to last for a few million years.  

We, of course, have to take steps to make it happen.    Making it happen will actually be a whole lot easier and less costly than doing nothing, and will serve as a basis of hiving everyone on earth a high energy lifestyle.  if we decide to make it happen we won't have to argue about who is to blame for global warming.  
April 14, 2009    View Comment    

On Poor T. Boone Pickens - He Means So Well

William it is even worse than you indicate.~26nbsp~3b Wind generators produce more power at night.~26nbsp~3b The demand for peak generating power~2c supplied by natural gas~2c is during the day.~26nbsp~3b Wind also generates more power during the winter than during the summer~2c and wind generation usually drops on hot summer days when electrical demand for airr conditioning rises.~26nbsp~3b In both Texas and California daytime wind output can drop to 2~25 of name plate capacity on hot summer days.~26nbsp~3b T. Boone Pickens use to be smart enough to figure this out. ~26nbsp~3b But then so are Al Gore~2c Bill Clinton~2c President Barack Obama and Steven Chu~2c who all seem unaware of the most basic facts about wind. ~26nbsp~3b~26nbsp~3b But then we have members of the energy collective who ignore the liabilities of wind too.~26nbsp~3b Did I just say that~3f~26nbsp~3b ~3cbr~3e
April 2, 2009    View Comment    

On World’s second largest solar power plant to open in Florida

The story does not tell us that the Martin Facility has a capacity factor of under .25~2c and it does not say a single word about how much the facility cost.~26nbsp~3b Do doubt this is to hide the embarisingly poor performance of such of soler technology~2c and its high cost.~26nbsp~3b ~3cbr~3e
April 2, 2009    View Comment    

On Perfect Energy

For 50 years~2c we have thrown money down the blackwhole that is fusion research.~26nbsp~3b In another hundred years something migh come of it~2c but then something might not.~26nbsp~3b In the meantime we ignore promising technologies like thorium brreeding which could supply us almost infinate energy from an almost inexhaustible source.~26nbsp~3b We ignorethe potential of Molten Salt Reactor Technology to produce nuclear power at a fraction of the cost of conventional nuclear power plants.~26nbsp~3b We ignore the potential of the IFR to produce power from nuclear waste.~26nbsp~3b Something is seriously wrongh with our priorities.~26nbsp~3b ~3cbr~3e
April 2, 2009    View Comment    

On Climate policy and The Black Swan

Ed: of course there will be no agreement on what are sub-optimal "solutions." And indeed copious amounts of blood will flow once we start talking about our candidates for the "sub-optimal" designation.  For me they would most assuredly include anything prefaced with the words "wind" or "solar".  Dead swans are not black.
March 31, 2009    View Comment    

On Why We Must Make Clean Energy Cheap

Jesse, In the 1940's Eugene Wigner recognized that America need clean and cheap energy, and pointed to fluid fuel reactors using the thorium cycle.  Ed Bettis invented the Molten Salt Reactor and Raymond C. Bryant and Alvin Weinberg understood that it was the perfect instrument to fulfill Wigner's dream.  My father and Warren Grimes worked out the chemistry of a liquid salt fuel.  Two reactors were tested, and a full scale power reactor was under design.  Then the AEC, responding to Pentagon control, shut the project down because it did not produce plutonium.  In deed as my father demonstrated it could be used to burn plutonium, making the MSR a perfect anti-proliferation tool.  

Under Alvin Weinberg ORNL built 2 successful prototypes.  The was a deep and well thought out research program at ORNL, and steady progress was made toward the development of the MSBR.  Much of the documentation of that research can be accessed on line.  Scientists in France, Russia, and Japan are convinced that the ORNL project was sound, and has great potential.    Edward Teller endorsed the MSR as the route to the future shortly before his death.  

Kirk Sorensen and I have been talking about it for some time.  We have argued that it is practical, that a type of MSR we call the LFTR can be built quickly, in large numbers and at low price.  We have argued that he LFTR is safe, that it largely solves the problem of nuclear waste, and that indeed it can be used to dispose of the waste from Light Water Reactors.  We have argued that there is enough Thorium already exist above ground in the United States to provide the country all of its energy for thousands of years.  An AEC document published in 1969, reported that in 1968 the AEC told President Johnson that there was enough recoverable thorium in the United States to power the country for over two million years.

No one has demonstrated that Kirk Sorensen and I are wrong, and indeed a growing group of people agree with us.  The people who developed the original MSR/LFTR technology were far from crackpots, and Kirk and I are not fools.  We need research to verify what we claim.  It would take less money than the United States on imported oil in a month, to develop LFTR technology to the point it can be commercialized.  

Jesse,While you talk about the need for a clean and cheap energy source, you ought to give some attention to our contention that such a source is already known.  
March 28, 2009    View Comment