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On Can Nuclear Energy Secure Financing? Nuclear Power and the Capital Challenge

I disagree.   Everyone who is pushing the so called "renewable energy" scam is a supporter of fracked gas and coal.

One may appeal to Edmund Burke's comment, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Germany is building new coal plants, right this damn minute.    I hear not a peep of outrage from the "renewables will save us" squad.    What I hear instead is excuses, prevarications, soothsaying and evasion.

Not a word of protest is heard.  Not a word.   Why?   Because their scam depends openly and irrefutably on access to dangerous fossil fuel powered powerplants. 

The wind and solar renewable energy scam has failed, and failed at the cost of over a trillion dollars.  Biomass fuels are responsible for three million deaths per year from air pollution.     We have basically run out of rivers to destroy with massive dams.

And what is the response from the "renewables will save us" squad.   Rather than offer a shred of outrage for the gas and coal they do nothing about, they rail against nuclear energy, using specious trivialities and nitpicking that borders on outright lying; they attack the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy, the precise form of energy that according to Jim Hansen prevented the dumping of 64 billion tons of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide and saved nearly two million lives.

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power

Whether or not these people - the reciters who chant the "renewable will save us" canon as if it were connected with reality, these apologists for German coal, Californian gas, and similar tragedies around the world - possess enough honesty and insight to know themselves, others can clearly see them for what they are.    And to be clear, my own experience with these people suggests that they cannot see themselves, because, insight is precisely the thing they lack in spades.

August 31, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

I always know I'm speaking to a rote anti-nuke exceptionalist when I hear "too cheap to meter," a remark made by a McCarthyite cold war syndic, Robert Strauss, who knew not a shred of science, much like the anti-nukes who quote him incessantly.

How many forms of energy are too cheap to meter, or is your concern based on the idea that only nuclear energy be free and perfect, or otherwise other forms of energy will be free to kill and maim at will?

If solar and wind - trivial forms of energy that don't produce 1% of world energy demand combined - are "too cheap to meter," how come their always asking for vast subsidies amounting to tens of billions of dollars a pop?

Bill Gates invests in lots of things - he is a big player in the so called "traveling wave" Terrapower reactor based on Seikomoto's "Candle Reactor Concept."    Some things in which he invests are better than others.    Maybe you should write him though, to see if he's stuck in the 1950's and gives a rat's ass about nuclear not being "too cheap to meter."

Nuclear energy provides between 25 and 30 exajoules of primary energy each year, this on a planet now consuming 550 exajoules each year.

You seem to have avoided my question, and I expect you will avoid the repeat:   How many exajoules of wind energy were stored in any kind of compressed air system in the last decade?

I note, with due contempt for wishful thinking, that the same people who use the so called "renewable energy" bait and switch for supporting the dangerous fossil fuel status quo, like to appeal to emptied underground storage of dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide, in those same structures.

Like CAES, that won't work on scale either.

You may want to check with these dangerous fossil fuel waste dump folks about the simultaneous availability of the structures for the compressed air scheme.



August 29, 2014    View Comment    

On Materials Innovation: Designing Better Surfaces for Energy

Thanks for posting this.

Surface chemistry is really exciting, particularly, as the post says, with respect to refractory corrosive systems.   In order to recover the maximal amount of exergy from the use of primary energy, we definitely need to go to very high temperature systems, precisely the systems where corrosion is the most problematic.

I wasn't familiar with Dr.Yildiz's work, but will certainly check it out.

Another great scientist working to some extent on surface work is the materials science theoretician Dr. Emily Carter at Princeton.   She is the director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.   One interesting thing she has published about is her approach involves the application of orbital free density functional theory (OF-DFT) to make predictions about the behavior of surface coatings.   These types of calculations can include the behavior of millions of atoms.   Certainly some of it is over my tiny head, but the results are all that are important, as is the realization that we have that capability.   

August 29, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

We've been reading about CAES technology for quite some time.

My favorite paper on this subject in a Denholm paper in 2005, in which he more or less confesses that nuclear energy is about 75 g/kwh cleaner than CAES as he imagined it - he was reheating the compressed gas with dangerous natural gas - but that was OK because, um, um, um, "people don't like nuclear."

Since writing this wonderful piece on - as I see it - "clean natural gas" how many large scale CAES systems have been built in the US?

In the last 9 years, since we learned that people don't like nuclear but they might like huge CAES systems, something like 270 billion tons of dangerous fossil fuel waste were dumped into the planetary atmosphere.

When exactly will CAES systems be available to stop this?   

How many large CAES systems are under construction?    How many exajoules of energy will they store?   How many are proposed, planned and how many are on order?

I often hear - it's a ridiculous and obscene claim - that nuclear is "too slow" and wind is, by contrast, quick.    Nuclear started producing quantities in excess of 25 exajoules per year within 20 years of the industry's start up.

Where is the comparable performance for CAES, for the entire wind industry, or for the solar industry?

How long is humanity supposed to survive on soothsaying and promises?

I'd love to hear it.

August 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

I very much doubt that any of that is applicable, any more than it was in 1976, when Amory Lovins wrote his awful diatribe claiming that solar was "competitive already or soon to be competitive."

The solar industry has had more than half a century to reach one exajoule out of the hundreds of exajoules humanity consumes each year. It has already consumed vast sums of money - tremendous sums on a planet where 2 billion people lack basic sanitation. All we have to show for this is yet another set of soothsaying promises, almost exactly the same, word for word as was being produced almost 40 years ago.

The problem with solar energy has not changed appreciably in the last 5 decades, low mass to energy produced ratios, and poor reliability connected with the rotation of the earth and the weather systems on it. The purported cost and efficiency savings exist precisely because the industry is a failure.

For instance, the CIGS technology, which is supposed to be "cheap" will depend on continued access to indium, which is one of the elements of concern for depletion, the main consumer of it being touch screens on mobile devices.If solar tries to get to 5 exajoules per year - it won't but if it tries - using CIGS technology, what will this do to the world supply of indium? Any guess? (I personally would not like CIGS selenium leaching out of landfills when all this solar junk becomes electronic waste, as surely it will. That's it nowhere near as dangerous as cadmium telluride is little consolation.)   Might indium prices go through the roof as the precious material experiences shortages?    Might those costs impact the "affordability?"

After half a century we can see that the entire solar industry is an exercise in wishful thinking, blind faith, and selective attention and that it generates far more complacency than energy. I remain unconvinced that the entire industry produces enough energy to fuel all the servers, computers dedicated to telling everyone how wonderful it is.

It's really time to wake up. It's already the case that future generations will have no cause to forgive us, and the more we dither with this nonsense, the less we will be entitled to any consideration by history.

August 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

We've had massive funding of solar research for half a century.

How many exajoules of the 550 exajoules humanity is now consuming each year is the solar industry producing as a result?

We've had massive tax credits world wide for the installation of solar and wind facilities, said tax credits mostly falling those who reside in the top tiers of economic wealth while three billion people live in absolute poverty, and those who are closer to poverty pay higher electric bills than they need pay.

How many exajoules of the 550 exajoules humanity is now consuming each year is the solar industry producing as a result?

I'll answer the question myself:   Less than one exajoule.

In the last decade we spent a trillion dollars on so called "renewable energy."  Is the concentration of carbon dioxide accumulations in the atmosphere falling or rising as a result?

I am not a fan of the Republican House of Representatives, to be sure, but I'm surprised, wholly surprised that they haven't embraced this rob the poor for the benefit of the rich scheme.    It's right up their alley.

At this point, subsidies to accomodate the solar industry are bordering on obscene.   How about those who love this industry stop asking the public to pay for their enthusiasm, and pay for it themselves?

August 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Energy Secure Financing? Nuclear Power and the Capital Challenge

Actually, nuclear energy has been the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy for about 4 decades.    The questionable, racist, term "welfare queen" would not apply to a system of energy that required a $73 billion dollar US government investment over half a century, nuclear energy, and has saved, according to one of the world's pre-iminent climate scientists, close to 2 million lives and prevented the dumping of 64 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide - dangerous fossil fuel waste - into the planetary atmosphere.

Quick, how much money was spent on the Iraq war to make the world "safe for petroleum?"

The money spent on nuclear is what is called a "wise investment," and the return on the money in terms of human health has been enormous.

The bourgeois brats who hate the form of energy, nuclear energy, invented by some of the finest minds of the twentieth century, lacking even a basic understanding of it, have wastefully squandered a trillion bucks world wide in the last decade alone on so called "renewable energy" scam - which has served as nothing more than a marketing tool for the dangerous gas and coal industries.

Combined, after all this mindless expenditure, the solar, wind and geothermal industries, after half a century of mindless cheering, don't produce even 5 of the 550 exajoules humanity is consuming each year as of today.

I have yet to see an example of one opponent of nuclear energy who has ever opened a science book.

According to a publication in Lancet less than two years ago, air pollution kills about 7 million people per year, half from the dangerous fossil fuel industry, and half from burning so called "renewable" biomass.   It is this simple fact that shows the mechanism by which nuclear energy saves lives.

If we spent the money that we now plan to squander on so called "renewable energy" - having learned our lesson on such squandering in the last half a century of renewable's failure to deliver even 2% of world energy - on nuclear instead, we might conceivable phase out dangerous fossil fuels all together.

Whatever nuclear subsidies have existed are only remarkable for having been way too small for the returns they have given.

By contrast, without coal mining, and oil and gas fracking, the wasteful, useless, and environmentally questionable so called "renewable" energy industry would collapse immediately.

The use of the offensive "welfare queen" term - which has been used to demonize poor people - shows how myopic the defenders of this fossil fuel marketing scheme - "renewable energy" - are, and how much contempt they hold for the three billion people on this planet who are living in miserable poverty despite the real opportunity that we have - using the finest form of energy ever discovered by the human race, nuclear energy - to provide decent lives for them.

August 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Renewable Energy Could Hit 36% Of Global Energy Use, But There's A Biomass Catch

Thank you for identifying me as a "leader" of the "biofuel opposition," but I would suggest that you are looking to "Bas" for "real world" numbers, you're not doing very well at being in the real world.

For the record, I did write a rather long discussion of the chemistry of biofuels here, suggesting their limited application as means to remove carbon dioxide from the favorite waste dump of humanity, it's planetary atmosphere.

(I have, as appeal to the post may suggest, studied biodiesel in considerable detail:   If you can demonstrate a deeper understanding then mine, please direct them to your sources, and I'll add your sources to the many hundreds of papers in my collection on the subject.)

In any case, I appreciate the nod from an allegedly "non-biased" person, who can't um, compare, the "real world numbers" - available all over the internet - for the price of electricity in France, and the price of electricity in Germany.    Bas will, on demand, produce some real howlers on this point if you ask him...

My favorite example of Bas's "real world" involves him repeatedly citing a widely discredited NYAS paper - even the NYAS apologized for publishing it - showing that Chernobyl killed hundreds of thousands of people.

(Last I looked, Kiev was still there.)

As for the implication that no one can have an opinion on a subject, without being "paid off," it's startling how many times over the years I've heard this claim from the defenders of the "rob the poor" to "enrich the rich" so called "renewable energy" industry.    In their universe - not a universe that ethical people can feel much satisfaction living in - no one can be motivated by the desire simply to do the right thing for future generations.   This position says, I think, more about them then it does about those they purport to describe.    They are always talking about money - which makes them fit well into this culture in these times - and have very little interest in the environment or the future, so far as I can tell.

August 26, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

I have noticed the obligatory "why this work is important for the application of renewable energy" blurb in lots of papers one opens these days.

I understand the funding rationale for it, because it has been come an article of rote faith that renewble energy is, in fact, a good thing, except that it's entirely unclear that it is a good thing.    On the contrary, it seems more and more clear that many applications of so called "renewable energy" are potentially environmental and economic disasters waiting to happen.

It does seem, I confess, like cultural pollution of science on some level, but it's not like science has ever been free of cultural pollution.

I will say this though.  I have been very interested lately in very high temperature refractories for nuclear applications and many papers containing this blurb with the genuflection toward the thus far more or less useless "solar thermal" are useful when thinking about nuclear reactor design.   The same goes for the equally useless (thus far) fusion industry.

Some of the research directed toward these otherwise useless chimeras has produced useful materials science that is potentially of great interest.

This is an excellent post by the way.


August 26, 2014    View Comment    

On The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

I personally have no problem with appeals to magic and parallel universes.   

I guess that's because I'm used to them, after reading lots of "renewable energy is great!" posts over a large recent fraction of the last 50 years.   Since we have sunk, deeper and deeper into the environmental nightmare in this period of the last half a century, one kind of wishes that magic was real, or that, if things get too uncomfortable here, one could in fact enter a better parallel universe, maybe one where sense made, um, sense.

August 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Renewable Energy Could Hit 36% Of Global Energy Use, But There's A Biomass Catch

You seem to have totally and completely missed my point.

This is entirely unsurprising.

August 25, 2014    View Comment    

On Are Reverse Auctions the Key to Reforming Solar Energy Subsidies?

I'm sorry, but I don't see it that way.

You may wish to declare this argument "off topic" but if you declare it so, you are being inordinately narrow.

In effect, you are trying to limit the arguement to one in which the means are more important than the end; but I would certainly argue that this is, at best, myopic.

I see this as advocacy for the question of whether any form of energy is worthy of any kind of subsidy, which presupposes your entire argument.   You may or may not be intersted in this aspect of the issue, but it is inherent in any claim to any right ot any kind of subsidy.

The health cost of air pollution in Australia is reported to be in New South Wales, 4.7 billion dollars AU, ($4.4B US.)

How "efficient" will any solar subsidy of any kind be at reducing these costs to Australians?   Would a billion dollar "reverse auction" subsidy to Australian solar energy providers save a billion dollars in health costs?  I don't think so.  Which would save more lives, a reverse auction billion dollar subsidy to Australian lung related health care, or a billion dollars to solar energy producers?

The resources of any government, anywhere on the planet, are not infinite; and ideally the purpose of governmment is to provide for the common good with the highest possible returns on the money spent.   The design of a subsidy is trivial if the purpose of the subsidy is to advance a dubious end.   As a citizen of the world, I object to throwing even another dime of public money at this solar affectation, and will not apologize for saying so.

If you had advanced an argument that there are more efficient ways to provide government funds to pay faith healers to cure cancer, a citizen would be well within his or her rights to ask why on earth anyone would fund faith healers in the first place, since there is no evidence that faith healers can, in fact, cure cancer.   I certainly would not consider any objection on this point "off topic" in a discussion of faith healers, and I don't consider it off topic to raise the same point about solar energy.  

If someone wants to spend their money on solar energy (or for that matter, faith healers) that is their business, but if one is speaking of publicly funded subsidies, the end result of the expenditure is always "on topic."   You are not speaking about a reverse auction of people who love solar energy and are thus willing to pay the full costs resulting from said auction.

I am not a citizen of Australia, of course, and have no idea whether you are, but I don't believe that a discussion of purportedly "efficient" solar subsidies is designed on your part to simply limit itself to Australia, but perhaps suggest it as suitable for other countries, including the one where I am a citizen.   Whether this is or is not your intent, I stand by the relevance of my argument to this case.

Have a great weekend.


August 24, 2014    View Comment