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New nuclear push digs deep into vault of alternative facts

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Australia’s nuclear energy debate reaches Peak Idiocy this week with the visit of Jessica Lovering from the U.S. Breakthrough Institute.

Lovering has and will be speaking at public events alongside Australian university student Ben Heard. Both the Breakthrough Institute and Heard’s ‘Bright New World’ present themselves as progressive environment groups but they are single-issue, pro-nuclear lobby groups with little interest in broader environmental issues. Australia’s environment groups ‒ i.e. real environment groups ‒ are united in our opposition to nuclear power.

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Real environment groups celebrate the spectacular growth of renewables and the spectacular cost reductions whereas pro-nuclear lobby groups, including Lovering’s Breakthrough Institute and Heard’s Bright New World, are on a never-ending campaign against renewables.

Global renewable energy capacity has doubled over the past decade and current renewable capacity of 2,006 gigawatts (GW) is 5.1 times greater than nuclear power capacity of 392 GW (including idle reactors in Japan). Actual electricity generation from renewables (23.5% of global generation) is more than double that from nuclear power (10.7%) and the gap is widening every day.

Lovering’s opinion piece in The Australian on Monday fails to note that her speaking trip is sponsored by the Minerals Council of Australia. Likewise, Heard has also been paid as a uranium industry consultant.

Lovering brings a suitcase full of alternative facts to Australia. The most egregious is that the nuclear industry is in the middle of some sort of renaissance. Even her own institute contradicts this, bleating about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis“, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“, “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries“, the “ashes of today’s dying industry”, and noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

As discussed in RenewEconomy in April, the industry is definitely in crisis. US nuclear giant Westinghouse has filed for bankruptcy protection. Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba states that there is “substantial doubt” about Toshiba’s “ability to continue as a going concern”. These industry giants have been brought to their knees by cost overruns ‒ estimated at US$13 billion ‒ building four power reactors in the U.S.

Likewise, French nuclear utilities EDF and Areva survive only because of repeated, multi-billion-dollar bailouts by the French government. The combined cost overruns for two French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland amount to at least US$13.5 billion. South Korea is now looking to exit the industry.

As the Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger wrote in February:

“Nuclear energy is, simply, in a rapidly accelerating crisis:

  • Demand for nuclear energy globally is low, and the new reactors being built may not keep up with the closure of nuclear plants around the world. Half of all U.S. nuclear plants are at risk of closure over the next 13 years.

  • Japan has only opened two of its 42 shuttered nuclear reactors, six years after Fukushima. Most experts estimated it would have two-thirds open by now. The reason is simple: low public acceptance.

  • While some still see India as a sure-thing for nuclear, the nation has not resolved key obstacles to building new plants, and is likely to add just 16 GW of nuclear by 2030, not the 63 GW that was anticipated.

  • Vietnam had worked patiently for 20 years to build public support for a major nuclear build-out before abruptly scrapping those plans in response to rising public fears and costs last year. Vietnam now intends to build coal plants.

  • Last month Entergy, a major nuclear operator, announced it was getting out of the nuclear generation business in states where electricity has been de-regulated, including New York where it operates the highly lucrative Indian Point.”

Lovering’s solution to the nuclear power crisis is to sell moonshine. From The Australian on Monday: “Advanced nuclear designs have the capability to be meltdown-proof, using a combination of coolants, fuels, and basic physics. Reactors that are intrinsically safe can also be radically cheaper, especially by making much smaller, modular reactors in factory settings.”

But the only ‘meltdown-proof’ reactors are those that come pre-melted, i.e. concepts based on liquid nuclear fuels. As the UK Royal Society notes: “There is no proliferation proof nuclear fuel cycle. The dual use risk of nuclear materials and technology and in civil and military applications cannot be eliminated.”

As for small modular reactors (SMRs), only a few are under construction: one in Argentina, a twin-reactor floating nuclear power plant in Russia, and three SMRs in China (including two high-temperature gas-cooled reactors). The broad picture for SMRs is much the same as that for fast neutron reactors: lots of hot air, some R&D, but few concrete plans and even fewer concrete pours.

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “radically cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market ‒ and even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and it is inconceivable that it would be “radically cheaper”. After all, economies-of-scale have driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers.

Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. The construction cost of Argentina’s 25-megawatt CAREM reactor is estimated at US$446 million, which equates to a whopping US$17.8 billion/GW. Estimated construction costs for the Russian floating plant have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW.

Ben Heard thinks Australia should take the lead building his preferred version of Generation IV fast neutron reactors. So Australia ‒ a country with virtually no relevant expertise and even less experience ‒ should take the lead developing Generation IV reactors despite the fact that global nuclear industry giants face crippling debts and possible bankruptcy due to cost overruns building a handful of conventional reactors?

That proposition is beyond stupid and it was even rejected by the (stridently pro-nuclear) SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission last year. The Royal Commission said:

“[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment. Moreover, electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.”

Lovering offers one more alternative fact ‒ the claim that South Australia could accrue A$6 billion in annual economic benefits by importing vast amounts of nuclear waste from around the world.

That claim was tested by the Nuclear Economics Consulting Group, commissioned by a Joint Select Committee of the SA Parliament.

The NECG report notes that the $6 billion claim, presented in the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s 2016 report, fails to consider some important issues which “have significant serious potential to adversely impact the project and its commercial outcomes”; that assumptions about price are “overly optimistic” in which case “project profitability is seriously at risk”; that the 25% cost contingency for delays and blowouts is likely to be a significant underestimate; and that the assumption the project would capture 50% of the available market had “little support or justification”.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth.  

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  • DevMac

    We’re in a renaissance period of nuclear propaganda.

    • Dr Manhattan

      We’re in a renaissance period of anti-nuclear propaganda

      • Alastair Leith

        With so much material available today on the sorry economics of nuclear industry, objectors needn’t stoop as low as nuke fan-boys.

  • Alan S

    I heard her interviewed on ABC Adelaide radio today. A bit lightweight without much technical content and a lot of well worn cliches. Presenter Sonya Feldhoff didn’t have to try too hard.

    • Ian Mclaughlin

      Yes I heard it also nearly crashed my car so annoyed!! Unfortunately the ABC presenters in SA are completely incapable of being able to discuss technical details, and I do mean ALL of them, so this lets this type of scientific and commercial nonsense pass as a creditable alternative to be considered.

      • Alastair Leith

        ABC, sigh

  • Kevan Daly

    Why is it that environmentalists can’t argue a position without being egregiously offensive? In this case Dr Green was able to marshall several excellent argument to support his case, so why the need for spite.

    In this case I had actually read a paper by one of the targets of Dr. Green’s venom in the peer reviewed literature; it was by mere “university student” Ben Heard and was a very wide ranging critique of all-renewable solutions to the world’s energy supply.

    What has your contribution been Dr. Green?

    • Maltster

      Judging by this webpage which he maintains, his contribution might not effectively amount to much more than a weird, time-consuming obsession with Ben Heard.
      http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/ben-heard-decarbonisesa

    • Alastair Leith

      Gee, i don’t know, maybe it’s that activist like Jim Green have zero resources to go up against the PR and academic machines that is backed by the Australian U and mining industry which is constantly looking to exploit public gullibility and ignorance about the negative effects this industry has for indigenous peoples and the environment wherever it goes in Australia? Maybe that gets a little frustrating and demoralising for them when they see governments bend over for the industry, and they speak out of turn and without enunciating their vowels properly?

      Meanwhile Ben Heard has a shiny new outfit and website that specialises in marketing driven brightsiding. “Bright New World” indeed. Wish i was on their payroll, like never.

      “8. to be the coolest damn NGO on the planet (ok…. no that’s not actually in the constitution. But we mean it, and thanks for reading this far, we love you)”
      — yeah, nah, sorry Ben never gonna happen mate.

  • Ben Heard

    I find a great deal to agree with in this article about the status of the global nuclear industry.

    • Ren Stimpy

      Probably because Vietnam along with Australia can’t afford the ball-shuddering cost of nuclear power without major overbearing government intervention.

      • Ben Heard

        Whether and how people do or do not favour government intervention seems to ebb and flow depending on the technology in question.

        That said, this is the whole point. Can we make clean, fully-scaleable reliable power cheaper than dirty, fully-scaleable reliable power so as to drive down the dependence on policy intervention to clean global energy supply?

        That’s why Lovering was discussing advances in nuclear technology.

        • Ren Stimpy

          scaleable?

          No, nuclear is costly and non-scaleable due to the nature of each very large, very slow and very unique deployment. Not to mention very risky and very centralised (reliance on an expensive grid). Which goes against the current grain of energy investment trends.

          Don’t reply until you have a verifiable cost curve. Adios.

          • Ben Heard

            These were the some of the issues under discussion.

            Can it be made 1. Less costly 2. More scaleable.

            What is available today can already be, has already been, the most scalable clean energy technology. The current experience in UAE attests to this. Previous build rates in Sweden, France, Belgium also attest to this. Resuming and growing this level of deployment in more (and more diverse) markets is likely to demand less capital-intensive nuclear units in smaller increments. The discussion this week were about how that might be achieved and progress in those areas.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Hey not that I don’t want to see thinking expanded, we need to. Just pick your battles.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Hmmmmm Bogan. Cock. Suckers.

          • Ren Stimpy

            So no cost curve?

          • Ren Stimpy

            Your argument is DEAD without a cost curve. You choose whether or not to supply one. We’ll wait.

          • greenthinker2012

            You will wait because you are too lazy to do your own research?
            You claim nuclear is too costly but won’t back it up with anything. ‘
            I see France decarbonized their electricity sector in about a decade using nuclear power.
            I see that Ontario Canada closed all their coal plants using nuclear, hydro, wind and natural gas.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Cost curves, greenthinker, where are they? You genius!

          • greenthinker2012

            Who cares.
            I doubt you could even understand a cost curve.

            Real world examples of entire countries reducing their carbon footprint without negative economic consequences is evidence enough.
            In fact France now has the lowest electricity prices in Europe.
            Good enough for me.

          • Ren Stimpy

            I doubt you could understand one because you were NOT able to supply one. Cock sucker!

          • greenthinker2012

            Nor were you.

          • Ren Stimpy

            You have your own head UP your own arse!

          • mick

            yep those nukes cheap and clean except for the trifling matters of Chernobyl and fukushima

          • Michael Murray

            And the waste. Don’t forget the waste.

          • Waste storage costs are already reflected in their operating costs. The waste issue has been greatly exaggerated by antinuclear groups as part of their antinuclear propaganda.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64999c812866fabb16f20b96891498a17bb4eecfdfcc94d9f4a16fe7af18acf3.jpg

          • Michael Murray

            It’s not the volume of waste that is the issue so I am not sure what the point of the graphic is. Neither is the comparison with coal an issue. The issue is the inherent danger of the waste and the length of time it needs to be stored until it is safe.

          • Jag_Levak

            “It’s not the volume of waste that is the issue”

            Really? What is it, the mass? (Which is what I typically hear anti-nukes quote.) Because there is actually a pretty high correlation between the two.

            Are you saying it would make no difference to you whether the volume (or mass) was enormous or tiny?

          • Michael Murray

            Did you read the comment I was responding to ? That graphic completely ignores the relative danger of a quantity of radioactive waste versus an equal quantity of waste from a coal plant and pretends that the only thing to worry about is the quantity. That was my point. Sure more of something bad is worse.

          • Michael Mann

            Due to the tiny volume, the inherent danger is also tiny, it is a solid ceramic encased in zirconium alloy cladding, as long as you stay away from it or keep it shielded, there is very little danger. It has been stored for over 50 years with very few problems and no measurable health impact to the public or workers. The technology to safely store once used nuclear fuel (it’s not really waste) is well understood. Most (over 90%) of the once used fuel can be used as new fuel in advanced reactor designs.

          • Michael Murray

            So remind me again how long you have to keep it stored safely away from people for and how long we have tested the storage methods for ?

          • Michael Mann

            Approximately 300 years after use in an advanced reactor, dry cask storage has been around for decades, it is well understood. Please tell me why you believe that future generations will be too stupid to understand proper handling techniques for nuclear fuel .

          • Michael Murray

            So wiki, and all the countries spending on deep geological storage are wrong

            The International Panel on Fissile Materials has said:
            It is widely accepted that spent nuclear fuel and high-level reprocessing and plutonium wastes require well-designed storage for periods ranging from tens of thousands to a million years, to minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment. Safeguards are also required to ensure that neither plutonium nor highly enriched uranium is diverted to weapon use. There is general agreement that placing spent nuclear fuel in repositories hundreds of meters below the surface would be safer than indefinite storage of spent fuel on the surface.[3]

            Millions of years is a long time to project human behaviour.

          • Michael Mann

            Yes! Re-use the once used fuel in advanced reactors, it may be cheaper to bury it , but that is ridiculous, like eating one french fry and throwing the rest away, over 90% of once used fuel is actually unused fuel, less than 1% is actual waste and much of that may be valuable for other uses. The deep geologic burial of the trivial amount of actual fission products has a much shorter half life than the actinides. Thank you for asking!

          • Michael Mann

            So you do think future generations are too stupid to safely handle this important resource? Your whole copy paste is based on the false assumption that the once used fuel from existing 50 year old LWR technology will not be reused in advanced reactors? What do you base that assumption on?

          • Michael Murray

            It’s not my assumption but wikipedias. But there seems to be a general lack of interest in reprocessing fuel. Otherwise how do you account for all the interest in burying it.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Chernobyl was a poorly run soviet era RBMK reactor with no containment. Not really relevant to contemporary atomic energy.

          • mick

            I thought the hepa filters stuffed up either way to long to establish to costly to compete no social licence in Australia nasty what if u237 to u238 huge carbon life on the waste seems a bit to me like playing in traffic they probably will swerve and brake but why chance it

          • Aaron Oakley

            It’s unclear what you are trying to say. If we examine sensible metrics such as deaths/TWh, nuclear is safer than pretty much everything else.

          • Bob_Wallace

            As long as we carefully pick which deaths will be counted against nuclear.
            Fleeing a reactor that might go into extreme meltdown but didn’t?

            Can’t count those deaths against nuclear, can we? All those people were not killed by radiation.

          • Aaron Oakley

            They were harmed by fear-mongering.

          • duplicat

            Have you ever imaged a vitamin K-dependent protein with γ-carboxyglutamate domain?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks, Aaron. You made my point.

            Nuclear fan-boys look for ways to disregard nuclear related deaths in a failed attempt to make nuclear seem safe.

            But that’s OK, Aaron. It’s the economics that are killing nuclear. Not the number of people that nuclear is killing.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Right. Blame nuclear for the fear and ignorance spread by the hard greens.

            “It’s the economics that are killing nuclear.”

            Russ Finley has done an excellent jobs of dismantling your talking points here I see no need to add more. No wonder you ban people from your site.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Russ hasn’t dismantled anything. You guys live in a world of deep, deep denial.

            Even the heads of the largest nuclear corporations in the US say that it’s all over for nuclear. It makes no sense to build new reactors in today’s energy economy.

            The French are going to be closing paid off reactors because they are too expensive compared to renewables.

          • Aaron Oakley

            “Russ hasn’t dismantled anything.”

            He has systematically exposed your efforts to torture any and all data into an anti-nuclear narrative. No wonder you need to ban people.

            You guys live in a world of deep, deep denial.”

            Now you’re projecting.

            http://www.biodiversivist.com/2017/01/cleantechnicadoes-solar-and-wind-really.html

          • Sam Gilman

            Nuclear makes sense if one prioritises tackling climate change rather than the people who sponsor your website.

          • Alastair Leith

            Oh wow, follow the money, Reneweconomy is up to it’s gills in the ol’ wind and solar money and you can’t believe a word you read here. hahahah

          • Sam Gilman

            Bob doesn’t have any connection to RenewEconomy as far as I know.

          • Alastair Leith

            Not if you consider opportunity cost relevant, or the need for dispatchable energy not inflexible generation that has the highest LCOE of all choices.

          • Sam Gilman

            The opportunity cost? Compared to deep decarbonisation?

            Currently, the WHO estimates that 150,000 are dying a year already simply from the effects of raised temperatures, rising to 250,000 within a decade or so. That does not include deaths arising from conflicts engendered by climate change – for that we can look to conflicts like Syria. One sixth of all species are due to die out by the end of the century. Ocean acidification threatens we don’t know quite what to food chains. Sea level rises will affect millions. Who knows how bad the disruption to freshwater supplies and global agriculture will be. The list goes on and on.

            That looks like a pretty big opportunity cost of not having a proper decarbonisation plan.

            If you think wind and solar can save the day all by themselves, you’ve got to realise: throwing up a few solar panels when added to a grid full of other, dispatchable sources and saying “look, climate change solved” makes no sense. It’s idiotic, really. You can’t talk about costs unless you cost the whole system. Once intermittents become such a big part of the grid that they cannot be straightforwardly backed up, you have to pay for a large amount of storage, and a large amount of transmission to try and move wind and sun from where it’s windy and sunny to where it isn’t, and weather systems aren’t that small. LCOEs for low levels of solar on a grid are meaningless as a way of costing grids with high levels of solar.

            This isn’t something I’ve made up. It’s found again, and again, and again in the literature. Wind and solar are great, because they’re low carbon, but they have limits that you can’t ignore. They cannot be the whole story, not even with storage added.

          • You guys live in a world of deep, deep denial.

            See Figure 1 for German progress to date:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/74308f993034ca8102cec009835936d71aa90ced743aea80d742e41ac538fa15.png
            Figure 1

            Find the curve at the bottom of Figure 2 for global nuclear verses solar:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a3837d59cf1a03f6e4ebc2dd503dbad6d862286659940f9499149c0d376770c.jpg
            Figure 2

            Even the heads of the largest nuclear corporations in the US say that it’s all over for nuclear. It makes no sense to build new reactors in today’s energy economy.

            No doubt those companies in the United States have lost the ability to build low cost nuclear over the decades that we were building gas and coal power stations instead. If we want to build our own, we’ll have to crawl back up the learning curve or instead, contract with other countries to build it more cheaply than we can. If we build wide-body airliners for the rest of the world, we can buy our nuclear from someone else like we do lots of other things.

            The cost to build nuclear power varies greatly from country to country. But when you look at the global range, average, and median LCOE (levelized cost of energy) for the new nuclear power stations built in the last five or so years, they’re amazingly competitive. And keep in mind that it is the total system cost, not the LCOE of any given component in a grid that drives the final rate for consumers. And as I said in other comments, to get the lowest cost for consumers the system uses a mix of components, some costing more than others, just as any circuit board does.

            A South Korean company (KEPCO) will bring on line a 1,400 MW reactor, Barakah 1, (the first of the four being built in series for the United Arab Emirates) this year after starting construction in July of 2012. All four are ahead of schedule for completion by 2020, which is an average of one nuclear reactor every two years. Two years is the same time frame used by Lazards to calculate the LCOE (levelized cost of energy) for wind and solar.

            The French are going to be closing paid off reactors because they are too expensive compared to renewables.

            Well, no. Rather than spend money on maintenance to extend the life of some reactors they are doing what the studies by ADME they commissioned suggest be done, which is to use a mix of low carbon sources that include a heavy dose of nuclear power as part of that mix. See Figure 3.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d706586940ce0d5bb4e6cf935c6f383d96c1eab09500b5f45f39c7497f647429.png
            Figure 3

          • Bob_Wallace

            Russ, #1 is a graph of primary energy. It includes transportation and heating. Let’s stick to electricity production. We don’t power our cars with nuclear.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/46b774850eed28c04d5bf9ec12fe73a36c6519553b175a0463c00de00d04a7ff.png

            As you can see Germany is doing a decent job of replacing FF and nuclear with renewables.

            Your graph #2, if you look carefully, shows that nuclear has stalled out. Nuclear experienced a little bump up in the last couple of years but there’s another drop off coming. According to the The International Atomic Energy Agency database here’s what we can expect for through 2020.

            Scheduled to come online in 2017 = 3
            Scheduled to come online in 2018 = 5
            Scheduled to come online in 2019 = 1
            Scheduled to come online in 2020 = 1

            Some argue that Japan will restart its reactors but that really doesn’t seem to be the case. In addition to the three that are running only two other have been approved to restart but they are being blocked by the courts. Some of the rest of the fleet is doing paperwork. A large number have made no efforts to begin the restarting process.

            We’ll see.

            BTW, let’s see how wind is doing in relation to nuclear.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/43a2317d567a1471673c3c8cb416bcf4d3bfc71754daa6b926339c1861d1c297.png

            Nuclear stalled. Wind growing. Solar has started its rise. Do remember, the price of solar has been plunging and the market has not really had time to respond. Keep watching.

            Did I share data on how well the western world is doing in terms of building nuclear?

            Vogtle reactors 3&4
            Two 1117 MW AP1000s = 2234 MW
            Original cost estimate $14.3 billion
            Original completion dates 2016 and 2017

            Morgan Stanley has estimated the final cost will be $19 billion (133% of estimate). $8.50/watt installed.
            Discussions are underway to determine if the reactors will be completed or abandoned.

            Summer Nuclear Plant reactors
            Two 1117 MW AP1000s = 2234 MW
            Original cost estimate $9.8 billion
            Original completion dates 2016 and 2019

            Morgan Stanley has estimated the final cost will be $22 billion (224% of estimate). $9.85/watt installed.
            Discussions are underway to determine if the reactors will be completed or abandoned.

            Olkiluoto 3 (Finland)
            One EPR 1600 MW reactor
            Original cost estimate €3 billion (about $4.2 billion).
            Original completion date 2005

            Current cost €8.5 billion (283% of original estimate). €5.31/watt installed.
            Current completion estimate end of 2018

            Flamanville 3 (France)
            One EPR 1650 MW reactor
            Original cost estimate €3.3 billion
            Original completion date 2012

            Cost in 2016 was estimated at more than €9 billion (273% of original estimate). €5.45/watt installed.
            Current completion date after 2017

            2014
            In 2014 Citigroup calculated a LCOE for the Vogtle plant using the estimated cost at the time of $15 billion at 11 cents/kWh.
            https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/citigroup-says-the-age-of-renewables-has-begun

            Morgan Stanley is now estimating $19 billion, 27% higher which would take the cost of electricity to 14 cents/kWh.

            You claim that a new learning curve might make nuclear affordable. The problem is, who would pay for that learning curve once they review the starting point?

            France? France’s other 2/3rds nuclear fleet will be aging out. Don’t expect France to build any new reactors.

          • Alastair Leith

            So six decades of taxpayer funded largesse from at least half a dozen Superpowers has put nuclear in the commanding and technologically superior position it is today, they’re entitled to rest on the laurels and enjoy the view from a smug knowing of superiority in all matters energy… hang on, no buyers anymore, manufacturers going bankrupt and dragging down the world’s largest semiconductor companies with them?! These alternative facts can’t be correct.

          • Michael Mann

            He has made his site into an echo chamber for his propaganda, he tends to ignore facts which do not agree with his message.

          • Michael Mann

            Yes, if you include the harm from irrational fear, it changes the numbers significantly.. irrational fear of nuclear energy has probably caused millions of avoidable deaths and could conceivably kill millions more, by preventing the use of nuclear energy, which has the capability to provide safe, clean, reliable energy without the environmental impact of other methods.

          • Sam Gilman

            No, there’s no cherry-picking involved in these studies. ExternE and Paul Scherrer institute studies summarised graphically here:

            https://www.withouthotair.com/c24/page_168.shtml

            Is there a reason why you’re busy trying to undermine the established literature on energy? You’ve already had a pop at the IPCC.

          • As long as we carefully pick which deaths will be counted against nuclear. Fleeing a reactor that might go into extreme meltdown but didn’t? Can’t count those deaths against nuclear, can we? All those people were not killed by radiation.

            Not sure what you’re trying to say, Bob, but even Greenpeace cedes nuclear is safer than coal and gas, about the same as wind. See Figure 1.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c5ec479703a8b9fa1486957dea6f8b4a1b09ecf6522d02c99019f372011f3c99.jpg
            Figure 1

          • Michael Mann

            If someone yells “fire” in a crowded theater and several people get trampled and it turns out that there was only smoke from the kitchen and no actual fire, are those causalities counted as caused by the non existent fire?

          • mick

            fair call sometimes I ramble suffice to say the issue will be decided by market forces il pull the nimby card and leave the debate to you smart people cheers

          • Michael Mann

            U-238 is natural uranium….

          • Alastair Leith

            Was relevant to the thousands of cancer victims and the fact that according to Gorbachev it was the thing that destroyed the USR economy and lost them the Cold War. But yeah, move on folks nothing to see here.

          • Aaron Oakley

            I guess it is useful if your aim is to spread fear and ignorance.

            Bringing up Chernobyl is like bringing up the Model T ford in a conversation about modern car safety.

          • Alastair Leith

            No it’s about corruption and bright-siding that this industry’s spokespeople have never stopped up from sharing. Fukushima == corruption.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Oh dear. Your tinfoil hat is on too tight. “Fukushima == corruption” is not an argument.

          • Alastair Leith

            Do some reading, you will find numerous transgressions and the nuclear industry in Japan is widely regard as corrupt in Japan.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Loose talk about corruption is easy. Turns out Japan is planning to build 45 new coal fired power stations, renewable options being very limited in that country. If decarbonization is the goal, this is not a good thing.

          • Alastair Leith

            It’s not loose, suggest you do some reading. Site location of reactors near fault lines and tsunami impact zones against international advice, corruption? TEPCO lying about the state of reactors prior to melt downs, and government repeating those lies, corruption? Govt lying about radiation levels around the fail reactors and a crowd funded mobile low-cost gamma detection (Safecast)effort required to force government to undertake public safety monitoring in a credible way, corruption? Credibility of govt effort in public safety monitoring still suspect due to wide inconsistencies between what public gamma meters are reading out and ten meters away ten times the dosage, corruption? Cottage industry of food testing run out of peoples apartments due to unreliability of government safety quality assurances, corruption?

            Yeah coal fired power is a real sad outcome of this, it’s a pity the nuclear industry was so unreliable and is now considered deeply untrustworthy in Japan. Nuclear power industry has only themselves and their greed and arrogance to blame.

            With PV getting so cheap, hopefully offshore PV will force the cancellation of some of those coal plants, or energy importing from SE Asia where RE resources do exist (Mongolia proposal might get up again if advances in UHVDC and PV improve).

          • Aaron Oakley

            And yet the most harm has come from all the fear-mongering, not the incident itself.

            http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-fud.html

            “With PV getting so cheap, hopefully offshore PV will force the cancellation of some of those coal plants”

            Wishful thinking on your part? Wishful thinking won’t power the world of tomorrow.

          • Alastair Leith

            I’ll tell you what they were bloody lucky. The prevailing wind in Fukushima is towards Tokyo and if the wind had have been blowing that way on those days rather than out to sea, evacuation of Tokyo would have been unavoidable and many would have likely died in the ensuing panic. The decontamination process would have run into the billions too. The former PM of Japan has talked about this at length and although a previous fan of nuclear power he’s now deeply opposed to the industry and yes even talks about corruption within it. He’s talked about how he was faced with the decision to evacuate Tokyo and had the wind blown that way on those days of high radiation from meltdown and containment vessel explosion he would have done so in the knowledge that a panic may well have ensued.

            The fears were legitimate, especially given the lies coming out of the government and the thousands of exposures at Chernobyl due to government not evacuating residents in a timely manner.

            I’ll tell you what is wishful thinking, nuclear industry getting their shit industry together in Japan. PV learning curve is not wishful thinking either. Fact is modules and systems are tracking to be virtually free (less than 0.1c/kWh) by 2040. That’s the long term cost trend of 22% not the current 28% cost reduction curve. Storage I and many forecasters expect to outpace learning curve for PV even given the wider range of technologies being deployed and huge amount of academic research in the field already producing very interesting options for future deployment (graphene a game changer and already deployed in PV module terminals and supercapacitors — think busses in China and Sweden running on supercapacitors and charging in seconds at each stopping point).

          • Aaron Oakley

            You present no evidence for your Fukushima hysteria.

            “PV learning curve is not wishful thinking either.”

            Yes, it is wishful thinking. I need only quote @samgilman:disqus above.

            “Japan is a good test case for people who claim to be evidence-based in a “renewables only” approach to tackling climate change. It’s an island country running largely north-south occupying a single time zone. It’s densely populated to begin with, but that density is exacerbated by extremely high forest cover (66%) over mountains that are difficult to build on (which has allowed Japan to remain a biodiversity hotspot), with another 12% given over to crop agriculture. It has low wind speeds except along the tops of mountain ridges and the seabed drops precipitously away not far out to sea. It’s also an advanced industrial economy. So we need a lot of energy relative to the space we have to produce it. Relative to the task, there isn’t actually a lot of geothermal available, and an expansion of it would threaten the lucrative spa industry. Whereas in places like the US, the renewable challenge is integration of easily available resources into a grid, in Japan, producing even the equivalent of energy demand through renewables looks to be a tall order even before we deal with the inevitable need for overcapacity that such systems need.”

            It is obvious now that your views are mainly ideology-based, not science-based.

          • Alastair Leith

            So you tell me the limit of PV that can be deployed in Japan given the current level of cleared land and urban land use? You tell me why an asia-wide supergrid of UHVDC transmission is not feasible? You tell me why off-shore PV would be impossible if there isn’t enough land? You tell me why a hydrogen or ammonia energy import system produced from cheap clean renewables in Australia and Indonesia couldn’t replace current coal and gas imports and replace nuclear generation. Japan is certainly one of the nations where on todays costs nuclear would appear to make more sense in terms of decarbonisation, it’s just all the other problems with the industry and fact that they have terminal reputational damage in that country. What am I supposed to do to revive the reputation of the nuclear industry in Japan for the sake of Climate Action? Please tell me how I can help.

          • Aaron Oakley

            You are the one making assertions. Its really up to you to justify them.

            “What am I supposed to do to revive the reputation of the nuclear
            industry in Japan for the sake of Climate Action? Please tell me how I
            can help.”

            Stop spreading the propaganda talking points of the ideologically anti-nuclear. I left the green movement over 20 years ago because of the movement’s constant abuses of science over nuclear. I have been working with ionizing radiation for > 20 years, so that helps me see through the fear-mongering. I help the layman understand the issues by commenting on forums like this.

          • Alastair Leith

            Well I assert that Japan has a decent solar resource (closer to the equator than many cities in Australia) and has a large urbanised population with rooftops. Am i wrong? PV is approaching virtually free energy by 2040 on trend, am I wrong?

          • Aaron Oakley

            “I assert that Japan has a decent solar resource”

            …without any evidence.

          • Sam Gilman

            No, we don’t, not relative to our needs. We run more or less north to south, so we have the same daylight hours everywhere, we don’t have a great deal of land appropriate to build on, and we’re densely populated as it is, with an industrial economy.

            Generating electricity whenever, and producing electricity to meet demand are two different things.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on, Sam. The solar year in Aomori is considerably different than the solar year in Kagoshima-shi.

          • Sam Gilman

            What’s that got to do with anything?

          • Alastair Leith

            You do nuclear industry no favours by running ad hom attacks each and every post like your friends here. You do it no favours pretending that it is competitive on costs in most locations around the world. You do it no favours pretending that there are no U extraction and radioactive waste issues that are currently not being addressed and have ready solutions.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Inconvenient facts and data are not ad hom.

            You do the RE crowd no favours engaging in fear-mongering.

          • Michael Mann

            Thank you for taking the time to share your insight!

          • Alastair Leith

            You guys can’t even post without adding an ad hom attack per post can you?

            “It is obvious now that your views are mainly ideology-based, not science-based.”

          • Aaron Oakley

            I’m not attacking you. I’m commenting that your views seem deeply ideological. This was shown, e.g. by your exploiting the Chernobyl disaster for the purposes of spreading fear, when that power station is not relevant to discussions of modern nuclear energy.

          • Alastair Leith

            They aren’t “ideologically” cast opinions.

            I grew up in pro-nuclear (ideologically speaking) household, my father was a nuclear (radiation specialist) physicist and I grew up knowing that coal killed and shortened the lifespan of millions more workers than nuclear ever has. I used to spend my summer vacations in the lan with nuclear physicists talking about all kinds of related science and technology with them. I perhaps even wanted a career in science at that age.

            The fact is that nuclear can’t decarbonise the world in time or do so on costs in a way that remotely is competitive with RE. An the nuclear industry has a terrible legacy of waste and extraction problems. I note nobody has addressed my comments about extraction problems in Australia for indigenous peoples and the environment. This is fact, not something I feel.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Caldicott is one of the worst fear-mongers and her talking points have been demolished by e.g. George Monbiot.

            http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/

            “This is fact, not something I feel.”

            Really? Seems you use a lot of emotive language, e.g. “terrible legacy”. Pretty clear that your views are deeply ideological.

          • Jag_Levak

            “I used to spend my summer vacations in the lan with nuclear physicists talking about all kinds of related science and technology with them. I perhaps even wanted a career in science at that age.”

            I wonder how they would feel finding out you became someone who could seriously entertain the notion that a brief hydrogen burn at the top of a reactor housing could have rousted tons of fuel assemblies from the bottom of a 40 ft. deep pool and launched them “sky high”.

            “The fact is that nuclear can’t decarbonise the world in time or do so on costs in a way that remotely is competitive with RE.”

            Cars typically can’t compete with bicycles on cost, but somehow, that doesn’t stop people from spending much greater sums of money on cars. There are important factors beyond cost alone.

            And to say that nuclear “can’t” decarbonize in time would require comprehensive knowledge of every possible form of nuclear power, as well as to knowledge of all the commercial and political factors which weigh into global energy choices. I have to suspect that you don’t actually have that base of knowledge.

            And the issue isn’t whether nuclear can compete with RE to decarbonize the world on its own. The question is whether having nuclear among our options can help get us there faster than not having any nuclear options.

          • Sam Gilman

            “And the issue isn’t whether nuclear can compete with RE to decarbonize the world on its own. The question is whether having nuclear among our options can help get us there faster than not having any nuclear options.”

            This is actually the mainstream position found in the literature. The gap between the literature and public perception is very worrying.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That should be part of the question.

            Would including new nuclear make the transition off fossil fuels faster? The answer to that would be ‘yes’ if nuclear did not take resources and emphasis off faster to install wind and solar. However if we look at places where new nuclear has been built recently in the US we see those areas as falling behind in wind and solar installation.

            The other parts of the question are:

            Would including new nuclear make our electricity cheaper? The answer is ‘no’. You can’t replace cheap generation with expensive generation and end up with cheaper electricity.

            And would including new nuclear make our world safer? The answer to this is also ‘no’.

          • Sam Gilman

            The literature disagrees with you.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Doesn’t mean that your sources are right.

            Want to prove that the climate is not changing and that the Arctic sea ice is not melting?

            There’s “literature”.

          • Sam Gilman

            I’m happy to go with the mainstream literature.

          • Alastair Leith

            Im not spreading fear by pointing out a historical fact — and who is even reading this, four to twenty people?! Industry always says we have moved on, they said so at time of Chernobyl and yet Fukushima still occurred. There’s been dozens of low-dosage events at Western reactors that go unreported in media too according to Dr Green citing studies.

          • Aaron Oakley

            “pointing out a historical fact”

            …which would be relevant if Russia was running RBMKs without containment with the same abysmal safety culture that the USSR did.

            ” dozens of low-dosage events at Western reactors”

            the plural of anecdote is not science. Useful, one again, for spreading fear. Not good science.

          • duplicat

            Aaron is such a terrible biologist that he thinks rhoA stands for Real Housewives of Atlanta.

          • Aaron Oakley

            Is that you again, Rene?
            Do your parents know you have the WiFi password?

          • duplicat

            Aaron is such a terrible biologist that he thinks Zincfinger is a James Bond movie.

          • Alastair Leith

            PV learning curve is real 22% cost reduction for each doubling of global deployment for the last two to three decades. That doubling consistently occurs each two years. More like 28% in last few years. No sign of letting up, PERC cells haven’t even got into the market in a big way yet, but are forecast to replace most silicon wafer cells. Slither cells for high efficiency cells in locations with limited roof or land space (i.e Japan perhaps).

            Although Japan has deep seas close to shore, there are technologies emerging for floating platform turbine towers that only require an anchor not superstructure all the way down to large footings. And if you overlaid the NEM over Japan I think you’d find that neighbouring countries are within that footprint and available for energy supply, certainly raises and energy security risk, but whole world relied on OPEC for decades for oil and Japan still does.

          • Aaron Oakley

            “The fears were legitimate, especially given the lies coming out of the
            government and the thousands of exposures at Chernobyl due to government
            not evacuating residents in a timely manner.”

            That you also seek to exploit the suffering of the people of Pripyat for the purpose of spreading fear say a great deal about you.

          • Sam Gilman

            Alastair, as someone who lives in Japan, I can say that your account of Fukushima and the threat to Tokyo is a pile of bunk.

            Naoto Kan has indeed talked at length, only to save his own reputation and rely on foreign journalists’ gullibility and desire for clickbait. It was his panicky interference that prevented safety measures to avoid the hydrogen explosions. Modelling done at the time by international scientists was clear that Tokyo was at no risk. Even if all six reactors had blown their tops and gale force winds blown for three days straight from Fukushima to Tokyo (which they never do) it would not have merited evacuation.

          • Alastair Leith

            ” It was his panicky interference that prevented safety measures to avoid the hydrogen explosions. ”

            So the nuclear industry is blaming the PM for them not having a safety plan that worked… wow! can you tell me how the PM managed to screw up such an important operational procedure?

          • Alastair Leith

            So why did they evacuate any places at all, why are soil samples still showing dangerous levels of gamma radiation today?

          • Sam Gilman

            You’ve switched from claiming Tokyo had a near miss to claiming that unless Tokyo was in danger, nowhere was.

            That doesn’t make sense.

            Is it the geography of Japan that’s confusing you? Tokyo is around 200km from Ōkuma. Perhaps that’s what’s missing from your knowledge set.

          • Alastair Leith

            Sam I’m not responding to any more of your misrepresentations of what I’ve said nor taunts. Again you’ve completely misrepresented the point I was making. I said goodbye and I mean it.

          • Sam Gilman

            No, you misrepresented me, Alastair. You made me out to be saying that nowhere was in danger.

            This tactic you are using – of making an extreme claim and then using rebuttals to that extremism to accuse others of making extreme claims – is called the fallacy of the excluded middle. It’s not new.

            You can walk away if you like. It means one less person spreading misinformation.

          • Alastair Leith

            No i didn’t I said if the wind was blowing another way then PM said he would have evacuated Tokyo under advice from scientists. You said “Even if all six reactors had blown their tops (which none did) and gale force winds blown for three days straight from Fukushima to Tokyo (which they never do) it would not have merited evacuation.” That would indicate no pathway of dangerous emissions reaching Tokyo under that scenario. I know Tokyo was and remains 200 km away.

            My question was if that’s the case (and PM said his advice was different) why evacuate nearby areas with wind blowing off-shore for the danger period. Any inferences you made about what I said are your own. That’s it — I’m sick of these games where you guys ignore the substance of each comment, grab a hold of one word, phrase or sentence and then name call and gish gallop on some new accusation.

            Easy to see why Nuclear industry is so beloved of people the world over with advocates of the ilk of you lot.

          • Sam Gilman

            How many people might be affected is absolutely of substance, isn’t it? Kan was not advised by any scientific team that Tokyo was in serious danger. That was his own idea. Don’t forget, he’s a politician with a huge ego who is perceived by the electorate to have screwed up. He is trying to rescue his reputation. He’s been doing the rounds on this for a few years now.

            This article is pretty accurate and it also identifies where the press got it wrong:

            http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/09/fukushima_disaster_new_information_about_worst_case_scenarios.html

          • Michael Mann

            There are no soil samples outside of the plant boundary that have “dangerous levels of gamma radiation” there may still be hot spots which exceed regulatory limits, which are orders of magnitude below “dangerous levels of gamma radiation” you throw out these terms which are pure fear mongering hype, without regard to their accuracy or the effect they could have on people. Fear mongering hype like this can cause people actual physical and mental harm.

          • Alastair Leith

            ” It was his panicky interference that prevented safety measures to avoid the hydrogen explosions.”

            Blaming the Japanese PM for nuclear industry not being able to execute or have fail safe procedures, priceless.

          • Sam Gilman

            You don’t do complexity, do you?

          • Alastair Leith

            Not household energy prices. And not level of people failing to pay their energy bills.

            And you are conveniently forgetting that the French nuclear industry was subsidised for *decades* with a king’s ransom making wholesale energy price artificially lower than a true cost reflective price. And even so the whole thing is going bust. All France same they still import more power than they export (German coal for a start) so it can’t be that cheap or that reliable.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b0e9b096fbfb4999d315317b4c4252320fa5091afa2f4f23602ddb8d06c7ff4.png

          • Ahmed Shaker
          • Ren Stimpy

            Thank you. Now plot a line through it. Nuclear costs look to have risen since the mid-1990s.

          • Alastair Leith

            Oh the only reason for that is unreasonable people putting demands on our engineers to make these plants safer. On the one hand we keep talking in glowing terms about how much safer the next gen nukes are going to be, on the other hand we keep whining that the public aren’t happy with dozens of near miss incidents and actual health impacting gamma leakage events at US plants like 3MI and adding costs to our business model. If only we could have it both ways!

          • Ren Stimpy

            Glad I read that in the AM with a tall coffee Alastair or the irony would’ve sailed right over my head.

            The politics around nuclear power is its highest barrier in Australia – even higher than the economic barriers – and it’s not just the Greens, ‘the center’ is also reluctant if not outright opposed to nuclear. It’s inconceivable that a nuclear plant could get approval here without every possible safety measure (and then some) adding to the already high cost.

            Really the only way nuclear power could get a start here is with a very high carbon price in place. Did a quick scan of this page and can’t see anyone calling for a carbon price.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Problem is, can’t build a nuclear reactor overnight. We ran out of hobgoblins.

            Need to look at installed costs.

            Here are some numbers for reactors being built in the western world. I just started putting them together a few hours ago, haven’t had time to double check. If you see errors please let me know and I’ll correct….

            Vogtle reactors 3&4
            Original cost estimate $14.3 billion
            Original completion dates 2016 and 2017

            Morgan Stanley has estimated the final cost will be $19 billion. (133% of estimate)
            Discussions are underway to determine if the reactors will be completed or abandoned.

            Summer Nuclear Plant reactors
            Original cost estimate $9.8 billion
            Original completion dates 2016 and 2019

            Morgan Stanley has estimated the final cost will be $22 billion (224% of original estimate).
            Discussions are underway to determine if the reactors will be completed or abandoned.

            Olkiluoto 3 (Finland)
            Original cost estimate €3 billion (about $4.2 billion)
            Original completion date 2005

            Current cost €8.5 billion (283% of original estimate)
            Current completion estimate end of 2018

            Flamanville 3 (France)
            Original cost estimate €3.3 billion
            Original completion date 2012

            Cost in 2016 was estimated at more than €9 billion (273% of original estimate)
            Current completion date after 2017

          • Alastair Leith

            Details, schmetails Bob!

          • Problem is, can’t build a nuclear reactor overnight. We ran out of hobgoblins.

            Again, not sure what you are trying to say here. That’s only four projects Bob. The cost to build nuclear varies greatly from country to country. See Figure 1.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5797068be89657537649a19cdf7e8f94fa553a0c8220ee7f1ceaea5042633d95.png
            Figure 1

            There are lots of energy sources pricier than nuclear. See Figure 2 and 3.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d1a7c05ffedd864d1db14c4f85f6275f7f9e435abdbc45d5604a6fe79f4f885e.jpg
            Figure 2
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d56649139592e2868378446aefeb9c52d692612bfea5e8acfe71076d0564d620.jpg
            Figure 3

            KEPCO is building a 1,400 MW reactor every two years for the UAE which is the same time frame used by Lazards to calculate the LCOE (levelized cost of energy) for wind and solar. These are 1400 MW units at a price of about $5 billion each.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Russ, you want to know why I don’t take you seriously? It’s because you claim to be talking about the cost of nuclear and then you use overnight costs to support your position.

            I just gave you the original cost estimate for installed nuclear and where the prices have risen to so far. It’s the financing cost that ruins your talking point, Russ.

            And I don’t know who made such a holy mess out of the Lazard chart. A lot of crap has been added. CT did that? (I haven’t been hanging out there lately.)

            Why would anyone talk about installing solar in Seattle? That’s like building a hydro plant in the middle of the desert. And a part of the desert where the river does not run through it. If you’re going to build solar in Washington just go inland a little bit and get out from under the Pacific Fog Bank.

            Now, the spread of utility solar costs from the sunny SW to not so sunny parts (but not as bad a Seattle) runs less than $0.02/kWh. With solar dropping below $0.04/kWh (unsubsidized) in Arizona a LCOE based on a lower CF yields something under $0.06/kWh.

            The wind number is falling out of date. As for transmission costs, probably not. The EIA estimates for transmission assumes moving a lot of power from the Midwest to the East Coast. Now that we know that there’s a lot of wind available, even in the Southeast, if we simply go to 140 meter hub heights transmission costs will be far less.

            We have no time machine that we can use to go back and build a few hundred reactors in order to have more paid off nuclear now. And, let’s face it Russ, a bunch of paid off reactors are going bankrupt due to the lower cost of wind, solar and NG. Some have closed, some are going to receive subsidies in order to maintain jobs, and others will be going belly up as time goes along. Three Mile Island just threw in the towel, it’s out in 2019.

            Now, Russ, I’m about to bow out of this discussion. You, Sam, Mike and the other few nuclear true believers are unshakable in your faith. You demonstrate over and over that you are immune to facts. I’m fairly sure that no one else is reading these comments any longer so you guys aren’t likely to mislead anyone but yourselves.

            You have a nice night, Russ. And you too, Sam, Mike, Aaron and whoever else I might have forgotten.

          • Russ, you want to know why I don’t take you seriously?

            Not really, Bob. You’re starting to get nasty, as usual. The difference this time is that you won’t be banning informed posters on the grounds of dishonesty and thread hijacking under this antinuclear article.

            It’s because you claim to be talking about the cost of nuclear and then you use overnight costs to support your position.

            Claim to be talking about the cost of nuclear? Close, but no cigar. I was talking about how much the cost of nuclear varies by time and place. See Figure 1 again which is simply an apples to apples comparison of overnight costs (clearly labeled as such on left vertical scale).
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5797068be89657537649a19cdf7e8f94fa553a0c8220ee7f1ceaea5042633d95.png
            Figure 1.

            I just gave you the original cost estimate for installed nuclear and where the prices have risen to so far. It’s the financing cost that ruins your talking point, Russ.

            I have given you Figure 2 three times now, which includes financing cost, which pretty much just ruined your talking point.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d56649139592e2868378446aefeb9c52d692612bfea5e8acfe71076d0564d620.jpg
            Figure 2

            And I don’t know who made such a holy mess out of the Lazard chart. A lot of crap has been added. CT did that? (I haven’t been hanging out there lately.)

            Those are my markups used to explain one reason for the variation in costs to readers who may be wondering why there is such a range.

            Why would anyone talk about installing solar in Seattle?

            Tell that to my neighbors, and I agree. It was to explain one reason for the variation in costs to readers who may be wondering why there is such a range.

            That’s like building a hydro plant in the middle of the desert.

            Why, thank you. That was my point exactly and coincidentally the same analogy I used in another comment. The cost of renewable energy is location dependent. The low costs you dig up are only applicable in the sunniest or windiest places, which is misleading to readers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read the disclaimer on top of Figure 1. LCOE of wind and solar says little if anything about system cost. Look to German citizen electric rates for evidence that higher penetrations of wind and solar do not lower those rates.

            With solar dropping below $0.04/kWh (unsubsidized) in Arizona a LCOE based on a lower CF yields something under $0.06/kWh.

            Bob, that’s a 50% difference. But let’s clean that sentence up a little. From Lazards:

            Residential rooftop solar PV range = $138-$222/MWh
            Commercial solar thermal range = $119-$182/MWh
            Commercial rooftop solar PV range = $88-$193/MWh
            Community solar PV range = $78-$135/MWh
            Crystalline utility scale solar PV range = $49-$61/MWh
            Thin film utility solar PV range = $46-$56/MWh

            The wind number is falling out of date.

            Bob, that’s their 2016 report. The 2015 report actually had lower values for thin film and crystalline than the 2016 report.

            As for transmission costs, probably not. The EIA estimates for transmission assumes moving a lot of power from the Midwest to the East Coast.

            Note that Lazards does not include transmission costs and without a way to dump the sporadic power gluts that drive power producers towards insolvency, percent wind penetration will max out at roughly its capacity factor.

            Now that we know that there’s a lot of wind available, even in the Southeast, if we simply go to 140 meter hub heights transmission costs will be far less.

            Bob, bigger turbines cost more. Using them to extract more energy from less windy places comes with a higher price tag. There is no such thing as a free lunch and that technology does not help with the sporadic power glut effect that drives power producers towards insolvency unless they can dump that excess power somewhere that does not already also have wind, keeping in mind that cost effective storage at that scale does not exist.

            We have no time machine that we can use to go back and build a few hundred reactors in order to have more paid off nuclear now.

            I think you just said that it’s too bad we don’t have more nuclear (hydro and nuclear are providing ninety something percent of our low carbon energy).

            And, let’s face it Russ, a bunch of paid off reactors are going bankrupt due to the lower cost of wind, solar and NG.

            That comment contradicts another one you made claiming that natural gas is the culprit, which was correct. Wind and solar displace natural gas (which is why they have so little impact on CO2 emissions). Natural gas displaces nuclear and coal. Nuclear has historically been coal’s main competitor.

            Some have closed, some are going to receive subsidies in order to maintain jobs, and others will be going belly up as time goes along. Three Mile Island just threw in the towel, it’s out in 2019.

            See Figure 3
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a0ea69c9b893f7640ebfe767bc245b6b147a80c106197371da161211dcd996d7.jpg
            Figure 3

            A list of over 100 solar company bankruptcies:

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/The-Mercifully-Short-List-of-Fallen-Solar-Companies-2015-Edition

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Honoring-the-fallen-solar-soldiers

            You, Sam, Mike and the other few nuclear true believers are unshakable in your faith.

            It’s got nothing to do with faith, Bob. Look at the numbers, look at the studies, look at the real world German experiment, look at Figures 4, 5 and 6. Your carefully culled comment fields under antinuclear articles at CleanTechnica, on the other hand, look a lot like a preacher’s congregation to me and considering that you ban every pronuclear commenter, clearly a place where nonbelievers are not tolerated.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5fd98c1f9427568b2b64c23c2a82575379dbc78fea00b2d13a638a59cfa219f.jpg
            Figure 4
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6ddb6a70516bbf1566393c592817f73c2c2439336241343498d0d451b6b48cd.png

            Figure 5
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/74308f993034ca8102cec009835936d71aa90ced743aea80d742e41ac538fa15.png

            Figure 6

            You demonstrate over and over that you are immune to facts.

            Ever hear of the backfire effect? Most people tend to entrench rather than give way when strongly held beliefs are challenged with facts. It’s why you’ll never convince a creationist that the earth is billions of years old. It’s why debates are for the audience. I hold no illusions that you will eventually cede the argument, and I’m a little amused that you think I will. Our discussions disseminate information. We’re mutual foils or maybe sock puppets.

            I’m fairly sure that no one else is reading these comments any longer so you guys aren’t likely to mislead anyone but yourselves.

            I can certainly see why you would hope that is the case : )

          • Alastair Leith

            Are they including all the free subsidies and implicate state underwriting of catastrophic failure risk in that learning curve? … a risk that cost USSR the Cold War according to Gorbachev and is not doing the Japanese economy any favours.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And now France has found nuclear too expensive to continue.

            So France will be closing a third of their reactors by 2025 and replacing them with wind and solar.

          • Alastair Leith

            What do you actually mean by scalable and more scalable? It doesn’t fit with the understandings I have of that word, more from the usage in IT the Energy industry admittedly.

          • Sam Gilman

            Scaleable means it can be deployed without constraints in substantial amounts in order to decarbonise the grid.

            For example, experience around the world suggests that wind is more scaleable than solar, and that nuclear is more scaleable than each of wind and solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “deployed without constraints in substantial amounts”

            China is about the only place where nuclear is being built other than the odd reactor here or there. Economics and skilled/experienced workers are a couple of significant constraints.

          • Sam Gilman

            China is represents a quarter of the world’s population, and the second biggest economy, soon to be the first. It is building 20 reactors now, and has plans to quadruple its capacity by 2030 and even more beyond that. But hey, it’s just China. Russia’s building 7, India 5, the UAE 4, Korea 3.

            China of course, has absolutely no plans whatsoever to export its nuclear technology to other countries.

            Oh, hold on, it does.

            Do you think they might take out ads at Cleantechnica?

          • Sam Gilman

            If it’s non-scaleable, how come it provides 75% of electricity in France? 20% in the US? 40% in Sweden? 50% in Belgium? 30% in Korea?

            Did you mean something different by the word “scaleable”?

          • Ren Stimpy

            It provides 75% of fuck all in the grand scheme of things, Sam.

          • Sam Gilman

            Would you like to have another go at answering the question? I gave you evidence of scaleability.

            Which low carbon technologies are more scaleable?

          • Ren Stimpy

            No you didn’t give me jack shit evidence of scalability. Where is your cost curve Sam. Let’s have it. Don’t be shy! Bring it forth you numpty.

          • Sam Gilman

            What do you mean by scaleability, if it doesn’t mean the ability for an energy source to be built enough to contribute substantially to the grid?

            Are you saying France and Korea are fictional countries?

          • Ren Stimpy

            What do you mean by scaleability?

            If you don’t know already just go away pest, just fuck off.

          • Sam Gilman

            Do you realise that being sweary and abusive in reaction to polite questions makes you look a bit odd?

          • Ren Stimpy

            Being sweary and abusive is justifiable for you, you idiot cunt.

          • greenthinker2012

            Because it is all you can muster as an argument.
            You have shown yourself be a loser who can not argue except to hurl insults.
            Probably worked great in the 4th grade.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Where. Is .Your. Cost .Curve. Idiot! Where. The. F. Is. It?

            If you don’t know the one I’m talking about, scroll up.

            MATE!

          • greenthinker2012

            Sorry that you are such an idiot.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Sorry that you are such a Green.

          • Ren Stimpy

            You hypocrite.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yeh sorry about that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China gave nuclear a 20 year head start and wind passed nuclear in terms of MWh generated in only 5 years.

            Nuclear has been on the scene for 60 years. It peaked out with a market share of 17.6% in 1996 and has since dropped to a 10.7% market share.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f464a1825f857137928a482d3a1c52e54aecbbeea9295b54ee11a6bed753aef5.png

            The reactor count and total capacity peaked in 2006 and has fallen since then. There are currently more reactors scheduled to close in this next decade than will be constructed.

            We don’t need to argue over which might be more scalable. We can easily observe that nuclear is dying out.

            Let’s take a look at global wind and solar just for comparison…

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1acfba2f24699e55f13d7f3ff61d7190e2e2708ea53f49d9d091dee58f1c9e11.jpg

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab64c895eea8fd7c8ed1653c604c3159e1eaa784f3a5b93f0e1bd9ffd00aadb1.png

          • Sam Gilman

            Hi Bob

            (Full disclosure: I have been banned from Bob’s website – by Bob – for criticising an article about Japanese energy policy that did not tow the Cleantechnica anti-nuclear pro-consumer greentech line. People may check my feed to see that I am not a rude or abusive poster.)

            Let’s look at your claims:

            The reactor count and total capacity peaked in 2006 and has fallen since then

            Reading this, one would think that it’s been one long period of decline both in reactor count and output. Alas, Bob, that’s just not true. The reactor count in 2006 according to the IAEA was 443. In 2016 it as 451. Why did you get this wrong?

            How about capacity? In 2006 Total Net Electricity Capacity was 371GW. In 2016 it was 392 GW. Why did you get this wrong?

            Can you explain what’s going on?

            There is also this:

            China gave nuclear a 20 year head start and wind passed nuclear in terms of MWh generated in only 5 years.

            Reading this, one would think that Chinese nuclear had been growing over a steady twenty year period, and was usurped by wind between 2009 and 2014. The truth is, Chinese wind started way back in the 1990s, while around two thirds of Chinese nuclear reactors came on-line in the past 5 years. The truth is, wind and nuclear have both grown at around the same rate for the past five years, while solar has lagged behind. Wind and nuclear are the stellar performers, with solar output comparatively dawdling.

            Why isn’t this reflected in Bob Wallace’s post? After all, he writes as if he knows about China.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not my site, Russ.

            CT booted a lot of nuclear fan-boys for thread hijacking and dishonesty.

          • Oh no you don’t. You personally ban every competent knowledgeable pro-nuclear commenter who appears there under the antinuclear articles you hoover up from across the internet. And here you go again calling these commenters dishonest. Have they hijacked this thread also, Bob?

          • Michael Mann

            Correction, Bob ban’s anyone with the temerity to challenge his misconceptions and propaganda. He likes his site to be an echo chamber of his own “fan boys” with no actual discussion or dissension… Many people have been banned from his site, I wear that as a badge of honor…

          • Sam Gilman

            “Hijacking and dishonesty”

            Hijacking? I was banned for commenting on Japanese energy policy on an article on Japanese energy policy.

            As for dishonesty? Bob is a moderator on that site and he personally banned me. (Compare to his “not my site” and “CT booted”) I wasn’t dishonest. My offence was contradicting Bob. I and another Japan resident were trying to put him straight – with sources – on just how difficult it would be to power Japan on renewables.

            To drag things back to the topic of who deals in “alternative facts”: Japan is a good test case for people who claim to be evidence-based in a “renewables only” approach to tackling climate change. It’s an island country running largely north-south occupying a single time zone. It’s densely populated to begin with, but that density is exacerbated by extremely high forest cover (66%) over mountains that are difficult to build on (which has allowed Japan to remain a biodiversity hotspot), with another 12% given over to crop agriculture. It has low wind speeds except along the tops of mountain ridges and the seabed drops precipitously away not far out to sea. It’s also an advanced industrial economy. So we need a lot of energy relative to the space we have to produce it. Relative to the task, there isn’t actually a lot of geothermal available, and an expansion of it would threaten the lucrative spa industry. Whereas in places like the US, the renewable challenge is integration of easily available resources into a grid, in Japan, producing even the equivalent of energy demand through renewables looks to be a tall order even before we deal with the inevitable need for overcapacity that such systems need.

            So when someone presenting themselves as well-informed claims Japan could easily run on 100% renewables, you know they are not evidence-based.

          • Michael Mann

            I was also banned by Bob personally at the CT website,

          • Sam Gilman

            It’s funny how his recall slips in and out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You guys have no idea how banning decisions were made on CT.

            Here’s a clue. I did not set the standards.

            But, left up to me, I would have fried your asses toot sweet when you started your misinformation campaign. I wouldn’t have sent the decision ‘upstairs’.

          • Sam Gilman

            Can you show me the standards where it says the procedure is for a grown man to repeatedly reply to someone, and then delete the comment he replied to?

            Or are you saying Zachary Shahan approves every single one of your bans and comment deletions?

            Because at the moment, everyone thinks it’s you, but if you’re blaming Zachary, we can tell everyone it’s Zachary Shahan censoring comments.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, Sam. You’re obsessing over something that happened long ago. I have no notes on what happened.

            Get over it Sam. Seek some professional help if that’s what it will take.

          • Sam Gilman

            It looks to me like you’re blaming Zachary Shahan. Can you clarify?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Zach does not own the site.

            Seek help, Sam. You’re in danger of becoming a sick puppy.

          • Sam Gilman

            He’s the director and chief editor. Who else did you mean by “upstairs”?

            And who owns cleantechnica?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Seek help, Sam.

          • …nice.

          • You guys have no idea how banning decisions were made on CT.
            Here’s a clue. I did not set the standards.
            But, left up to me, I would have fried your asses toot sweet when you started your misinformation campaign. I wouldn’t have sent the decision ‘upstairs’.

            Borrowing your own words, “You’re a dishonest
            person, Bob. How about we try being honest? You able to do that?”
            : )

            Clown.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sam, are you still whining about that? It happened years ago. And, let me refresh your memory. It was not my site, I was one of the moderators.
            Now, I really don’t recall if I tossed your butt or if one of the other mods did. Nor can I tell you why except that you apparently violated site rules. Since CT is a renewable energy site and doesn’t allow nuclear-fans to hijack discussions in order to talk about how wonderful nuclear will be some day, I suspect you might have violated that rule.

            ” The reactor count in 2006 according to the IAEA was 443. In 2016 it as 451. Why did you get this wrong?”

            The IAEA Nuclear Power Reactors in the World 2016 says 435 operational reactors at the end of 2006. (Page 20)

            That 451 (actually the IAEA says 448 at the end of 2016) includes all the Japanese reactors which are not operating. The IAEA calls them “operational”, not “operating”.

            I suspect the same problem with capacity. Operating vs. operational.

            “Last five years” ignores the rate at which wind caught up and passed nuclear output.

            Let’s look at some data –

            Nuclear
            2010 73.9 TWh
            2015 170.8 TWh
            Increase 96.9 TWh

            Wind
            2010 44.6 TWh
            2015 185.1 TWh
            Increase 140.5 TWh

            Wind started lower, finished higher.

          • Sam Gilman

            For data on nuclear I’m going straight to the IAEA PRIS database:

            https://www.iaea.org/PRIS/WorldStatistics/WorldTrendNuclearPowerCapacity.aspx

            Now, I said “The truth is, wind and nuclear have both grown at around the same rate for the past five years”

            You replied with data from 2010 (that’s seven years ago), and 2015. You know it’s 2017, right?

            Here’s the actual figures for the past five full years (2012-2016) – estimates vary, but the same trend is there:

            2012: Wind 100.4 TWH (+ 33.4), Nuclear 98.2TWH (+11.2) Wind growth higher
            2013: Wind 138.3 TWH (+ 37.9), Nuclear 111.5TWH (+13.3) Wind growth higher
            2014: Wind 153.4 TWH (+15.1), Nuclear 130.5TWH (+19) Nuclear growth higher
            2015: Wind 185.1 TWH (+31.7), Nuclear 167.5TWH (+37) Nuclear growth higher
            2016: Wind 241 TWH (+55.9), Nuclear 210.5TWH (+43) Wind growth higher

            Now, wind has the edge on nuclear right now (although planned increases suggest nuclear might start to have the edge), but both are doing pretty well at, an honest person would say, not an entirely different speed.

            How about solar? Not only does it come at a higher price in China, it’s adding less electricity each year than wind and nuclear.

            2013 8.7TWH
            2014 29.1 TWH (+20.4)
            2015 43 TWH (+13.9)
            2016 66 TWH (+23)

            Here’s the thing: I’m all for solar being built, but I can see that it doesn’t actually seem to deploy that fast in most places. I don’t understand why someone would criticise nuclear for slow deployment rates, when it’s patently faster than solar, which they don’t criticise.

          • Michael Mann

            It could be that some people have an agenda, some reason to skew the data? There does seem to be some intentional prevarication on Bob’s data mining.

          • Sam Gilman

            I try to be precise enough in my claims that they are clearly definable and establishable (or disprovable) by data. So getting the “past five years” wrong does look suspiciously like someone trying to fix the data to fit their story.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Sam. You took what I posted…

            “The reactor count and total capacity peaked in 2006 and has fallen since then. There are currently more reactors scheduled to close in this next decade than will be constructed.

            We don’t need to argue over which might be more scalable. We can easily observe that nuclear is dying out.

            Let’s take a look at global wind and solar just for comparison…”

            And you changed the discussion…

            ” The truth is, wind and nuclear have both grown at around the same rate for the past five years, while solar has lagged behind.”

            Then I attempted to get you back on topic…

            “”Last five years” ignores the rate at which wind caught up and passed nuclear output.”

            You, again, tried to change the topic away from the orignial…

            “Now, I said “The truth is, wind and nuclear have both grown at around the same rate for the past five years”

            You replied with data from 2010 (that’s seven years ago), and 2015. You know it’s 2017, right?”

            It’s a pattern, Sam. You take things out of context and misstate in an attempt to defend a failing industry.

            Maybe that’s what got you kicked off CT. Dishonesty.

            Wish I could recall….

          • Sam Gilman

            You challenged my “last five years” claim with data from seven years ago. What more is there to consider about you trying fix things? Looking at recent progress is standard. Looking at older progress doesn’t make sense.

            You also don’t address the issue of why your argument about nuclear deployment rates doesn’t apply to solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sam, you changed the discussion in order to try to score points for nuclear.
            You’re a dishonest person, Sam.

          • Sam Gilman

            No, I didn’t change the discussion. People can read this, Bob.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Hell, Sam. I laid out the main points, post by post.

            I made a statement and you tried to dispute it by using a portion of the data.

            You have the gall to lie when the facts are right in front of you?

          • Sam Gilman

            You challenged my claim with the wrong data.

            You are also avoiding my question about solar. If deployment rates are so important to you, why does solar’s slower deployment not stop you supporting solar?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Sam. I tried to get you to attend to the point I had made. Go back and try to read with comprehension.

            As for the rate of solar, I’m impressed how rapidly solar is growing. Solar is taking off.

            It took nuclear 4 years to double from 1965 and then another 5 to double again, doubled in 2, again in 8….

            Solar had no real presence on the world grid until 2000 when it produced 1 TWh. Solar then doubled in 3 years, doubled again in 2, doubled again in 2, again in just over 1, again in 1, again in just over 1, and again in just over 2.

            And, as I’ve shown you at least a couple of ways, nuclear has stalled out and probably is falling. Nuclear got a little bump recently but there are few reactors expected to be hooked to the grid between now and the end of 2020.

            Nuclear is going nowhere unless the price comes down considerably. And with the continuing drop in wind and solar costs that becomes harder and harder for nuclear to do.

            BTW, the new South Korean government is talking about a move away from nuclear.

          • Sam Gilman

            You falsely charge me with changing the topic and then change the topic yourself.

            The question I put clearly pertains to the data coming out of China, a country which is trying trying to expand all three of wind, solar and nuclear as fast as possible. It’s a really good natural test of what expands fastest. Avoiding that and going to countries which are not trying to expand all three seems odd.

          • Sam Gilman

            BTW, the new South Korean government is talking about a move away from nuclear.

            Btw, the ideologically anti-nuclear president wants to replace any further expansion mainly with natural gas. The idea is to have lots of gas in order to support a rather smaller amount of renewables. Korea has similar challenges to Japan in renewables, so it would be a lot of peaking, which isn’t pretty, environmentally.

            Ever heard of global warming, Bob? Why are you cheering an expansion of gas? If it was just coal for gas, I could kind of understand it, but here you’re cheering more global warming.

          • * You have the gall to lie when the facts are right in front of you?

            * You’re a dishonest person, Sam.

            * Maybe that’s what got you kicked off CT. Dishonesty.

            * Seek help, Sam

            * Seek help, Sam. You’re in danger of becoming a sick puppy

            Forgive me Sam, had to laugh at this. His responses are nothing short of pathetic. I feel your pain : )

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/51be3b638e6a1037f484284bd9bc688b47a3429c9dc102fc8af8ade7d260554e.jpg

          • Sam Gilman

            The funniest bit is when he tried to blame someone “upstairs” for his moderation decisions, forgetting that we all know the name of the person “upstairs” is. So naturally I asked if we should aim our public criticism at the person upstairs instead. I don’t know if you have children, but if you do, you might recognise the reaction at having a blame-passing bluff called.

          • China gave nuclear a 20 year head start and wind passed nuclear in terms of MWh generated in only 5 years.

            The above remark was addressed by Sam Gilman. Also see Figure 2

            Nuclear has been on the scene for 60 years. It peaked out with a market share of 17.6% in 1996 and has since dropped to a 10.7% market share.

            Translation: Nuclear has provided 60 years of affordable, proven, safe, low carbon energy production and in those 60 years fossil fuel consumption has grown faster than nuclear power production. See Figure 1.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a3837d59cf1a03f6e4ebc2dd503dbad6d862286659940f9499149c0d376770c.jpg
            Figure 1

            The reactor count and total capacity peaked in 2006 and has fallen since then.

            Only if you ignore the fact that most of the Japanese reactors will be restarted. See Figure 1

            There are currently more reactors scheduled to close in this next decade than will be constructed.

            True or not, new power stations are more efficient than old ones and will produce more power so the amount of low carbon energy from nuclear is likely to continue to increase.

            We don’t need to argue over which might be more scalable.

            Sure we do. Nuclear has proven to be very scalable. Look for the solar curve in Figure 1

            We can easily observe that nuclear is dying out.

            Observe Figure 1.

            Let’s take a look at global wind and solar just for comparison…

            See Figure 2
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/39ff6c53f8713d4bb87bcf0ca7e446af8b3f184f53f017fbdb41c261171c2f99.jpg
            Figure 2

          • Alastair Leith

            Sorry, nuclear “low carbon”? I think not. The more NPPs in the world the more dirty it becomes as lower grade ores are mined using fossil fuels.

          • Sam Gilman

            The IPCC metanalyses, backed by the NREL and other peer-reviews sources, find nuclear low carbon.

            Do you have a problem with the IPCC?

            Do you know what the IPCC is?

          • Alastair Leith

            I have several problems with the IPCC and the UNFCCC as it happens, but that’s off topic. The problem i have is the data they rely on and their assumptions. If the world went nuclear to replace even 25% of fossils then we’d be into very low grade ore very quickly. Low grade ore is not low carbon, compared to coal, well kinda, but compared to Wind not even close. Please don’t give me a fast breeder wish list, or I’ll give you a fusion reactor.

            NREL is funded by DoE, and the energy czar is always a physicist because they have authority of the nuclear weapons manufacturing industry, a massive part of the Military Industrial Complex. They’re going to bite the hand that feeds them and say nuclear isn’t low-carbon? Doubt it.

            Sure, let’s debate nuclear power – just don’t call it “low-emission”

          • Sam Gilman

            I have several problems with the IPCC and the UNFCCC as it happens, but that’s off topic.

            No, it is entirely ON topic in an article about alleged “alternative facts”.

            Please enumerate your problems with the IPCC and how it applies to their metaanalysis of life cycle carbon studies.

          • Alastair Leith

            They aren’t about IPCC metaanalysis at all, like i said they’re off topic (one is to do with they way ag sector emissions get obscure and hidden with current the UNFCCC GHG national accounting methodology), even if you want to continue to throw personal insults around as seems to be the want of otherwise rational nuclear advocates and lobbyists on renewable energy forums.

            I also have issue with the fact that many climate scientist have plumped on reducing CO2 alone b/c that’s most important for long term warming (due to the atmospheric life (on average) of CO2 being hundreds of years) at the cost of any action on other gases like methane, black carbon, CO etc because they (made a political decision) are afraid that action on short term warming emissions will come at the cost of cation on long term climate change . There’s no science that says that’s the case, it’s just a hunch of theirs and the problem is we are already in a climate emergency and action on methane would buy as more time to get to (net) zero CO2 emissions for same about of damage. We need to act on short term warming now that Western Peninsula of Antarctica is in (irreversible) terminal decline and will feedback more warming (loss of albedo) and a few metres of SL rise. THat’s just one example. Most of the worlds coral reefs are essentially unsavable now as they’re vulnerable beyond 1.0º C of warming and we’ve known that for many years.

          • Sam Gilman

            What you’ve just done there is try to change the subject. My question is specifically about carbon emissions for nuclear. There is no reason to suspect the IPCC assessment. Disliking a result isn’t a good reason to reject it.

            As it happens, you are right that methane is also a serious issue. But people do talk openly about methane emissions already – there is no conspiracy of silence. The IPCC has been talking about this for over 20 years and the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports have whole sections on methane and on agriculture.

            Once you start going into conspiracy theories, you lose evidence-based people.

          • Alastair Leith

            Oh my, i told you it was off topic, you didn’t believe me so i tell you a couple of my issues with IPCC (not all of them) then you complain and call me a conspiracy theorist. Nice work and good bye, Sam.

            You might like to read the this paper if you think I’m a conspiracy theorist:
            Neglected Transformational Responses, or this quick intorduction: Agriculture a key sector for climate policy action
            then you have a go at reading Climate Code Red (Hansen called it a ‘must read’) and learn about how IPCC completely missed that summer sea ice in the Arctic was not going to be around for the rest of this century in early ARs due to their extreme reticence to step outside their comfort zone and listen to new science on ice melt hydrology. Just an example of how science is (for the most part) self-correcting and isn’t ever complete.

          • Sam Gilman

            Regarding conspiracy theorising, this is what you say of the NREL:

            NREL is funded by DoE, and the energy czar is always a physicist because they have authority of the nuclear weapons manufacturing industry, a massive part of the Military Industrial Complex. They’re going to bite the hand that feeds them and say nuclear isn’t low-carbon? Doubt it.

            Regarding the IPCC on ice melt hydrology: that’s an example of where someone had evidence. You don’t have evidence that the IPCC are wrong on carbon emissions for nuclear. You must realise yourself you’re just gainsaying without anything to back yourself up.

          • Michael Mann

            Nuclear power is low emissions by any objective standard, so why shouldn’t it be called “low emissions”? Anti-nuclear propagandist try to obfuscate the facts with cherry picking data, it doesn’t work when you look at the amount of energy produced,the math is incontrovertible.

        • Alastair Leith

          SORRY did you just call nuclear power “clean”, heck it’s not even low-carbon compared to wind and solar, let alone clean. You might want to ask Kakadu World Heritage Area how clean those tailings ponds are when they overflow into the waterways — all supervised under a self reporting regime that never hides the truth from the pubic ever.

          It’s also opportunity cost, ever ten billion dollars spent on a NPP is ten billion not spent on wind. And every ten billion spent on wind makes it measurably cheaper the next year. Every ten billion spent on nuclear makes it more expensive next year, and has done for five decades.

    • Alastair Leith

      “Very bad thing” kind of says it in one, fain objectivity when in fact there’s an ideological attachment to nukes.

  • Ben Heard

    ‘Heard’s Bright New World, are on a never-ending campaign against renewables.’

    I literally read this sentence while taking a short break from preparing a zero carbon supply model for Australia trying to find a lowest cost, highly reliable mix of wind, solar and nuclear technology, with the outcomes currently suggesting we go for a much larger wind and solar sector than today.

    Funny way to campaign against renewables.

    • MikeH

      >with the outcomes currently suggesting we go for a much larger wind and solar sector than today.

      Well that is not saying a lot with SA being an honourable exception. While the states are planning to move on VRE, according to the latest AER State of the Energy Market report, across the NEM

      >Wind generators accounted for 7.5 per cent of capacity and generated 6.1 per cent of output in 2015–16

      Rooftop solar PV was 9% of capacity and generated 3% of output. Only 232 MW of utility solar capacity has been installed across the NEM so far although that is change dramatically over the next year or so.

      From my reading of the literature, it appears many energy researchers see getting to 70-80% renewables as relatively straight forward so we have plenty of room to move.

      When do you expect to complete your study?

      • Sam Gilman

        From my reading, it depends what you mean by “renewables”. If you mean predominantly intermittents like wind and solar, then 80% would highly likely not be possible. If you also mean hydro, then sure. With enough hydro, 100% is possible.

        • MikeH

          It would vary by country, but yes including hydro, pumped hydro + the employing the the range of balancing technologies in this graphic.

          https://image.slidesharecdn.com/leonardquongbneflarge-scalesolarconference2017-170403041218/95/leonard-quong-bloomberg-35-638.jpg?cb=1491193442

          • Joffan

            Of course pumped hydro is not energy supply; it is energy storage (along with flywheels, compressed air, gravity systems, batteries, flow batteries, hydrogen and ammonia). Both storage and demand response could apply to a range of scenarios, including for example a full nuclear solution.

            I always wonder what return electric vehicle owners are going to get for allowing the grid to use up their battery cycles.

        • Steven Gannon

          Hydro output is “variable” over time due to fluctuating dam levels, and the changing climate makes future projections problematic. Major new dams are about as popular as nuclear in Australia, you wouldn’t get one over the line.

          We are the hot, dry continent, our hydro capacity is limited. Saltwater pumped hydro however……..

          • Alastair Leith

            Agree, PHES is good option though as it’s cycled within a day or days at most to make it economically viable so evaporation is not a round trip efficiency issue. Needs a water supply though. Underground disused mines are an option too. Small compared to on-river hydro.

        • Alastair Leith

          SEN has modelled 91% RE at same cost or less than BAU with fossils (using todays LCOE not tomorrows) by 2030 on the SWIS grid (WA, Perth and surrounding regions).

          http://www.sen.asn.au/briefing_notes

          • Sam Gilman

            When you say “RE”, that can mean all kinds of things.

            Can you break down that 91% into hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass etc. ?

            Thanks.

          • Alastair Leith

            Check the link and down the Economics PDF. Can get you further info if that doesn’t do it, IIRC the 91% scenario is largely wind, then PV (both utility and BTM) (all the SEN modelling is high wind due to favorable economics on todays prices) and some PHES. But no CST or chemical batteries in that one. There are three 100% scenarios shown in that briefing note that have higher LCOE than BAU assuming todays costs.

            The last 10% and 5% of 100% RE is always more expensive in modelling because of the need to cover two weeks some winters where wind and solar are outputting very little. So overbuild for very little return, even with biomass burning etc, needs to be a large capacity.

            The reality may be very different by that time, PV may well be being applied at trivial to zero marginal cost by manufacturers of cladding materials like roof sheeting (Tesla already claiming their roof tilePV roof is cheaper than a conventional slate/tile roof but isnt shipping yet so who knows). When PV generation becomes ubiquitous the incentive to have storage and get off grid becomes large, and storage is feasibly going to see similar learning curve to PV did in the last two decades.

            BAU to 2030 includes replacing most of coal and gas with new plant due to ageing nature of much of coal on the SWIS.

          • Sam Gilman

            With the greatest respect, that’s a two page document that (a) is not peer reviewed and (b) does not specify any kind of appropriate modelling. It reads as if the authors don’t understand issues like intermittency.

          • Alastair Leith

            With all due respect you’re rude and say some very stupid things, Sam. yeah, SEN has no idea about variability (the proper name for output of renewables like PV and wind, as intermittency suggests a dodgy connection, and it’s very predictable in terms of the AEMO bidding market five minute wholesale bidding and next day forecasts). CST with thermal storage is dispatchable, this overcomes variability in the hours to days duration. I’ve been talking about importance of dispatchability all day but you assume SEN don’t know anything about it, seriously you a quite the provokator aren’t you. There are other models around in Australia, MURIAL and Melbourne Energy Institute, Uni Melb, UNSW, BZE original model — the first 100% RE model used storage and dispatch generation and yes, they understood variability which is why they made the model in the first place, because till then ignorant people uch like yourself used to say 100% re is impossible and they tended to get listened to by media, public and MPs. Well thankfully that’s less the case today.

            All SENs models have modelled to a granular time period of 30 minute intervals for historical weather for a decade and historical and forecast demand data using NASA lookup tables for weather and output of any given fossil or wind turbine design at any location in the world (100s of different models of wind turbine to select) and PV. The power balance part of it takes excess generation that would otherwise be curtailed and simulates the charging of storage until that reaches full capacity. Then when the system falls short for generation in the model it calls on storage. It uses merit order for generation and dispatch storage. Do you understand merit order, your comments suggest you might not.

            The software is open source, you’re welcome to download and make your own models and learn how to use it. SEN will even assist you learn how to use it (it’s not that user friendly, but then you’re not very friendly either are you, but it works).

          • Jag_Levak

            “There are other models around in Australia, MURIAL at Melbourne Energy Institute, Uni Melb, UNSW have made many 100% RE models using 30 minute dispatch and historical weather data”

            So are you saying that if computer modeling indicates it should be reasonably feasible to do something, we should take that as a strong indication that it should be reasonably feasible to do it? Would it surprise you to find out that computer modeling has been used extensively in advanced reactor design and development?

          • Alastair Leith

            I’d be very surprised if there’s been a reactor designed in the last thirty years not using computers to model the engineering calculations. Most products of much less sophistication than a reactor are modelled in CAD these days, including planes, trains and vehicles down to electric toothbrushes, and they all fail mechanically from time to time too.

            So what does any of that have to do with the uneconomic proposition of NPPs in Australia? The point is your claims about modellers not understanding the concept of variability (“intermittency” you called it) shows just how little you understand about modelling for renewable energy grids and how and why it gets done. There’s also modelling for specifics like frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) using wind turbines and also batteries for primary response and many peer reviewed published papers if you care to Google it.

          • Jag_Levak

            “So what does any of that have to do with the uneconomic proposition of NPPs in Australia?”

            It has to do with your glib dismissal of advanced reactors in development as ‘new unproven reactors’. Wouldn’t your grid mix models equally qualify as unproven?

            “The point is your claims about modellers not understanding the concept of variability (“intermittency” you called it) shows just how little you understand about modelling for renewable energy grids and how and why it gets done.”

            I do sometimes refer to wind and solar as intermittents, because there are frequent, uncontrolled intermits (pauses) in their production. Intermittent also means “not continuous or steady” which also seems apt. And I use it because it is a fairly standard term around here. I know you Aussies have your own charming colloquialisms, but I think it would be a mistake to assume anyone who does not use terms as you would is therefore lacking in comprehension. (In this case, that would also include Patrick Lee, Sempra Energy vice president for major project controls, quoted in this thread by Bob Wallace as saying “We have a solution now to adjust the intermittency of solar and wind energy…”).

            And I’m not going to start describing wind and solar as “variable energy” because in the version of English I’m familiar with, that would be in contradistinction to nothing. All sources of energy generation can be varied. The more distinctive characteristic of intermittents is that during intermits, their outputs can *not* be varied. But if “intermittent” has particularly offensive or culturally insensitive connotations in your part of the world, I’d be fine with calling them inconsistents for the sake of reasonable accommodation.

            I must say, though, it does surprise me to hear that I claimed modelers did not understand the concept of intermittency, since I don’t recall holding a belief that even roughly approximates that. I’m well aware of the depth and detail of factors that can be included in modeling. (Though, as you observed in connection to the IPCC, it’s also crucial to build the model on the right assumptions and use sound data.) I don’t even recall having used the word intermittency (or intermittent) in this thread prior to this comment. I’m inclined to suspect you somehow seriously misconstrued something I said. Perhaps if you could point me to the offending passage, it would help me to see how it could have conveyed a meaning so at variance with what I actually believe.

          • Alastair Leith

            Not peer reviewed because we’re too busy iterating the software and getting the results in front of MPs and iondustry players — and it’s all unpaid work. Mark Diesendorf, UNSW and responsible for many 100% RE models has suggested SEN publish results it an academic journal but that’s a lot of work for someone (a masters or PhD in it for someone perhaps), he’s offered to review it.

            I’ve read many papers on modelling and they don’t even make the models available to the readers (and I take it that means the reviewers). All SEN is available free of charge, DL the software and just ask for the model files and we’ll happily send them.

          • Sam Gilman

            “Not peer reviewed because we’re too busy iterating the software”

            Are you part of SEN?

          • Joffan

            http://www.sen.asn.au/committee

            Alastair Leith: Outreach

            Alastair is very multi-talented. He has a great knowledge of the technical side of renewable energy and a knack for putting words and images to the story.

          • Michael Mann

            Nice to know I’m dealing with a paid professional PR person.

          • Alastair Leith

            I so wish that was true. Operational budget of SEN is about $1000 a year. Nobody, even the coder who has put in thousands of hours into SIREN, the open source software that you’re free to use to model a nuclear + RE powered grid has earnt a cent. But keep the bullshit coming Michael, it’s a measure of your stature and intelligence.

          • Michael Mann

            You seem upset, maybe you should learn more before posting your anti-nuclear messaging.

          • Alastair Leith

            Who wrote that?! Not me and i didn’t even know it was up 🙂

          • Joffan

            You’d better pick out a photo quick. Outreach Director should probably stay abreast of the website…

          • Alastair Leith

            On committee, recent member and on some working groups.

          • Sam Gilman

            So it’s you involved in outreach. That involves building trust, doesn’t it?

      • Ben Heard

        In terms of submitting for review publication, over the next couple of months I trust.

    • Alastair Leith

      Because nuclear power is zero carbon when hell freezes over.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Not zero, but very low compared to coal and gas. If we didn’t have even lower carbon and much cheaper options we could use nuclear to get off fossil fuels.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ab0a14467ade34c3c2d8c0baa9c26a5182ec8d9ee0c11b92827e0572ea92560.png

        Since the NREL pulled this data together wind and solar almost certainly have fallen lower in terms of lifetime carbon footprint. Wind turbines and solar panels have become more efficient without increasing the amount of materials used per MWh.

        • Alastair Leith
          • Bob_Wallace

            From your link –

            “Several analyses by researchers who are independent of the nuclear industry have found that total CO2 emissions depend sensitively on the grade of uranium ore mined and milled. The lower the grade, the more fossil fuels are used, and so the higher the resulting emissions.
            In one such study, the nuclear physicist (and nuclear energy advocate) Manfred Lenzen found that CO2 emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle increase from 80 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh) where uranium ore is high-grade at 0.15%, to 131 g/kWh where the ore grade declines to low-grade at 0.01%.

            Other experts, such as nuclear energy critics Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, using assumptions less favourable to nuclear energy, have reported an increase in emissions from 117 g/kWh for high-grade ore to 437 g/kWh for low-grade ore.

            For comparison, the life-cycle emissions from wind power are 10–20 g/kWh, depending upon location, and from gas-fired power stations 500–600 g/kWh. So depending on your choice of analysis, nuclear power can be viewed as almost as emissions-intensive as gas.

            The quantity of known global uranium reserves with ore grades richer than the critical level of 0.01% is very limited.”

            All that considered, it would probably be correct to say that up until now the lifespan carbon footprint of nuclear has been fairly low. But as we use up the last of the rich ore nuclear’s carbon footprint will soar.

          • Alastair Leith

            And there are enormous environmental and cultural problems associated with the extraction of yellowcake in Australia. For most people it’s pout of sight out of mind but for the indigenous people it’s a deathly issue. And no amount of attempted bribery will convince them to allow it on their land (which in Australia doesn’t coffer them with much right under law except the right to negotiate).

            One uranium mine uses as much water a year as Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia. It’s a bad industry with too many unresolved problems being kicked down the road for someone else to deal with and in fact doesn’t “scale” the way proponents would like to suggest it does.

            Inflexible, expensive generation that would take us 20 years to get approved and built in Australia is not what the future of energy grids need to match cheap, clean renewable generation. Dispatch generation is what’s required, either from stored energy from renewable sources or occasional biofuel/biomass.

          • Jag_Levak

            “One uranium mine uses as much water a year as Melbourne”

            This appears to be the only point that could be something more than mere opinion. Kind of difficult to confirm without having a name to identify the mine in question, though.

          • Alastair Leith

            “Dispatch generation is what’s required, either from stored energy from renewable sources or occasional biofuel/biomass.”

            Not an opinion. This is proven fact in any non-fossil grid modelling exercise, including those done by Sustainable Energy Now for 85% RE at same cost (assuming todays real world Australian RE LCOE prices not tomorrows) as BAU replacing aging fossil generators on WA’s SWIS grid. Currently in South Australia most dispatchable energy for demand following comes from local gas, both OCGT and CCGT, at highly inflated prices thanks to market gaming (we too have energy industry corruption) and from the Heywood interconnectors. Why don’t you DL some SEN briefing notes and learn about the issues associate with high penetrations of RE on the grid. You’ll quickly come to see how nuclear power plants are not the solution at any real world cost today.

            You need dispatch to match high penetrations of variable output renewables like solarPV and Wind power. Nuclear can ramp in some plant designs, but it comes at a high cost penalty because of lost generation income and increased maintenance schedules. That’s why France has so much hydro 25% and imports coal power from Germany (and exports nuclear to Germany), nuclear doesn’t like to ramp and is uneconomic to do so.

          • Jag_Levak

            “Not an opinion. This is proven fact in any non-fossil grid modelling exercise,”

            The part about dispatchable generation being needed is uncontroversial enough. The opinion part is that it can only come from stored energy or renewable sources. (I’m assuming you don’t include nuclear in either of those.)

            “including those done by Sustainable Energy Now”

            From their website: “SEN promotes practical, affordable strategies for a sustainable global future by the adoption of renewable energy.”

            What a surprise that an organization with a mission to promote renewables would conduct a study in which they conclude renewables are the only indispensable solution.

            “Nuclear can ramp in some plant designs, but it comes at a high cost penalty because of lost generation income and increased maintenance schedules”

            I see no reason that load following in, for example, a molten salt reactor would have to result in a high cost penalty, or increased maintenance.

          • Alastair Leith

            Well the fact is it does. New nuclear even with six decades of superpower taxpayer funded largesse on r&d is still more expensive running at 80-90% C.F. than wind and solar in locations where these resources are available in good measure (read some place on all continents on Earth). Hinkley C is the most expensive energy in the world almost. And the taxpayer investment has come at the cost of off-shore wind, which is just hitting it’s straps. Opportunity cost of investing 10-100 billion in a NPP means less money invested in wind and solar and driving the learning curve down more steeply.

            You guys always have a new unproven reactor up your sleeve don’t you? Sure, if small, modular, cheap as chips, reactors that can’t melt down were available today then what would the climate change problem be even? Real world, we don’t have and they are not around the corner either. There’s a cost to the complexity of NPPs in engineering terms, in operation terms and in safety, QA and auditing terms. Until nuclear gets beyond those hurdles countries like South Korea, France and Germany will continue to walk away from it.

          • Jag_Levak

            [ re: I see no reason that load following in, for example, a molten salt reactor would have to result in a high cost penalty, or increased maintenance.]

            “Well the fact is it does.”

            Another “fact”. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. But I would certainly be interested to hear how load following with a molten salt reactor would have to result in a high cost penalty or increased maintenance.

            “New nuclear — even with six decades of superpower taxpayer funded largesse on r&d”

            Woah. On molten salt reactors? Where did this supposedly happen? In the superpower I live in, molten salt funding was a pittance and that was a half-century ago (and the research, on a shoestring budget, achieved remarkable success–just before getting the ax). The biggest and most lavishly-funded fission power research program in U.S. history was the Integral Fast Reactor project, which cost about a billion dollars spread out over ten years–or, roughly what U.S. taxpayers have spent on renewable energy loan defaults. And the IFR was axed (by Al Gore, Clinton, and Kerry) shortly before the project would have reached a successful conclusion–at less cost than the slapdash way they shut the program down–which highlights an inherent risk in the government approach to doing any kind of research. It’s fate is ultimately in the hands of know-nothing politicians.

            “is still more expensive”

            You make it sound like all that taxpayer funded r & d has been focused for six decades on trying to make today’s nuclear cheaper. That isn’t even close to what actually happened.

            “running at 80-90% C.F. than wind and solar in locations where these resources are available in good measure (read some place on all continents on Earth).”

            All you are saying is that there are some places in which today’s nuclear won’t be the cheapest option. I would have thought that much was obvious. But you are just comparing costs when they are producing. It can still make economic sense overall to have both a cheap, but unreliable, form of generation in the same system as a more expensive. but more dependable, back-up source. The occasional cheapness of the cheap source doesn’t take away the rationale for having the more expensive back-up.

            “Hinkley C is the most expensive energy in the world almost.”

            There is always going to be a most expensive example of any technology. (And a much more expensive example would be the Austrian reactor which they built and never used.) There are a lot of people who support the development and use of better forms of nuclear power who nonetheless feel Hinkley C is not a worthwhile deal–assuming it ever happens. But the existence of bad or inferior ways of doing something does not mitigate against pursuing better ways of doing it.

            “And the taxpayer investment has come at the cost of off-shore wind”

            By that logic, investment in off-shore wind comes at the cost of solar PV.

            “Opportunity cost of investing 10-100 billion in a NPP means less money invested in wind and solar and driving the learning curve down more steeply.”

            If there is room for both wind and nuclear, I don’t see why they can’t both be developed. If there isn’t enough room for both, then great. That means the fossil fuels have been crowded out–which was the ultimate objective after all, no matter how we accomplished it.

            “You guys always have a new unproven reactor up your sleeve don’t you?”

            This article was in response to Lovering and Heard talking about advanced nuclear designs, and how their points supposedly constitute “alternative facts”–which is essentially the position that talking about the attributes of any future design or technology is, perforce, counterfactual because it isn’t already here. I think that view is nonsensical, but I can’t address that without talking about advanced designs. And yes, so long as we have nuclear power, we will be working on ways to improve it.

            “Sure, if small, modular, cheap as chips, reactors that can’t melt down were available today then what would the climate change problem be even?”

            It would be solved. Same if we come up with cheap, durable, high-efficiency, high-density, energy storage based on abundant materials. There are probably multiple pathways to addressing this problem. There is probably not going to be one perfect way that is best in all circumstances. I think we should develop all of our most promising ones, and then apply them as needed wherever they make the most sense.

            “Real world, we don’t have and they are not around the corner either.”

            Neither is any other solution. What we have right now does not look like it is even going to halt the growth in fossil fuel consumption well into the 30’s. And yes, we are getting started late. But at least we are finally getting started. And maybe if we weren’t eliminating viable options before developing, we’d be able to make progress on multiple fronts simultaneously.

            “There’s a cost to the complexity of NPPs in engineering terms, in operation terms and in safety,”

            That’s one of the reasons for the drive towards much simpler reactors. Adding engineered safety systems and their backups is always going to be more expensive and less safe than a simpler system which doesn’t need them in the first place.

            “Until nuclear gets beyond those hurdles countries like South Korea, France and Germany will continue to walk away from it.”

            And in the meantime, Greens will do what they can to obstruct efforts to get beyond those hurdles.

            “Nothing to do with any “fear mongering” from me or anybody else who gets the economics.”

            Nuclear power is currently way more expensive than it should be. No argument from me on that. There are also all kinds of other problems with the way we do nuclear now. It also provides huge benefits, it is already one of our low-carbon heavy-lifters, and it looks like there is enormous room for improvement. I think that’s worth pursuing.

          • Michael Mann

            He keeps confusing the word “fact” with “anti-nuclear talking point” remember he is a PR person.

          • Alastair Leith

            Yeah you could store Nuclear generated power to dispatch in PHES or chemical batteries, but would add to an already prohibitive economics. Wont be happening in Australia, perhaps in countries where nuclear is already deployed it will happen, though my guess is they’ll buy from negatively or low priced wind first.

          • Jag_Levak

            Or we could develop civilian power reactors which are good at load following.

          • Michael Mann

            Any reactor with a large negative temperature co-efficient and small size should be natural load followers, it seems many of the Small Modular Reactors and Molten Salt Reactors would fit the bill quite nicely!

          • Jag_Levak

            I like the elegance of automatic load following from inverse thermal reactivity, but I think even something like the Moltex reactor, which I expect would have a weak inverse coefficient could still have excellent flexibility using a dynamic response system to move the fuel rods apart or closer together as demand warrants. I can even imagine ways such a system could be directly driven by changes in temperature.

          • Michael Mann

            Wouldn’t the molten salt in tube have a very large negative temperature coefficient? It seems like the density of the fuel , being a liquid, would change drastically with temperature, thereby being extremely stable and self correcting … naturally load following and stable as the fuel changed density as well as the moderator? Very interesting design, thank you for mentioning it!

          • Jag_Levak

            There were two reasons I was thinking the inverse reactivity coefficient would be weaker than in more typical salt designs. The first is that the Moltex is a fast reactor. In a carbon-moderated MSR, the expansion of the fuel physically pushes fuel out of the core, effectively reducing the amount of the fuel participating in the reaction. In the Moltex, the core effectively expands with the fluid, so the amount of fuel participating remains basically the same.

            The other reason I was thinking it would be less is that if the fuel tubes don’t move apart in the X,Y axes, expansion would only take place in the Z axis. Obviously that was a complete brain fart. If I’d thought about it for another second, I would have realized the fact it is constrained means the expansion in the vertical direction will be correspondingly increased to compensate. Really dumb.

          • The Moltex people are planning a separate tank of molten salt to hold heat for 24 hrs which can drive extra turbines. This will allow them to follow the demand curve whilst keeping the reactor running at full power. That way they can effectively double the output of the power station. They’re borrowing technology from the solar thermal guys and calling it GridReserve: http://www.moltexenergy.com/learnmore/Moltex_Renewables.pdf

          • Jag_Levak

            I have to say, I really like the simple elegance of their solutions. I had thought about having a secondary salt tank for thorium breeding (so the protactinium would not have to be extracted from the salt just to remove it from the neutron flux) but I suspected the killing factor would be the cost. But the idea of using a cheaper salt for storing heat never occurred to me.

            There are a number of intriguing reactors in development, but conceptually, I think the Moltex is my favorite. Too bad they’re stuck in a country that doesn’t appreciate them. I bet they could do amazing things with just a small portion of what Hinkley C is likely to cost.

          • Joffan

            My understanding is that BWRs can load-follow fairly naturally also.

          • Michael Mann

            Yes, I understand they also naturally load follow, I’m just not as familiar with their operation.

          • Alastair Leith
          • Jag_Levak

            “Olympic/Roxby Downs”

            First, that is primarily a copper mine, and they do byproduct mining for uranium and other metals in what would otherwise be pure copper mining tailings. A typical year’s production would be something like a quarter million tons of copper and around 5,000 tons of yellowcake, so a fair apportionment of the water usage would put the overwhelming majority on the copper production. And in the renewables-only scenario you want, copper production would need to increase dramatically.

            Second, as to using more water than Melbourne, from your link: “These borefields have been gradually increasing the quantity of water extracted from 1.3 to 15 million litres per day since 1982.”

            Really? 4.5 million people use less than 15 million liters per day? And that didn’t strike you as even mildly implausible?

            Fact check. In their most recent annual cycle, Melbourne’s residential water use was 166 liters per person per day, or 747 million liters per day average. And residential usage accounts for 64% of overall municipal usage, so the overall average daily usage would be around 1.17 billion liters.

            https://www.melbournewater.com.au/waterdata/wateruse/Pages/default.aspx

            That puts Olympic dam’s water use at slightly less than 1.3% that of Melbourne. You’d need roughly 78 Olympic Dams to equal the water consumption of Melbourne.

            Not hard to guess why you originally left out the name of the mine.

          • Alastair Leith

            okay it seems I was recalling figures from when an expansion plan was on the table. they wanted to expand to take 200million litres a day. this was cancelled in 2012.

            I’m told, currently the mine uses approx. 37 million litres of Great Artesian Basic water daily – licensed to take a maximum of 42 million litres daily.

            This has meant many oasis habitats in the desert — many of them sacred Aboriginal sites — are now dead and/or dying due to fall in GAB water levels. Affects rural operations too, though they are a GHG source not mitigation.

          • Jag_Levak

            “I’m told, currently the mine uses approx. 37 million litres of Great Artesian Basic water daily ”

            Okay, fine. Now how do you want to apportion that between a quarter million tons of copper and around 5,000 tons of uranium?

          • Alastair Leith

            110 leaks and environmental pollution incidents at Ranger, including one where 12 workers drank contaminated water because mine owners didn’t bother telling workers (let alone public) about a leak and a water fountain was hooked up to the waste water.

            There’s a Senate enquiry about environmental pollution into Kakadu etc if you want to read about it.

            http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/04/04/1081017037074.html

          • Jag_Levak

            “110 leaks and environmental pollution incidents at Ranger, including one where 12 workers drank contaminated water”

            You don’t have to sell me on the necessity of sensible industrial regulatory oversight. But the renewables sector has these issues too:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/world/asia/chinese-protesters-accuse-solar-panel-plant-of-pollution.html

            But you don’t see that as an argument for eliminating renewables. And for good reason. It’s a dumb argument. Same applies to nuclear.

          • Alastair Leith

            I’m glad you agree oversight of renewables industry is not even remotely comparable to uranium mining and nuclear power and waste industries, Jag. Please bring up the rare earths argument next — been waiting all day for one of you to say it.

            It’s unfortunate the West outsourced it’s labor abuses and environmental pollution to a nation that was happy to take it in return for foreign cash. And there’s no easy answer to solving this problem given neoliberalism, the power of trade laws and globalisation, though you’d be happy to know one of the leader orgs fighting it in China is your favorite team Greenpeace 🙂

          • Michael Mann

            So you have certain talking points which you have scripted? Interesting.. so you are part of an organized anti-nuclear propaganda organization? You really should improve your training.

          • Alastair Leith

            wow, you guys are pathetic, just all spit, assumptions and insults aren’t you? I’m a recent member of SEN, the only policy on nuclear power which precedes me by years is that it’s uneconomic in WA. I don’t know a single energy economics expert in Australia who’d even blink at that statement.

            And for that matter anywhere in Australia. I’d add to that we already have oversupply of baseload only generation and it will face regular midday zero demand events from PV BTM within a decade and that kills baseload. SA already lost theirs with ~40% RE on their part of the NEM several years ago.

            If we’re to decarbonise the entire economy at 10% p.a. then waiting ten or more years to get a nuclear power plant through planning and design and construction is a bit hopeless isn’t it?
            Kevin Anderson of the TyndallºCentre says that’s the decarbonisation required in the developed world to have a 33% chance of not going over 2.0º C of warming. Would you take a flight if you had 33% chance of the aircraft landing?

          • Michael Mann

            So you are gambling that global climate change isn’t that bad and want to keep spewing fossil fuel waste into my atmosphere? This isn’t just your atmosphere it’s the only one we have here, we all have to share, it would be nice to keep it clean for future generations to breath. Your pre-conceived bias against nuclear power is clouding your/and/or your employer’s judgment. Lack of understanding can be remedied, knowledge is better than fear!

          • Alastair Leith

            I’ve done way more to advocate on Climate than you know of Michael and 95% of it unpaid and supported myself from savings to do it. And yet you continue to peddle insults and false accusations and put stupid words in my mouth. So I’ll bid you good night and to hell with you and your pointless drivel. You perhaps are a very sad person to be so insulting and intentionally provocative and insulting with a non-stop false commentary.

          • Michael Mann

            You are a paid spokesperson talking to someone who’s only interest is a better future, cleaner environment and higher standard of living for everyone and you have the gall get all huffy and offended with me? If you aren’t very good at your job, that isn’t my fault, don’t take your lack of knowledge about nuclear energy as a personal dig, just educate yourself enough to have an intelligent discussion.

          • Michael Mann

            I can recommend this book Science a la carte: And the cherry picking … Paperback – June 2, 2016 by Mathijs Beckers If you want to learn about the challenges we face and how nuclear energy can help us face those challenges.

          • Michael Mann

            What made you stop advocating for preventing climate change and instead become an anti-nuclear propagandist?

          • Jag_Levak

            “I’m glad you agree oversight of renewables industry is not even remotely comparable to uranium mining and nuclear power and waste industries, ”

            I would agree that sensible regulatory oversight should apply fairly across all industries. I would not say it is impossible to compare the oversight of renewables industry and nuclear waste disposal. Solar manufacturers have much greater freedom to bury their toxic residues in landfill dumps or to release them into the general environment, while the waste containment requirements for nuclear are vastly more stringent. And presto, there’s a comparison.

            “Jag. Please bring up the rare earths argument next — been waiting all day for one of you to say it.”

            Rare earths mining could actually be done in a clean and environmentally responsible way. The reason it isn’t done that way in certain places is because it is cheaper to just blow the pollution out and create a vast toxic wasteland. But the economics of rare earths mining (at least here in the U.S.) could be resolved by removing the crushing and pointless costs of the regulatory burdens of dealing with natural thorium, and even better, by removing some regulatory obstacles to thorium utilization. And if any place could develop a clean rare earths industry, countries and customers could have the option of requiring their sources of rare earths conform to environmentally responsible best practices, and maybe then the toxic wasteland sites might experience some pressure to clean up their act. Being able to turn thorium from a liability into a commodity might also improve the economics of rare earths–which could come in handy in our drive for greater efficiency and electrification.

            “It’s unfortunate the West outsourced it’s labor abuses and environmental pollution to a nation that was happy to take it in return for foreign cash.”

            Unfortunate? Really? Where’s that outrage you felt on behalf of Australian aboriginals? Does it not bother you that much of this pollution is being inflicted by Chinese industries on Mongolians? Where is your indignation that this has been the price those Mongolians have paid for the low wind and solar costs which RE-only advocates have been gleefully trumpeting?

            “And there’s no easy answer to solving this problem given neoliberalism, the power of trade laws and globalisation,”

            There is a workable answer, which thorium advocates and rare earth interests have been working together towards.

            “though you’d be happy to know one of the leading orgs fighting it in China is your favorite team, Greenpeace :-)”

            Oh yay. I feel so much better knowing they’ll be bringing their ham-fisted, self-conflicted, short-sighted, generally ineffectual, posturing-for-donation agitation to bear on the problem–which they won’t really want fixed if it means it might adversely affect the price of wind and solar.

          • Sam Gilman

            So Bob, you think the IPCC’s review processes are faulty?

            Would you like to explain why?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t know why the IPCC might be faulty.

            What seems to be clear is that once we use up our supply of higher quality ore then the carbon footprint of nuclear shoots up considerably.

            That is something of which I was not aware. I was using the data from the NREL to base my conclusion.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ab0a14467ade34c3c2d8c0baa9c26a5182ec8d9ee0c11b92827e0572ea92560.png

            (That data is pre-2011. Since then the efficiency of solar panels has increased, lowering solar’s carbon footprint.)

            Let me revise my opinion a bit.

            As long as we have a supply of high quality ore then nuclear will have a lifetime carbon footprint a bit higher than wind and solar but significantly lower than fossil fuels. That means, IMO, that nuclear shouldn’t be ruled out as a low carbon electricity source. As long as we have high quality ore.

            Nuclear fails, not on current carbon footprint but on cost.

          • Sam Gilman

            “I don’t know why the IPCC might be faulty.”

            So you’re rejecting it for no good reason, instead choosing to cherrypick studies you even admit to yourself are produced by people out to demonise nuclear power.

            That’s not how one handles science, Bob.

          • Michael Mann

            It is how a PR person intent on creating a false impression handles science. Bob likes to spin his own narrative no matter the facts, and if someone brings up those pesky little facts, he bans them from his website. Bob is a PR person with an agenda which is not lower emissions, nor improved standard of living, but is rather to promote his personal picks.

          • Sam Gilman

            There are a lot of people who care about climate change and who spend time debating climate change deniers and defending the IPCC and other mainstream authorities who don’t seem to realise what is going on on the flip side in the debate about climate mitigation.

            We should be able to have a normal conversation where there may be differences of opinion based on values and judgements, but unfortunately, time is wasted having to assert the rightful place of mainstream evidence against ideologies and commercial interests.

          • But as we use up the last of the rich ore nuclear’s carbon footprint will soar.

            That means, IMO, that nuclear shouldn’t be ruled out as a low carbon electricity source. As long as we have high quality ore.

            I haven’t seen that antinuclear argument in about a decade.

            You have already ceded more than once the fact that nuclear energy is low carbon today.

            You then project that it won’t be as low carbon in the future because it will require more fossil fuel energy to process the ore. Note that “as low” carbon is still low carbon.

            I’d argue that nuclear of the future is more likely to become even less carbon intensive because each generation is more efficient as is uranium extraction and processing. Your argument that it will become more carbon intensive assumes:

            *… that (unlike everything else) mining won’t be powered by nuclear, wind, and solar.

            *… more high quality ore will not be found

            *… other means of extracting uranium will not be found

            *… breeder reactor designs won’t be perfected

            *…and on and on.

            The odds that all of these negative assumptions will come to fruition far into the future are diminishingly small, the idea that we will eventually be grinding up granite with electric motors powered by coal plants to extract fuel …absurd.

            And as I mentioned in another comment, as the best places for wind and solar are developed first (the low hanging fruit gets picked) one can expect their emissions to rise as well (assuming that industry won’t be powered by nuclear, wind, and solar).

          • Jag_Levak

            “as we use up the last of the rich ore nuclear’s carbon footprint will soar.”

            In the Lanzen meta-analysis here:

            http://www.energiasostenible.org/mm/file/GCT2008%20Doc_ML-LCE%26Emissions.pdf

            His figure 6 shows considerably lower energy inputs for ISL mining than for excavation-type non-byproduct mining at comparable ore concentrations.

            He also briefly notes in passing that ” In situ leaching avoids having to mill the uranium ore” and it looks like he calculated the energy inputs involved in milling (crushing and sometimes heating rock) separately from mining. He makes the observation “In-situ leaching is shown to require less energy than conventional mining” but I found no notation that the eliminated milling energy inputs had been deducted from the ISL mining inputs, suggesting there could be a two-fold reduction in energy requirements just by changing the kind of mining. He also gives the mining energy requirements in terms of Gj per ton. But carbon footprint of a Gj of digging and hauling earth and rock with earthmoving machines is not necessarily the same as a Gj of running electric pumps–which is the dominant energy input in ISL mining. The two carbon footprints are only comparable if we assume electricity cannot be decarbonized to less than the carbon-energy ratio of earthmoving machinery. But if that were the case, there would be no carbon advantage to converting some portion of the transport sector to battery-electric vehicles.

          • Alastair Leith

            Agree if U mining used only RE inputs like solarPV (stored in batteries and EVs for haulage and mining and water pumping) then the C footprint would be comparable with wind and solar. But it isn’t today and economics suggest it wont be tomorrow either, one day for sure if it’s still being mined. If nuclear industry could do a lot of things differently it would be in much better place to argue it’s case.

            Still doesn’t deal with waste issue or the fact that indigenous people in Australia don’t want it and are serious about that. And the issue of environmental pollution every time these tailings dams leak into say, Kakadu World Heritage Area and they actually forget to report (funny that, like cancer is funny) under their self-supervision arrangements.

            And the waste issue, unresolved at present too and passing on another burden to future generations.

          • Michael Mann

            The mining inputs for both wind and solar PV are higher per unit of energy produced than mining for nuclear, including the lifetime of fuel! Talk about a burden for future generations!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Mining requirements might be higher, but cost of electricity is a small fraction of what new nuclear costs.

            And the materials in wind turbines and solar panels can be recycled to create new turbines and panels. The materials in reactors have to be left in place for about 60 years before its safe enough to dismantle the plant and cart the materials off to a hazardous waste dump.

          • Alastair Leith

            how do you quantify waste storage energy cost when most countries don’t even have a solution yet are storing it above ground like at Fukushima before it exploded?

          • Michael Mann

            Once it is in dry cask storage it goes to near zero, before that a small amount. paid for up front in an approximate penny a kilowatt-hour fee. You try to make it so daunting and scary. It is a much better quantified, regulated and controlled waste stream than any other energy production method. Do you know what happened to the dry casks stored at Fukushima? That’s because nothing bad happened. You seem to spout anti-nuclear talking points without any real understanding.

          • Jag_Levak

            “Agree if U mining used only RE inputs like solarPV (stored in batteries and EVs for haulage and mining and water pumping)”

            Are you suggesting that ISL mining for uranium would not qualify as low carbon if the electricity for driving the electrical pumps (and stored energy for transport) came from nuclear power? Where is the carbon being burned in that cycle?

            “then the C footprint would be comparable with wind and solar.”

            Wind and hydro generally have a lower C footprint than utility PV solar, and they both already require much more steel and concrete per delivered megawatt than existing nuclear. And a large chunk of the structural carbon footprint for existing nuclear is that massive steel and concrete containment dome, which wouldn’t be necessary with unpressurized reactors.

            “But it isn’t today”

            There are several prominent analyses that rate the life cycle carbon footprint of today’s nuclear as less than solar PV, and close to that of onshore wind. Are you saying these studies are wrong? And if so, how did you determine that?

            “and economics suggest it wont be tomorrow either,”

            I see large areas of potential improvement over the carbon footprint of today’s nuclear, but I expect it will take us several years to get there.

            “one day for sure if it’s still being mined.”

            Indeed. If the price of extraction from seawater continues its downward trajectory, it could start undercutting mining in just a few years.

            “If nuclear industry could do a lot of things differently it would be in much better place to argue it’s case.”

            There are a great many things about the way nuclear power is done which could be done better. The existing industry may not currently have much incentive to shake things up and embark on radical departures from an arrangement they are comfortable with, but there’s no rule that says change and competition can only come from within the existing industry.

            “Still doesn’t deal with waste issue”

            I was addressing Bob’s claim that “as we use up the last of the rich ore nuclear’s carbon footprint will soar.” That point had nothing to do with the waste issue. But the so-called waste from today’s reactors already has a very small profile, and there are a number of options in development for using most of it, or dispersing most of it, or for disposing of the small portion of it that we don’t have a use for.

            “or the fact that indigenous people in Australia don’t want it”

            If the indigenous people of Australia collectively decide they don’t want spent fuel storage on their lands (or mining, or nuclear generation, or hydropower, or geothermal, or windmills, or solar farms, or power transmission lines) I have no problem with them having the rights and responsibilities (and liabilities) of self-determination.

            “And the issue of environmental pollution every time these tailings dams leak into say, Kakadu World Heritage Area and they actually forget to report …under their self-supervision arrangements.”

            I’m familiar with a leach tank failure at Ranger which spilled some thousand cubic meters of slurry, but that didn’t go beyond the mine site, and it definitely was reported (and investigated, and cleaned up). What unreported tailings dam failures are you referring to?

            “And the waste issue, unresolved at present too and passing on another burden to future generations.”

            If we develop the means to extract the enormous remaining energy in spent fuel–many times what we got out of it–we could be leaving future generations a valuable resource, the means to make use of it, and a legacy of energy abundance. Some of us even think that would actually be a good thing.

        • Not zero, but very low compared to coal and gas.

          Note that the median for nuclear is also lower than four out of the seven renewable sources listed and is barely discernible from wind:

          If we didn’t have even lower carbon and much cheaper options we could use nuclear to get off fossil fuels.

          Let’s separate those two qualities into separate sentences.

          If we didn’t have even lower carbon …

          If you are suggesting that we should limit the energy mix only to sources lower than nuclear, that would leave hydro, ocean energy, and possibly wind, although the median is barely discernible between wind and nuclear.

          …and much cheaper options we could use nuclear to get off fossil fuels.

          You are still confusing the cost to operate a component of a grid (LCOE) with the total cost to operate the grid system that component is a part of. There is little, if any, evidence, that increasing the amount of wind on a grid reduces citizen electricity bills. See Figure 1-3.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5fd98c1f9427568b2b64c23c2a82575379dbc78fea00b2d13a638a59cfa219f.jpg
          Figure 1
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d56649139592e2868378446aefeb9c52d692612bfea5e8acfe71076d0564d620.jpg
          Figure 2
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d1a7c05ffedd864d1db14c4f85f6275f7f9e435abdbc45d5604a6fe79f4f885e.jpg
          Figure 3

          Since the NREL pulled this data together wind and solar almost certainly have fallen lower in terms of lifetime carbon footprint. Wind turbines and solar panels have become more efficient without increasing the amount of materials used per MWh.

          That’s a nice hypothesis but I’d counter that because windiest and sunniest locales are used up first (the low hanging fruit), one can expect their emission profiles per unit energy produced to increase over time.

          • Alastair Leith

            “There is little, if any, evidence, that increasing the amount of wind on a grid reduces citizen electricity bills.”

            There’s a tonne of evidence it reduces the wholesale price of power, if gentailers want to manipulate the market to get higher prices and networks want to gold plate then those savings are not going to be passed on to the consumers in a way that they notice. If you aren’t aware of the evidence that wholesale prices come down with more cheaper wind on the grid then you obviously don’t read reneweconomy articles very often, there’s literally new articles every month detailing it.

      • Joffan

        Nuclear power is zero carbon in the same way that wind is zero carbon.

        • Alastair Leith

          er, no, not at all. And wind and solar constantly improving their carbon footprint, yet for nuclear, like most of it’s metrics just gets worse the more we deploy it, as we end up using more low grade ore.

          • Joffan

            Yes, nuclear power is well-established as among the lowest lifecycle carbon burdens. And that is improving as the shift to centrifuge enrichment becomes universal and more extraction is in-situ.

            Your gullibility for anti-nuclear myths notwithstanding.

          • TheDudeofVoo

            J. Orient got his >1600 deaths (from evacuation) from #43,

            Torres I. 2013 Evacuation-related deaths now more than quake/tsunami toll in Fukushima Prefecture. Japan Daily Press, Dec 18, 2013. http://japandailypress.com/evacuation-related-deaths-now-more-than-quaketsunami-toll-in-fukushima-prefecture-1841150/.

            Orient, J. 2014 “Fukushima and reflections on radiation as a terror weapon.” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons http://www.jpands.org/vol19no2/orient.pdf

          • Joffan

            I think that was a different discussion, but thanks anyway for links…

            These evacuation-ascribed deaths are intrinsically uncertain. Excluding suicides, the people concerned did not die from “evacuation disease” but from normal diseases that could kill any of us. The tendency from my very limited understanding of the Japanese systems would be for them to conservatively count any potentially evacuation-exacerbated death in the totals, leading to figures that exaggerate the effect.

            A better measure is DALY, or QALY, to make a somewhat more useful estimate of years of life lost.

            I don’t believe the evacuation should have happened to the extent or duration that it did. The consequences have been so ridiculously imbalanced towards creating far more harm than the accident at the power plant ever could, that I don’t feel the need to put any weight on an overestimated death count in order to condemn that decision.

          • greenthinker2012

            Also let’s not forget reactor designs like the CANDU that do not need enrichment at all.

      • Michael Mann

        Nuclear power may not be zero carbon, but it is lower carbon per terra-watt hour than solar power is……when you fail to mention that there is no such thing as zero carbon power it’s really misleading,

    • Mark Duffett

      About as funny as this Green trash-talk article appearing on a site purporting to be about “clean energy news and analysis, as well as climate policy”.

    • Olwen2050

      But you do campaign against 100% renewables which puts you at odds with those who believe 100% renewables is more desirable than a renewable/nuclear mix, and indeed possible. I’ve no doubt the pro-nuclear commentators’ concerns about climate change and species loss etc are real, so everyone here at least shares something in common. Surely there’s no need for all the nastiness. The reality is that anything to do with nuclear, rightly or wrongly, is unpalatable to the general population and is therefore political poison. We’ve seen this in South Australia with Premier Jay Weatherill abandoning the nuclear waste repository idea altogether ahead of a state election next March. I can’t see the public mood changing so in my view it would be more productive if everyone worked towards making 100% renewables happen asap.

  • Max

    So much spin here. You make a huge point of how much more renewables are generating than nuclear, without a breakdown. The reality is that most of this is hydro. Hydro is great, always has been – the problem is it’s saturated, it had been implemented in all of the areas it can easily be placed. It can’t be expanded to fulfill of humanities energy needs. Solar and wind make up a much smaller part of the pie than hydro. Not only that, nuclear dwarfs the pie sections of solar and wind, even added together (http://www.tsp-data-portal.org/Breakdown-of-Electricity-Generation-by-Energy-Source#tspQvChart).

    Then the next problem is that we currently don’t have a storage solution for solar and wind energy to be stored and then consistently released. Alternatively nuclear technology is available right now.

    You bring up how nuclear is suffering in the U.S. without addressing why it is suffering. It’s suffering because it has to go up against fossil fuels (which are currently extremely cheap) WITHOUT subsidies. This is ridiculous as we all know fossil fuels are the cheapest – that’s why we’ve been using them for so long. Environmentally friendly alternatives will cost more. The fact that nuclear is hardly subsidized while solar and wind is subsidized through the roof is why they are currently faring better. This is ridiculous as nuclear is far, far cheaper than both solar and wind (which is why it’s expected to stand on it’s own two feet and ironically is the reason why it’s failing).

    Solar is a great up and coming technology, which has made amazing leaps and bounds. But nuclear is what we need while all of the issues are ironed out.

    • soyouretheone

      Totally agree with your point on the author’s initial facts on capacity, and used to think hydro was “great” as well. But now having seen the impacts this makes, and far too rapidly, on broad swaths of ecosystems I now see hydro, despite its reliability, as worse than intermittents such as solar and wind combined with natural gas. Just last week, I saw hundreds of thousands of salmon carted in trucks because they could not use rivers due to damming. We can’t count the amount of plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc etc impacted by the loss of a water source. It’s catastrophic. We humans are so arrogant to think we should do so in the name of “renewable” for our conscience when there are far less impacting sources such as nuclear available.

      • Alastair Leith

        Off-river pumped hydro is the only hydro that makes sense today. Very small areas of land required compared with Australian reservoirs. Good economics if there’s a price paid for security of supply.

    • John Saint-Smith

      I don’t accept that you have made a single point that justifies your assertion that Nuclear is ‘far, far cheaper than both solar and wind’. How can the electricity from a power station that costs ten times as much per MWh to build be ‘far, far cheaper than solar and wind which virtually run themselves after construction at a tenth of the initial cost? What about the interest on the opportunity cost of the hyper-expensive nuclear power stations? How much does 100,000 years of storage management cost? How much does it cost to safely decommission an old radioactive nuclear plant?

      • Max

        I’m not going to lie recent figures about solar’s price surprised me. However it’s still not feasible.

        The reason is the cost of backup power and storage that must be integrated for solar and wind. For wind and solar to be a *primary* energy source you need to be able to store their energy. Right now the cost is prohibitive. It’s not feasible. Nuclear on the other hand can provide base load power constantly.

        Knowing that renewable energy cannot be a primary energy source, it comes down to coal, natural gas, or nuclear. By fighting nuclear green groups are simply advocating for coal and C02. Simple as that.

        Also in the future we will be able to use the nuclear waste as energy.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Let’s go with what we’ve got. I’m going to use US dollars.

          US DOE Secretary Chu stated that new pump-up storage would cost about $0.10/kWh. A new contract for solar in Tucson includes battery storage and the cost seems to be around $0.13/kWh.

          Suppose we designed a wind/solar/storage grid. We should be able to get about 40% of our electricity from direct from turbines at <$0.03/kWh, about 30% direct from solar panels at <$0.04/kWh, and the rest from stored wind/solar at $0.14/kWh. (I'm shading my numbers to the high side.)

          That works out to $0.066/kWh for 24/365 electricity.

          Now let's make a 24/365 grid with only nuclear, storage, and backup. Suppose minimum demand is 1GW, maximum is 3GW and the average demand is about 2GW. The cost of new nuclear in the US is running above $0.13/kWh for a reactor running 90% of the time.

          To be able to cover demand range we'd need 2GW running continuously, store enough when demand was under 2GW in order to supply demand when demand was over 2GW . So now we're using 2/3rds at $0.13/kWh plus 1/3rd stored at $0.23/kWh.

          This works out to $0.16.3/kWh for 24/365 electricity. And I left out the need for at least 1GW of backup in case a reactor fails, which happens.

          Or if you want to advocate for nuclear for only the "baseload", which is really the minimum demand, that could be met with $0.13/kWh (plus backup in the event of failure).

          Compare $0.13/kWh to $0.07/kWh. Baseload.

          • Alastair Leith

            Also nuclear needs to not only be cheaper today, it needs to compete with wind and solarPV and solarCST getting cheaper with each and every reverse-auction in the world. PV on track to be free by 2036-40. How the heck does nuclear compete for 6 hours a day with free ubiquitous PV in 20 years behind the meter where it’s worth four times a much as wholesale, and tends to spill onto the grid even if utilities wont pay a cent for it?

            There’s a bunch of models I’ve seen with very reasonable PV grow assumptions where by 2030 even there masses of oversupply on grids from PV behind meters and wind and solar farms bidding negative onto the grid (because they make money from RECs in Australia, though that may well stop they’ll still bid lower than the staff at a nuclear power plant could ever cost). Come 2040+ nuclear in it’s current form has no place to hide, even with sympathetic government favoritism.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” PV on track to be free by 2036-40.”

            Not free. Just really, really cheap.

            There will always be some cost to manufacture the panels and install them. In the case of solar farms there will be a land cost. And utility solar has some operating expenses.

            In the US onshore wind is now under $0.03/kWh (unsubsidized). We’ve just seen the first solar PPA signed for electricity under $0.04/kWh (unsubsidized). It’s going to be fun watching to see whether solar can hit the $0.02/kWh threshold before wind gets there.

            We’re reaching the point at which new onshore wind and new utility solar have become cheaper than the operating costs for many of our paid off nuclear plants and they soon should be cheaper than almost all paid off reactors.

          • Alastair Leith

            Mathematically it’s on track. Global rate of 22% reduction in module price every doubling, every two years. That’s is the long term (2 or 3 decade) trend. More recently it’s more like 28%. But taking 22% reduction every 2 years you do the math (i have) and you find that by 2040 you get to less than 0.1c/kWh by 2040. That’s module price, but system and soft costs have paralleled module costs. PV applied to cladding materials as film or spray isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, i’d say before 2030 easily happen. In fact Tesla is already claiming their tilePV roofs are less cost than conventional (but lets see when they ship).

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tesla’s roof tiles are cheaper than other roofing materials – if you include the price of the electricity generated. In terms of ‘up front’ costs Tesla’s tiles are more expensive.

          • Alastair Leith

            It’s unclear what Musk is claiming from the reports I read he wasn’t including power bills.

          • Tesla’s roof tiles are cheaper than other roofing materials – if you include the price of the electricity generated.

            Possibly true (but unlikely) only if you count the huge solar subsidies, of which, net metering is typically listed as one on most states’s solar subsidy websites. Subsidies are by definition, temporary financial assists to test economic feasibility.

          • Alastair Leith

            Lucky the all the NPPS have rock solid PPAs to export to grid as they wish, they do have rock solid PPAs to export irrespective of demand and wholesale price don’t they?!

          • In the US onshore wind is now under $0.03/kWh (unsubsidized). We’ve just seen the first solar PPA signed for electricity under $0.04/kWh (unsubsidized). It’s going to be fun watching to see whether solar can hit the $0.02/kWh threshold before wind gets there. We’re reaching the point at which new onshore wind and new utility solar have become cheaper than the operating costs for many of our paid off nuclear plants and they soon should be cheaper than almost all paid off reactors.

            Bob, again, those are LCOE values of components of a system, not the system total cost. You need all kinds of components to make the lowest cost system and naturally, some components, like peaking power, will cost more than others, as is the case with a circuit board. Good luck building the lowest cost motherboard using nothing but the two cheapest components.

            It turns out that the inclusion of nuclear can significantly lower the cost of the system. See Figure 1
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/180dbba1ad285dcc92164572d45496051baa0f3a13ff4a6146186e1b3e1d244a.png
            Figure 1

            Below is a list of sources that all explain why solar and wind tend to kill their own value once they reach higher levels of penetration which is why they will typically be limited to something like 10 to 30 percent of electrical energy depending on location:

            1) A study by German economist Lion Hirth (pro-renewables and pro-nuclear):“…the value of wind and solar declines as they become a larger percentage of the German grid.” http://www.neon-energie.de/Hirth-Ueckerdt-Edenhofer-2016-Wind-Coal-Economics-Electricity-Generation.pdf

            http://i.imgur.com/Xkeo1Rd.jpg

            2) From the United Nations Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (pro-renewables and pro-nuclear):“The more that solar PV penetrates the electricity system, the harder it is to recoup project costs.” http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/GSR_2016_Full_Report.pdf

            3) From David Roberts (antinuclear): “As they grow, wind and solar hit economic headwinds.” http://www.vox.com/2015/6/24/8837293/economic-limitations-wind-solar

            4) From the NREL (pro-renewables): “Still higher levels of variable renewable energy generation [wind and solar above 30%] is technically feasible but could test the economic carrying capacity of the U.S. power grid.” http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/06/f22/QER%20Analysis%20-%20Grid%20Integration%20and%20the%20Carrying%20Capacity%20of%20the%20US%20Grid%20to%20Incorporate%20Variable%20Renewable%20Energy.pdf

            5) From MIT (pro-renewables and pro-nuclear): “…even if solar generation becomes profitable without subsidies at low levels of penetration, there is a system-dependent threshold of installed PV [and wind] capacity beyond which adding further solar generators would no longer be profitable.” http://mitei.mit.edu/system/files/Chapter%208_compressed.pdf

            6) Jesse Jenkins (pro-renewables and pro-nuclear): “Instead, the fundamental economics of supply and demand is likely to put the brakes on VRE (variable renewable energy) penetration.” http://www.theenergycollective.com/jessejenkins/2233311/look-wind-and-solar-part-2-there-upper-limit-intermittent-renewables

            7) From John Morgan (pro-nuclear and pro-wind) “The “CF% = market share” boundary is a real limit on growth of wind and solar. Its not impossible to exceed it, just very difficult and expensive. It’s an inflexion point; bit like peak oil, its where the easy growth ends. And the difficulties are felt well before the threshold is crossed. I’ve referred to this limit elsewhere as the “event horizon” of renewable energy.”
            https://bravenewclimate.com/2015/06/05/less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts-rethinking-all-of-the-above-clean-energy/

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Bob, again, those are LCOE values of components of a system, n ot the system total cost. ”

            Russ, less than $0.03/kWh unsubsidized for wind and less than $0.04/kWh unsubsidized for a recent solar PPA are selling prices. Those are not levelized cost of energy estimates, they are actual real world contracted prices. Legal sales agreements between wind/solar farms and utility companies.

            Those prices are actually higher than the cost of production. They include wind/solar farm owner profits.

            The actual selling prices are lower as they include the subsidy. $0.03 and $0.04 are the prices with the subsidy added back in.

            “the value of wind and solar declines as they become a larger percentage of the German grid”

            That’s what one would expect. If there is some overbuilding and the extra generation is not stored. Remember, US gas peakers run only 5% of the time. We need their input when we need it and we pay dearly for them to sit idle 95% of the time.

            Or if you want to look at it another way, as you bring wind and solar onto the grid the first generation to drop off is likely to be the most expensive. From a value standpoint shutting down a $0.30/kWh gas peaker means a lot more to the bottom line than shutting down a $0.05/kWh reactor.
            “Still higher levels of variable renewable energy generation [wind and solar above 30%] is technically feasible but could test the economic carrying capacity of the U.S. power grid.”

            So? We very well know that we will need new transmission. However probably a lot less than the NREL study calculated. Since then we have identified lots of new wind resources at 140 meter hub heights and we’re starting to install offshore wind. (~80% of the US population lives close to the coasts.) We are not likely to be moving large amounts of Midwest wind to the East Coast which we thought we would be doing.

            “”Instead, the fundamental economics of supply and demand is likely to put the brakes on VRE (variable renewable energy) penetration.” ”

            True. When RE reaches 100% of demand the economics won’t justify installing more…. ;o)

            Russ, do you not understand that new wind and new solar are on their way to $0.02/kWh. That’s lower than the operating costs of FF and most reactors. It’s hugely below the cost of new FF and nuclear.

            “The “CF% = market share” boundary is a real limit on growth of wind and solar. Its not impossible to exceed it, just very difficult and expensive.”
            Red herring. Do you not understand that the wind tends to blow more when the Sun is not shining? Right now US utility solar has a CF of about 30%. Current wind farms are now in the upper 40% range with some over 50%. The DOE has identified vast amounts of land where we can expect to get CFs over 60% with 140 meter hub heights and modern technology.

            30% + 60% = 90%. That’s an overstatement, there’s some solar/wind overlap. But because we can shift some loads to when solar or wind are supplying we can maximize our use of electricity directly from wind/solar farms.

          • Russ, less than $0.03/kWh unsubsidized for wind and less than $0.04/kWh unsubsidized for a recent solar PPA are selling prices. Those are not levelized cost of energy estimates, they are actual real world contracted prices. Legal sales agreements between wind/solar farms and utility companies. Those prices are actually higher than the cost of production. They include wind/solar farm owner profits. The actual selling prices are lower as they include the subsidy. $0.03 and $0.04 are the prices with the subsidy added back in.

            Bob, you missed the point again. Those are values of components of a system, not the system total cost. The cost of any given component does not dictate consumer electric bills. The bills are a kind of average of all costs. Let me give you some examples of how it works.

            The average cost of the new transmission lines installed in the ERCOT grids to export wind generated electricity to where it is needed (and to prevent it from bankrupting local utilities by making wind generated electricity literally worthless with sporadic gluts) is $0.024/kWh, which would almost double the cost to consumers of your $0.03 wind component. And there are many other costs as well. See Figure 1.

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251670565_The_Cost_of_Transmission_for_Wind_Energy_A_Review_of_Transmission_Planning_Studies
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0cafaa2e9ab711722b4fc5d7233bb2c07d8de6cc5e5de252d7720b24b26a34d4.jpg
            Figure 1

            Putting aside total system cost, part of your strategy is to try to convince readers that a handful of especially low prices will eventually translate into similar low prices everywhere but they won’t because the prices are a function of availability of respective resources (wind, water, sun) at different locations. The price of solar in Washington state is higher than in Arizona, and the price of hydro would be just a tad higher than in Washington State : ). See Figure 2.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d1a7c05ffedd864d1db14c4f85f6275f7f9e435abdbc45d5604a6fe79f4f885e.jpg
            Figure 2

            That’s what one would expect. If there is some overbuilding and the extra generation is not stored [then the value of wind and solar declines as they become a larger percentage of the German grid].

            Bingo. Jacobson’s plan to power the world with wind, water, and sun does not count on storage of electricity because he had to cede the fact that it would be uneconomical. He also does not overbuild for the same reason. Instead, he plans to create mega intercontinental HVDC super grids to distribute the gluts to where the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, which is, in reality, just another competing untested hypothesis and will create new problems. See Figure 3.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a80158de43bcac9c6f315424b186a6f1b2cf937db558c8209ffa2f713e93d465.jpg
            Figure 3

            Or if you want to look at it another way, as you bring wind and solar onto the grid the first generation to drop off is likely to be the most expensive. From a value standpoint shutting down a $0.30/kWh gas peaker means a lot more to the bottom line than shutting down a $0.05/kWh reactor.

            Bob, do you see any evidence of lower citizen electricity rates in Germany? See Figures 4.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5fd98c1f9427568b2b64c23c2a82575379dbc78fea00b2d13a638a59cfa219f.jpg
            Figure 4

            So? We very well know that we will need new transmission. However probably a lot less than the NREL study calculated. Since then we have identified lots of new wind resources at 140 meter hub heights and we’re starting to install offshore wind. (~80% of the US population lives close to the coasts.) We are not likely to be moving large amounts of Midwest wind to the East Coast which we thought we would be doing.

            So? Bob, it was the NREL that said higher levels of wind and solar would “test the economic carrying capacity of the U.S. power grid.” Your argument is with them, not me. Your argument that we won’t need Jacobson’s intercontinental super HVDC grid is with Jacobson. Also see Figure 5.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5fd98c1f9427568b2b64c23c2a82575379dbc78fea00b2d13a638a59cfa219f.jpg
            Figure 5

            Russ, do you not understand that new wind and new solar are on their way to $0.02/kWh. That’s lower than the operating costs of FF and most reactors. It’s hugely below the cost of new FF and nuclear.

            Bob, your argument is with the IEA and the IRENA, not me. See Figure 6
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/180dbba1ad285dcc92164572d45496051baa0f3a13ff4a6146186e1b3e1d244a.png
            Figure 6

            Red herring. Do you not understand that the wind tends to blow more when the Sun is not shining? Right now US utility solar has a CF of about 30%. Current wind farms are now in the upper 40% range with some over 50%. The DOE has identified vast amounts of land where we can expect to get CFs over 60% with 140 meter hub heights and modern technology.

            30% + 60% = 90%. That’s an overstatement, there’s some solar/wind overlap. But because we can shift some loads to when solar or wind are supplying we can maximize our use of electricity directly from wind/solar farms.

            We are all free to posit hypothesis, Bob. Capacity factors (and therefore costs) are a function of location. You cite the highest ones you can find as if they exist even where there is little wind or sun. Your simplistic calculations in comment fields which you appear to think disprove massive computer modeled studies by major organizations like the NREL and the IRENA as well as real-world results like those being found in Germany look to me, with all due respect, like a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

          • Sam Gilman

            “Suppose we designed a wind/solar/storage grid.”

            The NREL tried that for the US. They couldn’t justify more than 50% of electricity that way.

            This cuts to the heart of the problem: intermittent marginal costs for the next turbine or solar panel when grid penetrations are low cannot be compared to the marginal costs of adding turbines and panels when they are at higher levels of penetration.

            Once you have a lot of solar, adding panels sharpens the excess peaks of solar supply meaning that an increasing amount of solar needs to be curtailed. The return on the next panel decreases. Storage ameliorates rather than solves this problem, as Jesse Jenkins has shown.

            I’ve tried to explain this before. I know it doesn’t fit with the project you’re involved with, but reality is reality.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ​Actually, the NREL says 80% renewable is feasible without storage. The NREL studied various levels of renewable energy up to 90% of total grid supply.

            Their 80% generation mix shows 38% wind, 6% PV, and 6% CSP in the generation mix, neatly dividing electricity generation at about 50% variable renewables. Hydropower and biomass each make up about 15%, comprising about 30% dispatchable renewables. The remaining 20% generation is conventional. Only a small percentage of storage is included.

            Adding in some storage the NREL took the RE contribution to 90%.​

            “intermittent marginal costs for the next turbine or solar panel when grid penetrations are low cannot be compared to the marginal costs of adding turbines and panels when they ar e at higher levels of penetration.”

            US coal and CCNG plants run between 50% and 60% of the time. Gas peakers run only about 5% of the time. In order to supply power when it is demanded we overbuild capacity.

            Going forward with a 100% RE grid it will make sense, at times, to overbuild rather than to store.

          • Sam Gilman

            This is false:

            Actually, the NREL says 80% renewable is feasible without storage. The NREL studied various levels of renewable energy up to 90% of total grid supply.

            The 80% figure from the renewable electricity futures study includes storage (you need to do more than skim the executive summary), and that’s not 80% wind/solar. You’ve tried to pull the trick of treating “wind and solar” as interchangeable with “renewable”.

            The storage they said there was a good case for assuming would be available was compressed air energy storage. They based that on trial projects, which was a reasonable thing to do. However, all the trials fell through after the NREL published their study.

            As Russ Finlay has tried to explain to you, the cost of intermittents is not simply the cost of building a solar panel or a turbine. You also have to pay for the grid to accommodate them. The NREL found that even with their (as it turned out problematic) assumptions about storage availability, what really started to do for wind and solar at a combined penetration rate of above 50% was interconnections.

            This is why people who look at the whole grid see limits to renewables. You can keep trying to flog people the next panel at low penetrations, but it’s not actually a decarbonisation plan.

          • You’ve tried to pull the trick of treating “wind and solar” as interchangeable with “renewable”.

            Beauty …

          • Actually, the NREL says 80% renewable is feasible without storage.

            Actually, the 80% scenario required roughly a fivefold increase in today’s storage capacity while the 90% scenario required about a sevenfold increase. Also note that the two most environmentally destructive forms of renewable, hydro and biomass, increased about 30% and 120% respectively. And solar PV enthusiasts must be bitterly disappointed that it will only be 6% of the share. They also kept nuclear in the mix, which helped a great deal but they made no attempt to find the optimal cost by increasing its share. See Figure 1

            They assumed the storage would largely be composed of compressed air while simultaneously admitting that it is an unproven technology “in either bedded salt or in porous rock formations, which represents a large fraction of assumed deployments.” See page 330, Volume 2.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd48236451bc21571e305f6a5a795cd0e0d58144cabbd0ebece712acf17084e1.png
            Figure 1

            Their 80% generation mix shows 38% wind, 6% PV, and 6% CSP in the generation mix, neatly dividing electricity generation at about 50% variable sporadic renewables.

            I edited your above sentence for clarity : ) The word “variable” is being used as a euphemism for the real nature of their output which would be better described as “sporadic.” Certainly, the output of any renewable source is variable (can be varied). Only wind and solar are at the day to day whim of weather, making their output sporadic.

            Only a small percentage of storage is included. Adding in some storage the NREL took the RE contribution to 90%.

            The 90% scenario required a sevenfold increase in storage capacity from today’s levels.

            In order to supply power when it is demanded we overbuild capacity. Going forward with a 100% RE grid it will make sense, at times, to overbuild rather than to store.

            Nice hypothesis. Not sure we should be betting our children’s futures on untested hypothesis. The IEA and IRENA studies showed that inclusion of nuclear in the mix significantly reduces cost (and the odds of a failed hypothesis).

            And as I said elsewhere, two meta studies of low carbon energy studies have recently been published. One showed that studies which included nuclear resulted in lower system costs. The other one found that there are no viable 100% renewable energy studies.

            http://innovationreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/EIRP-Deep-Decarb-Lit-Review-Jenkins-Thernstrom-March-2017.pdf
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032117304495

          • Let’s go with what we’ve got. I’m going to use US dollars. US DOE Secretary Chu stated that new pump-up storage would cost about $0.10/kWh. A new contract for solar in Tucson includes battery storage and the cost seems to be around $0.13/kWh. Suppose we designed a wind/solar/storage grid. We should be able to get about 40% of our electricity from direct from turbines at <$0.03/kWh, about 30% direct from solar panels at <$0.04/kWh, and the rest from stored wind/solar at $0.14/kWh. (I'm shading my numbers to the high side.) That works out to $0.066/kWh for 24/365 electricity. Now let's make a 24/365 grid with only nuclear, storage, and backup. Suppose minimum demand is 1GW, maximum is 3GW and the average demand is about 2GW. The cost of new nuclear in the US is running above $0.13/kWh for a reactor running 90% of the time. To be able to cover demand range we'd need 2GW running continuously, store enough when demand was under 2GW in order to supply demand when demand was over 2GW . So now we're using 2/3rds at $0.13/kWh plus 1/3rd stored at $0.23/kWh. This works out to $0.16.3/kWh for 24/365 electricity. And I left out the need for at least 1GW of backup in case a reactor fails, which happens. Or if you want to advocate for nuclear for only the "baseload", which is really the minimum demand, that could be met with $0.13/kWh (plus backup in the event of failure). Compare $0.13/kWh to $0.07/kWh. Baseload.

            Riiight …the IEA and IREA just completed two studies to compare the cost of an all renewable grid with one that has nuclear as the single largest source of energy (the system with nuclear cost a full third less).
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/180dbba1ad285dcc92164572d45496051baa0f3a13ff4a6146186e1b3e1d244a.png
            Figure 1

            Two meta studies of low carbon energy studies have recently been published. One showed that studies which included nuclear resulted in lower system costs. The other one found that there are no viable 100% renewable energy studies.

            http://innovationreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/EIRP-Deep-Decarb-Lit-Review-Jenkins-Thernstrom-March-2017.pdf
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032117304495

          • Bob_Wallace

            You can’t get the majority of your electricity from a 13+c source and end up with cheaper electricity than someone getting the majority of their electricity for less than 4c.

            Even if you had to store 50% of the supply at 10c the cost of wind/solar would come out less than 10c.

          • You can’t get the majority of your electricity from a 13+c source and end up with cheaper electricity than someone getting the majority of their electricity for less than 4c.
            Even if you had to store 50% of the supply at 10c the cost of wind/solar would come out less than 10c.

            Bob, ten cents is almost three times the existing average wholesale rate for the U.S. in 2016.

            Which may explain why the IEA and IREA studies found that the inclusion of nuclear would reduce costs by a third.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/180dbba1ad285dcc92164572d45496051baa0f3a13ff4a6146186e1b3e1d244a.png

        • Alastair Leith

          The baseload myth with a side of the fossil back-up myth. When will it ever end?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Soon, I expect. Paid off “baseload” plants are failing economically. Another year or so of significant numbers of thermal plants closing and it will be hard to argue that 1) they are needed and 2) new plants are affordable.

            We’ll probably hear the myth five or more years from now, but not by the electricity industry. There will be a few old codgers still claiming the Earth is flat, er, baseload is needed.

          • Alastair Leith

            The lobbyists who cant stop saying it might retire to the finance industry where I still here this rubbish thanks to our national broadcaster privileging these insightful people, or perhaps the Liberal, National and Labor parties who love blowhard.

          • Paid off “baseload” plants are failing economically.

            You exaggerate. Some are having trouble competing in their respective grids against historically low gas prices, but most are doing just fine. Give those few a fraction of the subsidy per unit energy being received by wind and solar and they would all remain competitive against that fossil fuel until the price of gas goes back up.

            Another year or so of significant numbers of thermal plants closing and it will be hard to argue that 1) they are needed and 2) new plants are affordable.

            Seriously? Natural gas power stations (which are thermal power stations) are not needed to take over when the wind stops at night?

            We’ll probably hear the myth five or more years from now, but not by the electricity industry. There will be a few old codgers still claiming the Earth is flat, er, baseload is needed.

            …says the old Codger. One thing is for sure, we will still be hearing the myth five years from now about how wind and solar are going to power the planet.

            Bob, I realize that you have no engineering background, but the definition of baseload is the minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over a span of time. Most certainly, that is always going to exist. You are proposing that baseload be met by some kind of hypothetical system primarily using sporadic energy sources to provide that baseload. To say that baseload isn’t needed is nonsensical.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Russ, three paid off nuclear plants just received subsidies in order to stay in operation. They had announced closure. A fourth just announced that it was failing. Three large coal plants shut down on the day Trump backed out of the Paris accord.

            Yes, NG is the big culprit. That’s because a lot of NG capacity was built recently. The cheaper price of gas generation is closing coal and nuclear plants. And now we’re starting to install enough wind and solar to see the use of gas in danger of dropping. Utilities are going to use what is least expensive.

            ” the definition of baseload is the minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over a span of time. Most certainly, that is always going to exist. You are proposing that baseload be met by some kind of hypothetical system primarily using sporadic energy sources to provide that baseload. To say that baseload isn’t needed is nonsensical.”

            Russ, you must know that “baseload” is used to describe coal and nuclear plants. It’s a shortened version of “baseload generator”. I’m sure you know that just as you know that I understand what baseload demand means. We’ve been down this path before.

            What’s the difference between supplying baseload demand with a reactor and FF backup and with wind/solar/storage/backup generation? Do not both combinations keep the lights on 24/365?

            (The difference is cost. And that’s why we’re seeing coal and nuclear plants go bankrupt.)

          • Russ, three paid off nuclear plants just received subsidies in order to stay in operation. The cheaper price of gas generation is closing coal and nuclear plants.

            See Figure 1.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a0ea69c9b893f7640ebfe767bc245b6b147a80c106197371da161211dcd996d7.jpg
            Figure 1

            And now we’re starting to install enough wind and solar to see the use of gas in danger of dropping. Utilities are going to use what is least expensive.

            Bob, given the right price incentive, gas and solar can be perfectly reasonable fuel reduction devices when the wind is blowing or sun shining. See Figure 2. If wind and solar were not sporadic, if they could be dispatched as needed, they would quickly take over energy production. That isn’t the case. At penetration levels approximating their respective capacity factors, costs begin spiraling up as a result of repeated wholesale price depression resulting from gluts of energy at the wrong times sending producers toward fiscal insolvency, and the only way to fix that is to incur the expense of storage and/or massive expansion of transmission or increased subsidy.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f70d0055f78ad31f1b06f075127a9e687be205398ae09d4b1d464865fc417c88.jpg
            Figure 2

            Russ, you must know that “baseload” is used to describe coal and nuclear plants. It’s a shortened version of “baseload generator”. I’m sure you know that just as you know that I understand what baseload demand means. We’ve been down this path before.

            Bob, your comments are often largely nonsensical because of your use of undefined words. You’ll say renewables when you mean wind and solar. Wind and solar are sporadic and have very different environmental impacts than hydro, biomass etc. You’ll say baseload when you mean nuclear power stations being used to meet baseload demand. Most nuclear stations around the world also load follow and U.S reactors are capable of doing so as well (the Columbia Generating Station actually does some of it).

            What’s the difference between supplying baseload demand with a reactor and FF backup and with wind/solar/storage/backup generation? Do not both combinations keep the lights on 24/365?

            Answer: Nuclear keeps the lights on 24/365, but wind/solar/storage/backup generation is just a hypothesis being tested in Germany, with largely dismal results. See Figure 3.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6ddb6a70516bbf1566393c592817f73c2c2439336241343498d0d451b6b48cd.png
            Figure 3.

            The difference is cost [aka, “wind/solar/storage/backup generation” is cheaper] . And that’s why we’re seeing coal and nuclear plants go bankrupt.

            Except, wind/solar/storage/backup generation is not cheaper. Read the meta-analysis of 30 recent cost studies that found the inclusion of nuclear reduces low carbon system costs.

            http://innovationreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/EIRP-Deep-Decarb-Lit-Review-Jenkins-Thernstrom-March-2017.pdf

    • Alastair Leith

      Nuclear apart from lacking any kind of economic case in Australia is a very poor match for increasing amounts of variable renewable energy.

      Wind and solar are way cheaper than nuclear even in countries that have an existing nuclear industry, and so what’s required is dispatchable generation to balance generation with demand. If nuclear could do that it might have an economic argument but it’s economics as a load follower is even worse than running at a high C.F. That’s why France has so much hydro as much as anything — even with the most largest to ever go into a NPP dominated grid and few ramping NPPs, they lose income and ramping increases the maintenance schedule and costs.

      Most of all, renewables and storage are on learning curves headed south for two and three decades… approaching a theoretical price of zero by ~2040 in the case of PV. How will a NPP that must pay itself off over the next 40 years* running at 80-90% C.F. get into the market against wind and solar bidding negative prices 50%+ of time in the dispatch market? Exclusive take or pay PPAs that further distort the NEM.

      * Even with massive subsidies and implicate and unpaid for state insurance for catastrophic failure.

    • Alastair Leith

      ” It’s suffering because it has to go up against fossil fuels (which are currently extremely cheap) WITHOUT subsidies.”

      Don’t know what rock you’ve been hiding under Max, but wind and solar (certainly behind the meter and in some place utility) are now cheaper — unsubsidised — than new coal and wind.

      Even super-rich nation Brazil is building a dispatchable generation CST with thermal storage plant — unsubsidised — because it’s way cheaper than diesel and they have no domestic coal and gas to speak of, so would have to pay global fuel prices. If only they’d just wake up and invest in nukes?! What’s wrong with these people?

      And if six decades of super-generous subsidies from half a dozen superpowers isn’t enough subsidises for the nuclear power industry maybe they wanna just put up the white flag huh?

  • onesecond

    Every cent put in nuclear is wasted as it yields much more when you spend it on renewables. Nuclear is just not competitive, has the blow up risk and waste and is simply not needed and yet these nuclear shills continue to hype one nuclear mirage after the other. People have to be extremely stupid to fall for any of this.

    • soyouretheone

      I just have to say I find the description of the “blowup risk” funny. Because it just isn’t the case. For some reason, actual sources of “alternative facts” reccurringly show images of a blowing up fossil plant, when they are referring to the nuclear plant with issues during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

      Fossils are what is explosive, fossils are in our homes everyday, that kill people every day, that acidify the ocean every day and it is fossils that we HAVE TO USE to back up solar and wind on a grid scale, period, end of story.

      We HAVE to be smart about the word “waste” as opposed to emotional. I agree that storing something for tens of thousands of years sounds pretty impossible. But that’s why, decades ago, the human race figured out how to turn that into energy instead of having to store it. It’s proven. We just for some reason don’t have the political willpower to do it, mostly because people are so emotional when the term comes up.

      When I think of nuclear waste, i think of some clean white canisters in a relatively small room being kept until we decide to get even more clean energy out of them. When I think of coal waste, i think of the world’s air and water slowly being acidified and the world’s wildlife slowly (or quickly) being suffocated by it. When I think of solar and wind waste, i think of the huge abandoned turbines on the otherwise natural landscapes in hawaii, or the huge lakes of chemicals used to extract the metals used in these devices. Lakes that literally will never have a half – life because they will stay at full toxicity into eternity.

      If we as humans are going to use energy, we simply have to use the energy with the lowest lifecycle carbon footprint. And that is far and away nuclear.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Thankfully we don’t have to worry our beautiful minds over whether we should risk our futures with

        A) Nuclear
        or
        B) Coal.

        There’s a third option

        C) Neither.

      • onesecond

        LOL

      • Alastair Leith

        Funny because you didn’t have relatives in Chernobyl or 3 Mile Island or Fukushima? You got a wicked sense of humour, “soyourtheone”?

        • Sam Gilman

          Tell me about your relatives in Fukushima. Where do they live in the prefecture?

      • Alastair Leith

        Funny, I think not of clean white canisters I think of spent fuel rods in the attic at Fukushima (cause they didn’t know what else to do with them) blown sky high when the build up of explosive gases ignited the outer containment vessel in one of the reactors. And of an ever growing fleet of storage tanks to capture radioactive groundwater even though gamma rich water is still leaking into the ocean.

        • Jag_Levak

          “I think of spent fuel rods in the attic at Fukushima … blown sky high when the build up of explosive gases ignited the outer containment vessel in one of the reactors.”

          At what reactor are you suggesting that the fuel rods were “blown sky high”?

        • Joffan

          You should really disregard everything that mad old auntie Helen says.

          All the spent fuel rods at Fukushima were undamaged and undisplaced by the accident.

          The seepage of contaminated groundwater from under the reactors to the ocean was stopped in September 2015.

        • Michael Mann

          So many misconceptions and inaccuracies in your post.. Spent fuel rods were never in the “attic” at Fukushima, no fuel was “blown sky high”, explosive gasses built up in the reactor building outside of the containment vessel, not “inside the outer containment vessel” since there is no such thing as an “outer containment vessel” There is no such thing as “gamma rich water” there is contaminated water and tritium rich water, but “gamma rich” sounds like a made up term.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Sempra Energy is the largest natural gas utility in the United States in terms of coverage area and population served, and is a major force in international natural gas markets. Sempra Energy reported more than $10 billion in revenue and serves more than 32 million customers worldwide.

    “A vice president with Sempra Energy, one of the nation’s largest utilities, made a stunning admission to a roomful of gas and oil executives this week: there is no technical impediment to California getting all of its energy from renewables – now.

    In simple terms, this means all power could come from sources like wind, solar and hydro without reliance on fossil fuels.

    This has been the position of environmental groups and renewable energy companies. But not utilities, which typically argue that the grid still requires fossil electricity for stability, because renewables come and go.

    “I am speaking with confidence now. We have a solution now to adjust the intermittency of solar and wind energy that is no longer a technology challenge. Now it is an economic decision,” said Patrick Lee, Sempra Energy vice president for major project controls. “So installing a base load power plant is no longer your only option.

    You can now look at solar, wind and storage as alternatives, and still be able to manage the reliability of the grid. So that is the takeaway I would like you to have.”

    Lee said that as a trained engineer, even three years ago he would not have believed this was possible.

    “But today my answer is: The technology has been resolved. How fast do you want to get to 100 percent? That can be done today.” In those three years, not only have wind, solar and battery prices plunged. The software to control storage and the grid has also advanced.

    Suddenly, there is software that can make grid adjustments and bring battery power online much, much faster. “We now have the ability to control the grid twenty times faster than you can blink your eye,” Lee said.”

    http://inewsource.org/2017/05/26/sempra-100-percent-renewables-pxise/

    Things are moving right along…

    • Wow, Bob, you just copied and pasted an entire press release from a company hawking grid control software. Copying and pasting entire articles is generally frowned upon in comment fields.

      You’re trying to use the “appeal to authority” argument. Where are the references to the studies that support his contention?

      Curious to know how his control software magically makes storage and intercontinental HVDC super grids economically feasible …oh wait, it doesn’t:

      Now it is an economic decision …

  • Bob_Wallace
    • Sam Gilman

      That message was brought to you by the friends of global warming.

  • Alastair Leith

    Somebody in high-vis nuclear clothing said here ‘there’s no evidence renewables make energy cheaper’ (yeah really).

    Well the same day QLD announced they were investing in RE to compete with price gouging by fossil generators the QLD energy futures market dropped 15% in ONE DAY!

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/queenslands-dance-with-the-devil-its-own-coal-and-gas-assets-94753/

  • André Balsa

    Thank you Dr. Jim Green for this excellent article.
    This is a realistic take down of the nuclear industry lobby pathetic attempts at propaganda in Australia.
    I’ll just note the presence of some well known nuclear industry paid trolls in the comments below, notably a person who goes by the online name of Michael Mann (an obvious attempt at confusion with climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann).
    And of course Ben Heard himself.

    The fallacious propaganda from the nuclear industry is always the same:
    – Nuclear is “green” (obviously ignoring uranium mining tails, radioactive waste from every step in the nuclear cycle chain, and radioactive contamination from hundreds of small-scale nuclear “incidents” every year in the nuclear industry, and also of course ignoring TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima, this one still leaking 300 tonnes of highly contaminated water into the Pacific *every day* since March 2011).
    – Nuclear is needed to solve climate change (no, it’s not).
    – Renewables and nuclear complement each other (no they don’t).
    – Gen IV reactors will solve all the problems with existing 1st, 2nd and 3rd Gen nuclear reactors, and they will be cheaper too (that one has me laughing, because who are they trying to convince with that fairy tale? 10-year old children?)!

    The good news is that nuclear reactor construction is grinding to a halt worldwide. The nuclear industry is spending its last remaining funds still lobbying politicians in some countries, but this won’t last long.

    The next battle is to force the shutdown of all remaining nuclear reactors as soon as possible, but thankfully Australia does not have this problem. The Delusional Dump, so dear to Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, has thankfully been dumped, and since uranium yellow cake has been selling for a price below its extraction cost for the last three years, with no recovery in sight, the closure of Australian uranium mines is only a matter of time.

    The clowns still campaigning for a nuclear Australia, we can deal with.