New nuclear push digs deep into vault of alternative facts | RenewEconomy

New nuclear push digs deep into vault of alternative facts

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In a visit to Australia this week, US nuclear power advocate Jessica Lovering brings a suitcase full of alternative facts. Let’s unpack them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. DevMac 3 years ago

    We’re in a renaissance period of nuclear propaganda.

    • Dr Manhattan 3 years ago

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

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

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

  2. Alan S 3 years ago

    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 3 years ago

      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 3 years ago

        ABC, sigh

  3. Kevan Daly 3 years ago

    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 3 years ago

      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.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      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.

  4. Ben Heard 3 years ago

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

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

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

      • Ben Heard 3 years ago

        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 3 years ago


          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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Hmmmmm Bogan. Cock. Suckers.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            So no cost curve?

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

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

          • greenthinker2012 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • greenthinker2012 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • greenthinker2012 3 years ago

            Nor were you.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            You have your own head UP your own arse!

          • mick 3 years ago

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

          • Michael Murray 3 years ago

            And the waste. Don’t forget the waste.

          • Russ Finley 3 years ago

            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.


          • Michael Murray 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            “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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • mick 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            They were harmed by fear-mongering.

          • duplicat 3 years ago

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

          • Bob_Wallace 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            “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.


          • Sam Gilman 3 years ago

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

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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.

          • Russ Finley 3 years ago

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

            See Figure 1 for German progress to date:
            Figure 1

            Find the curve at the bottom of Figure 2 for global nuclear verses solar:
            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.
            Figure 3

          • Bob_Wallace 3 years ago

            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.


            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.


            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

            In 2014 Citigroup calculated a LCOE for the Vogtle plant using the estimated cost at the time of $15 billion at 11 cents/kWh.

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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


            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.

          • Russ Finley 3 years ago

            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.
            Figure 1

          • Michael Mann 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            U-238 is natural uranium….

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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

          • Aaron Oakley 3 years ago

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

          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

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

          • Aaron Oakley 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

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


            “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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            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 3 years ago

            “I assert that Japan has a decent solar resource”

            …without any evidence.