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Shortly after I began circulating a preliminary version of this paper, I received communications from several persons asking me to kindly remove their names from the list of persons receiving my humble research. This was done without hesitation, because it was clear to me that those 'scholars' lacked the ability to comprehend the mysteries of Economics 101, and in addition they were probably members of what I call 'the anti-nuclear booster club', some of whom occupy important positions in Sweden because of their aggressive preference for fantasies and 'feelings' rather than knowledge or logic.
On the other hand, a very talented gentleman in Germany questioned my judgement on the subject of nuclear because of some statements that I may or may not have made in that paper, or for that matter some things that I may or may not have said or thought about an anti-nuclear academic from Sweden that he encountered at a conference more than 15 years ago. To be specific, he insisted that the Swedish fear of nuclear is grounded in fact rather than make-believe, following which he referred to the tragic accident at Chernobyl, as well as several near-accidents at similar reactors in the Baltic region.
W here that Swedish "academic" is concerned, the opinion here is that he should be barred from the position that he so ingloriously occupies, while the persons who gave him that position should be under investigation by the police, because it is persons like these who are responsible for the ongoing decline in academic excellence in this country. As for the problem with nuclear installations in the vicinity of Sweden, no one has been more concerned about these than my good self, and among other things I have spread the word far and wide that this matter of defective nuclear facilities in Europe was a matter for immediate attention by the governments of all the Western European countries. Unfortunately I suggested that at least some of the billions of dollars being routed to corrupt or semi-failed states in the Third World should instead be used to guarantee the safety of these defective installations, which was precisely the kind of political incorrectness that resulted in my suggestion being ignored.
Before continuing, let me make it clear that the main issue in this note is the ludicrous belief that the prosperity of this country can be maintained if there is a comprehensive nuclear retreat, or perhaps even a reduction in the supply of nuclear based electricity. In addition, I attempt to suggest that nuclear is the least costly way to generate electricity, although a thorough outline of this topic is relegated to the corrected version of my energy economics textbook and a forthcoming long survey paper (2007, 2009).
THE WAY IT IS
Vladimir Lenin ostensibly believed that Soviet power plus electricity would create a heaven on earth. Analogously, the implicit assumption in Sweden after the Social Democrats assumed power was that something called the 'Swedish welfare state' would feature social democracy plus electricity. A low level statistical analysis, together with a simple algebraic demonstration, makes it clear that in terms of reliability, cost and the quantity of electricity delivered, the Swedish nuclear sector might have been the most efficient in the world before the curse of (electric) deregulation arrived.
For some obscure reason, in l978 all the major political parties in Sweden agreed that the growing controversy over the future of nuclear energy should be settled by a national referendum. The electorate was subsequently asked to choose between nuclear acceptance, or the more-or-less immediate closing of as many nuclear facilities as possible, or a gradual phase-out that was to be complete by 2010. Confronted by a whirlwind of neurotic fictions launched by a technophobic nuclear opposition, the latter option was selected. Although still not fully understood by many Swedes , a key factor in that pseudo-scientific travesty was an assumption that the enviable and growing prosperity of Sweden could be maintained even if the country's nuclear assets were liquidated. In other words, the choice between nuclear energy and 'something-else' was reduced to a matter of taste, and to add insult to injury, the prevailing high energy intensity was pictured by many politicians as having little or nothing to do with a perpetuation of macroeconomic health, although in point of truth it was a key factor.
Note the observation "to be complete by 2010". This obviously was impossible, which even the anti-nuclear booster club accepted, and so the intention became to scrap nuclear assets when they reached the end of their productive life. This meant decades, and so to show that they were serious - and also to recruit at least some of the members of that club to the Social Democratic party - the reactors at Barsebåck (Malmö) were taken out of operation between 1999 and 2005. I discuss the economics of that closure in many seminars, and also my energy economics textbook, but environmentally, according to Carl Hamilton (2009), it meant that if those two comparatively small reactors were still in operation, this part of the world would have avoided about 11.5 million tonnes/year of greenhouse gas emissions. Needless to say, it would also have meant less expensive electricity in Sweden, and perhaps in adjacent countries because of the cross-border electric transmission that takes place.
It is due to an intensified concern for the economic future that the irrational nuclear 'downsizing' in Sweden might be temporarily halted. The key departure of course came earlier, and it involved upgrading the ten remaining reactors so that they could produce approximately the same electric energy (in kilowatt-hours per time period) as the original twelve reactors, which amounts to nearly 47 percent of the total electric energy generated in Sweden. It is the kind of flexibility explicit in this upgrading that is a part of my explanation for the low economic cost of nuclear energy.
The intention now is to maintain the present output of energy, even if it means that new capacity must be constructed. The logic here is straightforward, and cannot be altered by the resolute ignoring or downgrading of mainstream economic history: a high electric intensity for firms, combined with a high rate of industrial investment and the technological skill created by a modern educational system, will lead to a high productivity for large and small businesses. This in turn results in a steady increase in employment, real incomes, and the most important ingredients of social security (such as pensions and comprehensive health care).
In my lectures I use the last part of the previous paragraph to highlight my argument that if, ex-post, there has been the increase in employment, real incomes and welfare in its broadest sense, that was mooted (ex-ante) when the expansion of the nuclear sector began, then it is also true that the so-called subsidies that nuclear in this country is supposed to have received is a figment of the imagination. Put another way, taxpayers as a group have gained rather than lost as a result of financing the Swedish nuclear inventory.
To a considerable extent, the ill-founded assumption that Sweden without nuclear can be as prosperous as it has been with nuclear is now passé, which is why a majority of Swedish voters are no longer hostile to nuclear. With bad economic news rolling in from every corner of the world, and filling small as well as large newspapers as well as their TV screens, the voters of this country are losing their famous ability to applaud as well as tolerate economic nonsense.
Notice the expression "losing their capacity". They have not completely lost it yet, because the Swedish government recently appointed a gentleman with a PhD in physics to the highest position in the energy bureaucracy. His exact goals - other than to secure for himself a highly paid non-job in Brussels or anywhere else between the southern tip of Sweden and the Capetown naval yard - are unclear, but perhaps he or one of his subordinates have been talking to Ms Mona Sahlin, who on the basis of present polls seems to have an excellent chance to become the prime minister of this country after the next election.
Ms Sahlin has claimed that the production of renewable electricity - or 'green electricity' as it is called by environmentalists - has increased by 9 Twh/year in the period after the closing of the two reactors at Bårsebåck (Malmö) took place. As is the case in every country on the face of the earth, this is another resort to a blatant untruth in order to conceal the kind of stupidity that textbooks on economics (and in particular game theory) insist cannot take place in a community inhabited by rational human beings.
The situation with nuclear has played out exactly the way that I predicted that it would in one of my earlier books, with one exception. At a large international conference in Canberra (Australia) many years ago, after an American gentleman put in a good word for the breeder reactor, I did not talk to a single person who thought that he was in his right mind. Now of course, dozens or maybe even hundreds of breeder or fast-spectrum reactors might be (figuratively) right around the corner, and if the ladies and gentlemen who contended that orthodox fission reactors can be replaced by wind and solar are involved in any way with the management of those breeders and their outputs of plutonium, then we could be in serious trouble.
The first time I worked in Australia, in l978, the newspapers were filled with the wonderful future that New Zealand was going to enjoy as a result of the giant natural gas field that had been discovered in the Tasman Sea close to that nation. Being in possession of this gas would seemingly mean that an eventual resort to coal or nuclear was out of the question, which many observers claimed meant out of the question in the distant as well as the near future.
To use the vernacular, that field will soon be history. Unless I am mistaken this is going to mean a large import of coal which, perhaps, the voters in New Zealand would rather avoid, however they will have to accept it because in the short run importing coal is an easier strategem than - for New Zealand - introducing nuclear. The simple fact of the matter is that it might have made sense to be more realistic about the eventual exhaustion of natural gas, and to have begun the construction of one or more very large nuclear facilities a decade or so ago. After all, nearby Australia possesses a great deal of uranium.
What I am saying here is that nuclear had a very large option value for New Zealand. Furthermore, today, nuclear has a very large option value for many countries, because as I informed some curious persons recently, it will not be many decades before the global output of natural gas peaks. This can turn out to be at least as unattractive a proposition for many unlucky households and businesses as a peaking of the global oil production.
There is also this matter mentioned earlier of the safety of nuclear reactors. I could be wrong, but I have been told that Swedish installations are as safe or safer than any in the world, and therefore a question must be asked as to the logic in scrapping nuclear facilities in Sweden when qualitatively inferior installations are in operation just across the Baltic. Of course, where the nuclear game is concerned it is as pointless to ask sensible questions today as it was to ask sensible questions in Germany in l945, when the American Air Force celebrated Adolf Hitler's birthday with a one-thousand plane raid on Berlin, at the same time that the Soviet army was closing in on that city.
Banks, Ferdinand E. (2009). 'Economics and nuclear energy: a modern survey'. Geopolitics of Energy (Forthcoming).
______. (2007). The Political Economy of World Energy: An Introductory Textbook. Singapore, London and New York: World Scientific.
Hamilton, Carl B. (2009) 'Sahlin slarvar med sanningen om Barsebåck'. Svenska Dagbladet (22 January).
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
Professor Banks: You have many times summarily attacked electricity de-regulation, but, to my knowledge, have never actually made the case that such de-regulation has failed. Could you point us to a link where such a case has been made? Or, could you finally make such a case?
Don Pfau 3.31.09
Your "humble" opinion is deeply biased and offensive. Please unsubscribe me.
Jack Ellis 3.31.09
I've heard capital cost projections for new reactors in the US that range between $7,000 and $9,000/kW. For arguments sake, let's assume the levelized annual cost is about 11% of the capital cost, though it could be more (likely) and it could be less (unlikely). Let's also assume an average capacity factor that's close to 100%. By my math, that works out to between 10 and 12 cents per kWh. Not exactly cheap but not as expensive as some technologies, either. Dr. Banks, are others forecasting lower capital costs than the ones I cited?
As for the public perceptions about nuclear energy, it's fair to say that public opinion has bsen won over by fearmongers. Humans as a whole are just not very good at analysing risks and arriving at rational conclusions. However, I think industry and government are also to blame. Engineers and bureaucrats are not particularly adept at public relations. It's become pretty clear that opponents of nuclear power are much better at the PR game.
John Plodinec 3.31.09
To Jack Ellis: Broadly speaking, the total capital cost will depend on three factors: The cost of commodities and equipment at the time of purchase. The price of labor. The price of capital.
Currently, all three are going back down (altho it is still hard to get large amounts of capital for any project). The most recent cost projections we have heard from our local utilities are in the $4000-6000/kW range.
I'm not so sure I'd sell the American public quite so short: a recent opinion poll showed a significant increase in the fraction of the public supporting nuclear. Historically, about 40% of the public have consistently supported nuclear power. The poll indicated that this had jumped to 60%.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.1.09
Well, James Carson, I was at a big conference in Brussels a few years ago, and when I left I was under the impression that deregulation had failed everywhere. Everything considered, I didn't believe at the time that this was true, but at that time it was definitely true for the half dozen U.S. states mentioned, to include Illinois and California, both of which I have lived in. In Canada, Alberta was mentioned, and about the same time they were demonstrating against deregulation in Oslo, and it had definitely failed in Sweden, because the industry people were begging the Swedish government to re-regulate. I mention in this paper New Zealand, where it was proclaimed a big success by a gentleman srom Harvard. It was a success because they kept the gas price artificially low, but now that the gas is running out it is a failure. And so on and so forth.
Of course, with the international macroeconomy where it is today, demand pressure has eased. People still complain about electric prices, but it's not as bad as it is going to be if deregulation wins the day.
Mr Pfau describes my humble opinion as deeply biased and offensive. You should catch my act in a seminar room or conference, Don. I'm absolutely unbeatable. I'm pretty good in this forum also, and the people submitting articles and comments to EnergyPulse are probably the best in the world where the topics being taken up are concerned.
Jack Ellis and John Plodinec seem to be in my corner, but they are correct to cite this business of investment cost (as I call it) as a problem. I believe that Michael Keller gave $5000-8000/kW as the investment cost, and I just can't deal with that number - even if it might be true. In looking at all the figures that are in circulation I expect it to come down drastically when they get in the rhythm of building reactors again. I've heard lower figures in France, but everything turns on what they call the n'th reactor, and perhaps considerable reprocessing. Eventually you will hear them for Japan too.
Of course, when carbon suppression and impending shortages or high prices of gas (and maybe even coal in the long run) are taken into consideration, the 'capital cost' of nuclear should turn out to be very competitive. In addition, there was a lot of talk about technology going around when Mr Bush was in the White House. This made sense where nuclear is concerned, because they are not too far from Gen 4 reactors, and that will be a big improvement.
HOWEVER, I recognize and respect the strength of the anti-nuclear booster club. The lies and misunderstandings that they have retailed have probably succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. As somebody once said to me, if Josef Goebbels were alive today he would shake his head in amazement. I certainly shake mine, because in this country - Sweden - with its highly literate and intelligent population, any kind of nonsense about nuclear (and certain other things) gets a respectable hearing.
Paul Stevens 4.1.09
If a jurisdiction would decide on a particular reactor design, and simply move forward with that design, as has happened to a large extent in France, cost of construction would be lower, since multiple components could be manufactured. Cost of design would be amortized over multiple installations. Cost of work force training (and subsequent cost of construction) would drop, as I saw myself during the construction of Bruce A and Bruce B in Ontario. I also saw the cost of the three year delay imposed by the (anti-nuke) government in power before construction of Darlington was allowed. All of the trained workers who were looking forward to moving from Bruce to Darlington were forced to take other jobs.
The recent increase in construction costs has been associated with the rising cost of concrete and steel, and the crucnch with regards to labour and fabrication facilities. These increased costs also accrue to wind turbine construction and coal plants. The economic slow down has ammeliorated these costs to some extent.
The labour shortage would soon be resolved if the workforce ever had reason to believe that a nuclear build out was going to occur. It's hard to hide the reality of $40 an hour jobs from out of work tradesmen, and college graduates who never thought of apprenticeships previously.
Of course, in a deregulated environment you would never get agreement on one design. This may be less of a problem in a jurisdiction like the US, where there is a need for 50 nuclear stations in the next 20 years. In a smaller country like Sweden, or a province like Ontario, you might only need 4-5. It seems crazy to build two or three different designs as would occur in an uunregulated environment.
Len Gould 4.1.09
Jack: I think the real cost of nuclear generation construction is about to be settled by Ontario, Canada, which has had an open tender for two new reactors outstanding since last year. Bids have now been submitted by Westinghouse, AREVA and AECL and the evaluators are on record as being prepared to make public the winning bid "in June". I have a personal bet that the numbers are likely to come in somewhat lower (in $US) than the figures estimated above, though I also expect they'll be somewhat inflated by the laterly circulated (and largely unfounded) price escalations such as AECL 2002 $1450/kw ==> above John Plodnic's utilities $6000 / kw. Of course I also suspect that such an increase in price expectation may have been the aim of the source of the inflated estimates all along.
I guess we'll soon see.
Joseph Rosenthal 4.1.09
To Jack Carson's comment: I believe the central premise of deregulation in electricity was that shareholders would take the risks of building and operating plants and those risks would be removed from ratepayers. This always seemed silly to me, in that in a State like mine (Connecticut) a business that has hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in a power plant tends also to have the political clout necessary to avoid failure. In any event, this approach didn't actually lead for very long to the build-out of plants sufficient for reliability. Nobody seems to be building much of anything any longer without a long-term contract from the ratepayers, as such contracts are needed from financing. So the risk-shifting, which always seemed like a fanciful prospect to me in any event, didn't happen. What did happen is that fabulous rewards go to existing nuclear and coal plants for no good reason (thanks Professor Hogan for pretending that electricity is like widgets!) and we privatized the gains while continuing to socialize the risks.
From a policy perspective, electric dereg is a dog. Just ask Alfred Kahn, the father of dereg. And no, it isn't because we didn't deregulate "enough."
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.1.09
Great comments, absolutely great. Of course, they won't cut any ice with the anti-nuclear booster club, but I think that the present macroeconomic meltdown will teach those ladies and gentlemen a lesson.
Or maybe not. A few hours ago the Swedish finance minister was talking about 12% unemployment for this country. I think that that could be knocked down one or two percent with a more sensible energy policy - e.g. one involving more nuclear.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
When Ontario builds its two new reactors and invests subsidies in thousands of distributed local generators, there will be considerable local employment generated for nuclear AND widespread construction of small generators. Had they put all their eggs in the nuclear basket with none in distributed generation, it would have far less impact on widespread employment gains.
Regulation will remain (I predict) for many years yet until such a time as there is widespread redundancy built into the grid with very large numbers of small distributed generators. In fact one of the main purposes for the Smart Grid initiative is to enable automated management of larger numbers of smaller generation sources that are less reliable. Obviously grid operators cannot normally depend on solar or wind being available 24/7, but if the transition to Smart Grid is pulled off successfully, the whole concept of large central generators having "dispatchable" reliable generation on demand will becomes less valued, in essence because manual intervention from grid operators will be less necessary with automation. The automation of the grid will permit many distributed generators to pick from over a large geographic area, so in theory it won't matter that a certain percentage of small generators are always unavailable.
The opponents to this vision, namely the stubborn pro-nuclear people on this website, will probably say this vision is a pipe dream at best. Well I have news for them, most new high-technology creations start out as pipe dreams in someone's head. Without ideas, there can be no innovation, or risk taking. Even nuclear technology advancement depends on this. Most importantly it depends on there being a market for its development, and competition from multiple generation sources tends to be a big motivator for innovation, and has a habit of lowering costs in its commercialization. The latter is clearly a very big issue with electricity generation as can be seen in most of the comments above, so no one should be surprised that government policymakers want to foster competition, avoiding putting all their eggs in one basket.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
I neglected to mention that the US Obama administration is on the same pathway as Ontario in its massive stimulus plans for the energy sector.
Joseph Rosenthal 4.2.09
Bob raises an interesting point, and one that I worry about. A lot of people I deal with seem to be interested in considering new nuclear AND doing a lot more with DG. Well, it seems to me that one has to pick a lane. If you build a new nuclear, you certainly wouldn't want to strand that investment. So, those in government may have to place their bets--is central station power going to continue for 40 or more years to be the primary delivery path, or will it largely be replaced with DG, including possibly DG in the home or on residential streets.
I'd put my money on boring old centralized power, hopefully paid just and reasonable rates based on the cost to serve. That works well enough. If the coal plants have unsatisfactory emissions, replace with nuclear a la' France. Consultants will claim otherwise because they can't make too many bucks on that boring message. Given what happened with dereg, I would think people would be a little more skeptical when people wave their hands about the wonders of the future.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
You also raise a valid point - why invest in multiple pathways and then strand one of them. I believe in my humble opinion that policymakers will not strand any of them, instead they view ALL of them being utilized. With DG there may be fewer large central plants built, but the ones that ARE built will be used potentially most efficiently - running 24/7 for much of baseload generation. DG will probably be utilized for much of the daily peak load portion of demand, which currently is a substantial portion of the typical 24-hour total demand curves.
Policymakers are also acutely aware that if you can somehow better flatten 24-hour demand curves (to get a lower peak-to-valley ratio), you don't need as much peak generation. Changing consumers' consumption habits to do this is precisely what Time-Of-Use billing rates are supposed to encourage, and should have some of this effect if the peak-to-off-peak billing ratios are large enough.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
I also believe that especially in the US a sensitivity to security issues has taken over much of public policy thinking for critical infrastructures like electricity ever since 911. Having a grid with widespread DG together with large central plants would make the grid more immune to large area blackouts in the unthinkable event of a large central plant being taken out by terrorism. Effectively generation would no longer be as concentrated in just single large central plants.
This also relates to why I am a strong believer in distributed rooftop solar being widely commercialized. If a nearby large central plant goes down for any reason, those with residential rooftop solar systems can survive utilizing their own solar generator even if it meant having a supply only part time most days. Having no electric supply otherwise makes living in a house almost impossible for any length of time, especially in colder northern climates.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.2.09
Oh my golly. Alan, where are you now that we need you?
Bob is back with his crank fantasies about DG and rooftop solar, and so that's the end of the scientific portion of this discussion. I knew that I should have submitted an article on oil or gas.
Can't he understand what the issue is here. President Obama's energy policy is strictly for amateurs, although it's possible that he is just playing a game. In any event, It doesn't concern me. I have my own policy. For the US a bigger slice of nuclear, for Sweden a slightly larger nuclear component: The decision making here would be taken care of by experts. The television audience - to include Bob - can sort out the rest in the light of what they think makes economic and scientific sense.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
President Obama's energy policy is going to enable lots of business opportunities and jobs for my industry, DG companies including rooftop solar, and even average consumers. Not bad for a bunch of amateurs eh?
Fortunately the Obama administration isn't consuming hallucinogenic substances that some crank economists appear to be on, like the author of this article. To the many other writers’ satisfaction on this website, I will think I will now disappear rendering my comeback only very brief. In the meantime everyone else can be thankful the Obama administration won't be heeding Alan's or professor Bank's crank policy advice anytime soon, or in the distant future. Washington will have to be buried in a snowstorm in July before they will. But hey, aren’t the anti-global warming folks predicting the world is actually cooling? Better watch what I say, or should I say don’t care to say any longer here.
Bob Amorosi 4.2.09
I have to get one last jab in here.
Yes indeed, the US is filled with millions of amateurs and dozens of professional businesses, who according to professor Banks are all non-professional and all share the same vision I do, just look at the impressive membership list in the website above.
Sweet dreams Fred, you're going to need them.
Mathew Hoole 4.3.09
A few points I'd like to add.
1. NZ has between bucklies and none of going Nuclear. The hate of nuclear is well entrenched in the country. Unfortunately it is almost as bad in Australia where you can bath yourself in the plentiful supplies of thorium and uranium.
2. Me personally, I don't care if my nation goes nuclear or not. I just want cheap, reliable, and non redundant energy. Also to put in the mix, energy that doesn't radically and needlessly alter other industries in the country.
3. Yup, investing in renewables will create jobs and investment, but what will happen in many cases is create redundancy. I have lived in a house with solar panels. I used the booster most of winter, and when I didn't, the water was tolerably warm rather than hot.
4. Wind and solar require backup? Why use wind and solar and the reliable backup, when you can just use the reliable backup ie the redundancy issue.
5. Due to the intermittant nature nature of wind and solar, is it fair that a wind and/or solar industry be allowed to dictate supply levels of a reliable industry.
As you can see it is a bit of a joke, or as Bob Geldof has said "Wind and Solar are mickey mouse solutions to a severe global problem". But I save my most important point till now.
6. I don't care about nuclear, but I do care about cheap and reliable energy. Despite the fact I don't care about Nuclear, I think Nuclear has perhaps gone through the most deceitful smear campaign I have ever seen by the people who allegedly care about the planet the most. The fairie tales against Nuclear leave me gobsmacked, and the alleged passion to save the earth is a lie to shroud the agenda of the marxist brigade ie show a market economy is broken by sabotaging it and blaming the other side. Chernobyl wasn't so much a failure of a nuclear industry. It was a failure of an inefficient fixed market socialist system cutting too many corners, breaking too many common sense regulations and de-skilling their workforces.
7. If you genuinely care about global warming and reducing pollution and protecting the environment (reducing land use), then nuclear really needs to be on the table and discussed rationally and honestly. It is madness not too. You can't put windmills in cities. You can't put (many) solar panels in high density areas. Land use stress would increase, wastage would increase, inefficiency would increase, spoilage would increase... it is just nuts to put wind or solar in the baseload energy mix.
8. I agree with Fred on this point. If you are going to develop an energy policy that involves a huge unnecessarry level of redundancy, and generally reduces a nation's energy competitiveness, and has a lot of costs the public are ignorant of, then that policy would be amateurish. I would go so far as to call it also irresponsible, and morally corrupt.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.3.09
Bob, you didn't know the meaning of the word crank, or how to spell it, until you read my comments, so why don't you come up with something original.
Mathew, about nonsense, corruption and hate campaigns, you 'ain't' seen nothing. In Hamburg, many years ago, I heard the expression 'electricity fascism' for the first time, and a few minutes later I found myself thinking of Hamburg during the war, and what happened in that wonderful city shortly after the RAF (which included many Australians and New Zealanders) paid them a midnight visit. Amid all the wreckage Josef Goebbels appeared and assured the population that the war was more 'winnable' than ever. and apparently his presence and personality were so impressive that he was widely believed.
The power of the spoken word is great, because if it wasn't, we would get the nuclear energy we deserve - which does NOT mean a reactor on every street corner.
Furthermore, there are many Goebbels clones at work in every country, and personally I can only admire their fanaticism. I also understand it. IT HAS TO DO WITH MONEY, that is to say careers - the careers of the executives of the anti-nuclear booster clubs! I' want to emphasize that I am not talking about anti-nuclear foot soldiers. They accept what they are told, and generally are sincere in their beliefs about nuclear. Bob is a good example here, because if he wasn't an unthinking foot soldier it would be possible for him to understand the value of your comments.
Incidentally, many voters hate/dislike nuclear and have been fooled into believing that their standard of living can be maintained with renewables. These people should in some cases be respected, because if you take a country like Sweden, as long as we do not continue the nuclear retreat - which is likely - the proposed increase in renewables wil probably only reduce the potential standard by a small amount. Moreover, when/if things go wrong, more hydro can be made available, and I happen to be certain that a crash program can provide more nuclear in a short time.
I know Australia very well, having worked there for almost 3 years. I also know about the hatred of nuclear in that country, but it is not as irrational as it is in many other countries, because even without nuclear Australia is a very rich country. Without nuclear, Sweden might become a backwater, while in my own country (the US) if the affordable energy supply fails to expand, you would see some things that would not make a civilized person happy.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
Why Fred you invented the work crank being the first one yoursellf. Come up with something original you say? I come up with original product designs all the time. It's my job. How about "crackpot economist" for a better adjective for the likes of you. Best write articles on oil or gas, you clearly know nothing relevant about electricity.
Jim Beyer 4.3.09
It occurs to me that if renewable energies were so viable, then why are so many people scrambling to get CO2 sequestering to work? It's apparent (to me) that this will likely prove even more expensive than nuclear. All renewable sources (wind, solar) need some backup energy source. You can only do so much with peak shaving etc. At some point, Ontario is going to have several still, cloudy days in a row. Then what happens?
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
CO2 sequestering is being pursued in a "scramble" because gas and coal generation of power will soon become much more pricey for consumers once our governments get through with forcing carbon taxes or cap & trade schemes on society, while fossil's competitors like nuclear and renewables will not suffer as much.
Renewables have not been viable historically, agreed. But that is the whole point behind Obama's and Ontario's stimulus plans which is to get them viable.
Compare renewables versus large central generators to the steel industry. A large integrated steel plant would cost several billion dollars to construct just to get off the ground producing steel at competitive prices on the world market. This is a huge barrier to entry for any small start-up company wanting to get into steel making, especially when profits are razor thin and often none existent at times. Large central power plants are much like large steel plants in that for anyone wanting to compete selling power into the grid, they need to build large numbers of renewable source generators, which is a huge barrier to entry. Governments recognize this, so they subsidize them to the point they can reach a similar scale of deployment, and the big assumption and gamble is of course that once they reach that scale and the subsidies vanish, the incremental costs of adding more single generators will have come way down by then. Like any other technology development and commercialization, it is a gamble.
There is no question too renewables need backup storage or backup generation. But the whole point is WHEN they are available and on line, their fuel costs and climate change impacts are next to zero, so why not use them if one can afford to.
Joseph Rosenthal 4.3.09
What happens, Jim, is that the public pays for both the renewable power AND the plants to back it up, I would guess. The enviros don't care because they want power to cost more. When I accepted that last fact, life got less frustrating. Will the benefits of green jobs and converting the economy and allegedly making the Saudis/Iran/Venezuela/Nigeria/EastAsia/Eurasia nervous justify the expense of doubling up on your power plants? Some people I consider reasonable say yes. My guess is no.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
You've got it mostly exactly right. Like everyone else the enviros DON'T really want power to cost more but the enviros DON'T ultimately care if it does. The sad reality is that changing almost anything in our society to have a smaller environmental footprint is likely to cost more, sometimes much more. I have yet to see any "GREEN" product or technology that is cheaper than the older conventional less GREEN product it replaces.
There is one other aspect you guys are ignoring, or at least dismissing outright – electrical energy storage. IF its costs can also come down, and PHEVs will be the driving market force to invest in its R&D much more to do so, then renewable generators will not need backup generation as much, if at all.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
Furthermore Joseph, the initial capital costs of building renewable generators is only partially borne by the public with subsidies from taxpayers. The private interests building them, big or small, must usually kick in some of their own money. In the case of residential generators like rooftop solar, the home owner foots the whole bill initially to build it, and the subsidies pay them back over many years. But governments are not that stupid either. They know that costs of renewables can potentially come down substantially WITHOUT deploying them on the scale that matches the existing total grid capacity. Their plan and hope is long before they reach that scale of deployment, the subsidies will come down and eventually vanish, and the public will no longer be paying for any new ones, only private interests will.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
In my world of electronics engineering, implementing redundancy is common practice in the design of military products to attain the highest reliability possible. And guess what, the costs are vastly higher than designing and manufacturing industrial, commercial, or consumer products. But again for things like the military, high cost is bearable for political reasons. The same truth applies to adding renewables to the grid if it means getting them commercialized and their costs lowered on a much larger scale.
Now there's a neat concept - political. Recall that website I mentioned earlier today to professor Banks, www.competecoalition.com, and its impressive list of members. Their list is getting bigger all the time with voters, and governments know it and are acting on it. The current economic crisis also gives them a convenient excuse too to spend like never before, much akin to what they did in WWII to bring us out of the Great Depression, only in this case to avoid one.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
BTW, I am a believer that cash flow from successful commercialization of products is necessary for companies to re-invest in R&D of new products, and in reducing their manufacturing costs. Often it takes government spending to do this when companies cannot do it themselves without having very deep pockets.
Case in point. Today weather and aircraft microwave radar and microwave communications satellites would not exist today if it weren't for the discovery and implementation of microwave electronics in WWII to build the first UHF aircraft radars for the allied forces. The pioneering work done by those electrical engineers in communications research in WWII, largely in the US, was a direct result of the huge money being poured in by Washington for the war effort. Today all microwave equipment and waveguide technologies are based on their work and findings.
Joseph Rosenthal 4.3.09
You are absolutely right about storage, Bob, that would change the whole equation, without a doubt, on wind, solar,etc.
Joseph Rosenthal 4.3.09
On the potential for economies of scale on solar, et al., I'm interested, but it is my understanding that solar uses some fairly scarce chemical products. I fear that scaling up could then raise the price rather than lowering it.
Jim Beyer 4.3.09
In lieu of storage, any strategy that can simply temporally shift a demand would be as good as storage. It's true that we've become accustomed to power on demand 24/7, but that doesn't mean there aren't some things that could be run at a different time of day without causing problems or concerns.
PHEVs have the potential to provide an additional buffer in this regard (not 100% sure how -- V2G is pretty nonsensical) but it represents displacing oil use which is a much more reasonable proposition from the standpoint of long term economics.
Bob Amorosi 4.3.09
It won't be in my opinion the physical batteries inside PHEVs that will provide grid energy storage backup for renewable generators. As you say V2G is very nonsensical - too much grid control plus the logistics of handling huge numbers of random vehicle availability is just not practical. What will happen I meant was IF substantial advancements are made in battery energy densities and costs for PHEV applications, renewable source generators will simply employ their own battery banks from the same battery manufacturers. Residential generators will be ideal for this because one would be able to put a large bank of them in say a closet of your basement.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.4.09
Rather than trying to counter Bob's advertising and propaganda, let me suggest that everyone from the north should read the contribution above of Mathew Hoole. I lived in Australia for almost 3 years, the first time for a year with my family, and I cannot remember a single day in Sydney in which I had to wear an overcoat - although it might have happened.
I don't know what the climate is like in New Zealand, but possibly it was similar to Australia. In any event, as Mathew pointed out, a conventional backup was necessary for his solar panels, and the same would have been necessary for a rooftop windmill. Of course, eventually storage or something similar might be available and this will change things, but the key word here is EVENTUALLY. The pie in the sky recipes of Bob simply do not apply at the present time.
I am NOT going to say that Mr Amorosi does not present a few interesting observations, but he is so intent on winning debating points that they get mixed up with nonsense. I don't like passing out free advice, but he should give that deficiency some serious thought if he wants to influence the high and mighty.
Even if you do not want to hear about Mathew's problem with solar, you should still read his contribution. I suspect that in New Zealand, as in Sweden, intelligent persons have allowed themselves to be made fools of by ignorant confidence men and women with fancy titles, positions and salaries. Something that should never be forgotten is that the environmental aristocracy have managed to latch onto an undemanding life-style that is regarded as ideal by very many of our fellow citizens because of the recognition they are accorded. Unlike their foot soldiers they do not have to spend the day staring into their cellular phones, and hamming up the bloggosphere in order to feel as though they are real people.
Murray Ellis 4.4.09
Since New Zealand has figured in several comments may I add a voice from down there.
Climate: Most of New Zealand ranges from a bit to quite a lot further south than Sydney so is somewhat to considerably cooler. Hence electricity demand peaks from winter use of heaters, not aircon. This is tending toward change in the more northern parts. This greatly reduces the value of solar-electric technologies.
Yes we had Professor Hogan here preaching deregulation and getting a good audience until a few years ago. On his last visit he assured us that to make the competitive systems perfect all we still needed to do was ... (it was to introduce financial transmission rights and run a market in them. No-one here thought this scheme remotely feasible and nothing of the sort has happened). Instead our Commerce Commission (our SEC equivalent) has been inquiring into electricity market abuses and the industry is not looking forward to its forthcoming report.
The discovery of a very large gas field did put the kibosh on plans for nuclear generation in the 1970's. This is now heading toward its final days. The resulting import of coal has already happened. This was not because of a shortage of gas but a sudden increase in price when a long term contract was terminated. New Zealand has plenty of coal but the industry could not scale up sufficiently rapidly. The only coal fired station is getting old and imports have already tapered off, helped by recession and a blown transformer at an aluminium smelter. It is doubful whether they will return.
Nuclear power is not a realistic option for the short to medium term in New Zealand. The system is small and most of the supply is hydro or geothermal that does not need replacing. Hence nuclear could be introduced only slowly one (smaller sized) unit at a time. The breadth/depth of expertise required to make a success of nuclear would be tremendously expensive for a single unit. Sharing resources with other countries would be essential. Unfortunately (from that point of view anyway) there is not a single power reactor anywhere within 12 hours flying time of New Zealand. Hence sharing would have its problems. In practical terms this means that New Zealand cannot realistically get into nuclear power until Australia does. Even Australia is 3 hours away.
Bob Amorosi 4.4.09
Professor Banks is correct, many of my ideas are not applicable today - because they are only technical goals that many are working towards in engineering design. If he chooses to call this propaganda, fine, but he lives in the world of the past, blind to what has transpired around him over the last 50 years. It's more commonly called technical innovation and progress, and has a habit of generating new industries and wealth for entrepreneurs and other risk-taking businesses, and more recently risk-taking governments.
Of course the people developing solar know its past problems and limitations. Overcoming them is their job through R&D. But then professor Banks won't tolerate anyone who disagrees with his narrow-minded view that just because ideas are not commercial yet, they are wishful thinking. If industry and engineers and governments had professor Banks' attitude, we would all still be living in the stone age.
Like I said before Fred, sweet dreams, you're going to need them.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.4.09
Lovely, absolutely lovely. I don't mean wishing that I have the sweet dreams that Bob keeps talking about, but the comment of Murray Ellis. Hearing that the good Prof Hogan came to New Zealand with his nonsense about deregulation, and recommending the establishment of a thieves market like NORDPOOL - only to be ignored - made my day (which was already made by the sudden arrival of warm weather).
Let me add that I know enough about New Zealand and New Zealanders to know that nuclear is out of the question for the present.
Kent Wright 4.4.09
Re: Mathew Hoole, 4.3.09
Why indeed have so much redundancy? I have raised your same challenge many times… if reliable backups are so important why not skip the esoteric and expensive new power sources and go straight for the reliable backups?
The answer is simple. Solar and wind must become baseloaders as an alternative to nuclear. This concept has since its inception in the 1970's been the resounding strength of the anti-nuclear movement which, in turn, is politically driven from Left Field.
And what a PR campaign it has been! After all, says Joe Public, why contend with all the supposed “evils” of nuclear power when solar is free and abundant? So just push nuclear out and solar will take over… or so it is commonly believed. Never mind that S&W are NOT free nor as abundant as is commonly believed, e.g., there is a widespread and foolish belief that the full power of solar is available from sunup to sundown and even on cloudy days. And never mind that nuclear “evils” lie more in the imagination than in reality.
So, in the minds of many good people at large, and thanks to the anti-nuclear smear campaign, nuclear et al are irrationally seen as competitors to S&W -- squash nuclear & other sources and S&W will prevail. Such has been the hostile politics which have intentionally driven up the price of nuclear, NG, oil and coal, without which the so-called alternatives would not stand a chance.
If the anti-nuclear movement and the attendant pro-solar movement were not so deeply embedded in Leftist dogma, there might be some essence of credibility to it all and there would be a stronger middle ground for pro-nuclear and pro-environmental groups to stand upon. As it stands, the present-day investments into and development of S&W stand entirely on transfer payments and little promise of relief for the environment.
Pro-nukes, on the other hand are routinely smeared as opportunistic propagandists and hostile to change.
At every turn, it’s more and more evident that the transfer of wealth is the over-riding issue -- not saving the planet. If the obstructionists from the Left really wanted less pollution, we’d have had it by now simply by converting from coal to nuclear in the electrical power generation business, which, incidentally, could have been far cheaper.
Cheaper and cleaner nuclear baseload electricity means cheaper and cleaner everything, including electric vehicles and the manufacture of solar panels and windmills, but that movement got buried by pure obstructionism.
… And I totally agree, cheap and reliable are the correct choices. Claims to the contrary are vacuous. We hated it (Hated it? We raised hell!) when the price of motor fuel doubled at the pump. Why would anyone favor a doubling, or more, of electricity rates?
Jim Beyer 4.4.09
I hear what you are saying, but I think a good deal of the blame with nuclear power goes to the utilities themselves. They've done a simply HORRIBLE job of selling their side of the story. (Perhaps they didn't realize they had to do this, but that in itself shows how out of touch they are.) Three Mile Island ended up being a fairly minor incident (relative to say, Chernobyl) despite the fact that the workers at the plant spent 8+ hours during exactly the WRONG things to resolve the problem. This shows how reliable the Western nuclear plant designs really are, but how the utilities also nickel and dimed with respect to worker training (or even an extra phone line to the appropriate manager).
The Davis-Besse incident is also an example of how nickel and diming created not a nuclear incident, but yet another PR disaster for the industry. They are almost akin the American Auto Industry wherein in they drifted out of touch with their consumers (for decades) and then express exasperation why they are misunderstood and not trusted.
The nuclear industry is now reaping what they have sewn, and they might not ever recover from it. (Climate change concerns have provided them with an unprecedented second chance, which they seem to be blowing.) Note that this is not a technical criticism of the industry, but a criticism or their PR and overall business and policy acumen.
I'm not sure how nuclear utilities are regarded in Europe and Canada, but the only ones that seem to be well run and well thought out are the French and perhaps the Canadians.
Kent Wright 4.4.09
“Horrible job of PR” is an understatement and the U.S. nuclear industry itself does share some of the blame. Indeed there is still the same old arrogant mindset that “this stuff is so good that it’ll sell itself” running rampant. In the woodwork, you may even find a few hard-liners whose sole contribution to PR is “let the bastards freeze in the dark.”
In defense of the utilities, I have this to say... unfortunately, utilities are not allowed to have a PR budget and every time even meager attempts are made to inform the public, someone screams “PROPAGANDA!” in their face. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear obstructionism and propaganda have prevailed gleefully with a free pass from the mainstream media!
And what have we to show for it!? The largely energy-illiterate public still doesn’t know a kilowatt from a kilowatt-hour, much less an eye-glazer like “capacity factor”; they still think that every nuclear plant places us on the ragged edge of human disaster; that there are terrorists hanging around every crossroads waiting to pounce upon a nuclear plant; and of course absolutely NOTHING can be done about nuclear waste.
On the other hand, I will give the nuclear industry an A+ for learning from the past and making overall improvements in the existing fleet. The current average capacity factors at >90% annually speak for themselves and >500-day continuous runs are commonplace. Nuclear’s 10% of U.S. capacity (MW) translates to 20% of the annual MW-hrs supplied to users via the grid. Remarkable achievements by any standard.
These achievements result not only from more efficient operations and maintenance practices, but also improved safety. Today, forced regulatory shutdowns are rare as compared to the bad old days. Contrary to popular belief, the industry has matured and we were ready to go with new generation 10 years ago. There is probably plenty of blame to spread around for not doing so, but I suspect it was largely due to obstructionism coupled with the fact that utility incentives to expand were virtually destroyed.
I don’t know what Canada’s total record is, but I know that there have been similar circumstances in dealing with organized opposition as well as having long outages that have tried the patience of the public.
Bob Amorosi 4.4.09
No one including the anti-nuclear boosters really want electricity rates to double, or more. Other than the safety issues and disposing of spent fuel, the BIGGEST problem for nuclear is the massive capital costs up-front to build them. Now professor Banks will love this statement - even if nuclear has the best long term lowest cost electricity production of any generation method, they won't get built in large numbers if their construction cannot get financed by private or public funds, period. And THAT is where the PR for nuclear could have done far better.
Any new project in search of private investors or government funding for financing must have good PR to win their case. Simply stating that nuclear is the lowest cost electricity generation is not good enough by itself, and is why I consider professor Banks et al continually beating this drum are also beating their heads against a brick wall most of the time.
Here's a simple hypothetical example of what I am talking about. Say a consumer is shopping for a new car and will need financing to buy it, with several types of models to choose from. Some are big gas guzzling trucks with high annual operating costs, are not terribly reliable, but they have enjoyed high consumer popular demand, high resale values, and car companies have promoted them with heavy advertising PR campaigns. Other models are economy cars with lower operating costs, poorer safety records, and have been poor sellers with poorer resale value and little or no advertising promoting them. One type of economy car in particular has the lowest operating costs with an incredible fuel economy 1000 times better than a typical truck, and lasts 10 times as many years as a truck in terms of mileage. It has some of the most advanced technology in the world with very high reliability, but it is only manufactured by 2 or 3 companies in the world, and has never been widely promoted at all. It also has a huge purchase price similar to a house nearly 10 times that of a typical truck.
The last vehicle type is analogous to nuclear plants, and the trucks are the renewable source generators. If the consumer shopping already has a big house mortgage and many other financial responsibilities in life, which type of vehicle is he likely to get financing to purchase? Let's be realistic, it will be much harder to get it for the nuclear plants.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.5.09
I have no difficulty in dealing with the investment cost or capital cost problem Mr A. I see nuclear as a sort of public good, and so if the young ignoramuses on Wall Street and their bosses will not mobilize the necessary cash, governments will just have to do it - and in the long run they will do it, because the voters are not going to adjust to a doubling of the electricity price. Why should the US spend billions to continue fighting a war in a stone age country that was actually won 5 years ago, instead of subsidizing power plants and grids. Why should Sweden send money to semi-failed states that will use it to buy plane tockets and weapons instead of constructing another two or three 1600 MW plants.
Besides, once they get in the rhythm of building reactors again, reactor prices will come down drastically. Let me say though that in Sweden, the anti-nuclearites are not necessarily left-wingers. On the contrary, and I remember how when I lectured in Paris last year the frowns that turned up when I put in a good word for nuclear. Of course, frowns don't bother me at all, and that was just a signal for me to inject some of my favorite terminology into the discussion,
Bob Amorosi 4.5.09
I have more news for you professor Banks. Electricity prices are going to double or more in most jurisdictions of the US within the next few years regardless of whether nuclear plants get funded. Its large base of coal plants are going to be hit with either carbon tax or cap & trade schemes, and on top of this virtually every utility company is transitioning to smart metering and Smart Grid starting now, plus all the grid refurbishments badly needed from aging assets. All these huge costs will be passed on to every rate payer because of the cherished regulation of rates you love so much.
On top of this, if PHEVs start appearing in the millions within 5 years, which they are poised to do because virtually every large car manufacturer has announced plans to introduce them very soon, the extra energy being sucked from the grid will result in much greater peak demands in all areas, sending rates even higher to deal with them.
Bottom line is all consumers are going to be shocked with substantial rate increases and soon. They will ultimately be conditioned over the next many years to expect higher and growing electricity rates.
Professor Banks, YOU may have no trouble dealing with capital costs of nuclear plants, but the jokers on Wall Street, and governments, and the general public DO have a BIG problem with them. When you finally wake up to this reality, maybe you will start saving your pennies, since you're going to need them too.
Bob Amorosi 4.5.09
I will give you credit for one thing, professor Banks. If there were many nuclear plants ordered simultaneously, in theory their higher volumes of construction work and materials purchased would drive their costs much lower and help to mitigate the nuclear industry's problems.
If the nuclear industry was smart, and the trouble is they are not that smart, they would do what almost every other industry often does - make a nice attractive purchasing deal with the financiers and/or the buyers of their products. Offer a much lower capital purchase price UP FRONT provided the buyers make a COMMITMENT to take a large volume order UP FRONT. Doing it one nuclear plant at a time won't cut it.
This happens all the time in my industry. If a customer wants just one or two pieces of a customized product, and its production processes and materials are very exotic and not garden variety, they must pay a huge engineering bill. But if they agree to commit to buy large numbers in production up front, vendors have a big habit of drastically lowering their production prices, agreeing to absorb the engineering costs.
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.5.09
Well Bob, I agree with that. Henry Ford called it mass production. One model T Ford would cost millions to make. Make thousands a week all the same colour (black) and every one can afford one. See my numerous other posts on this. Of course you are correct. Mass production of identical units will reduce costs dramatically. Exactly what has NOT happened. I would not hold your breath on PHEV's. I recall a few years ago hybrids were the great panacea. Hasn't reduced gas consumption much. Too much false hype and they don't deliver that much better gas mileage. I think it will take many many years for PHEV's to make much difference to the electricity industry. Who is going to buy them? People who just lost their home to foreclosure are not going to rush out and spend money they don't have to buy a car they don't need at prices that will be too high just to save a few bucks on gas. Those that do have the cash (bankers and AIG execs) will be buying Maseratis and Ferraris that do 8 mpg 'cos they don't care about the price of gas. Get real Bob it will take 10-20 years for that to happen - and that is if the technology works and the batteries don't crap out every year and you have to fork out half the cost of the car to buy a new one. Malcolm
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.5.09
What "safety issues" are you referring to Bob. I am not aware of any safety issues in the nuclear industry. They are the safest industrial facilities in the world. Perhaps you are aware of something I am not? The cost of storing spent fuel (it is not "disposed of") is already covered by the plant operators and included in the price of electricity produced. The up front costs of nuclear plants are relatively high - just like hydroelectric dams. But this is more than offset by the plant longevity, very high capacity factors and low fuel costs. Notwithstanding any of that, if you choose not to build new nuclear plants your lights WILL go out. The price per kW of solar panels is also very high (much much higher per kW than nuclear) but in that case the capacity factor is awful but the fuel is cheap until the government decides to tax sunshine when all those gasoline revenues dry up. So the up front cost of solar electric panels does not appear to dampen your enthusisam for that rather flawed method of producing electricity. Malcolm
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.5.09
Jim/Kent, The nuclear industry has always been between a rock and a had place with respect to educating and informing the public. When it uses it's significant resources to teach people how the technology works and why it is very safe all you hear is the propaganda word from the detractors whose own propaganda borders on Mr. Goerring's efforts in WWII. Also most of us in the industry are engineers and scientists who deal with facts and we find it difficult to deal with people who lie. Bob Amorosi above speaks of "safety issues" but does not say what they are...but it sure sounds good - like we are an unsafe industry. The complete reverse of every fact you care to name. Plants now turn in safety records of millions of worked hours without a lost time injury. nuclear plants in Canada and the USA are the safest places to work in the world....but we have "safety issues". What a joke. Canadian plants are operating the best in years turning in capacity factors well above 90% and improving all the time. That is the kind of low cost high reliability zero emissions power that is needed. It is there when there is no wind. It is there at night when there is no Sun and it is cheaper than both. But I best stop otherwise I'll be branded a propagandist for speaking fact instead of fiction. Malcolm
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.5.09
I read the comments above regarding battery storage. Should large scale electricity storage in batteries benefit from the great technological leaps forward that Bob and others eagerly anticipate then the greatest beneficiary will be the nuclear industry. That is because the current "base load" restrictions would no longer apply. Peaking gas plants and coal plants would no longer be required and nuclear would operate at 100% all the time. When the demand goes down the excess capacity above base will go into batteries for use at the peaks. But while battery technology has been the recipient of huge investments in research it is nowhere close to meeting the requirements of meeting grid scale demands. At present the good old lead acid battery still dominates the battery business and that technology is over 150 years old. The deployment of tens probably hundreds of millions of battery cells made of exotic and in some cases rare materials conjures up a disposal problem of epic proportions...and all this is supposed to be good for the environment. How so? Any way batteries are not the answer. What we really need to focus on is technology to make the Sun shine at night. I know - a giant mirror in space so it is daylight 24 hours a day everywhere.....all the time ...that'll do it. The bats and other nocturnal creatures will all starve to death as there will no longer be night but what's a few bats to 24 hour a day solar power. (Same as a few rare birds to a wind farm) So that's the answer. Eliminate night time for good. Sunshine all the way for everyone!!!! M
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.5.09
Oh and before I start designing my 24 hour a day sunshine tax-o-meter for the good old government...Fred.....a really great article on Sweden. Any one that shut down a great plant like Baarsbeck has to have more than a few screws loose. Stupidity at its very best. Malcolm
Mathew Hoole 4.6.09
A few points for some of the above comments.
Socialists don't want excessive energy bills it is true. But what socialists do want is to bring down capitalism. What better way than to turn baseload energy into a basketcase, liability or an embarrassment to a capitalist nation. The tactics are not disimilar to what has happened to many nation's Union movements from socialist infiltration ie pretend to represent workers, but in reality turn an industry into a basketcase thus losing the workers their jobs. Remember socialists have no shame. They are recruited young and are quickly taught to loathe themselves and their "greedy and materialistic" nation. Do you think angry, depressed and badly influenced youth behave rationally?
Environmentalism and Unionism are not inheritantly socialist. You can move to sustainable development and offer workers basic protections and rights and still function well under a capitalist system. The problem is these ideals are magnets to the wrong type of people.
Nuclear is clean,relatively cheap and reliable. Kilowatts are kilowatt hours are not relevant here. What is relevant is supply meeting demand when supply is demanded.
How is storage for nuclear waste that big a deal? Are half lives that relevant? Isn't the big issue the time it takes for the "waste" to be safely handled ie cool enough. Surely a hole below the water table (for paranoia's sake) and airtight ceramic canisters for the material should be fine. Did the Egyptians have that big a problem with their corpses in the Pyramids and their clay Urns?
I'm wondering how good solar is during short Canadian winter days with the sun low in the sky.
Solar requires backup. Other utilities that connect to properties will have the same overheads irrespective of whether the property has solar or not. To overcome those overheads a utility will require the same revenue. So if everyone uses Solar there won't be a 30% saving on their bill. The energy utilities will have to raise their rates to get the same revenue return, and the consumer will be back to square one, but with the added and wasted cost of the Solar Panel. The one big problem I see with this Solar First method is that other baseload utilities will become more cost inefficient, which will cause the problem to become cyclical and very difficult to undo.
When the community undervalues a proposed project (this happens frequently) it is very easy for opponents to smear the issue. All they have to do is use a fear and smear campaign. The public will still be neutral, but rather than be proactive or positive neutral, they will hold a degree of cynicism or suspicion. How easy is it for activists to scare locals away from nuclear with claims of using up too much water, polluting water with radioactive materials, cancer clusters around nuclear reactors, 3 eyed fish, mutant children from Chernobyl, livestock developing tumors etc. You could quite rightfully counterclaim that activists claims are dishonest as a matter of course, but the damage has already been done.
It would be nice if there was a rational study made simple and available to the masses explaining the genuine pros and cons of different baseload energy industries, and the public also informed of the importance of this issue to their quality of life and to the nation as a whole.
Think of the benefits to a nation that gets energy policy right ie is optimised, plentiful, clean and reliable. Even better if you have a comparative advantage in energy compared to your trading partners.
Think of the costs to a nation where from the energy policy there is redundancy, inneficiency, limited reliability, land stress, lost output from lack of energy supply, wastage from from lack of energy supply eg food requiring but without refrigeration... but hey we don't need to use any fuel.
John K. Sutherland 4.6.09
Mathew, I suspect you have seen this, but I will direct you here again.
For a general overview of energy options, pros and cons, go here:
Enter 'Edutech Enterprises' in publisher. There are 8 papers in there. The one titled A brief Overview will get you started. It was a UN EOLSS project, but they took if off their site after a few months, as it was not politically correct with respect to their dreamworld Agenda 21.
In terms of safety issues etc, of the significant energy sources, you will find other papers here:
The article which covers the issues is 'nuclear power comparisons...'
And Fred; Interesting set of discussions with some good comments here and there except for Bob A. who seems to have become a radical extremist of a sudden and to have lost his common sense. So Bob, I recommend that you also might benefit from reading the above papers too.
Bob Amorosi 4.6.09
Breakthroughs in batteries will not benefit the nuclear industry if substantial numbers of new nuclear plants don't get built for lack of financing. Their capital costs must come down and then maybe they have a great chance of success.
As far as safety issues, I was referring to spent fuel storage. There's a lot of it sitting in pools of water that many folks view as nightmares waiting to happen.
Cost of solar is still high but like I said it's on its way down thanks to lots of R&D and soon more volume production especially for Ontario.
And when you go shopping for a new car in the next five years, don't be surprised if you see PHEV's in every manufacturer's showroom. You may think they are useless and too costly, but costs will come down as volumes go up, and you will still be able to buy regular gas engine cars if you have no use for one. If I were you though, I would pray peak oil doesn't cause gasoline to skyrocket in price in the near future again.
Bob Amorosi 4.6.09
I am not a radical extremist or environmentalist, just an average consumer who like many others and many governments cannot afford the high capital costs of building lots of nuclear plants no matter how cheaply they can produce electricity, even if it was virtually free.
I have also been a design engineer for a few decades and have witnessed first hand what R&D can do to create technological breakthroughs, new industries, and generate lots of wealth for risk takers. Unlike pessimists Fred and you and other writers on this website, I don't dismiss outright the efforts going in renewable generation R&D, energy efficiency, and conservation technologies. If I did I would be talking myself into a career change among other things.
Len Gould 4.6.09
Malcolm: "but we have "safety issues". What a joke. " -- I think the only relevant reference I saw above was to the Davis Besse vessel-head corrosion issue, and that WAS a SERIOUS safety issue. I agree with your position overall, though am perhaps more optimistic regarding PHEV's, but am convinced that BOTH sides of the nuclear debate need to take a deep breath, then do voluable publicized fact-checking both of their own statements and the oppositions'.
I am also of the opinion that the fossil fuel industry is likely far more a factor in fighting nuclear than any "socialist movement". When did nuclear "die" in Britain, and when were high-flowing but unfortunately short-lived gas fields discovered in the North Sea? New Zealand, anti-nuclear and natural gas? Coal industry in Australia? I'd also note that Canada, esp. Ontario, has in general a FAR more socialist leaning government on average than any US jurisdiction, yet has been in general a far stronger supporter of nuclear than the US. If the "socialism" boogyman which US comentators like to bash as causing every problem existed then US nuclear industry and percentage use of nuclear would be far ahead of that of France or Canada. The problem is clearly far deeper than that.
Mathew Hoole: "Remember socialists have no shame." -- As a committed independent sceptic, I find it highly amusing to find rightist bashing leftists with this just months after the looting of pension plans by the "proper-thinking capitalists" of wall st. Keep reality at least in sight, eh?
Michael Keller 4.6.09
The problems at Davis-Besse were fundamentally a failure of management. The drive mechanism seals on top of the reactor head had been leaking for years but the problem was never properly resolved. Eventually, the leaking water containing boric acid ate a hole in the reactor head.
Nuclear power requires constant vigilance to maintain the high level of effort necessary to keep the public (and investment) protected. Whenever the “accountant” mentality of mindless cost cutting shows up, then the plants are particularly vulnerable.
The “accountant” mentality comes down from the upper management/financial ranks. This occurs either directly or more dangerously, insidiously, by offering large short term incentives that ignore long term risks. Gee, sounds like Wall Street.
Jim Beyer 4.6.09
I think Malcolm's comment about stored nuclear fuel being paid for is interesting. It has NOT been paid for, because no such repository is in place. True, this is the government's fault, but that does not mean this is not the nuclear industry's problem. Unfair? Of course. But also reality.
Michael Pinca 4.6.09
Good point Michael Keller, after reading all the good inputs to Prof Banks article, the bottom line is vigilance. Nuclear power is beyond most people's comprehension.
I have done the vigilance, almost 20 yrs, on sites, ten to consider the count, and ALL levels of operations, from construction to start up, and during continous "Run". Vigilance is the key, disciplined engineering and management equal success.
And I agree, with the accountant mentality coming into play, I witnessed the evolution of those in the nuclear industry (USA). Typically that's the only professional type left after you complete and fuel a Nuclear powered electric generation facility. The "house" is built and the vacuum breakers "armed", Who is in the house? Well I am thankful, the house, eventually has been filled with responsible cognizant folks. This is such a small precise group, yet doing an outstanding job. I have no stones to toss at anyone in this forum, yet I feel the same frustration, we stopped developing energy sources and we stopped building the fortresses of infrastructure. I was on the ground for the TMI Mods to Davis-Besse, the sister design of TMI, and in the basking sun of daily revenues, utilities had to be disciplined from financial arrogance. And yes, I performed under the same mandates. From 1979 to 1981, all US nuclear utilities were ordered to conform, comply and to communicate among license holders OR, guess what? SHUTDOWN.
And thank goodness for that, because, the accountant mentality would no longer hold the bag! We have come a long way in every aspect of nuclear plant performance....I just wish we (USA) did not STOP. It is tough to make up a 20-30yr gap, with dynamic infrastucture projects. We have challenges with the simple things like roads, bridges and traffic control, let alone think that we can make progress with energy issues.
We are capable of so much yet, tangle up with quasi directions with good solutions, I'm sure. But it's a wonder, more aren't in the infirmary with foot wounds.
Thank you again gentlemen for the opportunity to write something here.
Charles Petterson 4.6.09
All of you folks need to attend the next "sustainability" conference in your neighborhood. There you will find out who is REALLY behind the renewables discussion and what their goals are. The idiscussion has nothing to do with what is safe or cheap or any other factor associate with engineering or consumer economics, thus making all of Mr. Amorosi's views moot. The bottom line will be this: all night time activities will soon be historical oddities. All electrical appliances that consume more than 120 VAC @50 mA will constitute functional overloads. Invest in horses TODAY and start developing your breeding lines, because that is the future of transportation. As Carly Simon so succinctly claimed. "These are the good old days." The new sherriff in town's vision is unemcumbered by memories of how reliable energy is made or having the joy of earning a living after the sun set. We must all reduce our consumption so the starving masses in Africa and Asia will have something to consume in the future. We must lower our expectations; it isn't fair to the rest of the world that we inherited our silver spoon and enjoy our luxuries while they starve amidst their constant tribal skirmishes. We do nothing while the rest of the world labors in abject poverty, permanently oppressed by the flatulent white masters. The revolution is nigh; swarms of indigent brown, black and yellow will descend on us and the first targets will be the central station generating facilities that are the symbol of our oppression toward them. They have every facility on their paper maps, down to the moth-balled 30 MW units from the 1930's. Woe be to those on the job when they strike, because the machetes' edge will become permanently stained with the blood of the arrogant staff. Pray you are on vacation that day. The end is near.
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.6.09
Jim, I was speaking about Canada. All Canadian operators are required to fund the long term storage of spent fuel. It therefore IS paid for in Canada and the public has NO liability for it.
As regards safety issues. As concerned as we all are at the poor decisions that led up to it the reactor vessel did NOT fail.
If you are so concerned about safety I strongly suggest you avoid driving since it is a major killer of North American people...every single day without fail people die. Not statistical computer generated possibles but real dead people. And nuclear power has safety issues. Like I said - what a joke.
Apparently we are more concerned about event that did not cause death or serious injury than those that do every day.
Hypocrisy in the extreme.
Malcolm Rawlingson 4.6.09
Bob, Wake up my friend. Large numbers of nuclear power plants ARE being built in India and Chine. Both countries have massive expansion plans and I assure you that Chinese ambitions in this area are not fettered by any Wall Street Banker and I am equally sure they could care less about what Canada and the US are doing. They have their money in cash no loans needed. Several new plants have been started this year already. It will be only a few short years and China will have more nuclear plants than North America. Of course if you think the world is Canada and the USA - well you may be right. That is why we will steadily lose our influence in the world and our standard of living to China and India. On another topic, the IESO website has some interesting data on where our electricity in Ontario comes from and the capacity factors actually produced by all generation technologies including wind generators. It makes interesting reading.
David Walters 4.7.09
Where to start?
As a socialist the idea that socialists "infiltrate" or are somehow in there to sabotage industry is both a lie and, totally a-historical. The largest unions in the US and Canada were started BY socialists, people like Eugene V. Debs and Victor Reuther. Get you facts straight.
Secondly, deregulation was brought to you by the same people who brought us the banking crisis: the drive for "profit", or to put it in Corp. Speak: "Shareholder Value". I was involved, through my union, the IBEW, in fighting deregulation in the 1990s in California. We lost. See "2000/2001 Energy Crisis". 'nuff said on that.
Thirdly, the whole Utopian schemes around "Smart Grid" and "HVDC/UHVDC" are just that, Utopian. People who comment on this read about it someplace and haven't a clue, really, how these are going to really help make things more efficient.
A few things to note: both SG and HVDC are *better* applied for a vast nuclear expansion than expensive wind. Any HVDC line needs to maintain it's voltage to work. Period. Without a regular supply of baseload power, a HVDC will collapse. "Nuclear back up to wind mills in Idaho" anyone?
The SG is in part being implemented via SCADA anyway, and has been. But the idea that everyone is going to have to buy appliances that can run on lower voltage/amps is kidding themselves. And, its so unnecessary. WHY do this? If we expanded nuclear to what it should be, the idea of wheeling power cost to coast is simply insane and I'd like the good Professor who write this excellent paper to go into the economics of THAT.
Mathew Hoole 4.7.09
Dear Len and others
I was refering to those of far left field, not those of the moderate left. I likewise have problems with the far right especially of the religious variety. Then there's the extreme nationalists... I won't go there.
I also know something of the recruitment methods of these nutty groups. Moderates and rationalists of the left and right I have no problem with. And yes those activists in the fringe have no shame. I will not recant a statement I know as fact.
I am no fan of GBj. He's the best (unwilling) friend socialists have had in years. Just ask Chavez. One rant against Bush Jr and his opinion rating always went up. On the financial crisis, it was a bit more complex than that, but never the less it was on Bush's watch. And there is your proof that you need more than an idiot to run a country.
John - I'll have a look next week. Right now I am bogged down with exams, baby immunisation issues, job interviews and holiday travel arrangements. What a week!!!
On Unions, as I said I have no problem with the concept. But there are those unionists that help at the grasroots level, and then there is the political machine.
Yep, Australia has quality and cheap coal and lots of it. How far away is clean coal again?
It is not the coal industry bashing nuclear (although they probably are lobbying privately against it), it is the extreme political left doing all the shouting.
Mathew Hoole 4.7.09
You said "As a socialist the idea that socialists "infiltrate" or are somehow in there to sabotage industry is both a lie and, totally a-historical. The largest unions in the US and Canada were started BY socialists, people like Eugene V. Debs and Victor Reuther. Get you facts straight. " -----
I don't know the US system, or US Union History.
How about Argentina during the 80's?
Or a little bit closer to home for me. The late John Halfpenny was a powerful Trades Unionist and was a militant unrepentent communist. He a. was Instrumental in wiping out most of the manufacturing in Australia b. had greatly responsible for excessive wage demands fueling "cost push" inflation causing 'a' and bringing Australia close to an Argentinian style crisis
Then there are socialists infiltrating environmental groups, trying to impoverish communities through blatant lies. An excellent example is the Gunns Pulp Mill proposal in Tasmania. Activists will tell you (and have done so in the media) that Old Growth forests would be logged and that pollution (dioxins) would destroy the nearby wine industry, the ecosystem of the local river, and pump millions of tonnes of dioxin into the Southern Ocean. Then there is global warming by choping down trees and we should chop down hemp instead. The reality is however that most of the logging will be from plantations, and a small amount from Regrowth. No old growth would be logged. Also Gunns owns approx half the vineyards in the area, and the amount of dioxins released into the ocean are tiny.
As I have said socialists try to prove Capitalism broken by actively breaking it... 1 step at a time.
Socialists in my country try to recruit the young. Youth doesn't understand business or economics. Youth don't know the events leading to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. Youth like to be rebel and be defiant. Youth are easily influenced. Youth are passionate. These make them prime targets for extremists. Socialists influence them to be angry, self loathing, mistrustful of capitalism (despite obvious proof it is a better system), and to be disrespectful to authority. I think Penn and Teller explain it quite well when they convinced socialist activists to sign a petition to protest water.
Then there is what socialist infiltrators tried to do to a now almost defunct political party called the Democrats (Australia). Originally and founded as a a liberal democrat party, factions within it wanting it changed to a social democratic party destabilised it and dumped its leader for a social democrat. After a year of ongoing squabbles the party went from being the 3rd most influential political party in Australia to having no representation Australia wide.
Socialism has its good points concerning equity in health and education for example. However socialism in the market place is a failure, that I don't think can ever be resolved. Then there is the record on human rights. And that's where I will leave it.
Sorry if I got off track but I felt I needed to defend myself with examples and clarify my position.
Michael Pinca 4.7.09
A)The intention now is to maintain the present output of energy, even if it means that new capacity must be constructed. B) The logic here is straightforward, and cannot be altered by the resolute ignoring or downgrading of mainstream economic history: C) a high electric intensity for firms, combined with a high rate of industrial investment and the technological skill created by a modern educational system, will lead to a high productivity for large and small businesses. D) This in turn results in a steady increase in employment, real incomes, and the most important ingredients of social security (such as pensions and comprehensive health care).
Mr. Banks, re: your above paragragh makes sense, once again, not written in Chinese, but "Gee Wally" says the Beav, "don't all folks think this way?"
There's more than one Madoff running around and like the Obamski Scheme, the decision makers have never torgued a bolt in their lives, let alone hammer a nail in a piece of wood or even come close to applying real sciences to develop real solutions.
Oh so many Einsteins, failing a hundred times to get it right ONCE!
Thank you for writing another interesting article.
Kent Wright 4.7.09
I hope I made it clear that there is plenty of “blame” to go around (shame is perhaps a better word) for the present state of affairs in the power sector and that I am neither a right wing extremist nor a shill for the nuclear industry.
Yes, the nuclear industry carries the shame of poor communication. Yes, Leftist views have swayed public opinion on energy policies in the U.S. Yes, the American mainstream media have carried anti-nuclear propaganda to an extreme. Yes, public literacy in energy matters is pathetic. Yes, competitors of nuclear power have had an impact. Yes, Public Service Commissioners have gone to jail for anti-nuclear policies paid for by natural gas industrialists (e.g., Mississippi, circa mid-90’s). Yes, coal suppliers regularly and quietly fund the Union of Concerned Scientists via the Joyce Foundation et al. Yes, solar is irrationally promoted as a direct competitor to nuclear. Yes, renewables opportunists are crowding in to put a lip-lock on the Federal mammary. Yes, so too did nuclear opportunists.
Yes, nuclear startup has been subsidized, but at least there’s been a payoff to the tune of around 8000 kw-hrs annually per kw of capacity out of a possible 8760 kw-hrs per kw. NOTHING else even comes close.
… and yes, socialists in Europe and Canada have endorsed nuclear whereas the far Left in the U. S. have rejected it. The reasons, I suspect, have little to do with the goals of traditional socialism and a lot to do with the wearing down a major strength of our nation, to wit, our foundations in plentiful energy.
In the United States, the radicals of the far Left behind the anti-nuclear movement bear little resemblance to Socialists elsewhere. They have zero allegiance to Unionism or to strong government and beneficial projects, in particular those that lend great strength in the energy sectors, and they don’t give a damn for the poor.
The anti-nuclear movement in the United States is one of elitism, born and bred from two parents – the counter-culture radicalism of the post-Viet Nam/Nixon era and an ill-perceived connection to nuclear arms. Look for prominent names of the leaders in the anti-establishment and anti-weapons movements and you’ll find some of the same names in the anti-nuclear power movement – hardly a coincidence. Is there an agenda? Well…, yeah.
I take note from independent reading that Canada has a growing radicalism against nuclear for some of the same reasons as elsewhere – hatred of prosperity, …er, excuse me, redistribution of wealth. Yet I am not a Lefty-basher per se. The pride of socialism in America and Canada lies in the electrification of an entire continent, arguably THE greatest achievement of the 20th Century, and it was the result of giant government and industry partnerships, not free-standing capitalism. The shame of Left in the U.S. lies in stooping to the politics of fear and poverty which is destroying affordable electricity.
Ferdinand E. Banks 4.8.09
Kent Wright is right all the way. There are people of every political creed and color in favor of nuclear energy, as well as a lovely crowd hating the very thought of it.
As he points out, the problem is the failure of the pro-nuclear side to communicate effectively as to what nuclear has to offer to everybody. If they were able to solve the communication problem, only the extremist wing of the anti-nuclear booster club would remain. Kent Wright uses the expression "affordable electricity", and this is the thing that must be emphasized. Unfortunately, the details of affordable energy are not easy to make clear, because I have encountered persons with no technical background who understand it perfectly, as well as highly educated students of economics who are fanatic conservatives, but are anti-nuclear.
But that is OK. The nuclear renaissance has just begun, and as a result those of us who are interested in affordable electricity are going to have another bite at the apple. I don't think though that we will get anywhere though focusing on The Left or Socialists or Reactionaries or Obamski Schemes. I am a Democrat, but the new president has not shown me anything at all with his energy intentions. Unless I am mistaken he has listened to the wrong people - by which I do NOT mean that I have anything new to offer. The thing that amazes me is how a simple thing has been made complicated by persons who should know better. Why for instance should the boss of the Swedish energy research institute be against nuclear energy when he is a Doctor of Science in technical physics? The answer of course is money - or some of the beautiful things that money can buy - but even so I dont see how his career possibilities would be diminished if he learned how to think. By the way, Bob, I am NOT applying for a research grant or employment in that establishment.
Let me note that I do not agree with Kent when he talks of a political group stooping to conquer. It is a sad fact of life that many persons have been convinced by educated ignoramuses that they have a choice where energy sources are concerned. A little backward induction should make it clear that if the point is to maintain standards of living, there is really no choice at all. A couple of fools recently published an article in this country (Sweden) claiming that people do not want nuclear energy, which I do not think is true, but which might be true, however that is irrelevant. What they want is affordable and reliable electricity, and as things are shaping up, that is or will mean nuclear - more nuclear and a LOT MORE RENEWABLES!
Michael Pinca 4.13.09
Push vs Pull - Maybe it is we lost concepts and laws of physics. A simple anology comes to mind as when a locomotive pulls a "load" down the tracks, the operator has maximum control over applying the necessary forces required to pull the rail cars, station to station. Now, why not have the locomotive "push" each rail car from station to station? That's right, it would eaual total chaos, with no work being done at all, let alone the foreseeable casualties.
My point, we deregulated the "Pull" from the electric energy industry, the new, brilliant idea, (not so brilliant) is to "Push" the electric enrgy industry with renewables alone, conservation and blind legislation. There is a logical explanation why locomotives DO NOT PUSH loads, they PULL loads.
I was talking to my neighbor yesterday, about deregulation as it pertains to choosing your provider. What a scam. I said, did the plan mention that your choice of provider will come and change the feed cables to your house? Is the electricity you comsume come from a different utility generator, when you change providers? Answer to both is NO. I did not venture into KWH sales schemes. We will experience an increase in electric bills, not because we use MORE and MORE electricity each month, but because simply, the same regional "generator" experiences additional cars to "PULL".
Utilities have been railroaded by legislation, and it's time for the "stand up" and be accountable, spend wisely, to increase capacity and save the cost of doing so for the future and charge it back to new consumption rates, not pile it on to existing.
I believe renewables are a good thing, although I don't know where some of us folks are going to come up with the moolah to add solar panels to the South Side of our homes. To me it is only a fraction of a solution. Smart Grid ideaology helps, but it's great for load shifting and dispatching and relaxing demand on the grid, but to most residential folks it means nothing. But I guess, the grid connects us all beyond the convenience, and it is affecting our lives and wallets.
Even though a household can be improved to require less electricity, it will still cost more, because of limited capacities of the generation stations.
Overall, I just can't help to think, most people are fed up with the "con". They have changed the household light bulbs, they continue to imprive insulating materials, yet, they have one refridgerator motor, one furnace blower motor, and a water heater element, each is can be drawn as a mathematical "constant" in the energy equation. However, when we start adding the variables, the non constants over time, the equation somehow just doesn't seem to balance at all! (referring to renewables, carbon tax, who should do what, and the like).
I'm not speaking of those who add a swimming pool filtration pump motor, or yard lights or whatever the electric powered "gizmo"...I'm talking about all the wizardy the almighty buck that is playing in theaters over the issues at hand.
The need for increased energy capacity an obvious need, as in, "Later is NOW!" The new motion picture!
Michael Pinca 4.17.09
Maybe everyone left the room?
hmmmm...well, I wonder, I've yet to read a remark about the typical project timeline of a single new nuclear unit. I get the drift in a shotgun number COST of 10 billion? Bring it on. My direct question, why doesn't any one put that in terms of planning and scheduling? For example, the number of mandays and manhours would be very useful in promoting turning the shovels at the work point for the first US reactor building "mud mat". I know some folks would be interested to learn, how much manpower, in terms of jobs created, increased tax revenue levels, etc. (my mediocre economics and energy perspective is ....for every dollar expended, 10 billion would return! all over the place!) How far are the people of this planet willing to go into debt? Can somebody help me? What is the number after 999 trillion?
Good news! In my region of the globe, they (the manufacturers associations) are finally catching on. And it looks there is going to be a strong vendors list to qualify here. Collaboration in the energy industry is rapidly growing towards supporting nuclear and renewables at the same time.
I apologize for the outburst, economics is like logistics to me, with all things relative. I firmly believe the stick that is in the spokes, preventing this big wheel of energy fortune from turning, is in fact "economics". A good source of knowledge, but it's really back to accounting, increasing and managing accounts receivable. Show me the numbers that will really send a majority over the top for nuclear. I don't know if any of you gentleman remember, the only time there were issues with "costs" of a nuclear plant is when they were "costoverrun", I remember only a few. There were some, appearing as the result of a costoverrun, but not necessarily true as some sites were scrubbed due to political pressures. Some changed origional design so much, the first revisions of the drawings were so lacking; how can you manload a project of tha nature with inadeqaute design documents. No computers or CAD back then, all mechanical drafting. One had to be pretty good with a mechanical pencil, and be able to add field weld symbols to drawings, as required.
My point, don't give me 10 billion dollars or kilowatt hr costs for nuclear, give me the huge list of skill sets that will be applied. The opportunities related, the local tax revenues for municipalitie, school districts, hospitals, the road improvements, etc. Ok, I'm done.