Diablo Canyon nuclear plant will shut down

This is bad news and good news, but mostly good news. No matter what you think of nuclear energy (and I’m one of those people who give it a stern look and remain suspicious), it does tend to produce electricity with the addition of much less fossil carbon into the atmosphere than, say, burning coal. So, we probably don’t want to see a wholesale reduction in the use of nuclear energy too quickly, and we may even want to see some new plants built.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is the only working nuke plant in California, and it is famously located in an earthquake-rich locality. The plant was upgraded to withstand a 7.5 earthquake, but earthquakes occasionally happen that are stronger than that. There has only been one earthquake of that magnitude in Southern California since good records have been kept, and that was in 1952. But still….

Diablo Canyon is historically important because the whole idea of building a major nuclear plant in an earthquake zone catalyzed the anti-nuclear movement, and that reaction probably helped to avoid further such construction, and helped nudge the plant operators to upgrade the earthquake readiness of this plant from handling a 6.75 magnitude quake to a 7.5 magnitude quake. There have been six quakes in that range of magnitude in the region in the historic record.

A quick word about earthquakes. Really large earthquakes are actually pretty uncommon in Southern California; other areas, such as the Pacific Northwest have very few quakes but when they happen they can be huge, easily enough to Fuki up a plant like Diablo Canyon. See Earthquake Time Bombs by Robert Yeats for more on that. Nonetheless, being built to withstand a 7.5 earthquake doesn’t necessarily mean that a smaller quake won’t cause problems, or weaken structures that are then more vulnerable to subsequent strong quakes.

Anyway, the following is from a press release from Friends of the Earth, describing how the plan is to replace the energy coming from Diablo Canyon with non fossil carbon fuels. And that, of course, is the extra good news.

BERKELEY, CALIF. – An historic agreement has been reached between Pacific Gas and Electric, Friends of the Earth, and other environmental and labor organizations to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors with greenhouse-gas-free renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources. Friends of the Earth says the agreement provides a clear blueprint for fighting climate change by replacing nuclear and fossil fuel energy with safe, clean, cost-competitive renewable energy.

The agreement, announced today in California, says that PG&E will renounce plans to seek renewed operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors — the operating licenses for which expire in 2024 and 2025 respectively. In the intervening years, the parties will seek Public Utility Commission approval of the plan which will replace power from the plant with renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources. Base load power resources like Diablo Canyon are becoming increasingly burdensome as renewable energy resources ramp up. Flexible generation options and demand-response are the energy systems of the future.

By setting a certain end date for the reactors, the nuclear phase out plan provides for an orderly transition. In the agreement, PG&E commits to renewable energy providing 55 percent of its total retail power sales by 2031, voluntarily exceeding the California standard of 50 percent renewables by 2030.

“This is an historic agreement,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “It sets a date for the certain end of nuclear power in California and assures replacement with clean, safe, cost-competitive, renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage. It lays out an effective roadmap for a nuclear phase-out in the world’s sixth largest economy, while assuring a green energy replacement plan to make California a global leader in fighting climate change.”

A robust technical and economic report commissioned by Friends of the Earth served as a critical underpinning for the negotiations. The report, known as “Plan B,” provided a detailed analysis of how power from the Diablo Canyon reactors could be replaced with renewable, efficiency and energy storage resources which would be both less expensive and greenhouse gas free. With the report in hand, Friends of the Earth’s Damon Moglen and Dave Freeman engaged in discussions with the utility about the phase-out plan for Diablo Canyon. NRDC was quickly invited to join. Subsequently, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Environment California and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility partnered in reaching the final agreement. The detailed phase out proposal will now go to the California Public Utility Commission for consideration. Friends of the Earth (and other NGO parties to the agreement) reserve the right to continue to monitor Diablo Canyon and, should there be safety concerns, challenge continued operation.

The agreement also contains provisions for the Diablo Canyon workforce and the community of San Luis Obispo. “We are pleased that the parties considered the impact of this agreement on the plant employees and the nearby community,” said Pica. “The agreement provides funding necessary to ease the transition to a clean energy economy.”

Diablo Canyon is the nuclear plant that catalyzed the formation of Friends of the Earth in 1969. When David Brower founded Friends of the Earth the Diablo Canyon was the first issue on the organization’s agenda and Friends of the Earth has been fighting the plant ever since. This agreement is not only a milestone for renewable energy, but for Friends of the Earth as an organization.

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110 thoughts on “Diablo Canyon nuclear plant will shut down

  1. The problem with nuclear’s no carbon claim is they only look at the operation of the reactor. They conveniently avoid the fuel cycle that is full of carbon emissions. Uranium mining, uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication, fuel storage or reprocessing, these all have significant carbon emission. The uranium plant at Paducah KY was one of the largest consumers of electricity in the US, almost all of it from coal plants.

  2. The main thing is that while building and fueling nuclear reactor power plants does release significant carbon, it pales in comparison to the amounts produced by burning coal for power. Coal also has other problems that nuclear avoids: sulfur, mercury and other heavy metals, fly ash.

  3. To be fair Nacy did say ‘WAS’.

    And if we are talking about problems besides carbon, there is that little business of nuclear waste …

    But this sounds like an interesting solution as it includes energy storage which is obviously essential if renewables are to replace the present power sources. Good to see that they have planned for the transition of the workers as well as the power source too.

  4. The claims about carbon emissions from mining and shipping uranium are bogus. EVERY form of energy consumes energy in order to create it. The fact of the matter is that nuclear produces far more energy for what is invested. Wind and solar need roughly 4 to 5 times as much concrete and steel along with rare earth metals that are rare enough that it is doubtful if there is enough to energize the planet with them. The waste from nukes all nukes on the planet equals the size of one football field with a height of 20 feet and 96% of that is reusable for energy production in advanced reactors.

  5. The claims about carbon emissions from mining and shipping uranium are bogus. EVERY form of energy consumes energy in order to create it. The fact of the matter is that nuclear produces far more energy for what is invested. Wind and solar need roughly 4 to 5 times as much concrete and steel along with rare earth metals that are rare enough that it is doubtful if there is enough to energize the planet with them. The waste fromall nukes on the planet equals the size of one football field with a height of 20 feet and 96% of that is reusable for energy production in advanced reactors.

  6. #3: Coal also has other problems that nuclear avoids: sulfur, mercury and other heavy metals, fly ash.

    #4: And if we are talking about problems besides carbon, there is that little business of nuclear waste …

    It’s all relative, of course. As pointed out by Petr Beckmann (The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear, Golem Press, 1976):

    If all the electricity in the United States were generated by nuclear reactors, the waste would amount to the volume of an aspirin per head of population per year. Compare this with the 320 lbs of obnoxious waste produced today for each American as a result of coal-fired electricity.

    So, what would YOU rather have to deal with, personally, every year? 320# of toxic heavy metals, mutagens, fly ash, sulfur & nitrogen oxides, radioactive elements original present in the coal (yes! there are!)…

    OR

    …one small radioactive aspirin tablet? Per year.

  7. Jazzlet (#4): To be fair Nancy did say ‘WAS’.

    Yes, she did; I missed that. But why mention a shuttered plant in that context?

    And if we are talking about problems besides carbon, there is that little business of nuclear waste …

    Nuclear waste is a problem, to be sure. But nuclear plants are designed to contain it (with the possible exception of radioactive xenon, a gas which disperses quickly to negligible exposure levels.) Complaining about nuclear waste is justifiable, because there have been so many accidental releases. But the answer to that is better designs for the nuclear plants — and, IMO, testing and deployment of Gen-IV reactors.

  8. Gabe Ignetti- 1)Rare earths are not rare . 2) There is no concrete and very little steel in the solar array on my roof. 3) The lack of imagination that resulted in the flawed design of the Fuk-u-shima plant is costly Japan a large amount of money and anxiety. I did not see that problem addressed in your rant. 4) You appear to be trying to sell nuclear by coming to a science oriented website to attack fairly benign energy harvesting technologies with bull shit arguments. What is your problem?

  9. See List of nuclear reactors, with links to each of them, including US.

    It is worth perusing a sample of the linked pages regarding reactors of that vintage. including San Onofre.

    This seems a reasonable process: reactors run for 40 years, but deciding whether or not to renew license decided years in advance.

  10. Good article, BBD. Has anyone else noticed that shutting down Diablo Canyon is a setback for using renewable energy sources to reduce GHG emissions?

    Diablo Canyon Power Plant puts out 2200 MW, with a capacity factor of ~95%, providing 18,500 GWh (in 2006). Per the link provided by BBD, that’s 77% of the total combined geothermal & solar plants for the entire US. I.e., we would have to duplicate 3/4 of the current total capacity of geo & solar to replace it. That’s the entire US capacity, not just California’s capacity. And that’s not possible with geothermal, leaving solar. So we’re faced with duplicating the entire US solar RE capacity to replace Diablo Canyon.. in just 9 years.

    The 1.05 billion tons of coal burned each year in the United States contain 109 tons of mercury, 7884 tons of arsenic, 1167 tons of beryllium, 750 tons of cadmium, 8810 tons of chromium, 9339 tons of nickel, and 2587 tons of selenium. On top of emitting 1.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, coal-fired power plants in the United States also create 120 million tons of toxic waste.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_waste
    This site goes on to point out:

    That means each of the nation’s 500 coal-fired power plants produces an average 240,000 tons of toxic waste each year. A power plant that operates for 40 years will leave behind 9.6 million tons of toxic waste. This coal combustion waste constitutes the nation’s second largest waste stream after municipal solid waste.

    In 2012, the U.S. produced approximately 1,643,000 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity from coal.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants

    Therefore, on average, Diablo Canyon is substituting burning ~12 million tons of coal per year. Discounting all the above significant toxics and radiation, and focusing on GHG, the Diablo Canyon reactors substitute the emission of ~21 million tons of CO2 per year.

    So for every year after 2025 when they go off-line, until California succeeds in replacing the last of its FF-powered plants, we will be needlessly pumping MORE CO2 into the atmosphere for having taken Diablo Canyon off-line, not less.

    It is not correct to say, “Well, PG&E is going to replace them with RE sources.” Those RE sources, replacing 2200 MW of non-FF power, will then no longer be available to replace the equivalent capacity of existing FF sources, which will remain in operation, pumping GHGs in the atmosphere daily, when they could have been taken off-line instead.

  11. mixed ideas about nuclear, not a joiner of anti-nuke in general but those faults are nasty.

    Weather.com mentioned there’s unusual activity around the San Andreas fault. Worth a mention, I thought.

  12. All of the alternative sources are variable, while nuclear is as constant as it gets. So a kilowatt-for-kilowatt source replacement implies a big change in the stability of the grid.

  13. Some of the most problematic aspects of nuclear energy are scalability, cost, and vulnerability to climate change. It takes time to plan, permit, and build nuclear power plants, and they need access to large amounts of water. The fact that nuclear plants can supply a large amount of power doesn’t mean very much if they’re losing out to increasingly more scalable and competitive alternatives.

    “Since 2000, wind added 355 GW and solar 179 GW—respectively eighteen and nine times more than nuclear with 20 GW.”
    http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/20151023MSC-WNISR2015-V4-LR.pdf

    To get an idea of the current state of the nuclear industry and its prospects, please see the Foreword and Executive Summary of the above report. For some other critical information:

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6021978
    http://thebulletin.org/false-fix-climate-change

    Far from solving the climate problem, nuclear power may be highly vulnerable to it
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028138.200-the-climate-change-threat-to-nuclear-power.html?full=true
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/20/health/20iht-nuke.1.5788480.html
    https://www.citizen.org/documents/HotNukesFactsheet.pdf

    “When nuclear plants draw water from natural water sources, fish and other wildlife get caught in the cooling system water intake structures.”
    http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/water-energy-electricity-nuclear.html
    http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/licensedtokill/LiscencedtoKill.pdf

    My view is that poorly located nuclear plants should be shut down. They should not exist near major population centers or be built on or near recognized geological threats. Existing plants that don’t constitute an obvious threat should be gradually replaced by renewable sources.

  14. cosmicomics

    My view is that poorly located nuclear plants should be shut down.

    Yes, and new plant should not be located on faults or where there is a risk of inundation from storm surges.

    Existing plants that don’t constitute an obvious threat should be gradually replaced by renewable sources.

    Given the absolutely vast scale of the challenge, I don’t think we have this luxury now. It’s going to take *everything* we have to both decarbonise AND keep pace with escalating energy demand as the global population grows towards the projected ~10bn by mid-century.

    If you read again what I said at #12 (including all links) and Brainstorms at #14, the necessity of using all low-carbon technologies should be obvious. Trying to push nuclear off the table on ideological grounds is going to result in more carbon by the end of the century.

  15. And once again, we have the same tired back-and-forth.

    The USA does not have an industrial policy or an energy policy, so all your fantasizing about the “best technology” is beyond “academic” and into the ridiculous.

    What matters is what the Federal government can do, given the existing structure of States having control. It can:

    1. Create a price on CO2 emissions (carbon tax, cap and trade, yadda yadda we all know the options).

    2. Mandate that all utility companies operate as common carrier/marketplaces, and are prohibited from generating electricity. They keep the grid functioning and facilitate equitable transactions between generators and consumers. (Can do because of interstate commerce.)

    Yo, people, you are not the “one world government” with black helicopters to enforce your futurist scenarios. We need to get things done, now. That means taking the first step, and letting things evolve organically. Some will choose nuclear, some wind, solar… who cares, as long as we leave the FF in the ground?

  16. BBD,

    Ah yes. You are in charge of the One World Government Energy Policy and deciding if arguments on blogs are “failures”.

    I forgot. It must be a heavy burden having all that responsibility.

  17. Greg Laden

    Or, we nationalize the entire energy industry.

    If you are suggesting that the ‘free market’ is not capable of creating the conditions for the necessary speed and depth of decarbonisation in the US, then I agree. After all, it has done next-to-nothing, so far, despite the magical uplift from all those invisible hands.

    Yet all agree that it’s a no-brainer. Sometimes, ideology is not enough.

  18. Ah yes. You are in charge of the One World Government Energy Policy and deciding if arguments on blogs are “failures”.

    Your argument failed because you didn’t (and clearly still do not) understand the infrastructural requirements for a high-renewables US.

  19. BBD,

    Yawn. Standard fossil-fuel do-nothingist Nirvana Fallacy.

    “Let’s hold off on that carbon tax until we….

    HVDC
    Hydrogen Economy
    Thorium Reactor
    Rapture…

    and so on.

  20. Yawn. Standard fossil-fuel do-nothingist Nirvana Fallacy.

    In which you confirm that you have not understood a single thing I have written in comments on this blog. I had begun to wonder.

  21. BBD 27

    In which you confirm you have nothing to say.

    Assertions are not arguments.
    Dodging the issue is not an argument.

    What’s your plan? I don’t mean “what’s your fantasy about what the future should be like”; what’s your plan for getting anything done other than delaying the implementation of a price on CO2?

  22. Revenue neutral carbon tax can fund infrastructure such as grid interconnectors, zebra.

    The key difference between my plan and yours is that mine requires planning.

    As for the jibe about my having nothing to say, I suggest you consider just how badly you misrepresented me at #26 before you say anything that makes you look even worse.

  23. what’s your plan for getting anything done other than delaying the implementation of a price on CO2?

    You have made this up. As I told you the last time you did this, I don’t like verballing. It is a particularly dishonest type of cheap rhetorical trick.

    So, to put an end to it, you will now quote exactly where I did what you falsely claim or you will withdraw your false claim.

  24. BBD

    “The key difference between my plan and yours is that mine requires planning. ”

    Yes, that’s exactly what I said— your plan is to sit around “planning” rather than implementing a carbon tax.

  25. I’m serious about nationalizing the fossil fuel industry.

    Most of the bad problems that happen when the government takes over happen right away and are fixed, then creep in over time later.

    We can deal with the initial problems. There will be no long term creeping of problems later, because for obvious reasons that simply can’t happen.

  26. Yes, that’s exactly what I said— your plan is to sit around “planning” rather than implementing a carbon tax.

    Where did I say *anything* about delaying the implementation of a carbon tax?

    I repeat – you you are making shit up. Either provide a quote or admit it. And do it in your next comment please.

  27. Tired today:

    Revenue neutral A carbon tax can fund infrastructure such as grid interconnectors, zebra.

    The money will have to come from somewhere but it does not have to be a carbon tax, which *could* therefore be revenue-neutral. Although it doesn’t have to be if the proceeds are going to be used to fund big infrastructure adaptations to decarbonisation.

  28. BBD,

    I just quoted you what you asked for. Asserting that I didn’t doesn’t make it so.

    If your “plan” is to implement a carbon tax immediately, then what is the “planning” you are talking about?

    You can’t have it both ways.

    Are you saying we should just implement a carbon tax immediately, and then do the “planning”?

    You may not like “verballing”, whatever that means, but I don’t see a point in debating someone who makes self-contradictory statements.

  29. Greg,

    I’m not clear on what you are proposing– I thought we were talking about electricity generation, not “the fossil fuel industry”.

    But I don’t see any path to do either, given the structural impediments in our system of government. How would it possibly work?

  30. So, you cannot back your bullshit up when challenged but you won’t retract it.

    At least now everybody knows where you are coming from.

    If your “plan” is to implement a carbon tax immediately, then what is the “planning” you are talking about?

    We had a lengthy exchange about the need for planned infrastructure development only recently. I don’t believe for an instant that you have forgotten it. People will draw their own conclusions.

    You may not like “verballing”, whatever that means

    You know what it means because I have told you what it means. Again, people will draw their own conclusions.

    but I don’t see a point in debating someone who makes self-contradictory statements.

    Quote one. Go on. In your next comment.

  31. I just quoted you what you asked for.

    No, you didn’t.

    Try again.

    Where did I say *anything* about delaying the implementation of a price on CO2?

    It all adds up very quickly, zebra…

  32. Zebra, I’m not sure hot it is done, but it has to be done.

    The fossil fuel industry is somewhat involved in electricity generation.

  33. Greg,

    Part two of my plan tries to break some of that connection by preventing captured regulatory bodies from blocking alternative generating technologies.

    The problem with “nationalizing”, if you mean that in the traditional sense, is that

    1. With respect to FF themselves, we would have to pay a market rate to seize those on private and State lands. Even with a rational SCOTUS, I think.

    2. With respect to electricity generation– the Federal government doesn’t have the resources to implement the kinds of grandiose plans people like BBD seem to favor. You end up turning stuff over to the States anyway, creating an impossibly slow process, still subject to local influences.

    My plan is actually a form of “nationalization” that could work. The feds control the utilities (as I describe them above), and the carbon tax provides the motivation. It’s called leverage.

  34. BBD,

    You are obviously out of your depth here, so you want to dodge the question and change the subject to “what did you mean by some word in some comment.”

    You obviously… Don’t. Have. A. Plan.

    Admit it, and move on. Let those of us with some technical expertise and knowledge of the US political/economic system discuss practical solutions instead of futuristic fantasizing.

  35. Quotes please:

    – Example of a contradictory statement that you claim I made.

    – Where did I say *anything* about delaying the implementation of a price on CO2?

    Get on with it.

  36. zebra

    And enough goalpost moving and misrepresenting what I actually said:

    2. With respect to electricity generation– the Federal government doesn’t have the resources to implement the kinds of grandiose plans people like BBD seem to favor.

    This discussion was about the need for planned national-scale grid interconnection to accommodate large amounts of renewables in the US energy mix. It wasn’t about Federal government *paying* for it but rather its necessary role in planning and oversight. Let’s call it facilitation. A primary function of government, IIRC.

  37. I don’t know why that comment is being blocked.

    But here it is, from cosmicomics:

    According to this paper, a built out HVDC grid would enable a better integration of wind and solar, and would be a cheap way to reduce CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, it’s not open source, so I’ve only read the abstract. However, it’s received a considerable amount of attention.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n5/full/nclimate2921.html

    http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/GENI-us/2016/feb/Nationwide-HVDC-Grid-2016.pdf

    http://www.utilitydive.com/news/is-a-national-high-voltage-transmission-system-the-cheapest-way-to-cut-emis/413867/

    (If I remember correctly, you too have argued the importance of an improved and expanded grid.)

    The most recent article I’ve seen on battery storage:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/how-build-better-battery-through-nanotechnology

    An expansion of geothermal capacity would also help to even out intermittency.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3082/

    Please note that I didn’t suggest the immediate shut down of non-threatening nuclear plants, but their gradual replacement. Considering the recent histories of nuclear energy and renewable sources, I think it’s fair to say that it would be easier and faster to scale up renewables. I’ve read your links, though not the SoD series, and I think I understand your concerns. My own perspective is based on the largely pain-free transition of electricity production in Denmark, enabled by expanding grid connections and collaboration with other countries, and the conclusions of papers such as the Nature paper cited above. There are other factors I could mention. Electrification means lower energy consumption, and more electric vehicles would add to energy storage. As far as the U.S. is concerned, geothermal is poorly developed, but the resources are there, and with the necessary political will it could be developed into a meaningful source of baseload power. In Denmark we don’t have comparable resources, but we’ve begun to make use of those we have. I’m not as skeptical as you regarding our ability to create an energy system based on 100% renewables.

  38. BBD,

    No, I meant exactly that the Feds don’t have the resources to do the planning, much less the paying.

    And you still haven’t told us what your plan is.

    Anyone familiar with US politics knows that waiting for the Feds to coordinate such a massive plan with the States and their competing interests before implementing a carbon tax would be an unacceptable delay.

    Again, you are out of your depth on US governance; we have numerous examples demonstrating how long it would take– health care, education, highways, and so on.

  39. zebra

    Anyone familiar with US politics knows that waiting for the Feds to coordinate such a massive plan with the States and their competing interests before implementing a carbon tax would be an unacceptable delay.

    Once again, I have never argued for a delay in implementing a carbon tax.

    I repeat: you are *misrepresenting* me.

    Please stop.

  40. cosmicomics

    Just a couple of things:

    Electrification means lower energy consumption,

    We were talking about decarbonisation of the electricity supply and so there is a problem with this. Electrification of transport would result in a significant increase in demand for electricity.

    and more electric vehicles would add to energy storage.

    Vehicle to grid isn’t a silver bullet for utility-scale storage requirements.

    As far as the U.S. is concerned, geothermal is poorly developed, but the resources are there, and with the necessary political will it could be developed into a meaningful source of baseload power.

    A frequently overlooked problem with the geothermal resource is that it is less sustainable (in terms of constant exploitation) than one might hope.

    The late David MacKay provides a useful overview:

    The difficulty with making sustainable geothermal power is that the speed at which heat travels through solid rock limits the rate at which heat
    can be sustainably sucked out of the red-hot interior of the earth. It’s like trying to drink a crushed-ice drink through a straw. You stick in the straw, and suck, and you get a nice mouthful of cold liquid. But after a littlemore sucking, you find you’re sucking air. You’ve extracted all the liquid from the ice around the tip of the straw. Your initial rate of sucking wasn’t sustainable.

    If you stick a straw down a 15-km hole in the earth, you’ll find it’s nice and hot there, easily hot enough to boil water. So, you could stick two straws down, and pump cold water down one straw and suck from the other. You’ll be sucking up steam, and you can run a power station. Limit-less power? No. After a while, your sucking of heat out of the rock will have reduced the temperature of the rock. You weren’t sucking sustainably. You now have a long wait before the rock at the tip of your straws warms up again.

  41. #49
    Electrification means lower energy consumption. It also means that more electricity will be needed. The point is that electricity won’t have to compensate for all the energy that previously was used.

    I generally don’t believe in silver bullets, and don’t see vehicular storage as one. I do see it as one contributor among many that can stabilize a renewable based system. The same with geothermal. Using the term baseload in that conjunction was a mistake.

    MacKay’s fundamental assumption skews the discussion and leads to a predictable result:

    “I’m going to assume that the greater total resource comes from the ordinary locations, since ordinary locations are so much more numerous.”

    This assumption ignores the abundance of hot U.S. locations and the geothermal resources along the Ring of Fire.
    http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/geothermal_resource2009-final.jpg

    It also underestimates the amount of research that’s been done and the ability of geologists, engineers and technicians to anticipate and deal with the problems MacKay describes.

    In Denmark the “ordinary resources” aren’t used to produce electricity, but to provide heat, further reducing the need for other energy sources. Basically this is about using available resources as intelligently as possible.

    You can think of a renewable based system as a symphony orchestra: there are many sources of sound, and all the instruments don’t have to play at the same time for there to be a constant flow of music. Based on what’s already been accomplished in Denmark, I have confidence in the engineers and technicians who are changing our system and adapting to new challenges. To a great extent this is learning by doing, and up to now the learning process has been impressive. The biggest constraints today are political will and popular understanding. In Denmark we now have a government that’s slowing things down instead of speeding things up. We have an energy minister who saw Bjørn Lomborg as a legitimate voice in the climate discussion. Your country is plagued by the hypocrisy of the Conservatives. The U.S. is plagued by the venal, sanctimonious evil of the Republicans.

    In your previous reply (#18) you referred to #14. I disagree with Brainstorms’s conclusion. There is no law that says that renewable capacity used to replace nuclear power would instead be used to replace coal. There is no logical if-then relationship.

  42. The point is that electricity won’t have to compensate for all the energy that previously was used.

    Who said that it would? We are talking about decarbonisation of the electricity supply. The electrification of transport (and heating, cooking etc) will drive a *significant* increase in demand over coming decades. This makes the task of decarbonisation progressively *harder* as time goes by. Hence the absolute requirement not to be pushing viable low-carbon technology off the table now on ideological grounds.

    MacKay’s fundamental assumption skews the discussion and leads to a predictable result:

    MacKay’s assumption is rational and therefore justified. Geothermal is going to be a bit-player. The USGS article made that plain. As for EGS, do you understand what Enhanced Geothermal Systms actually *are*? Given the intense and growing popular resistance to fracking, I think you will find that a harder sell than nuclear, if it were ever attempted.

    Based on what’s already been accomplished in Denmark

    A special case that actually undermines your generalist argument.

    If you want to believe in a renewable deus ex machina then you are free to do so but you are in denial about the engineering realities that constrain the speed and depth of decarbonisation possible in coming decades.

    There is no law that says that renewable capacity used to replace nuclear power would instead be used to replace coal.

    Every gigawatt of nuclear we remove will have to be replaced by a GW of renewables just to maintain the status quo. This is not in any sense progress towards decarbonisation, let alone rapid and efficient progress.

  43. ” The point is that electricity won’t have to compensate for all the energy that previously was used.

    Who said that it would?”

    Mackay for one.

    You HAVE read his work, haven’t you, buddy?

  44. “My view is that poorly located nuclear plants should be shut down. They should not exist near major population centers or be built on or near recognized geological threats”

    They also shouldn’t be near coastlines. IF we’d decarbonised 30 years ago, maybe we could have built any new ones near the coast, but we’ve 30 years of increased emissions to wait on, and the last time CO2 was this high, the seas were flooding Oxfordshire.

  45. “Greg,

    I’m not clear on what you are proposing– I thought we were talking about electricity generation, not “the fossil fuel industry”.”

    He’s saying nationalise the energy grid. Public utilities need to run for the public good, even if they’re run privately. But companies are insistent they are beholden to shareholders first, their employees second, and the customer (the public) last. Moreover, since the business can die and the people in it migrate in a “rebirth” Whereas government of countries must exist for the long term, private industry is inherently incapable of worrying about a problem 5 years down the line, never mind 50.

    The fact that politics has problems with 10 year plans in the west is due to insisting that private industry methods are the ONLY ones that work, and regulatory capture by the more powerful industry bodies.

    Remember, ANY profit made by a government industry is poured back into YOUR pocket, just as if you were a shareholder with a mandate to demand sharing. It only leads to poor performance because those chosen don’t see the need to work hard if they’re not going to get huge personal profit.

    Then again, that exact same person is why California had massive problems. Those who get the top jobs only do it because they are reaping huge personal profit.

    And then skipped out when the scam collapsed.

  46. “1. With respect to FF themselves, we would have to pay a market rate to seize those on private and State lands. Even with a rational SCOTUS, I think.”

    Nope.
    a) If we can’t ramp up coal (we can’t: AGW remember), the value of the coal industry is going to collapse, therefore, like BHS, could be sold for a dollar.
    b) It would be stupid to rely on the market rate when the market is the one being bought.
    c) the government can just refuse to allow permits to operate. No purchase of industry necessary.

  47. @ WOW 54

    “He’s saying nationalize the energy grid.”

    No, I’m the one saying that the government should establish strict regulation of grid operation along the lines of “common carrier”. That’s not nationalization in the traditional sense but close enough. See my #19.

    Greg is talking about generation, not distribution.

    Your other comments suffer from the same problem as others commenting here– you ignore the basic facts of how the US system of governance works. It is all magical thinking, as if there is a magic wand that someone waves and then everything is as you wish.

    The only way to get anywhere is to take the first step.

  48. Today’s NYT:

    “The single most effective action that most Americans can take to help reduce the dangerous emissions that cause climate change? Buy a more fuel-efficient car.

    But consumers are heading in the opposite direction. They have rekindled their love of bigger cars, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, favoring them over small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles, which are considered crucial to helping slow global warming.

    So far this year, nearly 75 percent of the people who have traded in a hybrid or electric car to a dealer have replaced it with an all-gas car, an 18 percent jump from 2015, according to Edmunds.com, a car shopping and research site.”

  49. Yes, and the next thing you know, they’ll elect Donald Trump president. Now, we Brits would never do something that stupid.

    Oh…

  50. BBD, is AGW nature’s way of ridding the planet of stupid human beings? (Albeit in a rather drastic manner, replete with collateral damage) It’s already locked into a future partial fulfillment on that…

  51. BBD, is AGW nature’s way of ridding the planet of stupid human beings?

    If only. But we’re all born under the same sky so the stupid and short-sighted will drag us all down with them. And I resent that from the bottom of my heart, largely on behalf of my son, who will be nine years old in August.

  52. I resent it, too, for the same reasons.

    The denierati are murdering our grandchildren.

    They conveniently deny that as well.

  53. #51

    First, a few words about my energy “ideology.” We need to eliminate GHG emissions from everything as quickly as possible. Among other things, that means ceasing to use fossil fuels. I favor the optimal use of available renewable resources. I also tend to favor utility scale rather than individual solutions. To put it another way, utility scale “us” solutions generally make better use of resources and have lower costs than “me” solutions. This is also the conclusion of the NOAA paper I linked to and the article discussing it (#45).
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n5/full/nclimate2921.html

    I also favor an expanded HVDC grid and economic measures that discourage the use of fossil fuels. I’m not skeptical of nuclear energy because of ideology, but because of reasons that you prefer to ignore.

    And to clear something up that you insist on misrepresenting: I don’t believe in silver bullets or one size fits all solutions. My symphony orchestra analogy gives a more reasonable view of my approach. I’ve argued for the optimal use of available resources; the instrumentation wouldn’t be the same everywhere.

    One can’t generalize from Denmark’s experience in every respect, but one certainly can in some: analyzing and utilizing available resources, expanding and improving grids, cooperating with an expanding group of foreign countries, financial policies that encourage change, learning by doing. I’ve worked with many future scientists and engineers from other countries, and I have no reason to believe that they’re less capable than their Danish counterparts.

    You’re correct in stating that I’m not limiting myself to the decarbonization of electricity. It makes more sense to take a holistic view that includes all fossil fuels.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/science/cars-gas-global-warming.html?_r=0

    Shifting from ICE to electric motors increases efficiency and makes possible the removal of oil from our transportation sectors. As car ownership is growing and as oil is increasingly from dirty or risky sources, the electrification of the transportation sector would be a major advantage. The extent of that advantage would obviously depend on the extent to which our electricity supply is decarbonized. (Another way to reduce energy consumption in this sector would be to make our cities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and expand public transportation.) It would also provide one component in a multifaceted storage system that could stabilize intermittent sources. Geothermal, in areas with adequate resources, could be another. Despite what you believe, I have read something – not much, but something – about geothermal technology, and MacKay is wrong where I said he was wrong. Look at the map I linked to. The potential geothermal sites are all in hot areas. Problems regarding fracking are not necessarily insurmountable. In the western U.S. many regions are thinly populated, and I imagine that opposition to fracking to produce clean energy would be smaller than the current opposition. There are solar technologies that can be coupled with storage, and there are numerous dedicated storage solutions. Denmark and Norway collaborate on wind energy and pumped hydro storage. Discrepancies between supply and demand can be reduced with intelligent software solutions.

    Arguing from the current prevalence of nuclear vis à vis renewable technologies is similar to denying the possibility of a rapid transition from typewriters to computers or analogue to digital cameras. It doesn’t work.

    Below are links to a couple of articles concerning the expansion of wind power.
    http://www.maritimedenmark.dk/?Id=18710
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/as-wind-power-lifts-wyomings-fortunes-coal-miners-are-left-in-the-dust.html

    Compare the reality of developments renewables with the problems facing the projected Hinckley Point plant. How much renewable energy, grid improvements, and necessary storage could be produced before Hinckley sees the light of day?

    And then there’s the question of whether nuclear technology is a suitable answer to the heatwaves, droughts, floods, intensified storms, sea level rise, and storm surges of climate change. You haven’t even attempted to address that.

  54. Correction #63 (or whatever number my previous comment was given)
    “Compare the reality of developments renewables…”
    Compare the reality of renewable developments…

  55. I’m not skeptical of nuclear energy because of ideology, but because of reasons that you prefer to ignore.

    What have I ‘preferred to ignore’ exactly? In your ponderously loaded phrase which implies that there’s something of actual substance that I haven’t addressed in your argument. This sort of clunking rhetoric is best avoided.

    And to clear something up that you insist on misrepresenting: I don’t believe in silver bullets or one size fits all solutions.

    More clunking. I have not misrepresented you, let alone done so ‘insistently’. The only time I used the phrase ‘silver bullet’ was in response to your #45.

    MacKay is wrong where I said he was wrong.

    MacKay’s statement is factually correct for the continental US and for the world and you have not shown otherwise:

    I’m going to assume that the greater total resource comes from the ordinary locations, since ordinary locations are so much more numerous.

    Let’s get back to MacKay for some numbers. As I said, geothermal will be a bit-player (emphasis in original):

    For the temperature profile shown in figure 16.4, I calculated that the optimal depth is about 15 km. Under these conditions, an ideal heat engine would deliver 17 mW/m2. At the world population density of 43 people per square km, that’s 10 kWh per person per day, if all land area were used. In the UK, the population density is 5 times greater, so wide-scale geothermal power of this sustainable-forever variety could offer at most 2 kWh per person per day.

    This is the sustainable-forever figure, ignoring hot spots, assuming perfect power stations, assuming every square metre of continent is exploited, and assuming that drilling is free. And that it is possible to drill 15-km deep holes.

    So you are arguing from assertion because you don’t like the facts. You have ignored the unsustainable nature of geothermal unless it is exploited at a relatively low level (explanation at #49) which sharply limits its potential utility. Nor does your airy dismissal of the very real issues with a vast fracking program convince. Even if we can exceed the current maximum experimental borehole depth by another 2.5km repeatedly and reliably – and cost-effectively.

    And then there’s the question of whether nuclear technology is a suitable answer to the heatwaves, droughts, floods, intensified storms, sea level rise, and storm surges of climate change. You haven’t even attempted to address that.

    Because it is a confected antinuclear talking point. Nuclear is the most robust generation plant on the planet. Vastly more so than wind and solar, it must be said, both of which are vulnerable to extreme weather.

    Arguing from the current prevalence of nuclear vis à vis renewable technologies is similar to denying the possibility of a rapid transition from typewriters to computers or analogue to digital cameras. It doesn’t work.

    I have never made this argument. Please do not resort to crude strawmen.

    Compare the reality of developments renewables with the problems facing the projected Hinckley Point plant. How much renewable energy, grid improvements, and necessary storage could be produced before Hinckley sees the light of day?

    All plausible projections of global electricity supply centre on something like 30% renewables, 30% nuclear and 40% fossil fuels by mid-century. Pushing nuclear off the table now greatly increases the risk of ~70% fossil fuels by mid-century. The mess at Hinckley is not an argument for ditching nuclear and increasing the risk of slowing down the pace of decarbonisation. It is an argument for better energy policy.

    Let’s get something straight here. You – and only you – are arguing that we get rid of a proven low-carbon technology right at the outset of what will be a desperate race to decarbonise fast enough to avoid very serious climate impacts. My position is that the realisable potential of renewables over the crucial next few decades is deeply uncertain and betting the world – literally – on it in advance is irrational and dangerous. Yet this is what you advocate, so from my position, you are an ideologue.

  56. #65

    Arguing from the current prevalence of nuclear vis à vis renewable technologies is similar to denying the possibility of a rapid transition from typewriters to computers or analogue to digital cameras. It doesn’t work. #63

    I have never made this argument. Please do not resort to crude strawmen.

    My mistake. I was thinking of something else.

    I’m not skeptical of nuclear energy because of ideology, but because of reasons that you prefer to ignore. #63
    What have I ‘preferred to ignore’ exactly?

    Later in your comment you state one of the things you prefer to ignore, and your reason for doing so:

    And then there’s the question of whether nuclear technology is a suitable answer to the heatwaves, droughts, floods, intensified storms, sea level rise, and storm surges of climate change. You haven’t even attempted to address that. #63
    Because it is a confected antinuclear talking point.

    But it isn’t, and there are examples that show it. As to your argument that renewables, too, can be affected by extreme weather, my answer is yes, but the consequences aren’t comparable. To give one example: heatwaves last days and the cuts in nuclear generation can and have resulted in deaths. High velocity winds beyond the cut-off capacity of wind turbines generally last hours at most.

    Based on what’s already been accomplished in Denmark #63
    A special case that actually undermines your generalist argument.

    Exactly what makes Denmark so special? I’m aware that Denmark is rich in wind resources. So is Britain. So are parts of the U.S. So are other parts of the world. Other areas have an abundance of solar or hydro or geothermal resources. What makes Denmark different is primarily that it was quick to utilize the resources it has and find out how they could be optimized. These lessons could be applied elsewhere. Your statement does not address what I’ve written about Denmark, but bypasses it.

    There are some other “talking points” that i could have mentioned, but haven’t. I won’t raise the nuclear waste argument, because I’m not sure that it can’t be managed responsibly. There are some other “talking points” that I take far more seriously. One is the threat of nuclear proliferation, another the depletion of uranium resources, and another scalability and siting. I would argue that your ideal scenario, with nuclear providing 30% of the world’s electricity, not only is extremely dangerous, but also fundamentally impossible. Finding the number of suitable sites that would fulfill your vision wouldn’t be easy, and a site that’s been used can’t be reused for a good number of years.

    And to clear something up that you insist on misrepresenting: I don’t believe in silver bullets or one size fits all solutions. #63
    More clunking. I have not misrepresented you, let alone done so ‘insistently’. The only time I used the phrase ‘silver bullet’ was in response to your #45.

    This is from another of my comments:

    I generally don’t believe in silver bullets, and don’t see vehicular storage as one. I do see it as one contributor among many that can stabilize a renewable based system. The same with geothermal.
    #50

    Despite this, and my other statements about the intelligent use of available resources, you have repeatedly implied that I do, in fact, see geothermal or vehicular storage as isolated silver bullets:

    Vehicle to grid isn’t a silver bullet for utility-scale storage requirements. #49
    Geothermal is going to be a bit-player. #51
    As I said, geothermal will be a bit-player. #63

    This is not to say that geothermal couldn’t be far more than “a bit-player” in areas rich in geothermal resources.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power_in_Kenya
    http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2015/02/world-s-largest-geothermal-power-plant-opens-in-kenya.html

    Please take another look at the map of potential sites in the U.S.
    http://www.nrel.gov/gis/maps.html

    Obviously the interest is in places that don’t just have geothermal resources, but where those resources are suitable and abundant. MacKay is wrong because his premise is wrong.

    Pushing nuclear off the table now greatly increases the risk of ~70% fossil fuels by mid-century.

    First, I haven’t advocated “pushing nuclear off the table now,” but gradually replacing plants that need to be shut down with renewable alternatives. Second, your argument predicates that every closed nuclear plant will be replaced by one that utilizes fossil fuels, and that’s not what’s been happening.

    “Overall, more than twice as much money was spent on renewables than on coal and gas-fired power generation ($130bn in 2015), the REN21 global status report found.

    Christine Lins, REN21’s chief, said: ‘What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies. For every dollar spent boosting renewables, nearly four dollars were spent to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels.’ ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/01/renewable-energy-smashes-global-records-in-2015-report-shows
    http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/GSR_2016_KeyFindings1.pdf

    Quite frankly, I find that your arguments here aren’t up to your usual standard.

  57. Later in your comment you state one of the things you prefer to ignore, and your reason for doing so

    If you think I am going to take seriously the argument that nuclear plant cannot be built to be robust against temperature extremes then you are simply mistaken. You might as well drop this bit of nonsense now.

    One is the threat of nuclear proliferation [1], another the depletion of uranium resources[2], and another scalability[3] and siting[4].

    [1] Tired old nonsense based on a conflation of weapons-grade plutonium production with civilian power generation plants.

    [2] Premature, given the relatively limited knowledge of the total global uranium resource. And there’s the sea, if push comes to shove.

    [3] What? You want more, you build more plant.

    [4] Non-issue. Arguments that ‘we can’t’ site new plant safely are as transparently weak as those that we cannot engineer robustness against extreme weather.

    As I said, tired old anti-nuclear talking points. Not solid arguments. Yet you resort to this stuff and in the next breath claim that you aren’t anti-nuclear. And you expect my continuing patience.

    Exactly what makes Denmark so special?

    Oh come on. Its uniquely privileged access to Norwegian and Swedish hydropower. Despite which, Denmark remains a net importer of electricity (9.1TWh in 2015).

    What makes Denmark different is primarily that it was quick to utilize the resources it has

    No, what makes Denmark different is its uniquely privileged access to Norwegian and Swedish hydropower. That denial of the facts thing again, cosmicomics.

    I would argue that your ideal scenario, with nuclear providing 30% of the world’s electricity, not only is extremely dangerous, but also fundamentally impossible.

    Somebody better tell the IEA. You sound like one of those ‘sceptics’ who thinks that climate scientists don’t know nuffing.

    MacKay is wrong because his premise is wrong.

    No, it isn’t and he isn’t and your denial of matters of fact is becoming tiresome. I agree that geothermal is going to be a bit-player and not a silver bullet. You appear to concur. End of.

    Overall, more than twice as much money was spent on renewables than on coal and gas-fired power generation ($130bn in 2015), the REN21 global status report found.

    Okay, you blanked it the last time around so I will repeat myself with an edit acknowledging your actual position:

    You are arguing that we get rid of a proven low-carbon technology right at the outset of [during] what will be a desperate race to decarbonise fast enough to avoid very serious climate impacts. My position is that the realisable potential of renewables over the crucial next few decades is deeply uncertain and literally betting the world on it is irrational and dangerous. And you have not said one single thing that counters this position because you cannot. You do not know that it will be possible to decarbonise fast enough using renewables alone so your position is untenable. Either you will get this or you won’t but I’m not going to continue arguing with you about it as it is self-evident that you cannot actually counter what I am saying. Nobody can. We do not have the necessary information. So to ensure the highest chance of success it is necessary to adopt a diverse approach. All viable low-carbon technologies should be deployed in accordance with infrastructural and geopolitical realities. This is, or should be, blindingly obvious.

    Quite frankly, I find that your arguments here aren’t up to your usual standard.

    They are gauged to the strength of the counter-arguments.

  58. Sodding html:

    You are arguing that we get rid of a proven low-carbon technology right at the outset of [during] what will be a desperate race to decarbonise fast enough to avoid very serious climate impacts. My position is that the realisable potential of renewables over the crucial next few decades is deeply uncertain and literally betting the world on it is irrational and dangerous. And you have not said one single thing that counters this position because you cannot. You do not know that it will be possible to decarbonise fast enough using renewables alone so your position is untenable. Either you will get this or you won’t but I’m not going to continue arguing with you about it as it is self-evident that you cannot actually counter what I am saying. Nobody can. We do not have the necessary information. So to ensure the highest chance of success it is necessary to adopt a diverse approach. All viable low-carbon technologies should be deployed in accordance with infrastructural and geopolitical realities. This is, or should be, blindingly obvious.

    Quite frankly, I find that your arguments here aren’t up to your usual standard.

    They don’t need to be, really, do they?

  59. Sorry, I missed this bit:

    Second, your argument predicates that every closed nuclear plant will be replaced by one that utilizes fossil fuels, and that’s not what’s been happening.

    No, it doesn’t. Rather it focuses on the assumption that we can decarbonise fast enough to avoid major climate impacts while steadily removing instead of ramping up nuclear. It focuses on the assumption that a 100% renewables world with 10 billion people in it and far higher electricity demand than the present is achievable in a few decades.

  60. It’s really rather simple, isn’t it? Simple enough to miss:

    For every nuclear plant we shut down or fail to re-license with the plan of replacing its (needed) capacity with renewable sources, we will not be able to shut down an equivalent fossil-fueled (coal-fired) power plant and replace it with that same RE capacity.

    To put it another way: For every GW of RE capacity we manufacture, we must put them into operation replacing FF power plants first, and keep the nuclear plants operating in the meantime — to prevent diversion of RE that could allow the FF plants to shut down.

    Only after we have replaced all the FF plants will we have the luxury of directing our RE production to begin replacing nuclear plants. And then only the extent that we don’t find the need to keep the nuclear plants available & operating to meet need during periods where demand exceeds what the RE is capable of producing, due to sunlight, weather, etc.

    Ergo our priorities should be:

    * Ramp up production of RE power production capacity as fast as possible. (This production capacity has its limits!)

    * GW for GW, use the RE to replace existing/planned FF plants and permanently shut down the FF plants.

    * Ramp up nuclear (preferably thorium plants), to the extent that doing so doesn’t impact the production capacity of RE, and use this new nuclear capacity, GW for GW, to replace more existing/planned FF plants.

    * Once all FF plants have been replaced by RE (because the rate of replacement is limited), then consider the judicious replacement of other forms, such as excess nuclear plants. Likely that both the production of RE and the production/use of nuclear will adjust asymptotically as the FF capacity approaches zero.

    I think it’s evident that BBD sees this.

  61. Brainstorms 71,

    I know you are trying to be the voice of reason but you continue to use the royal “we” as if this is one of those games where you build a civilization and the player makes all the choices.

    Read about the process involved in this and other decisions– it all happens at the State level in the US, and there is a lot of wheeling and dealing and negotiating going on.

    NPP will be shut down (or not) in one State and not the other, and replaced by FF in some, and renewables or conservation in others, and …

    none of the arguments raised here will make the tiniest difference, because there is no national plan and there never will be.

    New York is not going to decide what to do with its NPP based on what California or any other State does. Just like China is not paying attention to the UK policies, or India to Kenya, and so on.

    I know it’s fun to play God and play at being a global engineer, but there really isn’t time for any of this to happen except by leveraging the existing structures.

  62. Here’s a good website on thorium and why the DOE was stupid to stop developing it and instead focus on Uranium-powered reactors — specifically because they can be used to produce bomb materials, whereas thorium reactors cannot.

  63. There is no national plan and there never will be.

    Is yet another example of Zebra’s own hypocrisy and attempt to play God and dictate “political realities” to everyone with his strident pronouncements on how it is and how it must continue to be. (All pause to worship the Free Market God…)

  64. Brainstorms 76,

    Yes, and Bernie really won, and Socialism is just around the corner in the USA, perhaps to be put in place by President Trump.

    We understand– the Voice Of The Silent Majority is being suppressed, just like Thorium Reactors and Cars That Run On Water.

  65. Nuclear power may be low carbon, but it is 2x (or more) more expensive than wind or solar. That is not including the gigantic subsidy of liability limits and government liability insurance.

    Lets remove subsidies from all power sources, including nuclear, which means privately funded liability insurance. If the nuclear industry can’t afford private liability insurance, then certainly the public can’t afford the moral hazard that subsidizes risk while privatizing the profits from cutting corners.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2745357

  66. @ David Whitlock 78,

    Sounds like a plan except that there has to be a cost for generating CO2. One option there is to transfer all existing FF subsidies equitably to non-FF sources, but I think you also need an additional “carbon tax” of some nature.

    Also, as I said above, you have to strictly regulate the grid as a common carrier so nuclear and all other non-FF modalities can compete fairly.

  67. #67 etc. Part 1
    We can start here:
    Somebody better tell the IEA. You sound like one of those ‘sceptics’ who thinks that climate scientists don’t know nuffing.

    Maybe the IEA doesn’t do as well as you think.

    The International Energy Agency consistently underestimates wind and solar power. Why?
    “It is somewhat vexing, then, that the IEA has always been, and remains, dismally pessimistic about wind and solar energy. This pessimism has led it to underestimate wind and solar again and again, a track record of failure one might think would trouble an agency known for the quality of its modeling.”

    “It gets even worse when you dig into the details. Here’s the bill of particulars:
    WEO 2010 projected 180 GW of installed solar PV capacity by 2024; that target was met in January 2015.
    Current installed PV capacity exceeds WEO 2010 projections for 2015 by threefold.
    Installed wind capacity in 2010 exceeded WEO 2002 and 2004 projections by 260 and 104 percent respectively.
    WEO 2002 projections for wind energy in 2030 were exceeded in 2010.
    Other, independent analysts (like those at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Citi) have come closer to accurately forecasting renewables. The only forecasts that match IEA’s inaccurate pessimism are those from the likes of BP, Shell, and Exxon Mobil.”
    http://www.vox.com/2015/10/12/9510879/iea-underestimate-renewables

    This is speculation on my part, but I tend to believe that the IEA’s underestimation of renewable energy’s growth would also color its view of the ideal energy-mix.

    The most accurate projections have come from Greenpeace, which, by the way, favors phasing out nuclear energy as quickly as possible.

    “Greenpeace has been publishing its Energy [R]evolution scenarios since 2005, more recently in collaboration with the scientific community, in particular the German Aerospace Centre (DLr). While our predictions on the potential and market growth of renewable energy may once have seemed fanciful or unrealistic, they have proved to be accurate. the US-based Meister Consultants Group concluded earlier this year that ‘the world’s biggest energy agencies, financial institutions and fossil fuel companies for the most part seriously under-estimated just how fast the clean power sector could and would grow’. It wasn’t the IEA, Goldman Sachs or the US Department of Energy who got it right. It was Greenpeace’s market scenario which was the most accurate.”
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Climate-Reports/Energy-Revolution-2015/

    https://motherboard.vice.com/read/guess-who-accurately-predicted-the-explosion-of-the-clean-energy-market

    I think it’s fair to say that the IEA isn’t infallible, and that its renewable energy projections contain biases that consistently have resulted in underestimating the growth of renewables. A recent Bloomberg report confirms that renewables are replacing fossil fuels.

    “Since 2008, the single most important force in U.S. power markets has been the abundance of cheap natural gas brought about by fracking. Cheap gas has ravaged the U.S. coal industry and inspired talk of a “bridge fuel” that moves the world from coal to renewable energy. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. 
    The costs of wind and solar power are falling too quickly for gas ever to dominate on a global scale, according to BNEF. The analysts reduced their long-term forecasts for coal and natural gas prices by a third for this year’s report, but even rock-bottom prices won’t be enough to derail a rapid global transition toward renewable energy.”
    “Already, in many regions, the lifetime cost of wind and solar is less than the cost of building new fossil fuel plants, and that trend will continue. But by 2027, something remarkable happens. At that point, building new wind farms and solar fields will often be cheaper than running the existing coal and gas generators. ‘This is a tipping point that results in rapid and widespread renewables development,’ according to BNEF.”
    “In this discussion of peak fossil fuels, the focus is on electricity generation, not transportation fuels. For cars, peak oil demand will take a bit more time. But the sudden rise of electric cars is on the verge of disrupting oil markets as well, and that has profound implications for electricity markets as more cars plug in.” 
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-13/we-ve-almost-reached-peak-fossil-fuels-for-electricity

    The trend for nuclear energy has been quite different. I again urge you to read the Forward and Executive Summary of The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015.
    http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/20151023MSC-WNISR2015-V4-LR.pdf

    For nuclear capacity to be increased, this trend would have to be reversed. In order for nuclear to contribute 30% of the global energy supply, it would have to increase tenfold. As far as I can see, this would mean that a 1GW reactor would have to be added every day for a period of approximately 25 years, which would also include replacing reactors that have been decommissioned. At present it takes from 6 to 12 years from planning to power generation. I don’t see this as a meaningful way to address climate change. Despite your belief in nuclear technology, scalability is a problem. So is uranium depletion. You’ve mentioned seawater, and research is already being done on extracting uranium from the sea. At present the process is too difficult and too expensive, but it’s improving. In any case, the reason for this research is the depletion of uranium ores. No one knows exactly how long they’ll last, but they are being depleted. And if nuclear energy covered 30% of our energy supply, they would be depleted that much faster. Also, even though it would take many years, extracting uranium from seawater would gradually reduce uranium concentrations and make extraction more difficult and more expensive.

  68. #67 etc. Part 2

    You seem to believe that every technological problem facing nuclear generation is easily solved, while positing that the obstacles facing a transition to an energy system based on renewables is insurmountable. I don’t claim to be aware of every aspect of nuclear technology, but I haven’t yet heard of a reliable, cost-competitive alternative to water cooling. If none yet exists, then nuclear plants still have to be placed by large bodies of water, and are subject to the climate threats I’ve mentioned. Considering that wind turbines can cause popular resistance, and considering your comments on geothermal fracking, it strikes me as inconsistent that you gloss over the siting problem when it concerns nuclear.

    Sorry, I missed this bit:
    Second, your argument predicates that every closed nuclear plant will be replaced by one that utilizes fossil fuels, and that’s not what’s been happening.
    No, it doesn’t.

    But it does if you make the following claim:

    Pushing nuclear off the table now greatly increases the risk of ~70% fossil fuels by mid-century.

    As far as I can see you can only reach a figure like that if what I’ve said is correct. How else can you reach it? And considering the growth of renewables, which has been exponential rather than linear, this seems highly unlikely.

    I saw the MacKay talk. I found it interesting, but I also found it at odds with other information from credible sources. Just as I find his assumptions about geothermal mistaken (more on that shortly), I also question his assessments of land use. His assessment of the land needed for nuclear generation seems to leave a lot out:

    “Taking into account not just the foot-print area of a nuclear power station itself, but also its exclusion zone, associated enrichment plant, ore processing, and supporting infrastructure, work at Stanford University, Stanford, CA [6] has shown that each nuclear power plant surprisingly requires an extended land footprint area of as much as 20.5 km2.”
    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6021978

    I’d thought that MacKay’s approach to geothermal was wrong because he didn’t focus on the hot spots. According to the Greenpeace report I referred to earlier, geothermal can produce far more energy, and play a much larger role than I had realized:

    Geothermal
    Geothermal energy has long been used worldwide for supplying heat, and since the beginning of the last century for electricity generation. Geothermally generated electricity was previously limited to sites with specific geological conditions, but further intensive research and development work widened potential sites. In particular the creation of large underground heat exchange surfaces – Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) – and the improvement of low temperature power conversion, for example with the Organic Rankine Cycle, could make it possible to produce geothermal electricity anywhere. Advanced heat and power cogeneration plants will also improve the economics of geothermal electricity.
    A large part of the costs for a geothermal power plant come from deep underground drilling, so further development of innovative drilling technology is expected. Assuming a global average market growth for geothermal power capacity increasing to 30% per year after 2020, adjusting to 14% beyond 2030, the result would be a cost reduction potential of more than 60% by 2050:
    • for conventional geothermal power, from 15 cents/kWh to about 9 cents/kWh;
    • for EGS, despite the presently high figures (about 20 cents/kWh), electricity production costs – depending on the payments for heat supply – are expected to come down to around 8 cents/kWh in the long term.
    Because of its non-fluctuating supply and flexibility of operation, geothermal energy could be a key element in a future supply structure based on renewable sources. Up to now we have only used a marginal part of the potential. Shallow geothermal drilling, for example, can deliver of heating at any time anywhere, and can be used for thermal energy storage.”
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/climate/2015/Energy-Revolution-2015-Full.pdf p.70
    (See chapter 5.)

    Re. Denmark, it’s true that we’ve profited from Norwegian and Swedish hydro, but by focusing on this you ignore the diversity of the Danish system, which, as I’ve mentioned, is based on the optimal use of available resources, including biogas, biomass, solar, and others. It’s also based on a world-leading system of co-generation, the weatherization of our buildings, and a transportation system that encourages the use of bikes and mass transit. Our transition would have been more difficult without the mutually beneficial collaboration, but I don’t think it would have been impossible. And we do make use of other kinds of storage than pumped hydro. But isn’t it logical for us (and other countries) to make use of beneficial international agreements?

  69. Correction #81
    “…while positing that the obstacles facing a transition to an energy system based on renewables is insurmountable.”
    …that the obstacles…are insurmountable.

  70. #71

    “To put it another way: For every GW of RE capacity we manufacture, we must put them into operation replacing FF power plants first, and keep the nuclear plants operating in the meantime — to prevent diversion of RE that could allow the FF plants to shut down.
    Only after we have replaced all the FF plants will we have the luxury of directing our RE production to begin replacing nuclear plants.”

    I don’t understand how you can reach that conclusion. Do you believe that the renewable energy industry can only do one thing at a time? Do you believe the industry can choose freely between replacing nuclear and fossil fuel plants, that it replaces nuclear plants instead of fossil fuel plants?

    Also, as others have noted, thorium plants don’t exist, so you would be waiting for the technology to be developed and permitted while coal-fired plants continued spewing their poisons and emissions. Renewable technologies already exist, and the time from plan to production is relatively short.

  71. #67

    Corrections #80
    “I again urge you to read the Forward and Executive Summary…”
    …the Foreword…

    “As far as I can see, this would mean that a 1GW reactor would have to be added every day for a period of approximately 25 years, which would also include replacing reactors that have been decommissioned.”

    …approximately 11 years…
    The shorter period of time also means that fewer decommissioned reactors would have to be replaced, but the difficulty remains.

    The NOAA paper shows that an improved grid in conjunction with renewables could lead to a dramatic reduction in emissions, and I imagine that that also would be the case elsewhere. What’s lacking is political will.

    Abstract
    Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are a major cause of anthropogenic climate change. The deployment of wind and solar power reduces these emissions, but is subject to the variability of the weather. In the present study, we calculate the cost- optimized configuration of variable electrical power generators using weather data with high spatial (13-km) and temporal (60-min) resolution over the contiguous US. Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity. The reductions are possible with current technologies and without electrical storage. Wind and solar power increase their share of electricity production as the system grows to encompass large-scale weather patterns. This reduction in carbon emissions is achieved by moving away from a regionally divided electricity sector to a national system enabled by high-voltage direct-current transmission.
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n5/full/nclimate2921.html
    (My emphasis.)

  72. You seem to believe that every technological problem facing nuclear generation is easily solved, while positing that the obstacles facing a transition to an energy system based on renewables is insurmountable.

    Please read what I write. I’ve already repeated myself several times now.

    Your entire position is unsupportable. You do not have the data to argue for nuclear phase-out at this stage so doing so is illogical and increases risk.

    Nor have you understood the central points made in MacKay’s talk (which is based on published research showing that the limits to renewables potential are routinely misunderstood, overlooked or underestimated).

    You also mistake relatively rapid early-phase growth in the renewables sector as strong evidence that it will continue to grow exponentially. This is a common error arising from a failure to account for the difference between current renewables penetration and high-level penetration into the energy mix. Right now, renewables are free riders, with existing FF capacity amply compensating for intermittency and slew. Exceeding this buffer will require the construction (and in the case of SPV, the *invention* of very large scale utility power storage. If you think this can be done while maintaining exponential growth in renewables capacity, you do not understand the engineering constraints involved.

    Studies that purport to show that large-scale renewables do not require large-scale storage have not met with widespread acceptance. They are rightly regarded as idealised and highly speculative. This is at the root of the problem – too much handwaving and not enough data.

  73. A large part of the costs for a geothermal power plant come from deep underground drilling, so further development of innovative drilling technology is expected.

    Translated from handwaving = “actually, at this point, we cannot drill deep enough to make this work and this is all rather speculative”.

    Even so, since you persist, please show calculations equivalent to MacKay’s for per capita energy potential for geothermal:

    For the temperature profile shown in figure 16.4, I calculated that the optimal depth is about 15 km. Under these conditions, an ideal heat engine would deliver 17 mW/m2. At the world population density of 43 people per square km, that’s 10 kWh per person per day, if all land area were used. In the UK, the population density is 5 times greater, so wide-scale geothermal power of this sustainable-forever variety could offer at most 2 kWh per person per day.

    This is the sustainable-forever figure, ignoring hot spots, assuming perfect power stations, assuming every square metre of continent is exploited, and assuming that drilling is free. And that it is possible to drill 15-km deep holes.

  74. As far as I can see you can only reach a figure like that if what I’ve said is correct. How else can you reach it?

    If renewables expansion is slower and energy delivered is lower than the vocal optimists believe, then the displacement of FFs will be less. If renewables have to compensate for an absence of nuclear (phase-out by mid-century) *as well* as take a bite out of the FF sector, then the energy mix by ~2050 will contain a far higher percentage of FFs than it would if there is a sustained build-out of nuclear in parallel to renewables expansion.

    This is not hard to grasp and two commentators have tried to explain it to you now, so perhaps the onus is on you to have a quiet rethink.

  75. Hey Greg,

    Do you get paid by the number of comments or the number of words people use to say essentially nothing, over and over?

    Just curious.

  76. ““He’s saying nationalize the energy grid.”

    No, I’m the one saying that the government should establish strict regulation of grid operation along the lines of “common carrier”.”

    No, Greg is saying to nationalise the energy grid.

    Right there in black and white. YOUR claim is NOT “nationalise the energy grid”. If it were, you’d use thew words “nationalise” and “the” and “energy” and “grid”.

    This is how words work.

    Go back.

    Read post 20.

    The words are quite clear.

    Even if I completely disagreed with the plan, it’s still pretty darn clear what greg said, and nobody should be capable of claiming otherwise.

    Unless those were weasel words, zebra.

    Different species.

  77. If you’re going “my plan to nationalise the grid is this… therefore what’s YOUR plan to do it, Greg”, then why not damn well say so? Why ask fatuously vague questions? This isn’t the five minute arguement where you attempt to string it out to get your money’s worth.

  78. “One can’t generalize from Denmark’s experience in every respect, but one certainly can in some: ”

    One being that the claims of the doommongers wanting either FF or Nuke power that if we went above 40% renewable we’d all collapse into the dark ages was complete and utter bollocks.

  79. “To put it another way: For every GW of RE capacity we manufacture, we must put them into operation replacing FF power plants first,”

    Nope, we don’t. We can replace ANY large infrastructure with renewables and place them closer to where needed because they’re less catastrophic under failure.

    No need to do it to FF plants first.

  80. “There is no national plan and there never will be.

    Is yet another example of Zebra’s own hypocrisy and attempt to play God and dictate “political realities” to everyone”

    Only in the “never will be”, and that isn’t dictating that nobody must ever look, but cynisism based on the current inaction on just about every other major shift in culture ever made to date, especailly when power is involved. Nobody with power wants change because they may lose against others, they close the gap. Nobody without power has the power to change.

    It’s not dictating if it’s a prediction rather than a commandment.

    And it doesn’t read as a commandment.

  81. WOW,

    If you follow the discussion

    1) I am clearly differentiating between the grid and electricity generation.

    2) I am differentiating between the traditional meaning of “nationalize” as it might be applied to either sector (grid/generation) and “effective” nationalization of the grid.

    In other words, you could implement my plan by having the government own and operate all transmission infrastructure, from cross-country HVDC to the wires from the pole to your house. Not a great idea; I think you just need very strong regulation, and that would be “effective” nationalization because operation would be uniform across all jurisdictions.

    As far as generating electricity, no, beyond health and safety regulations and dis-incentivizing FF use, I don’t see how it would be possible to “nationalize” either literally or effectively.

    I thought that was understood earlier, but if not, I hope this makes it clear.

  82. #85

    Please read what I write. I’ve already repeated myself several times now.

    Just a few words. I have read, usually quite carefully, what you’ve written. At times I’ve felt the way you do, but I’m certain that neither of us has willfully misrepresented what the other has written.

    I’ve also read and watched MacKay, and I understand the point he’s making about the limits of renewables, but I (perhaps naively) still believe that a system based on renewables and existing and developing storage systems could work. I also believe that increased efficiency, a combination of new and better technology, and improved application will reduce the limitations McKay describes. I agree with you that the exponential growth of renewables eventually will level off, but the growth will continue.

    I do need to comment on this, though:

    Translated from handwaving = “actually, at this point, we cannot drill deep enough to make this work and this is all rather speculative”.

    Fine, it’s speculative, but so is this:

    Arguments that ‘we can’t’ site new plant safely are as transparently weak as those that we cannot engineer robustness against extreme weather.

    And this:

    And there’s the sea, if push comes to shove.

    Both of us are to some extent talking about things that haven’t happened yet, i.e. that are speculative, and I wish you’d recognize that.

    Nonetheless, you’ve given me a better idea of where you stand and of some of the arguments against my position, and I’d like to thank you for that. Considering my humanistic background, I’m sure that there are others who can make my case better than I can.

    The end.

  83. “Both of us are to some extent talking about things that haven’t happened yet, i.e. that are speculative, and I wish you’d recognize that.”

    Buddy doesn’t do that.

    YOU are speculating, HE is “reporting what very smart people YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO QUESTION are saying”.

    IOW, same as climate deniers, going “I’m just reporting what some PhD said…”.

  84. “If you follow the discussion

    1) I am clearly differentiating between the grid and electricity generation.”

    Why?

    The grid doesn’t add any operating CO2 (or other significant pollution). Generation does.

    So why constrict the least damaging element and let the other run rampant?

    Secondly, so what? What was GREG talking about? When you ask what Greg means, even if I’m the one answering it, it doesn’t make it about what YOU said.

    If you’ve followed the discussion, you would have done this, but you’re reading the words you think should be there, not the ones actually on the page.

    Try that.

  85. “In other words, you could implement my plan by having the government own and operate all transmission infrastructure”

    Or you could implement it by nationalising the fossil fuel generation industry.

    You know, like greg said.

  86. Wow,

    “why constrict the least damaging element and let the other run rampant”

    ?

    I’m not letting anything run rampant; I’m imposing some disincentive to generating CO2– carbon tax, fee and dividend, whatever you want to call it. (Step 1)

    And there are effects of Step 2 that reduce CO2 as well. If you would study the issue instead of trying to nitpick language, you would be able to see that. Part 2 makes Part 1 more effective. Note my use of the word “leverage”.

  87. Here are nine questions I wish everyone arguing over the future of nuclear power would consider carefully.

    1. In the beginning of the development of nuclear power, were the various design options thoroughly explored to determine their relative safety and value?

    2. Have breeder reactors, and especially the Integral Fast Reactor/Advanced Fast Reactor, been given enough development funding and time?

    3. Is it feasible to recycle used nuclear fuel to extend the supply of natural uranium?

    4. Is it feasible to burn used fuel in order to reduce the time it must be sequestered?

    5. Can a fuel-recycling process be devised that avoids the possibility of proliferation?

    6. Can a power reactor be built that is inherently safe; i.e. that won’t melt its core if it loses cooling water? (We know a research reactor can: the General Atomics TRIGA.)

    7. Is it feasible to cool a reactor without water?

    8. Is it feasible to cool a reactor with a closed-cycle water system?

    9. Do distributed arrays of low-power reactors make sense?

    I would answer “No” to the first two questions, and “Yes” to the others — with the proviso that some of the “Yeses” are less confident than others.

  88. #4 is “no”.

    “Unburned” reactor fuel, meaning “trans-uranic elements that have not fissioned” fall into two categories: Those which have not absorbed neutrons or have absorbed them to arrive at another almost stable isotope, and those which have absorbed neutrons to create very unstable isotopes, yet have not fissioned as a result.

    The first category are only mildly radioactive, and can be reprocessed into fuel, rather than sequestered. The second category transmutate rapidly into either fairly stable isotopes of another element, or into similarly unstable isotopes that continue decaying. The more radioactive intermediaries, by virtue of being more unstable, don’t last long (in appreciable amounts), so not much need for sequestration there.

    It’s the fission products that tend to be radioactive for a considerable time, are chemically reactive, and which pose a threat to health and need sequestration. However, these elements cannot be “burned”. The have unstable nuclei, and adding neutrons in a reactor core only tends to make them more unstable and more “hot” — rather than stable and less radioactive and in need of less sequestration.

    The thing to do is process the spent fuel rods to remove unfissioned elements and recycle them (fulfilling #2, 3, & 5), and concentrate the fission products (creating high-level waste), mix it with glass frit, melt it, and pour it into stainless steel casks and bury them in deep salt mines. The amount of such waste is a pittance compared to the radioactive, mutagenic waste from coal plants, which also contain heavy metals and produce sulfur & nitrogen oxides as well as CO2.

  89. “Wow,

    “why constrict the least damaging element and let the other run rampant”

    ?

    I’m not letting anything run rampant”

    ?

    Yes you are.

    Leaving the fossil fuel industry alone will let it run rampant.

    You DO know we’re doing just that and the proof is there out the window.

  90. Other problems with nuclear fuel is that if there’s a capture of neutrons in a decay product that leads to fewer neutrons or neutrons that can’t be utilised for further fission, then your reaction is “poisoned” and cannot continue. Those materials are still radioactive and rather unpleasant and removing them expensive.

  91. @ Wow 102.

    How is imposing a price on CO2 with a carbon tax or other form of regulation “leaving the FF industry alone”?

    You are beginning to sound irrational.

  92. Brainstorms: Thank you for addressing one of my questions. However, I’m a bit confused. In your third paragraph, you write: “The more radioactive intermediaries, by virtue of being more unstable, don’t last long (in appreciable amounts), so not much need for sequestration there.”

    In the next paragraph, you posit that some components of the spent fuel become more unstable when irradiated in the reactor, and therefore must be sequestered This sounds contradictory.

  93. This is a seemingly contradictory, and counter-intuitive characteristic of radioactive substances: the more radioactive a substance is, the faster it becomes harmless. Similarly, those substances that remain radioactive for a long time are not very radioactive to begin with.

    So the highly radioactive elements in spent fuel rods don’t need long-term sequestration, since they decay quickly, typically while the rods cool down in nearby storage pools. By the time the rods are ready for reprocessing, most of these (but not all!) are gone.

    And the “unburned” (unfissioned) heavy elements also don’t need sequestration. They can either be reprocessed into new fuel rods, or they often can serve other purposes. (Example: This is how NASA gets a particular short-lived plutonium isotope that provides the heat source for their RTG power supplies for deep space spacecraft.)

    It’s the “elements in the middle”, the fission products that can’t be further “burned”, aren’t low-level radioactive, yet aren’t short-lived either, that are the greatest danger. These also tend to be chemically or biologically active as well (e.g., iodine-131 will be readily absorbed and then accumulate in the thyroid gland and lead to cancer; radioactive strontium will be taken up into bones).

    This last category is mainly what needs to be sequestered after being separated from spent fuel (after useful fission products are extracted, too). That’s the part that’s not useful, and is too radioactive for too long, requiring it to be kept out of the ecosystem for very long periods of time.

    But that’s actually easy to achieve. Deep salt mines are known to have remarkably stable formations that are essentially impermeable to ground water and can be sealed off almost indefinitely. In fact, they can keep radioactive elements sequestered much better than nature does with naturally-occurring radioactive substances.

    Of all the positive things that nuclear power has going for it, waste disposal is one of the best characteristics. So it’s all the more ironic that disposal is usually targeted for discrediting nuclear power. It’s only a political problem, not a technical one.

  94. “This is a seemingly contradictory, and counter-intuitive characteristic of radioactive substances: the more radioactive a substance is, the faster it becomes harmless”

    You DO know that the products can also be dangerous, even radioactive, right?

  95. “How is imposing a price on CO2 with a carbon tax or other form of regulation “leaving the FF industry alone”?”

    How is telling Greg that he can’t proffer the idea of nationalising the fossil fuel industry NOT “leaving the FF industry alone”, Zebra?

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