Nuclear Industry Suffers Meltdown?

It is hard to get very far into a discussion of non-fossil fuel energy, and the energy transition, without someone coming along and yammering about nuclear energy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for inexpensive and safe nuclear power and for building nuclear power plants that promise to eat up all the waste, do not create any more waste, are totally safe, are affordable, are efficient, don’t require the equivalent of slave labor to mine the uranium, and are cost effective. Bring it on!

But the nuclear industry is generally troubled by the fact that this list of promises is not possible. Well, each item on that list can be delivered by this or that technology, but not all in one power plant. And, on top of that, nuclear plants are just too darn expensive to build.

Moments ago, Westinghouse Electric Company, which is owned by Toshiba of Japan, filed for bankruptcy. Westinghouse is a key player in the nuclear industry, globally. This filing is a very big deal, and may signal either the end to or a dramatic slowdown of movement towards expanding nuclear capacity.

And it isn’t just Westinghouse. From the New York Times:

General Electric, a pioneer in the field, has scaled back its nuclear operations, expressing doubt about their economic viability. Areva, the French builder, is mired in losses and undergoing a large-scale restructuring.

Among the winners could be China, which has ambitions to turn its growing nuclear technical abilities into a major export. That has raised security concerns in some countries.

The shrinking field is a challenge for the future of nuclear power, and for Toshiba’s revival plans. Its executives have said they would like to sell all or part of Westinghouse to a competitor, but with a dwindling list of potential buyers — combined with Westinghouse’s history of financial calamity — that has become a difficult task.

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183 thoughts on “Nuclear Industry Suffers Meltdown?

  1. Thorium reactors?

    Not a silver bullet for all problems, but greatly lessens most of them, and compared to carbon fuels is (to me, anyway) a no-brainer.

  2. Rather like saying that being killed by lethal injection is better than being nailed to a piece of wood upside-down and sliced apart.

    Thorium has been a thing for nearly as long as fusion, 60-80 years. Still not managed one that will be workable in the real market.

  3. For nuclear to flourish the regulatory environment must change.

    Fortunately, we now have an administration which may actually do that.

  4. Safety in all matters is an issue of cost. Cars could be made as durable as tanks, but how empty would roads be if the mandate was $100K vehicles. Airlines could hand search every bag and every person, but they would go out of business as the costs of the manpower rose.

    Nothing is 100% safe. There’s this crazy idea that taking risks is worth it when the reward is great enough. We don’t get guarantees.

  5. So how much per life saved is sufficient? And nobody other than you is demanding 100% safe.

    Or can i ask why some say we should have 100% unsafe nuclear power?

  6. Bruce, thorium is everywhere. That sounds like a good thing, but it is not. If you want to mine something, you want it to be not very many places, but highly concentrated where it is found. I am pretty sure there are serious concerns with Thorium in that regard.

    But, again, they are one of the “next gen” reactors that address SOME but not all of the concerns. Thorium reactor pushers usually switch the conversation part way in and start talking about next generation reactors, or some such thing, so they can add virtues to the list that Thorium reactors don’t actually have.

  7. I’m pretty sure all this talk about safety is entirely out of left field. There have been no specific statements about safety, other than that the nuclear power industry promises safety whenever no one who knows anything is in the room.

    This is not about technology, folks. This is about an industry that came up on bullshit and is still full of bullshit. I know guys who would do a great job painting my house, but I won’t let them near my house because they are crooks.

  8. “regulatory environment must change.

    Fortunately, we now have an administration which may actually do that.”

    How odd that intelligent people are worried about this, as they remember how businesses fucked up the country side before regulations came into being.

    Only the ideologically stupid and fundamentally dishonest (you’re in the intersection there rickA) think it is a good idea.

  9. Looking just at your blog, I see
    “the endpoint of this approach is the ruination of our livable climate and the needless suffering of billions of people for decades to come.”
    ” hopes for a livable future climate”
    “attacks that threaten our health and the planet’s health”
    “the energy transition that is absolutely required if our global civilization is expected to survive into the future”

    Now you are talking about safety issues with nuclear. Surely these are small compared to the above? If some companies are going bankrupt, then why not subsidize them, as other renewables are? Why declare the bankruptcies mean the end of the industry? Or perhaps more nuclear technology needs to be invested, more pilot programs?

  10. Until there is private liability insurance for nuclear power, there will be what is called “moral hazard”. Government liability limits and liability insurance create the perverse incentive for designers, builders, owners and operators of nuclear power plants to skimp on safety because that increases profits while the risks are born by the public.

    You can’t be for “smaller government” and for liability limits and government liability insurance.

  11. I think it is a far sadder story than you portray. I believe that the NYTimes buried the lede. Near the end you read:

    … because nuclear construction had been dormant for so long, American companies also lacked the equipment and expertise needed to make some of the biggest components and construct the projects.

    Indeed, that may ultimately have been at the root of the troubles. The contractor Westinghouse chose to complete the projects struggled to meet the strict demands of nuclear construction and was undergoing its own internal difficulties after a merger. “

    We’ve seemingly lost the ability to even build these facilities. The Chinese, meanwhile, are going forward at 1000 mph.

  12. Well, not so much. They’re working far more on renewables. They pay back faster for a start. And are safer to deploy in a changing world.

    But, like Pakistan, India, France, GB, and the USA et al, nukes are a government willy waving contest. Nowadays, it’s probably more of a political sovereignty requirement. Iraq showed that if you aren’t a nuclear power you can get invaded when the USA wants to get rid of a troublesome leader.

  13. Serious question: what are the problems of using thorium? I know the basic process: thorium-232 gets smacked by a neutron, becomes Uranium-233 (which is fissile), gets hit by another neutron and fissions (most of the time), releasing 2 or 3 neutrons that continue the process.

  14. Tom Murphy’s Alternative Energy Matrix
    Thorium Breeder: Thorium is more abundant than uranium, and only comes in one flavor naturally, so that abundance is not an issue. Like all reactors, thorium reactors fall into the high-tech camp, and include new challenges (e.g., liquid sodium) that conventional reactors have not faced. There have been a few instances of small-scale demonstration, but nothing in the commercial realm, so that we’re probably a few decades away from being able to bring thorium online. Public reaction will be likely be similar to that for conventional nuclear: not a show stopper, but some resistance on similar grounds. It is not clear whether the newfangled aspect of thorium will be greeted with suspicion or with an embrace. Though also a breeding technology (making fissile 233U from 232Th), the proliferation aspect is severely diminished for thorium due to highly radioactive 232U by-product and virtually no easily separable plutonium. Of the future nuclear prospects, I am most optimistic about this one—although it’s no nirvana to me.

  15. It absorbs the neutron which is lost for the chain reaction.

    Th-232 + n -> Th-233 -> Pa-233 -> U-233

    Pa-233 is a very good neutron absorber and because of its long half-life (27 days) compared to Th-233 (22 minutes) builds up faster in the core than the U-233 does. If the Pa-233 absorbs another neutron it transmutes to Pa-234 – another good absorber – and eventually into U-235 which is fissile but requires yet another neutron.

    This abysmal neutron economy is one major problem of Thorium-Reactors. In fact all of the large Power Reactors built in the 70s and 80s needed additional feed of fissile Uranium for Operation and comparatively little energy came from the fission from Uranium from the breeding process.

  16. Yes, the nuclear industry is in a mess. No, the future doesn’t look too bright for it at the moment.

    That means that the already daunting mountain of decarbonisation will be significantly higher and harder to climb.

  17. Greg

    This is not about technology, folks. This is about an industry that came up on bullshit and is still full of bullshit. I know guys who would do a great job painting my house, but I won’t let them near my house because they are crooks.

    The energy industry as a whole is full of bullshit. Everybody forgets that renewables aren’t delivered by smiling non-profits but by the same beady-eyed, self-serving capitalist swine you find everywhere else. And you can’t trust any of them further than you can spit.

    Yes, I’m couching this in humorous terms, but it is true, all the same. I do hope *all* sectors of the energy industry will be held to the same critical standard in the future as we currently apply to nuclear and FF. Because in essence, they are exactly the same.

  18. “Serious question: what are the problems of using thorium?”

    It is still toxic, still dangerous, and several designs are either prone to dangerous excess or ineffective producers.

    Try googling.

    And the fact that no commercially viable design, despite even pebble bed reactors being “so simple to set up, and safe!” should indicate that there’s some serious problems with the design starting point. It’s not like the pebble bed design is new, being proposed in the 1940s.

    Even Fusion broke even EROEI some decade or two ago.

  19. “That means that the already daunting mountain of decarbonisation will be significantly higher and harder to climb.”

    Given we already have current nuclear, how is it “harder and higher” to climb when we continue to have current nuclear???? Scare mongering again.

  20. “Everybody forgets that renewables aren’t delivered by smiling non-profits”

    You forget that many or most installations are personal. So you’re calling everyone a beady eyed bullshitting financial shark.

    Renewables are cheaper to start off on, except for a local ICE generator, which is probably less efficient than cars, and don’t even do a minor amount of CHP like a car does with its hot air venting. Stick ’em on your roof, and become a bullshitting shyster yourself!

  21. MikeN #9,

    If there is some kind of disincentive to burning fossil fuels (like a carbon tax), then nuclear plants will be built where they can make money.

    There is already a subsidy, and research funding, in place for them; there just isn’t a profitable market.

    This is why the endless, repetitive, debate is absurd, and why the correct approach is for the government to intervene where market dynamics allows it to be effective.

    We have seen technology develop again and again due to that kind of nuanced action. A good recent example is LED bulbs:

    Remember, there was all this outrage about “take my incandescent bulbs from my cold dead hands”. But the government never banned that technology; it just set efficiency standards, which it turns out could be met by incandescents.. The market and engineering did the rest. Now we have a real leap in both quality of light and in reducing energy consumption.

    So, eliminate anti-competitive structures in the energy sector, and disincentivize FF burning, and the technology will sort itself according to local needs.

  22. Given we already have current nuclear, how is it “harder and higher” to climb when we continue to have current nuclear???? Scare mongering again.

    ?

    If we phase out nuclear instead of increasing its share of the energy sector, there’s a decarbonisation hole that has to be filled in by other means.

    You forget that many or most installations are personal. So you’re calling everyone a beady eyed bullshitting financial shark.

    God no. The companies that manufacture the panels (and install them) are yer capitalist running dogs. Not the householder. Also this is to move the focus away from the corporations that will build the giant, world-girlding power generating machine of tomorrow, which is what I was talking about. They are not, and never will be any more your fluffy friends than the energy industry of today.

  23. Wow #19,

    I think it is less polluting and more efficient to run a diesel at relatively constant rpm as a generator.

    Consider all those Brit and Euro cities choked by diesel fumes these days. If all those cars were EV, charged most of the time by wind and solar, and you had even ICE back-up generators, it probably would still be a net positive.

    In addition, consider that you can do co-generation with a local ICE generator using biofuel.

    Again, technology will sort itself given a chance. And the kind of technology I am talking about is basically off-the-shelf in some form or other, unlike the magical thorium nukes and other vaporware.

  24. “I think it is less polluting and more efficient to run a diesel at relatively constant rpm as a generator. ”

    But such generators are not as efficient, because they’re built to a power/price point, not beholden to CAFE standards (did I get the USA law right?).

    And they aren’t overhauled by law like car engines.

    Most diesels, by the way, are run at nearly the same rpm. That’s why diesel cars have so many gears, and trucks have a shitload of gears.

  25. “If we phase out nuclear”

    Where did you bring up that titbit in the post I responded to?

    And we’d still have more renewables unless you’re idiotically assuming we replace mostly coal with mostly nuclear, so still the question remains: why is it harder?

    “there’s a decarbonisation hole that has to be filled in by other means. ”

    So it’s the same size hill to climb.

    “” You forget that many or most installations are personal. So you’re calling everyone a beady eyed bullshitting financial shark.”

    God no”

    Hell yes. You said power providers. Whooshing the goalposts again, BBD, anything to promote your scaremongering.

    The panels are sold by companies making them. But they don’t have to be huge companies. Companies are run by cold-eyed financial sharks? All their customers clueless? Or sharks too?

    Everyone who wants to start their own company are made sharks by what induction method? Or is it only sharks want to start their own company?

    When you get out of an InfoWars commercial, please rejoin sanity and partake of this reality which is not peopled by caricatures, but actual human beings.

  26. Wow,

    Good point about CAFE.

    There are some standards here on small engines, but more stringent ones are due to California being a large enough market to influence manufacturers.

  27. Okay, Wow has ruined another thread.

    Until this gets sorted out, intelligent discussion will be impossible.

    NB, Greg.

  28. Zebra, my view of lightbulbs is they serve as a warning sign on renewable energy. What the efficiency rules that phased out the old locally produced lightbulbs that you could throw in the trash did was to get lots of people to install CFLs that contain mercury and will poison the environment for decades. We know they are not going to be disposed of properly. LEDs took a little while longer to develop at a cheap price point. Without the standards, there would be much less CFLs right now(which I think should be banned on environmental grounds). I think the subsidies for renewables would serve to lock in ‘profitable’ technology rather than spur improvement.

  29. Very bad news about these companies going bankrupt, if one is concerned about CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use. As the US Energy Information Administration shows, when a nuclear plant closes or is not built, it is generally replaced by fossil fuels, particularly natural gas (as of about a year ago, now #1 producer of electricity, overtaking coal) https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=28572
    This is also the case in Japan after Fukushima, as their electricity generation was previously 60% generated by imported fossil fuels, now 90% https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=19951 Japan has also announced this year the opening of 45 coal plants http://www.platts.com/latest-news/coal/sydney/japan-plans-to-build-45-new-coal-power-plants-27762428 However, maybe a few less of these coal plants will be required as Japan’s supreme court has overturned keeping older nuclear power plants closed, are now allowed to reopen https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-28/japan-overturns-ruling-barring-nuclear-reactor-operation-nhk Fossil fuel and nuclear are able to provide around the clock electricity generation that modern societies require, but fossil fuels are cheaper for various reasons today.

  30. Not really. 30 years ago it might have been, but the delays from deniers whining about doing anything all the time mean we haven’t had time to solve the issue with nuclear power, we JUST DO NOT have the time left.

    Whether they went out of business or not.

    30 years ago it could be ramped up and designed and planned properly, but it would be rushed, badly placed and take away from the only viable solutions to decarbonise: renewable rollout.

  31. MikeN #29,

    I can’t follow your reasoning there.

    First, the math says whatever risk from mercury in CFL is trivial compared to the mercury dumped into the environment from mining coal and burning coal. Even if people don’t recycle, the bulbs are “sequestered” in landfills. All kinds of consumer electronics have heavy metals to deal with.

    But, more to the point– you seem to be contradicting yourself. LED are winning, because they are better.

    Same will happen with cars and electricity generation.

    The government didn’t mandate CFL, it just created a more competitive situation where externalities were returned to the market where they belong. Remember, people could still buy incandescent technology, and they still can today. But no rational person would buy anything but LED at this point, for most applications.

    Likewise, to repeat my point yet again: Arguing about whether nuclear is “better” than renewables is silly. If there’s a competitive market, people will choose whatever is best for themselves.

    The government’s role is to make sure the market is competitive and to internalize social costs.

  32. Uranium mining is mentioned and unfortunately, when it comes to energy, there is no free lunch. The USA’s Dep’t of Energy 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review discusses material requirements (aluminium, cooper, steel, concrete, glass, iron, steel, etc) per tera-watt/hour for various electricity generation sources in Chapter 10, page 390 https://energy.gov/under-secretary-science-and-energy/quadrennial-technology-review-2015. (Nature Geoscience also published an article about this a few years ago https://jmkorhonen.net/2013/11/29/graphic-of-the-week-the-hidden-fuels-of-renewable-energy/). As we transition to cleaner forms of energy, the Review raises possible issues with supply availability, for example, rare earth elements (each wind turbine requires about 600kg of rare earths). As one can see here, rare earth mining is perhaps the most toxic form of mining on the planet http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth. The Washington Post recently did investigative reporting on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Amnesty International has raised concerns) https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/ and graphite mining in China https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/graphite-mining-pollution-in-china/. Cobalt and graphite are critical components in electric vehicles and batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall.
    Climate scientists tell us we need to greatly reduce CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use quickly. As there are currently billions today with inadequate access to energy (as seen here https://www.cgdev.org/dont-want-kinky-energy-either) and as our population grows to about 10 billion by mid-century, it is likely in all our best interests, despite various pros and cons, that we support and promote all forms of clean energy.

    Oh, one more point “The bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co., the Pittsburgh-based nuclear power company, is a geopolitical setback for the U.S. It halts a long-standing U.S. effort to get Eastern European countries to buy U.S. rather than Russian fuel, and leaves state-controlled Russian and Chinese companies the dominant suppliers in the huge global market for nuclear technology.” https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-30/u-s-nuclear-setback-is-a-boon-to-russia-china

    1. Todd, I’m going to allow your comment (it was held in moderation because of all the links) but I do want to note that it is a mish mash of cherry picked and in some cases very questionable sources in the form of a gish gallop designed to express a climate change denier’s position. People reading this comment should take it with a grain of salt.

      Cleary, Todd believes the only way forward is pumping oil and digging coal, which apparently have no negative effects.

    2. Greg, would you care to point the “very questionable sources”?

      Obviously incorrect about my thoughts on pumping oil and digging coal. Coal is not only the highest CO2 emitter, but also highest polluter of particulate matter, nitrix oxide, sulfer dioxide, etc. as the National Renewable Energy Lab and UN IPCC point out. http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/sustain_lca_results.html
      Germany has decided to deploy wind and solar and shut down nuclear, you can see here, from perhaps the biggest booster of the German ‘Energiewende” program, they will miss CO2 emission targets ‘by a mile” (also note my comment) https://energytransition.org/2017/03/germany-to-miss-2020-carbon-reduction-targets-by-a-mile/ More information on the German transition for electricity (data from 2002 – 2016) https://thstlewpg.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/germany-electricity-statistics/ and comparison to other countries https://thstlewpg.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/international-energy-agency-electricity-production-statistics-for-oecd-countries-2014-2016/ . We have to electrify everything and electricity needs to be clean, so grams of CO2 emitted per kilowatt-hour is critical. International Energy Agency states it needs to be below 100. Germany is stuck at 535, France, Sweden, Switzerland have been well below 100 for years.

  33. Why is grams CO2 emitted/KwH important? I thought the point was to reduce the total emissions amount. Does Nature react differently if you produce energy?

  34. Because that is a measure of the inefficiency of the production.

    Are you a complete dumbass or were you just typing to see your name?

  35. Grams of CO2 emitted per kilowatt-hour shows how CO2 intensive your electricity is. For example, a grid dominated by coal would produce greater than 800 grams of CO2 for each kilowatt-hour produced, whereas one dominated by, for example, hydro might produce 50. Here is a map of Europe electricity grids, click on a country and in the left pane, you will see how much electricity is produced using fossil fuels and how many grams of CO2 are emitted per kwh and how carbon intensive that country’s electricity has been in the last 24 hours https://www.electricitymap.org/

  36. Todd De Ryck,

    So what’s your plan? And here’s what I mean by “plan”:

    What legislation would the US government pass to achieve your supposed goal of “electrify everything” using nuclear?

    We are aware of the current substantial support afforded by the US government to the reactors involved in the Westinghouse fiasco.

    What more would you have the US government do to prevent a similar outcome, and at the necessary scale (not 4 reactors but 200-300.)

  37. First of all, if you review my previous comments, the statement “electrify everything using nuclear” needs correcting, I have stated all forms of clean energy need to be supported and promoted.
    Mackay Miller, currently technology advisor at National Grid US and used to work at National Renewable Energy Labs, proposed 40%nuclear/40% renewables and 20% natural gas (I believe moreso the methane leaking from landfills, not fossil fuel and fracked) also Jeff Terry (professor, Department of Physics Illinois Institute of Technology) wrote about that here http://thebulletin.org/commentary/research-warrants-significant-increase-nuclear-power. NREL proposed a similar mix, but also suggests in this post to use nuclear for industrial heat as well http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/63207.pdf . I’d also recommend writings of the late Sir David MacKay former Chief Scientific Advisor for UK’s dep’t of Energy and Climate Change “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air” http://withouthotair.com/ and “the global calculator” (in which one can devise their own energy plans) http://globalcalculator.org/ . Also the book “Sustainable Materials with both Eyes Open” http://www.withbotheyesopen.com/ Also, be sure to review Lawrence Livermore National Labs data on the current state of USA energy, I’m sure 2016 data will be up soon (one can even select individual states) https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/commodities/energy This bipartisan bill “Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act” might help. https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/3/epw-committee-passes-bipartisan-nuclear-energy-legislation

  38. Todd De Ryck,

    So, like all the other Magical Thinkers here, you can tell me what you would like to see in your future Nirvana, but not how to achieve it.

    I asked you what legislation you would have the federal government pass. Do you have an answer, or are you in fact what Greg thought– a Denialist troll?

  39. zebra, I’ll assume you called me a “Magical Thinker” before comment #41 was posted. What are your plans and how are they to be achieved?

  40. Todd De Ryck,

    I posted it in response to 41.

    Where is your answer?

    What legislation would you have the federal government pass to achieve your goal?

  41. #34 Todd DR

    Large-scale manufacture of turbines and SPV will of course have negative environmental impacts. But this is unavoidable unless we wish to continue with FFs. The negative environmental impacts of BAU will be vastly worse. So the rational choice is the lesser of two evils.

  42. As the International Energy Agency shows, even if all countries meet their Paris climate change agreement targets on time, we’re still on track to have a 2.7C temperature rise https://twitter.com/IEA/status/848271763951767554 . So as these candidates for the Finnish Green Party state “We are already too late in our efforts to stop climate change, and we no longer have the luxury of choosing between nuclear power and renewables.” https://jmkorhonen.net/2017/03/06/minority-report-for-now-finnish-green-candidates-call-for-nuclear-power/

  43. And what do other Finnish Green Party candidates say? Wouldn’t want to only hear a cherry picked section, would we.

  44. Yah, bu tthere’s a lot of reasons why it can be done. Several plans for lots of different countries that indicate 100% is entirely doable.

    So against that one paper and the cherry pick of a few people who are in the Green Party of one country are not sufficient to convince me that we cant do 100% renewables.

    And, frankly, because of the deniers, we don’t have time for any other solution.

    Except to reduce power use and waste, ALONG WITH a roll out of 100% renewables, but to a lower level than the wastrel rate today would demand.

    If your, or anyone else’s, complaint about renewables is the cost, then you’re going to have to get on board conserving power. It’s COST NEGATIVE. And if your concern about costs is so high you’re willing to rush around proclaiming mandatory price increases if we went with one plan are a huge problem, then you have to demand that we reduce power use EVEN WITH THE CURRENT ENERGY MIX.

    Failing to do so indicates that this complaint is not genuine, but manufactured to refuse a technology you do not like and/or fluff up FUD support for a tech you do want and desire.

  45. Burden of proof? Requires it be done, then. Otherwise there’s no ability to prove, only argue.

    So lets get started while some others fund retraining for building up nukes on the off chance renewables fail the test, eh?

    1. could you give an example of the “cost negative” in price per kilowatt-hour averaged out on an annual basis? As you can see here, it certainly isn’t Germany and Denmark, as they have the highest residential electricity rates. http://www.ecofys.com/en/news/european-commission-publishes-ecofys-report-on-energy-prices-and-costs/ France has for 30 years generated 75% of their electricity from nuclear, so 40% is proven achievable. Also, Sweden “How to Decarbonize? Look to Sweden” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2016.1145908

  46. Wow,

    “complaint is not genuine”

    Of course it isn’t. What TDR, BBD, and all the other trolls are doing is delay delay delay.

    If they were serious, they would be able to tell us what legislation they would have the US Federal Government pass to solve the CO2 problem.

    Instead we get “look, a squirrel.”

    This business of giving irrelevant references is classic Denialist practice; you never have to say anything, just pretend that there is all this support for your position out there.

    Often enough, the reference actually contradicts their position, but we have to waste our time pointing it out, and then they move on to the next squirrel.

    Tiresome and boring.

  47. “could you give an example of the “cost negative” in price per kilowatt-hour ”

    Go look at your price per kwh for power.

    now, if you DON’T use that energy, it REDUCES your cost, right?

    You CAN do that maths, can’t you?

  48. “France has for 30 years generated 75% of their electricity from nuclear”

    And EdF are bankrupt and bankrupting the French government trying.

    So proof that nukes don’t work.

  49. “As you can see here, it certainly isn’t Germany and Denmark, as they have the highest residential electricity rates”

    And as you could see but for some ideological blinker reason do not, that the price of electricity is nothing to do with not using electricity.

  50. Wow,

    “nothing to do with not using”

    That’s not exactly true, Wow, although your point was correct in the first place. Of course conservation results in reduction of externalized costs like pollution and climate change.

    It depends on the…wait for it…paradigm.

    If you have a utility monopoly, they will raise your price if you use less.

    I could go into more detail, but I’m sure you can fill it in for yourself. And the Denialist trolls will try to change the subject.

  51. “That’s not exactly true,”

    Well, it’s only not true because companies have sunk costs and an expectation of a certain ROI and profit increase if publicly “owned”, so if the use goes down quicker than power plants retire, then the companies will just hike prices to keep profits up.

    But this means you still pay less (just not as much less as you could without a defacto monopoly, one which personal generation could break), though the more profligate pay much more.

    Todd’s query is a bit like asking “So when you decrease costs, how much does that increase profitability, because this company cut costs and lost revenue!”. Quite what other than a facimile of counterargument this was supposed to be is unclear.

  52. zebra

    Of course it isn’t. What TDR, BBD, and all the other trolls are doing is delay delay delay.

    If they were serious, they would be able to tell us what legislation they would have the US Federal Government pass to solve the CO2 problem.

    Tendentious bullshit, again.

    Calling me a Denialist troll makes you as insane as Wow, and frankly robs you of what credibility you had.

    I’m not arguing for delay. You are, with your free market stuff which both has the potential to backfire and which is unlikely to do more good than a rising carbon tax anyway. .

    If you claim I’m arguing for delay, then quote me doing it. Something you will find difficult because you are making a false claim about me (again).

    * * *

    Nobody has to provide you with a detailed policy roadmap – that’s just you trying on a cheap rhetorical trick. Policy-makers have agency. The electorate provides the mandate, not the roadmap, which is the task of legislators themselves.

  53. If you have a utility monopoly, they will raise your price if you use less.

    Too much talk of the FF industry as a monopoly. It is an oligopoly. Note that the same is true of the W&S sector.

    But of course oligopolies can and do distort the market like monopolies and it is likely that they will do so in the future.

    One potential way of limiting future corporate misbehaviour is to make the delivery system for their product – the grid – a national asset. As previously suggested.

  54. “Calling me a Denialist troll ”

    Is describing you by the group whose tactics you ape. You may not be sexist, but if you keep using the appellation “luv” when talking to them, you’ll be lumped with them.

    “Nobody has to provide you with a detailed policy roadmap”

    But they have to provide one to you? Because you complained that there was no plan but you had one “in detail”. At worst, zebra is taking you at your word to ridicule you.

  55. I think Hydro is great – but is not available everywhere (in the USA).

    I think renewable (wind and solar) is great – but agree with Todd and BBD that 100% is not possible with our current grid and without grid level power storage.

    I think conservation (using less power) is great.

    I am not against any of these technologies.

    Hydro is only 6% of USA power generation (as of 2015).

    All renewables is only 7& of USA power generation (as of 2015).

    Nuclear is 20% of power generation and could be much higher.

    I have no idea what laws need to be written or what rules need to be relaxed – but knowing we built and provide nuclear power at 20% I am sure we could encourage utilities to build more and get to 40% or 60%. Maybe tax credits, maybe capping liability – I don’t know – I just know it is feasible and I am in favor of doubling or tripling our nuclear power generation.

    Fossil fuel is 66% of our power generation and I see nothing which will lower that.

    The only way to dramatically lower fossil fuel power generation is to invent non-carbon producing power which is cheaper than fossil fuel (which is currently the cheapest).

    So I am in favor of encouraging nuclear and I am in favor of funding research for non-carbon power generation which is cheaper than fossil fuels and I am in favor of funding research for grid level power storage (which makes intermittent power more usable with our current grid).

    So by all means – double wind and solar from 7 to 14%, you might even get as high as 30% before the grid starts to breakdown (when it is dark and not windy).

    Conserve away.

    Build hydro wherever possible (let the snail darter die).

    But to really cut fossil fuels from 66 to 33 or lower – I think we will need a lot more nuclear.

    James Hansen agrees with me.

    BBD agrees with me.

    I think over time, more and more green and progressive people will agree with me.

    Over time we will build more nuclear and that will cut CO2 emissions.

    Maybe we will invent a silver bullet – but probably not.

    That is my opinion.

  56. “Too much talk of the FF industry as a monopoly.”

    Uh, in the USA you generally don’t have choice. There are many companies, but they carve up the region. Remember, it was YOU going on about how the USA doesn’t have a national grid, when many/most/all European countries do.

    Indeed there’s no difference between a monopoly and oligopoly, they just carve up to maximise the user base they exploit rather than poach and compete for users.

    “Note that the same is true of the W&S sector. ”

    Wrong.

    A large fraction by production is owned by big power companies, but a much larger fraction of it is individuals or small groups (see again Scotland island community wind power farms) and is one of many reasons why the USA is employing lobbyists to get state government to ban the use of home solar. Because they want the monopoly.

    There isn’t any way to make nukes workable as small scale individual source, but if someone designs a good working small modular nuke station that people will put under their own home/business to make money as a small supplier, then hey, why a priori ban it? That I don’t think it will be economically viable doesn’t matter, because it won’t be owned and run by land shark-run multinationals who will get government pork to prop their business up. So it will work of fail based on whether it works, not whether the owners have the leverage with government to get subsidies.

    So, no it’s not the same for W&S.

  57. “I think renewable (wind and solar) is great – but agree with Todd and BBD that 100% is not possible with our current grid and without grid level power storage.”

    We already need grid level power storage, and have it, for the current mix.

    Because, run as a profit maximising business as it is, they do not build much more capacity than needed. Therefore when things go down unexpectedly, that is a shortfall.

    Ever wondered why there used to be brown-outs all the time, and not so much any more? Because simpletons who “thought” that it would just work with fossil fuels because you just make sure you have the fuel on hand were wrong. And changed what they did and added grid-level storage.

    “James Hansen agrees with me.”

    James Hansen agrees with me too. AGW is real and a huge and imminent problem.

    If this doesn’t convince you that the science is right, then why the fuck do you “think” name dropping him will work for you?

    “That is my opinion.”

    Yeah, but you’re wrong.

  58. “One potential way of limiting future corporate misbehaviour is to make the delivery system for their product – the grid – a national asset.”

    Hasn’t stopped it happening in the UK.

    And with a national grid to connect suppliers to consumers, zebra’s idea of allowing individuals to sell to other individuals would be possible. Indeed your complaining that it won’t work was predicated on the idea that there was no national grid in the USA.

    Yet your current statement is to claim what you said was lacking before zebra’s idea would work. But you didn’t say that the synthesis of your two ideas was workable, you only berated zebra for not having a plan.

    A plan as general as yours.

    But yours, to you, was “in detail” yet theirs “nonexistent”.

  59. Is describing you by the group whose tactics you ape.

    Rubbish. You just get riled because I keep showing up the gaping holes in your topic knowledge.

  60. But yours, to you, was “in detail” yet theirs “nonexistent”.

    You are putting things in quotes and attributing them to me.

    But I didn’t actually *say* these things.

    That is very, very naughty.

    Please stop.

  61. Wow,

    The business about a “national” grid is just more word games.

    In the US, as I’m sure is true elsewhere, there are levels of government that deal with infrastructure– like roads. There’s no particular need for a “national” administrative entity, as long as federal law requires some version of common carrier status for all entities that deliver electricity.

    If I want to buy wind electricity from Texas, my local grid operator (municipal or highly regulated private) would be able to arrange it because there are already physical connections. But if there is offshore wind locally produced, it might well be cheaper for me due to transportation costs. And, of course, I might even choose to pay more because it supports the local economy, and because I am a NYGiants fan and hate Dallas.

    That’s the wonder of the competitive market with no externalities.

  62. Zebra, I haven’t seen the 25c incandescent bulbs that used to be available in supermarkets. The newer incandescents are more expensive under the standard, though I did find some 100w halogens that were 50c each the other day. My point was the CFLs got sold based on these standards, and if there had been no efficiency standards, we would have seen incandescents being sold, with much less CFLs, and eventually LEDs taking over(looks like they are even right now). I think CFLs are much worse hazard than batteries and the other items for which they recommend special disposal. I am not aware of any landfill CFL capturing. If so, I don’t feel as bad about them.
    Even if they are equally safe, there is the issue that LEDs use less power than CFLs. By having CFL get this early market expansion, they are now locked in for many years, burning excess power, that would not have happened if the standards were not in place.
    To demonstrate
    100% incandescent initially
    90% incandescent 10% CFL( 30% power usage) =93%
    40% incand 50% LED(15% power usage) 10% CFL =50%

    compared to
    100% incandescent initially
    40% incandescent 50% CFL 10% LED =57%
    10% incand 40% LED 50% CFL =31%

    Lower numbers now vs lower numbers in the early period.
    The numbers are made up to show the effect I’m arguing, though I think 15 and 30% is right for LED and CFL.

  63. MikeN,

    If we’re going to make up numbers– maybe if there were no standards, then it would have taken 10 to 20 years longer for LED to develop as a general market product, and we would burn all that coal unnecessarily, putting lots of mercury into the environment. No motivation to invest in research and development if you can be undercut by the incandescents. Basic market principle.

    So, just curious– where do you think CFL that aren’t recycled (which you can do at many, many locations) end up, other than landfills? Do you purposely break yours and drop them in sewers, perhaps?

    The choice is mercury getting dumped directly into streams and the air (which ends up in the water as well) and getting into fish, which we have measured, and which is a clear health hazard, or CFL either recycled, or buried in plastic bags in a lined landfill. Sounds like one of them there no-brainers to me.

  64. zebra

    If I want to buy wind electricity from Texas, my local grid operator (municipal or highly regulated private) would be able to arrange it because there are already physical connections.

    This isn’t correct. The US grid(s) as currently constituted are unable to provide the increased transmission capacity required by large-scale W&S generation capacity. A substantial upgrade is required.

  65. Zebra, of course CFLs go to landfills. I thought the reason for the recycling at hardware stores was to avoid issues at the landfills. You are the first environmentalist to tell me the landfills will take care of it. Every other time I argued against the CFLs I got back a response like ‘yea, we have to get people to recycle the bulbs.’ Needless to say, that was not convincing. My basic calculation was 100 million households, buying 10 CFL bulbs that last 10 years, even with a 99% compliance rate, you get 1 million bulbs a year in landfills.

    The incandescents do not undercut the LEDs, since the electricity savings pay back a price difference. I am even regretting buying those halogens, though it’s possible the LEDs will burn out faster with light switch usage.

  66. MikeN,

    I don’t know what kind of “environmentalists” you have been talking to. It’s just numbers.

    As I said, even putting aside CO2, there’s a net gain with CFL because of the direct pollution effects of coal. Landfills are one of those things people don’t really understand. If you do it right, and eliminate stuff that can be redirected, it is a reasonable although aesthetically unpleasing solution.

    Have you ever been to a landfill? CFL, even tens of millions of them, are a tiny part of the volume.The mercury in them is not going to hurt anyone. But the mercury from coal is everywhere, even in what we once thought of as pristine wilderness lakes.

    Sorry, I tend to have a strong opinion on this– I used to be a an avid freshwater fisherman, and between mercury pollution and acidification of wilderness lakes, that stopped being an option. Maybe in a couple of generations it could get back to the “normal” I experienced when I was younger.

  67. “” Is describing you by the group whose tactics you ape. ”

    Rubbish. ”

    What? Your tactics? Certainly.

    “You just get riled because I keep showing up the gaping holes in your topic knowledge.”

    No, I get annoyed with a blithering idiot making bollocks claims. Like that one there.

    “You are putting things in quotes and attributing them to me.”

    Nope, they’re quotes, but I’m not attributing them all to you. They’re approximations or rephreasings. Your claims about your own claims were they were in post 84(?) “in detail”.

    You’re just riled because you’re bullshitting and still not getting away with it.

    “The UK grid is privately owned”

    To begin with it wasn’t, and it was still happening then. Guess you’re just pissed I’m showing the gaping holes in your logic, eh?

    And we still have a national grid. You never demanded nationalisation in the UK, and you only whined about the USA not having one, not a government owned one.

    Indeed I can’t even see where you claimed that it had to be government owned to “work”.

    More gaping holes in your argument?

  68. “Zebra, I haven’t seen the 25c incandescent bulbs that used to be available in supermarkets”

    You haven’t seen the half-penny chews either.

    Nor the 2p loaf.

    “Even if they are equally safe, there is the issue that LEDs use less power than CFLs”

    Oh noes! Something better than what you whine about not fining any more is much better than it but not as good as later technology?!?!?!

    Why is CFLs being worse environmentally than LEDs a problem?

  69. “” If I want to buy wind electricity from Texas, my local grid operator (municipal or highly regulated private) would be able to arrange it because there are already physical connections.”

    This isn’t correct.”

    How the hell do you know? There are many states that are interconnected right now. How do you know which one zebra is in? Or are you in full retard denier “No it isn’t” mode?

  70. “You just get riled because I keep showing up the gaping holes in your topic knowledge.”

    No, I get annoyed with a blithering idiot making bollocks claims. Like that one there.

    “You are putting things in quotes and attributing them to me.”

    Nope, they’re quotes, but I’m not attributing them all to you. They’re approximations or rephreasings. [worthy of Kellyanne Conway, that] Your claims about your own claims were they were in post 84(?) “in detail”..

    Maybe #74?

    The whole argument is about the future.

    In the future, there will be very large scale W&S.

    Integrating this combined resource will require a major evolution of the grid.

    Without the major evolution of the grid, his pick’n’mix ‘free market’ proposal cannot exist at meaningful scale.

    This is a technical problem that invalidates the ‘free market’ scenario..

  71. “” If I want to buy wind electricity from Texas, my local grid operator (municipal or highly regulated private) would be able to arrange it because there are already physical connections.”

    This isn’t correct.”

    How the hell do you know?

    It is well known that the US has an infrastructure limitation than needs to be addressed urgently. See eg. Joskow (2017):

    Smart grid investment on the high voltage network has only a limited ability to increase the effective capacity of transmission networks. A large increase in transmission capacity, especially if it involves accessing generating capacity at new locations remote from load centers, requires building new physical transmission capacity. However, building major new transmission lines is extremely difficult. The U.S. transmission system was not built to facilitate large movements between interconnected control areas or over long distances; rather, it was built to balance supply and demand reliably within individual utility (or holding company) service areas. While the capacity of interconnections have expanded over time, the bulk of the price differences in Table 1 are due to the fact that there is insufficient transmission capacity to move large amounts of power from, for example, Chicago to New York City. The regulatory process that determines how high voltage transmission capacity (and smart grid investments in the transmission network) is sited and paid for in regulated transmission prices is of byzantine complexity (Joskow 2005). It is clear, however, that the combination of FERC cost allocation policies, the requirement to receive siting permits from each state in which a new transmission line is located, and not-in-my-backyard political constraints hinder efficient investment in long distance transmission lines. FERC has been trying to resolve the issue of “who pays” and “how much” for new transmission lines for years, most recently promulgating Order 1000 in July 2011. This rule has many constructive features, but it will take several years to see how and to what extent it is implemented. Nor does that rule address state siting requirements or NIMBY constraints. Congress gave the Department of Energy authority to designate National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors to respond to the diffusion of siting authority among many states, but the DOE’s procedures have been rejected by the courts (Watkiss 2011). The best solution to the siting problems would be to move regional transmission planning authority from the states to FERC. However, the political barriers to such a change are enormous. Thus, underinvestment in multistate high voltage transmission facilities is likely to continue to be a problem for many years.

    This is what policy-makers need to sort out. Or you won’t get functional W&S at scale, which is a necessary precondition for Zebra’s approach even to be possible.

  72. “Maybe #74?”

    Yeah, where there was no detail, just generalities.

    “” How the hell do you know? ”

    It is well known that the US has an infrastructure limitation”

    A non sequitur. I asked how you knew which state zebra was in to claim there was no connection with Texas.

    There’s problems with national rail, but we still have a national rail network.

    How do you know that zebra was incorrect about their cliam when you don’t even know where they are or the actual state of the power connections?

    Still got holes.

    Shouting “SQUIRREL!” doesn’t work.

  73. “[worthy of Kellyanne Conway, that]”

    Yeah, I suppose you don’t know what paraphrase is, or that quote marks aren’t necessary, but not forbidden.

    Just your general lack of education there.


  74. This is what policy-makers need to sort out. ”

    So we’re talking about the UK or the USA? BEcause you come back with a claim about the UK with clams about the USA and clams about the USA with “But in the UK…”.

    You know, the gish gallop so beloved by deniers when they’re bullshitting.

    And why zebra called you a denier.

    Because you gallop like one.

  75. Zebra, if the landfills are safe, then I feel better about it. I always threw out everything like batteries in the regular trash. However CFL bulbs I took to Home Depot. I will probably continue that, but nice to know it’s not as much a hazard if I don’t.

  76. MikeN,

    Glad to hear that you recycle.

    Landfills should be the last resort, of course. But if we get rid of the crazy packaging and offer easy recycling for other materials, they will take a long time to fill up.

    For cities, some advocate trash-to-energy of some kind. I don’t have enough info to know if it’s a good idea, but it is done in some countries.

  77. Wow,

    It does seem to be hopeless.

    What’s strange is that I say “one characteristic of Denialists is giving references that contradict their argument”, and then we get #82.

    It’s possible that BBD really doesn’t see how circular his argument is, or how it fits with the childish psychology I mentioned earlier.

    It should be X!
    Someone should make it X!

    But beebee, nobody knows how to make it X. Here’s something we know how to do, and it will help.

    It can’t possibly work!

    Beebee, why not?

    Because it isn’t X!

    What can you say to someone who is so stuck?

  78. “Zebra, if the landfills are safe”

    The only one calling them “safe” is you, “mike”.

    Zebra just says they’re there.

  79. “What can you say to someone who is so stuck?”

    It used to be worse.

    IMO it’s intransigence rather than denial, though.

  80. Wow,

    The landfills are actually “safe” if they are constructed properly and maintained. That’s with respect to leaching out of heavy metals from something like a CFL. Also, there should be methane capture.

    They are disgusting blights on the landscape when operating, of course, but I drive by one that has been capped off and it is not offensive; it is a grassy hill with the methane pipes here and there. Someday, they may put a golf course on it.

  81. “Mike” is trying to make out “safe” as in “use it because it’s just as good as recycling”.

    Didn’t notice, or didn’t care?

  82. Wow,

    As long as he continues taking his bulbs to HD like I do, I don’t care. The real problem with landfills is all the other stuff.

    This is one of those synergy problems; if you reduce the senseless waste (like plastic bubble packages) that creates large, irreducible volumes, and recycle organic (food) waste, through composting or biogas production, it is much easier to sort out the more problematic materials.

    I just saw something about steel production; China uses a good deal of metallurgical coal because it produces raw steel, but in the US the vast majority (75% ??) is remelted scrap.

    In Japan, as I understand it, people really sort all their trash down to very fine resolution.

    But the US does have lots of space at this point, so it is a difficult economic argument to move things in that direction.

  83. It’s possible that BBD really doesn’t see how circular his argument is, or how it fits with the childish psychology I mentioned earlier.

    I see you assert this repeatedly. I have noticed that not once, ever, have you *demonstrated* it.

    You just say stuff when you are in a corner. Exactly like Wow. You two increasingly deserve each other.

  84. It can’t possibly work!

    Beebee, why not?

    Because it isn’t X!

    Because it REQUIRES X, you imbecile.

    What can you say to someone who is so stuck?

    God, my sides.

  85. >“Zebra, if the landfills are safe”
    >The only one calling them “safe” is you, “mike”.
    >Zebra just says they’re there.

    No he didn’t just say that. He said they can handle CFL bulbs so mercury is not a problem. Try to get the context before you opine. I know you asked, but it should have been obvious. Why do you think landfills are ‘unsafe’?

  86. >As long as he continues taking his bulbs to HD like I do, I don’t care. The real problem with landfills is all the other stuff.

    Based on what you’ve said, you shouldn’t care if I throw the CFLs in the trash.

  87. MikeN #100,

    Not correct.

    Recycling means that you don’t have to produce new mercury.

    See what I said about making steel from scrap rather than making new steel. New steel means coal mining, which means more pollution.

    Recycling is always better because it decreases consumption of natural resources and usually uses less process energy.

  88. “The landfills are actually “safe” if they are constructed properly and maintained.”

    Yeah, but you’re still better off using recycling constructed properly and maintained. At the very least it reduces the cost of the product next in the cycle.

    It still doesn’t make it “as good as recycling”.

  89. “See what I said about making steel from scrap rather than making new steel. New steel means coal mining, which means more pollution.”

    See what I mean when I said he wanted to misuse “safe” to mean “Don’t recycle”.

  90. Moreover, making X happen doesn’t cause Y. Just making X doesn’t solve a damn thing, because to solve it REQUIRES Y.

  91. I see. So as far as safety from mercury, it makes no difference if I throw CFLs in the trash, and the value of recycling them is in the recycling of mercury? Is getting 5mg mercury per bulb really worth the effort, or do they take the whole compound and reuse it for another bulb?

  92. Ah, yes, the moronic rightwingnutjob goes straight to the other end of the false dichotomy.

    You are just deliberately clueless “mike” and making shit up to troll.

  93. “My understanding was landfills tend to recycle metals”

    Recycling recyles. Landfill fills land.

    A landfill may recycle too.

    But your understanding is only sufficient for you to talk bollocks.

  94. And I guess for your stupidity to be unfulfilled, I should have said “A landfill facility may recycle too”. The facility run may do more than one thing, but a landfill site only has to throw it in the ground.

    PS you know that landfill? Totally gets mercury on it from the coal power station’s pollution. Didn’t ever hear you complain about the mercury then, did we.

  95. Because it REQUIRES X, you imbecile. ”

    But it still isn’t X you fucking idiot.

    Think of it like this:

    You need a teabag and boiling water to make a cup of tea.

    You can keep adding teabags to your mug, but unless you add boiling water, you don’t get a cup of tea. A cup of teabags isn’t a cup of tea.

    The grid has to co-evolve with the scaling W&S resource or long-distance transmission capacity becomes insufficient to distribute the increase in generation capacity and so enable a free market to operate where generators sell directly to end-users.

    I’ll repeat that: a free market in electricity must have enough transmission capacity for generators anywhere to be able to supply power to meet demand anywhere else.

  96. No, think of it like this.

    I need hands before I can open doors, so to get out of the house, I need hands. However, “Open the door” is 100% correct to say when asked “How do you get out of the house?”.

    Now, you gish gallop off to a new field:

    “a free market in electricity must have enough transmission capacity for generators ”

    You previously said there had to be a national grid run by government.

    Now you’re saying it must have enough carrying capacity.

    Two different claims.

    And again exactly the tactics deniers use to get their “argument” winning.

    In their view.

  97. “Open the door” is 100% correct to say when asked “How do you get out of the house?”.

    Expanding grid transmission capacity is the hand that opens the door to the kind of free market Zebra envisions.

    Now, you gish gallop off to a new field:

    You previously said there had to be a national grid run by government.

    I have argued that the balkanised mess of the US grid can only plausibly be upgraded at the necessary rate to permit rapid scaling of W&S by government intervention.

    Two different claims.

    No, my argument is that one may be the only way to get to the other.

  98. “Expanding grid transmission capacity”

    Is only required if you have insufficient capacity currently for the change. You haven’t shown any proof that this is required.

    And, like I said, it’s a new gish. Because that has nothing to do with being a national grid, not having to be government owned.

  99. ” upgraded at the necessary rate to permit rapid scaling of W&S”

    The current grid already withstands the current load on it.

    Why do the electrons from wind and solar become some different kind of electron?

  100. Wow,

    “the current grid already withstands the current load on it”

    Wow, you are trying to reason with someone who doesn’t understand that!!

    Be careful; this way lies madness….

  101. >Why do the electrons from wind and solar become some different kind of electron?

    Why don’t you put some thought into it before asking?

  102. MikeN,

    On your CFL question: You need to do some research of your own if you are interested in the chemistry at that level– I have no idea how they do it. Maybe then you could make a real contribution to the discussion.

  103. zebra

    “the current grid already withstands the current load on it”

    Wow, you are trying to reason with someone who doesn’t understand that!!

    Be careful; this way lies madness….

    The grid has to balance regionally. Supply must equal demand. Hold this thought.

    If you have a large solar resource in the SW and a large wind resource in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Montana, it generates vastly more electricity than there is regional demand. It is supposed to do this because it is supposed to be powering the US – especially the high-demand regions of the East and West Coast.

    So how do you get shitloads of electricity from A to B when B is a long way away?

    You can’t just dump huge extra regional capacity into the regional grid as it exceeds regional demand and the grid breaks. Think about this. Regional balancing is set by regional demand and this prevents large-scale electricity export through the existing grid.

    Unless long-distance transmission capacity is added to connect the scaling W&S resource to its biggest customers, who are far away, it will be increasingly unable to deliver electricity to the market. If that happens, the market can’t fund it.

  104. BBD 121,

    “Will the circle be unbroken?
    By and by, Lord, by and by.
    There’s a better world a-waitin’
    In the sky Lord, in the sky.”

    Wow, I now accept your intransigence diagnosis as the main issue– he can’t let go of it and step back for an objective view, which leads to endless circularity and confused thinking.

    BBD, why would anyone build “vast” generating capacity where the product can’t be sold?

  105. BBD, why would anyone build “vast” generating capacity where the product can’t be sold?

    Are you serious? Er, Zebra, that is the proposal for decarbonising the US grid. Tapping the nation’s best sited W&S resources is a necessity to generate enough electricity.

    Just how much don’t you know about this?

    You clearly have no idea how grids work, you clearly haven’t read *any* of the literature and you now reveal that you don’t even understand the broad-strokes stuff.

  106. I would just like to add to the mix something that is done in other countries all the time and that can work well here.

    Restrict access to electricity during certain periods. There would be two modes: Regular (at night, with more minutes per night during mid winter, etc.) and occasional (like a brown out).

    The restriction doesn’t have to mean that electricity is not available at certain times, just that the box inside the house or building only allows certain amounts of electricity to be available during certain times.

    It should not be hard to restrict a regular amount of between 8 and 12% over the day, concentrated to a maximum of 90% in the middle of the night (enough to light things, keep minimal cooling/heating systems on standby mode) and to have an additional 5% during those weeks when it is cloudy in the south and not windy anywhere, etc.

    The high tech version I envision is not done in other countries. Rather, the generators simply turn off late at night and stay off until some time in the morning, and everybody and everything adapts.

    The version I’m thinking of has a component that means nothing ever happens, everyone on the smart grid simply doesn’t notice it, much like today people don’t notice when the power company turns off their AC for brief periods during hot days where that service is available. The second mode impacts people so your dryer turns off in the middle of a cycle a few times a year. We can live with that.

    Obviously the smart grid is very smart, so the OR electricity is never turned off, elevators always work (though escalators may be restricted) etc.

  107. BBD,

    The plan is to build vast generating capacity where the power can’t be sold?

    Seriously, you need to either get some meds or stop taking them, whichever.

  108. Greg,

    That’s one of the things I project would happen with my plan as well.

    The only difference is that people would set it up for themselves based on pricing. The “high-tech” aspect is that it would be real-time and flexible. If you really need your clothes dried that night , you click the app and pay a one-time premium.

  109. Zebra, the problem with pricing is the way it is similar to tolls. It rewards (and feeds off of) privilege, and that is widely opposed. Even working class people should be able to dry their cloths at night, or at least, suffer the same exact level of inconvenience when they can’t as rich people.

  110. Greg,

    A noble sentiment. When we get to where it’s true about health care and nutrition and education, perhaps we can discuss laundry. :^)

  111. zebra

    The plan is to build vast generating capacity where the power can’t be sold?

    Seriously, you need to either get some meds or stop taking them, whichever.

    That’s your response? The logical fallacy of argument from personal incredulity, delivered with a sneer?

    It will not do, Zebra.

    The facts damn you. Decarbonising the US grid requires large-scale exploitation of the prime US W&S resources which are distant from demand centres. So, substantial long-distance transmission capacity must be added so power can be sold. As I have been trying to tell you right from the outset.

    I’m sorry that the facts conflict with your vision but that’s just how it is, sometimes.

  112. BBD,

    You are stuck in a circular logic loop.

    You aren’t discussing my proposal, you are simply repeating this same assertion with slight variations of language.

    -The only thing that can work is what BBD says!
    -But why can’t zebra’s proposal work?
    -Because the only thing that can work is what BBD says!

  113. And…

    Denialism.

    Can we call this a day now, Zebra?

    I get that you don’t understand the problems with your own argument and cannot counter what I say with anything substantive, just empty assertions.

  114. MikeN,

    Now we are getting to the interesting part of the discussion. (Finally)

    How does the government deal with this kind of set-up under my paradigm?

    Would they be required to give equitable access to other generators, because they have now become grid operators? Would the transmission line have to be spun off? Or would conventional anti-trust rules suffice to prevent them from gaining excess (monopolistic) market power?

    (Of course, you are correct in the first place– why wouldn’t there be investment if there’s money to be made with your product, and some local utility can’t block you from selling it, as they can now.)

  115. Todd de Ryck (#50): This paper was just released and is available for free download for a short time (not certain how long)…

    Too late; they now charge $37.95 for the PDF.

  116. “The grid has to balance regionally.”

    But the region is not an isolated system. Making arbitrary lines that must contain 100% of the necessary resources is merely insisting on what you know isn’t necessary so that you can insist someone’s idea won’t work,

    Regions don’t balance food production and consumption, Nor finance and loans. Or even armed services.

    “If you have a large solar resource in the SW and a large wind resource in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Montana”

    Then you need only to connect the regions via proxy, If Iowa can sell to their neigbour to the SW, who can sell their now excess production further SW, then further and further, nobody in California needs to be directly connected to Florida for them to share power resource.

    “Supply must equal demand. ”

    And demand can and has been changed. The very idea of “baseload” is a method to change demand. Spot prices the current system to change load under solely commercial precepts.

    Demand can be changed by pricing.

    And it can also be changed by changing how people do things.

    Changed from incandescents to CFLs? Demand changed.

    Supply can change, but you refuse to accept demand can be.

  117. “Are you serious? Er, Zebra, that is the proposal for decarbonising the US grid.”

    THAT IS YOUR PROPOSAL it is not “the” proposal. Just yours.

  118. 136

    “that is your proposal it is not the proposal just yours”

    And that’s why my proposal “can’t work”: because it isn’t his proposal.

    “Will the circle be unbroken?”

    At this point, I doubt it is possible.

    We actually have a good contribution from MikeN demonstrating one way things can work.

    But there are many as you say. Since the grid already exists (as rights-of-way in various forms), the regional grid operators themselves could simply upgrade relevant sections to create a chain of transportation.

    Look, it is obvious that BBD has never taken even physics 101 electric circuits section, and may never, as you say, admit ignorance and learn something.

  119. THAT IS YOUR PROPOSAL it is not “the” proposal. Just yours.

    No, it is *the* proposal. See MikeN’s WSJ link above. It’s what is necessary to move from the constraints of localism (not enough W&S to meet demand year-round) to national decarbonisation of the grid.

    The decarbonisation of the electricity supply is itself only a step along the way to the full decarbonisation of total primary energy, which is the ultimate requirement to avoid severe climate impacts. It is another reason why the prime W&S resources in the US have to be exploited at large scale.

    * * * * * *

    @ zebra

    Since the grid already exists (as rights-of-way in various forms), the regional grid operators themselves could simply upgrade relevant sections to create a chain of transportation.

    It might be simpler to *require* them to do this rather than leave it to chance, because it needs to happen starting *now*. The task is huge, and time is running out rapidly. This was my original point about the need for government intervention in the existing mess.

    Incidentally, thanks for acknowledging that the grid does indeed need major upgrades. Took a while, but we got there in the end.

  120. “No, it is *the* proposal.”

    No it isn’t.

    Only one proposal is “make lots and lots more power”. It’s not the only one.

    ” See MikeN’s WSJ link above.”

    That would make it the WSJ’s op-ed piece proposal, still NOT “the” proposal. Just “A” proposal.

    “It’s what is necessary to move from the constraints of localism (not enough W&S to meet demand year-round) to national decarbonisation of the grid.”

    No it isn’t. Decarbonising the grid means we stop producing power via fossil fuels. NOTHING demands that we must produce MORE power. Just replace 100W from Coal with 100W from Solar. And so on.

    NOT, repeat ***NOT*** “replace 100W from Coal with 180W from Solar!”.

  121. “The decarbonisation of the electricity supply is itself only a step along the way to the full decarbonisation of total primary energy”

    So you are admitting, yet in deep deep DEEP denial that “more power” is NOT, repeat ***NOT*** required to decarbonise the grid.

  122. zebra

    “Will the circle be unbroken?”

    Nope. Round and round it goes inside his head.

    You keep saying this, but you have never once demonstrated it.

    So it looks rather like a placeholder you insert when you have no substantive response.

  123. Yes, that’s what happens when the cycle keeps repeating. If you’re so cheesed off at it, maybe you should not continue the cycle.

    It’s a repeat not a placeholder. Complaining seems to be your placeholder for an argument.

  124. Wow

    Only one proposal is “make lots and lots more power”. It’s not the only one.

    No. As usual, you are confused.

    Many parts of the US have much higher demand that their W&S resource can supply. Other parts have much lower demand and very large W&S resources.

    So the solution is to expand W&S where the resources are plentiful and *connect it* to the regions where demand outstrips supply.

    That is the proposal required by the actual situation, which is why it is what is being proposed. Denying this widely-documented fact is pretty futile, really.

  125. “No. As usual, you are confused. ”

    And as usual, you go proclaiming then nonsequtur your way to a new gish of gallop.

    “Oh these areas don’t have enough wind and solar resources” (bullshit, by the way) is NOTHING to do with proving your demand that MORE power is produced than currently is produced must be done to decarbonise the grid.

    Because you have fuck all proof of that asinine and bullshit claim.

    Once again, you’re lying your arse off, BBD.

    Galloping off on your horse of gish on irrelevant claims because even you know you have bugger all support for the claims under contention, but WILL NOT release them.

  126. Ah, yes, denial of your insanity being correct.

    Count me guilty of that all you like, BBD. I don’t mind the least that I’m called in denial of insanity.

  127. Wow, that’s the problem with insanity– it creates its own reality that validates itself. Circular.

    Maybe MikeN will expand on that WSJ article, and there could be a discussion that deals with the real world and real technology.

    You may not agree with Mike, but at least it is something substantive that actually relates to the market paradigm rather than “the plan” that only exists in BBD’s head.

  128. “You may not agree with Mike,”

    I don’t agree or accept his lying shyster BS that only sees “reality” and anyone else’s words as ways to deny a problem exists that he might have to pay to fix.

    Remember his “Oh, good, so I don’t have to recycle, it’s just as good to throw them in landfill!”?

    He’s a lying little selfish tit.

  129. Wow,

    But it was a substantive comment that could be answered.

    I would rather argue with someone who is wrong than someone who is out of touch with reality. BBD claims to want to “decarbonize” but gives a version of standard Denialist arguments.

  130. NO, it wasn’t substantive. It was misleading bollocks. you thought to begin with he was talking about how safe it was, not whether he could ditch recycling.

    It was “substantive” to a different substance.

    Ergo, not substantive, it was a lie by misdirection.

  131. That’s what happens when you start with a certain image before you start reading. As was clear if you had read my posts, I was asking about the safety of CFLs thrown in the trash, and I recycle them for the reason that I consider it unsafe. So answering one is answering the other.

  132. Wow,

    I said it was substantive, I was not talking about his intent.

    I like to discuss real stuff– if he is trying to be misleading but is talking about real stuff, then we can educate people on the facts and let them figure it out for themselves.

    Not much point in preaching to the choir.

  133. Yes, you said it was substantive. No, you didn’t say his intent. But the substance you THOUGHT it was about, it was not.

    The ENTIRE POINT of “substantive claims” is that you can argue the substance of it and arrive at a reasoned conclusion. But if you’re not arguing what the substance was in reality about, then your CANNOT argue about the substantive point, only the mistaken point. Therefore it’s as pointless and substance free as an unsubstantive point.

    It’s no good making homilies and ignoring reality. Pick reality, every time. And accept no substitutes for it.

    Because to do otherwise is how you get flushed down the rabbit hole and find you circling the same subject over and over again: because you think you’re arguing for A, they’re arguing about B, and they’re not telling you that.

  134. Wow, that’s the problem with insanity– it creates its own reality that validates itself. Circular.

    NOAA: Rapid, affordable energy transformation possible:

    In identifying low-cost solutions, researchers enabled the model to build and pay for transmission infrastructure improvements — specifically a new, high-voltage direct-current transmission grid (HVDC) to supplement the current electrical grid. HVDC lines, which are in use around the world, reduce energy losses during long-distance transmission. The model did choose to use those lines extensively, and the study found that investing in efficient, long-distance transmission was key to keeping costs low.

    MacDonald compared the idea of a HVDC grid with the interstate highway system which transformed the U.S. economy in the 1950s. “With an ‘interstate for electrons’, renewable energy could be delivered anywhere in the country while emissions plummet,” he said. “An HVDC grid would create a national electricity market in which all types of generation, including low-carbon sources, compete on a cost basis. The surprise was how dominant wind and solar could be.”

    Right there, Zebra. What you propose depends for its success on a co-evolution of the national grid with local / regional initiatives. I linked to a Climate Crocks article featuring the NOAA research early on in the discussion.

  135. BBD,

    Round and round we go.

    If it is cheap to build HVDC lines, then, in the paradigm I propose, HVDC lines will be built, because there is profit to be made.

    But, if a local utility can exclude electricity transmitted from a distant location over your HVDC lines, then HVDC lines will not be built, because there is no profit to be made.

    Duh.

    And please, read some history about the US Interstate Highway System– the problems in building it, and the consequences, like promoting externalities in transportation.

    You are caught in a circular logic loop. There is no “the plan”, except in your head.

  136. I don’t think it says that it is cheap to build HVDC lines, just that building them with outside money would keep the energy that comes through from being expensive.

  137. zebra

    If it is cheap to build HVDC lines, then, in the paradigm I propose, HVDC lines will be built, because there is profit to be made.

    Who said ‘cheap’? Only you, misrepresenting MacDonald et al. (2016).

    You are caught in a circular logic loop. There is no “the plan”, except in your head.

    So optimally efficient exploitation of W&S resources to decarbonise TPE isn’t a plan?

    Who knew?

  138. MikeN,

    What is “outside money”?

    Sometimes I just don’t understand how people think about this stuff.

    The economics basic theory/principles (not ideological nonsense) deals with this stuff pretty directly, just like physics deals with the technology.

    A cost is a cost. If it isn’t part of the transaction, it is an externality. Either the cost of building a transmission line is included in the price of the electricity delivered, or we have a market failure/distortion.

    Please, clarify what you are trying to say.

  139. The cost of building the interstate highway system is not included in trucking prices, though maintenance via gas prices is. I am reading the quote in #156 as suggesting that someone else)the government out of general funds) pay for the lines, and this construction would not be part of the energy costs.

  140. “specifically a new, high-voltage direct-current transmission grid (HVDC) to supplement the current electrical grid.”

    And a HVDC grid is being buikt right now because it is POSSIBLE to build it and it makes it possible for energy companies to sell electricity to a larger market.

    The UK and France and much of Europe have large HVDC interconnects. We have two massive links to France BECAUSE OF OUR NUCLEAR POWER.

    It’s not a build out because of renewables.

    You are nuts.

  141. “So optimally efficient exploitation of W&S resources to decarbonise TPE isn’t a plan? ”

    Who said it wasn’t? But “remove monopolies and allow smaller generation actors” is ALSO a plan.

  142. BBD,

    “So optimally efficient exploitation of W&S resources to decarbonise TPE isn’t a plan?”

    No, it isn’t, but we have had this silly definition debate before. It is a goal.

    My suggestion, as Wow states it in 163, is a way of determining and achieving optimal utilization of resources in a decarbonised system.

    You, of course, are engaging in circularity, because your “optimally efficient” is “what you would get if the government builds HVDC lines analogous to the Interstate model”. But you offer no evidence as to why this would be true.

    And again, read about the Interstate system, and the consequences from building it.

  143. My plan:

    Pass an energy law at the federal level which requires each state to build two nuclear power plants.

    Each state would be in charge of location and permitting and the state can engage in a private partnership with a utility for the actual construction and operation of the plants.

    The federal law would also allow for eight regional breeder reactors and define the regions (for recycling existing waste). I would allow the states within each region to bid for the right for that plant and if no volunteer stepped forward, mandate it. Again, the state they were located in would be in charge of location and permitting but the state could work with a utility to build and operate the plant.

    This plan would double our existing nuclear capability.

    We should be able to build the plants in about five years.

  144. RickA 165,

    Why?

    Why should I have to pay taxes to have my state build two nuclear plants?

    And how would you enforce this law? SCOTUS has ruled that States do not have to expand Medicaid, for example. Why would this be different?

  145. zebra #166:

    You may not have to pay taxes.

    If the state works with a utility, the customers will pay for the plant (just like now).

    If the Supreme Court rules the law invalid – than so be it.

    As to why?

    Because we need to double our baseload power, which doesn’t produce carbon. This spreads out the pain across all 50 states (maybe I would even throw in Puerto Rico).

    It is time for people to put away their childish fears of radiation.

    This should do it.

    Once this is done, we can double again.

    Then we will be at 80% and have a nice base for expansion, if necessary.

  146. RickA,

    If people can buy cheaper natural gas generated electricity, why would they buy from the nuclear plant?

  147. “Pass an energy law at the federal level which requires each state to build two nuclear power plants.”

    Well that’s authoritarian bollocks right there. And even nuke fluffers will be going “Fuck that, man.”.

    If you want government to dictate what companies have to do, piss off to North Korea, you commie.

  148. “If people can buy cheaper natural gas generated electricity, why would they buy from the nuclear plant?”

    They wouldn’t, which is why dick here wants bigger government to build it.

    So that the losses can be borne by taxpayers.

  149. “Because we need to double our baseload power, which doesn’t produce carbon. ”

    Wind and solar, then. The power is doubled by whatever doubles it.

    Or you cut demand by half by not being so damn moronic about it.

  150. My electricity provider is Xcel in Minnesota.

    I pay the same amount for electricity, whether it is provided by wind, coal, natural gas or nuclear – so there is no way to tease out what you pay for a particular type of generated electricity.

    If you electricity provider adds nuclear to the mix, they may change their cost, but it would be borne by the entire customer base.

    Secondly, if a carbon tax is implemented, natural gas prices will rise.

    Third, if 100 nuclear power plants are built (per my plan), the cost per plant will drop – especially if they are all of the same design.

    Fourth, natural gas still emits CO2, while nuclear doesn’t – so perhaps people will pay a bit extra for nuclear (if they can even tell from their bill).

    Fifth – we have 100 nuclear power plants currently in the USA. Why are people paying for electricity from these plants when they could get cheaper natural gas electricity? Probably because nuclear is available in their area and they have no choice.

  151. zebra:

    Do I meet your test for having at least put forth a plan?

    I am not sure I remember your plan – how do you convert the entire grid from being partially privatised to wholly public again? Did you mention legislation in your plan? I cannot recall.

    Perhaps you could remind me what your plan is again.

  152. “Secondly, if a carbon tax is implemented, natural gas prices will rise.”

    Wrong.

    The cost of using nat gas will rise, but the cost of nat gas itself won’t be affected by the tax. If it DOES change, it will reduce the price of natural gas so as to keep demand up and pay off the investment.

    “Third, if 100 nuclear power plants are built (per my plan), the cost per plant will drop ”

    No, it’d rise. The demand for that scenario far FAR outstrips the demand. Do the maths.

    “Fourth, natural gas still emits CO2, while nuclear doesn’t”

    Incorrect. Mining, refining, transport, decommissioning. Concrete too. Lots and lots of concrete.

    ” Why are people paying for electricity from these plants when they could get cheaper natural gas electricity?”

    They have no choice. They’re part of the mix because the USA wants plutonium.

  153. RickA, the federal government can’t order states to build nuclear power plants. It would be thrown out in court.

  154. RickA,

    I appreciate that you put forward an actual plan. And also that you were willing to flesh it out in answer to my question.

    If there is a carbon tax (or some other mechanism) to reduce the use of FF, then of course nuclear can become competitive, as long as that cost of using FF is raised high enough.

    But my plan says, if that’s the case, why do you need the government to mandate construction of nuclear plants? Or, HVDC lines to transmit wind energy from Austin to Boston, as they say? Or anything else?

    And the legislation isn’t about the government owning the grid– that sounds more like BBD. But there would be regulation that makes the various grid operators operate like a common carrier, meaning they can’t generate electricity themselves, and they have to give equal access to all generators and all buyers.

    I thought this was clear from the many times I have said it– you can choose to buy from your neighbor’s solar panels, or from the nuclear plant. That way the market decides what the optimal mix is. Your local grid operator has no say in that, just like UPS has no say whether you buy a shirt from Amazon or from Walmart– they just deliver it.

  155. MikeN #175:

    I see it being done with carrots – money with strings attached.

    Like the way the Federal Government got most states to lower the speed limit to 55 a number of decades ago.

    There may also be tax credits involved to the utilities that build the plants on the property the states have identified they should be built on.

  156. zebra:

    How does the transmission get to common carrier status?

    Isn’t that going to be a taking?

    I do see the concept (I think). Somehow take the transmission lines from the utilities and make them common carrier so any generator can use the transmission lines.

    I just thought most of the transmission lines were owned by the utility companies and I was wondering how you planned to get the transmission lines to this common carrier status you are talking about.

  157. “I see it being done with carrots – money with strings attached.”

    So government interference in private business and pork barrel funding. And a huge increase in the taxes to be raised.

    Why not mandate every home gets free solar panels?

  158. “How does the transmission get to common carrier status?”

    They are chartered to do so like POTS. It would be *easier* if it were government owned? Sure.

    “The utilities” only own generation. Indeed it’s most often the case anyway that the generator is owned by someone who doesn’t own the transmission.

    See, again, POTS.

    “I just thought most of the transmission lines were owned by the utility companies”

    Ever bothered to check? Or just ass-pulled?

  159. RickA,

    There is no taking; there is just a splitting of the operation, as with any anti-trust action against excessive vertical integration.

    If you own a transmission line and a generating plant, you spin off the generator as a separate corporation. And then you continue operation of the grid element under the common carrier paradigm.

    Again, some version of this has been done in various places, for various applications.

    Note to Wow: What is POTS?

  160. zebra #181:

    Ok – I can see that.

    How would you split the revenue the utility currently gets for both generation and transmission?

    The new corporation of just transmission has to have revenue.

    I suppose the utilities could determine that pre-split.

    Would the transmission entity be regulated by the state like the utilities currently are?

    Who does the transmission company bill – the generator or the customers getting the electricity?

  161. RickA,

    These are trivial questions.

    The grid operator is obviously regulated– as a natural monopoly, its position has not changed just because it divests a generating operation if it has one.

    Generators can charge whatever they like, and the competitive market will deal with that.

    Who cares about the billing? The grid operator could do administration, of course, just like Amazon does with independent sellers. Not exactly rocket science these days.

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