At last, a Plan B to stop global warming

Bjørn Lomborg writes on hisFacebook page about this story on WUWT: Newsbytes: Japan Stuns UN Climate Summit By Ditching CO2 Target

The last twenty years of international climate negotiations have achieved almost nothing and have done so at enormous economic cost. Japan’s courageous announcement that it is scrapping its unrealistic targets and focusing instead on development of green technologies could actually be the beginning of smarter climate policies.

Japan has acknowledged that its previous greenhouse gas reduction target of 25 per cent below 1990 levels was unachievable, and that its emissions will now increase by some 3 per cent by 2020. This has provoked predictable critiques from the ongoing climate summit in Warsaw. Climate change activists called it “outrageous” and a “slap in the face for poor countries”.

Yet, Japan has simply given up on the approach to climate policy that has failed for the past twenty years, promising carbon cuts that don’t materialise – or only do so at trivial levels with very high costs for taxpayers, industries and consumers. Instead, al…most everyone seems to have ignored that Japan has promised to spend $110 billion over five years – from private and public sources – on innovation in environmental and energy technologies. Japan could – incredible as it may sound – actually end up showing the world how to tackle global warming effectively.
Unfortunately the Japanese model is not even on the agenda in Warsaw. The same failed model of spending money on immature technologies remains dominant. That involves the world spending $1 billion a day on inefficient renewable energy sources — a projected $359 billion for 2013. But a much lower $100 billion per year invested worldwide in R&D could be many times more effective. This is the conclusion of a panel of economists, including three Nobel laureates, working with the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think-tank that publicises the best ways for governments to spend money to help the world.
If green technology could be cheaper than fossil fuels, everyone would switch, not just a token number of well-meaning rich nations. We would not need to convene endless climate summits that come to nothing. A smart climate summit would encourage all nations to commit 0.2 per cent of GDP – about $100 billion globally – to green R&D. This could solve global warming in the medium term by creating cheap, green energy sources, that everyone would want to use.
Instead of criticising Japan for abandoning an approach that has repeatedly failed, we should applaud it for committing to a policy that could actually meet the challenge of global warming.
Read the full article in Britain’s The Times:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/article3924584.ece

More on Japan’s new climate policies: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-11-14/japan-sets-new-emissions-target-in-setback-to-un-treaty-talks

h/t to David Hagen

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68 thoughts on “At last, a Plan B to stop global warming

  1. Well, $100 billion wasted is better than $359 billion but it is a leap of raith that the technology will work if only the government throws money at it. Let’s keeep looking for Plan C

  2. But that undermines the whole point of the green movement – wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. Of course it’s not on the agenda in Warsaw.

  3. Japan’s courageous announcement that it is scrapping its unrealistic targets and focusing instead on development of green technologies could actually be the beginning of smarter climate policies.

    Not really, but it could be the beginning of smarter policies that recognize that preparing for a changing climate is a better alternative than wasting time, effort, and money attempting to change the climate.

  4. With Japan out, it should now be clear that the Kyoto Accord was a European deal and not a world deal. Developped countries have no targets, Eastern European countries’ level started from pre-collapse levels, North-America is out, Australia in and out,… Only Europe wanted this. It`s time to move Europe`s model aside, and start becoming more realistic.

  5. “Instead, almost everyone seems to have ignored that Japan has promised to spend $110 billion over five years – from private and public sources – on innovation in environmental and energy technologies.”

    Will that include safer nuclear power, the only “green” technology that might economically replace some fossil fuels in the near future?

  6. As nobody has shown that there is actually any ‘catastrophic’ global warming that needs to be stopped. By all means reduce waste, improve energy and resource efficiency, and stop energy projects that are dangerous for the environment such as wildlife killing windmills. But otherwise we are on the climate train and it has far more power than some people’s hubris lets them believe. Therefore, the best way forward is what is known as ‘masterly inactivity’ or perhaps don’t do something, sit there!

  7. I’m sorry, but if CO2 is not a significant driver of global climate, isn’t all this discussion a bit pointless?

  8. Only innovation will make things more efficient. Innovation comes from prosperity. Global Warming policies stifle prosperity. This entrenches the very technologies advocates seek to replace, with no return, leaving nothing but a wealth transfer. It’s ineffective, wasteful, and at it’s worst a scam. Good for Japan.

  9. After all the chest-thumping, and pontifications, and prognostications, and multimillion-dollar climate models, the simple obvious fact is that CO2 doesn’t really make much difference at all (except for the positive plant-fertilization part).

    The EARTH has been conducting her own experiment that has shown no rise in global temperatures over 15+ years despite addition of 10% more CO2. Q.E.D. – carbon dioxide is not a climate driver and need not be contained, sequestered, nor reduced.

    Conserving energy is a good thing, just as an expression of efficiency. But it’s a personal choice.

    Reducing CO2 is pointless, expensive, and full of negative consequences for national sovereignty.

    Let’s build thorium-based reactors instead!!

  10. cheap green energy sources! What cheap green energy sources? Verso Economics in Scotland in their report last year found that for every green job produced two to three ordinary jobs are lost from the economy! so much for cheap green energy!

  11. Climate Change, err, I mean the new mini-ice age threat that is upon us will require the world to push for greater efficiencies in existing energy usage and greater insulation effectiveness to husband limited supplies of energy so there will be enough to go around. Japan being a northern hemispheric nation subject to prolonged intense cold of winter must act now to protect it’s population from freezing. To that end, the most cost effective solutions need to be taken first such as CTL technology for coal to diesel oil production for transportation, transferring as much thermal processes as possible to natural gas from electricity such as industrial, commercial, residential cooking, heating homes and water.

    Thorium reactors need to built as soon as possible to replace outdated accident prone, light and heavy water reactors for the production of electricity and also to replace the existing coal fired plants.

    We must act now, any delay will cause millions to die of cold and starvation. It is irresponsible to wait until the crisis is upon us. Can you take the chance of it not happening in your lifetime?

  12. What are ‘green technologies’ and would you happen to have a LCA showing that they have a lower environmental impact?

    Since AGW is a non-problem, having a non-plan B makes a lot of sense. Not very innovative however. California and Germany have been doing it a long time.

  13. David says:
    With Japan out, it should now be clear that the Kyoto Accord was a European deal and not a world deal.

    Support from the mainstream in Europe is waning too. It seems that the Euro taxpayers in France, Germany, Spain, Greece et al are running out of money to flush down this particular toilet.

    Before long it will just be down to the Marxists and environmental whackos. Shame on us if we allow those extremists to dictate economic policy.

  14. Maybe “off topic”, but I’ve recently seen TWO “Tesla” cars, with labels on them (license plate frames) which said: Zero Emissions!

    My thought, that completely explains the mentality of the owners. ENOUGH SAID.

  15. “Cimate change activists called it “outrageous” and a “slap in the face for poor countries”.

    Freudian slip, your red interior is showing through your green coating.

  16. Here we are at the end of interglacial and “we’re” worried about global warming. WUWT?

    Ok, so, for those that just insist on ignoring all the data that clearly shows that increasing atmospheric CO2 isn’t a problem; nature has provided you with the answer to arresting if not reversing the atmospheric CO2 trend. Mt. Pinatubo eruption paused the CO2 increase by some mechanism, some say increased primary production due to increased diffuse solar radiation:

    http://faculty.washington.edu/timbillo/Readings%20and%20documents/CO2%20and%20Forests%20readings/Gu%20et%20al.%202003%20Science%20Pinatubo%20and%20photosynthesis.pdf

    This conclusion would need to be confirmed, but if true, then the obvious answer is to spend money increasing primary production. Just think if all the money wasted by NGO’s lobbying for carbon regulations, government projects, climate junkets, and carbon trading were spent on projects like increasing irrigation in developing countries. WOW! Feed people and stop the CO2 increase at the same time.

    If your motivation is really to save the world from increasing CO2, Mt. Pinatubo shows you the way, however, if your true motivation is to rebel against the status quo then just keep on doing what you’re doing.

  17. Let’s be more explicit about the money flow from such schemes as it actually works in this corrupt world. It goes from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

  18. We already have a practical affordable technology – it’s called nuclear energy. If Japan had any sense, it woud be restarting all its reactors – they have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb
    by the regulators and there is no reason to keep them idle. Of course, if Japan wants to spend a lot of money to produce bad emissions (and I don’t mean CO2) , they probably deserve them.

  19. Jimbo says:
    ” Global warming has stopped!”

    That has now been declared a myth. The heat was hiding in the arctic. They’ve got the headline and that’s all they need to make it “true”. Just like the 97% and the hockey sticks, it doesn’t matter if the paper is discredited or not. The headline rules popular opinion. Sad days.

    If we stick with global warming has stopped they’ll use that as evidence that we’re “deniers”. Perhaps: “Global warming has slowed” would be less open to attack from the CO2 cult. Their models are still heavily warming biased even if we just roll with the new excuse. It’s just not enough to save them if we don’t play into their hands.

  20. ‘Climate change activists called it “outrageous” and a “slap in the face for poor countries”.’

    Watermelons…..green on the outside and red on the inside. And they probably have about the same I.Q. as watermelons too. Ho hum.

  21. What an outstanding article from WUWT. Now I do think I understand the direction that the Warsaw talks are taking. The World Empire (UN) cannot offer its services of governance and economic subordination through regulations and taxation for less than $100 billion per year, and they currently do not receive enough Tribute. So that must be good. (;

    And meanwhile, efforts continue in the UK to leave the European Union – a political union that was originally cast as a trade agreement. According to Nigel Farage, it costs the country millions of pounds per day for the privilege of receiving legislation from Brussels. How would Britain pay a percentage of its GDP to the UN, when it already pays a percentage of its GDP to the EU?

  22. That’s what we soooooooooooo wanted all these years. It’s the blog post we’ve all been hoping for for 10 years, everyday refreshing our browser, and just feeling deep disappointment. But now we’ve finally got it.

    a plan B to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

  23. Magoo says:
    November 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm
    But that undermines the whole point of the green movement – wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. Of course it’s not on the agenda in Warsaw.

    Magoo makes the salient point: the money proposed to be spent is to be spent BY the “poor” countries IN the poor countries BY the poor countries. It just comes FROM the wealthy countries.

    “Fixing the problem” is not the prime objective, i.e. the process, not the outcome, is what is driving the current agenda. Shows up everywhere, including the refusal to stick to only the proven facts.

  24. Pedantic old Fart says:
    November 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm
    I’m sorry, but if CO2 is not a significant driver of global climate, isn’t all this discussion a bit pointless?

    Baby steps, PoF, baby steps. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run.

  25. We know that warming isn’t a problem and we know that the Greens don’t want the “solution” to be anything but as they stipulate it – but I like this piece (and gave it a “like”) because it is a sensible step away from what the Greens desire and one that they cannot argue with without showing their hand. Think positive, people. From this step, there will be another… and another. The Greens will hate it. :)

  26. Climate change activists called it “outrageous” and a “slap in the face for poor countries”.

    I’m waiting for the Climate Change Activists to publish their own plan that includes an energy budget; a portfolio of proven energy sources with amount of energy supplied, cost to build and operate and carbon emitted by each; sources of energy use reduction, cost to implement and its economic impacts; expected rate of economic growth (or shrinkage) by country and effects on both developed and developing countries. It’s hard work and potentially embarrassing which is why it hasn’t been done yet.

  27. Ian W says:
    November 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    ————————————-
    Don’t just do something. Stand there!

    I always thought there was value in being a procrastinator but never really had the time to investigate.

  28. I am absolutely convinced that the same people who shut down the Thorium projects in the USA
    (Nixon) and the people who now push for the carbon tax and UN Agenda 21 and who litter our landscapes with useless windmills are the very same.

    They act from greed and fear of a human made Armageddon.

    If we let them go ahead we will see a society we don’t like.

    Now in order to get the Thorium technology finally introduced and rid ourselves from the climate scam we need to kick the current political establishment out of power.

    This is the only way to go.

    We need to get politically organized, write a world view that includes cheap and abundant Thorium based energy, clean landscapes without wind farms, without generator farms and without bio converters. A world view without facial recognition, spy camera’s and Big Brother watching you but a new age of freedom, a thriving economy where creative people decide their own destiny and their own future.

    The current clan of crooks has been bogging humanity for decades now and their actions are running out of control. Instead of giving humanity wings they have decided to destroy our Middle Class and jeopardize our wealth, our pensions and our savings.

    If not stopped we will face extensive exclusion zones, limits on energy use (for those who can still afford it) and travel restrictions.
    All our freedoms will be gone and we will be managed and controlled like any other species.

    The time has come to draw a line and we still have the freedom to draw it in a peaceful manner through the existing political systems within our nations.

    Expect nothing good from people who act on a scare.

    The time has come for the brave to take charge and secure the freedoms of all mankind.

  29. Japan should stop wasting money on wind and solar and devote most of its time and money in developing liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRS), especially since they closed down all their Light Water Reactors (LWRs) after the Fukushima fiasco.

    Nuclear Power used to supply roughly 26% of Japan’s energy needs, which they’ve had to replace with coal and natural gas power stations at tremendous cost to their economy.

    Compared to LWRs. LFTRs are 200 times more efficient, produce 200 times less nuclear waste, are many orders of magnitude safer, run at single atmospheric pressure making Fukushima-type disasters impossible and are roughly 50% cheaper to build and operate, etc.

    The recent surge of coal/natural gas imports have lead to Japan’s longest string of monthly trade deficits since the end of WWII. To top it off, Japan’s Central Bank is printing money like crazy, which is weakening the Yen and making those coal and natural gas imports that much more expensive.

    China is developing LFTRs technology at a rapid pace and expect to have their first test LFTR on line by 2020. If Japan doesn’t try to catch up with China on LFTR development, it’ll have devastating and long-term economic consequences in terms of economic efficiencies and production/price competitiveness.

  30. Jordan says (November 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm): ‘If the UK experience is anything to go for “economic nuclear” would appear to be an oxymoron.’

    According to this article, the contract price for electricity from the Hinkley Point plant is £92.50 per MWh, indexed for inflation, starting in 2023.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/30/hinkley-point-nuclear-power-plant-uk-government-edf-underwrite

    According to this article, British offshore wind electricity is priced at £155/MWh, onshore at £100/MWh (when the turbines are running).

    http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1188054/uk-announces-new-wind-energy-prices

    None of these are bargain prices, of course. There are allegations that the government has messed up (wouldn’t be the first time) on the Hinkley Point deal, since the Chinese are getting similar reactors for about half the price of Hinkley Point:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_C_nuclear_power_station#Economics

    Part of the Chinese advantage may be economy of scale, i.e. ordering a number of plants at once. Supposedly the price of Hinkley Point electricity will be slightly less if another proposed plant is also ordered.

    If the Japanese spend part of their $100 billion “green research” money on making nuclear power more affordable, that would seem to be a better investment than “renewable” fuels.

  31. Japan may do all te R & D it likes, but they know deep down the only answer is nuclear power

    http://www.templar.co.uk/itzman/RenewablePoliciesAndCosts.html

    There is nothing that renewable energy can do that nuclear can’t do better, and cheaper.

    It will take time, but in the end the reality is that a move away from fossil fuels will be a switch to massive deployment of nuclear power.

    This is not a point that governments want to admit, but there really is no cost effective alternative.

    And renewables are not an alternative to fossil fuels anyway. They are just ‘go greener ‘ stripes painted on the side of a fossil grid.

  32. “…end up showing the world how to tackle global warming effectively….” If only there were global warming that we can do one damn thing to tackle. Bjorn is a neat guy, but he’s still wandering in lala land.

  33. Japan has a huge natural resource, one it can even export and the technology exists right now, 100% proven, 100% viable, 100% “clean” 100% cheap.

    GEOTHERMAL

  34. “If the UK experience is anything to go for “economic nuclear” would appear to be an oxymoron. ”

    Surely Jordon can predict the price of the natural gas that must be imported to the UK for the next 60 years.

    “liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRS), especially since they closed down all their Light Water Reactors (LWRs) after the Fukushima fiasco. ”

    Of course, Japan would shut down LFTRS for review if the seismic design criteria suddenly changed.

    What we have here is a good argument for a balanced mix of energy sources.

    “LFTRs are 200 times more efficient ”

    So you are saying LFTRs have a 7000% thermal efficiency?

    “China is developing LFTRs technology at a rapid pace and expect to have their first test LFTR on line by 2020. ”

    No! http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Power/

    The nice thing about paper solutions is that you can make up anything you want.

    Let me be blunt. Nuclear reactors are built to make power not to reduce ghg emissions. China did not get serious about building nukes until slave labor could produce enough coal.

  35. The full article is paywalled, of course.

    Any initiative or technology offering real increases in energy efficiency would pay for itself, and attract plenty of R&D on the merits. It’s only boondoggles like renewables and mitigation that need to assemble cabals to push them.

  36. Kit P says:
    November 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    China did not get serious about building nukes until slave labor could [not] produce enough coal.

    Proofread. Then check. Then read aloud. Otherwise you, too, may end up saying the opposite of what you intended, often, as here, making no sense at all.

  37. Grey Lensman says:
    November 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm
    Japan has a huge natural resource, one it can even export and the technology exists right now, 100% proven, 100% viable, 100% “clean” 100% cheap.

    GEOTHERMAL

    100% clean, I think not!! It actually produces a large amount of radioactive (usually radium 226, 228) and heavy metal contaminated water which is picked up whilst underground. It is also incredibly difficult to contain said water as the rock is full of fissures through which the water can escape.

    Can we face the facts that all energy production produces “waste” it must do by the laws of physics. Its time we started to think rationally about Energy and its future. Is CO2 that bad? what do we do when the carbon runs out? What are the unforeseen consequences of the new energy sources and how can we mitigate them.

  38. Lokki-

    The CNN article you referenced shows Japan’s clathrate reserves off Its costal waters would only power Japan for 14 years…… Then what?…. Moreover, clathrate extraction sn’t even close to being economically viable.

    There are 10’s of thousands of of years of easily accessible thorium reserves for LFTRs available and since there is only one isotope of natural thorium, no special processing is required: dig it up, purify it then burn it.

    incredibly, one average-sized rare-earth mine “accidentally” produces enough “waste” thorium in a year to supply the entire world of its entire energy needs for 1 year….

    CALTHRATE VS. LFTRs isn’t even worth discussing.

  39. Tim says

    Quote
    100% clean, I think not!! It actually produces a large amount of radioactive (usually radium 226, 228) and heavy metal contaminated water which is picked up whilst underground. It is also incredibly difficult to contain said water as the rock is full of fissures through which the water can escape.

    Unquote

    So all the volcanoes there dont. Plus you use heat exchangers and send the water and minerals back down. Sigh, Its not rocket science.

  40. SAMURAI says (November 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm): “Compared to LWRs. LFTRs are 200 times more efficient…”

    As Kit P has pointed out, this is incorrect as written, although it’s not the only case of inadequate proofreading in this thread. SAMURAI probably meant to write, “A Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is up to 200 times more fuel efficient than a traditional Light Water Nuclear Reactor.”

    http://renewable.50webs.com/LFTR.html

    “China is developing LFTRs technology at a rapid pace and expect to have their first test LFTR on line by 2020.”

    Kit P also disagrees with this, but Wikipedia (not always the most reliable source) agrees with SAMURAI:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor#Chinese_Thorium_MSR_project

    Excerpt: “An expected intermediate outcome of the TMSR research program is to build a 2 MW pebble bed fluoride salt cooled research reactor in 2015, and a 2 MW molten salt fueled research reactor in 2017.”

    Also, from a different page of Kit P’s referenced site, “The TMSR Research Centre apparently has a 5 MWe MSR prototype under construction at Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP, under the Academy) with 2015 target for operation.”

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/

    Here’s a 2012 talk by one of the researchers:

    The budget for the first 5 years of China’s thorium power development effort is reported as $350 million, which is 0.35% of the money Japan says it will spend on “green” technology over 5 years.

  41. “But that undermines the whole point of the green movement – wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. Of course it’s not on the agenda in Warsaw.”

    Nonsense, the rich never give up their wealth – they want more and more. It’s climate (or green) profiteering.

  42. There’s a lot of talk here about a green agenda for redistributing wealth, but its clear that the political wing of the green movement has no such agenda.

    CAGW is about power and money, the Global Warming meme accidentally gained traction and green groups have been riding that influence because it gives them money, influence and power. If anything the greens are misanthropic, they believe in killing off half of mankind and substitution of their Gaia worship for modern wisdom – for the “Planet” -. There is nothing compassionate about a true Green, it’s about having the power to tell others what to do, about having the power to kill.

    So, the green agenda is more about impoverishing the west than improving the lot of the rest of the world. After all an impoverished west wouldn’t be able to challenge them in the One World Government.

  43. “Edim says:

    November 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

    “But that undermines the whole point of the green movement – wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. Of course it’s not on the agenda in Warsaw.”

    Nonsense, the rich never give up their wealth – they want more and more. It’s climate (or green) profiteering.”

    Right! The “movement” is about taking from the poor and “giving” to the rich.

  44. “Green” is nothing but a state of mind. It has virtually nothing to do with either what may be good for the environment or the economy. By definition, anything with the “green” label will cost more, it’s only added benefit being that of making folks feel good about buying it. The “green” industry disagrees with this, of course.

  45. Wind/solar energy is already far cheaper than coal based energy. Coal’s negative impacts cost and additional $.18/kwh, from a Harvard Medical School study. We have been paying for “cheap’ coal with an additional $300-$500 billion/year and gambling with the one planet known to support life.

  46. Gary Hladik says: “Part of the Chinese advantage may be economy of scale, i.e. ordering a number of plants at once”
    More likely that the public purse is underwriting a significant part of the project risk and liabilities. Recent EPR construction experience has not been a happy tale – there is massive risk in construction of these things. And there are huge liabilities after the operational period – it is widely accepted the private sector is not the place to hold decommissioning and irradiated fuel liabilities for hundreds of years after plant operation (not in the public interest). This technology cannot exist and operate without hidden backing from the public purse.

    Kit P says: “Surely Jordon can predict the price of the natural gas that must be imported to the UK for the next 60 years.”

    True – just as you cannot predict the future cost of nuclear fuels for the next 60 years. But I’d happily take my chances on economic coal and gas supplies long after 60 years Kit. I might be proved wrong one day, but all this project does is to commit me now, when I don’t think it is justified.

    Bear in mind the only way the UK Government can argue this project is economic is because the Government also imposes a rising carbon tax (“carbon floor price”) on the power industry. This will inflate power prices until £93.50/MWh looks remotely attractive compared to coal and gas. Bills to consumers and industry will have risen by about 75% compared to today (wholesale prices are only a part of retail prices). There has just been an intense debate about a 9% increase in bills due to Government-sponsored “green levies”: the Government is expected to move these out of electricity bills and into general taxation within weeks. What then are the prospects for this carbon tax increasing retail prices until nuclear looks good? Not much.

  47. When the first American President has the stones to stand up and declare that “The man-made global-warming scare was a complete hoax,” then we’ll know that it’s over and we can get on with providing cheap carbon-based energy for the world. Until then, we’ll have to put up with fools like Lomborg wasting our time with “Plan B” or “Plan C” to stop “global warming” (or was it “climate change”?).

    /Mr Lynn

  48. Jan Freed says:
    November 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Wind/solar energy is already far cheaper than coal based energy. Coal’s negative impacts cost and additional $.18/kwh, from a Harvard Medical School study. We have been paying for “cheap’ coal with an additional $300-$500 billion/year and gambling with the one planet known to support life.
    Greenie nonsense. It’s just one more way that envirokooks take to attack coal. And the “gambling with the planet” bit is priceless. The planet is doing just fine. Man, at the moment seems a llittle off his rocker with rampant envirokookmania.

  49. “but Wikipedia”

    The difference between a power reactor and a paper reactor is that power reactors produce lots of power. Paper reactors make interesting reading at Wikipedia.

    “5 MWe MSR prototype under construction”

    If I read a press release about construction of a 5 MWe landfill gas project I am not skeptical because there are hundreds of such projects. The same is true for biomass and geothermal. These are not big engineering challenges.

    Large hydro, coal, and nuke plants are huge engineering challenges. I am skeptical right up to the time that that the output breaker is closed on the generator for a large reactor. The reason is the large number of things that must be done correctly.

    “reported as $350 million”

    Chump change and not an indicator of ‘rapid’ development. It will get a nice paper reactor. A serious conceptual design is expensive and a detailed for ‘construction’ design in on the order billions.

    China could learn with a prototype that they have a better design than a LWR. Or they could learn that LWR are a better choice.

    “Recent EPR construction experience has not been a happy tale –”

    Sounds like the story from China is going very well.

    “it is widely accepted the private sector”

    I think the private sector is doing very well. There does seem to be a problem with US politics and DOE. The engineering to meet the regulatory are just not that difficult.

    “just as you cannot predict the future cost of nuclear fuels for the next 60 years.”

    That I not true. Predicting the cost of nuclear fuel is easy since it has been very stable. In the US, coal has been a stable commodity. For coal and gas you also have to consider the cost of fuel transportation. A large coal power plant needs 100 rail cars a day to keep running.

    “But I’d happily take my chances”

    Are you willing to go to jail because you guessed wrong? Providing power is a serious responsibility.

    “UK Government”

    I live in the US and decisions on building power plants are based on intense public debate. It is a complex issue that is specific to each location. Some like to make broad sweeping statements without doing their homework. I checked. One of the reasons stated for new nukes in the UK is concern with importing natural gas.

    Why is China building nukes? In 2005, China stopped exporting cheap coal. This is also why the US is exporting more coal.

    The world energy market must be watched carefully to understand the trends. Making electricity is generally a local matter until you have to import fuel. If you can import LNG at $4 per MMBTU (what the experts said was the ceiling price) to the power plant, the world would not be building new nukes. Then the cost of LNG went to $16 per MMBTU.

    Again, one of the reasons to have a mix of energy sources is the future is not easy to predict so using nukes is a mitigation of the cost variability of fossil fuel.

  50. I prefer plan C. Open up the windows and let the air in. Might help the alarmists cool down a bit, and clear their heads.

  51. Kit P says…

    Nope, you haven’t convinced me.

    You have a decent point about a portfolio of sources, but not at any cost.

    The UK has imported most of its energy for many years now – gas, coal and nuclear fuel. Life in the international energy market is nothing new, and it is not a challenge.

    Coal is “dirt cheap” right now – partly influenced by the US shale gas revolution, which has caused a switch to gas in the US (because the US is in a position to switch between coal and gas for power generation) leaving a lot of coal looking for a market. We can get this over to the UK and it is still economic to do so – coal has dominated the UK power supply since the Fukushima incident. Gas is relatively expensive, partly because of Japan’s move away from nuclear and switch to gas.

    These are international influences and do not threaten our competitiveness. UK energy costs are around £50/MWh and amongst the lowest in Europe. This, despite a Government imposed carbon tax.

    The UK (and other economies) will be in a good position if they maintain the ability to switch a significant proportion of power production between coal and gas as market conditions dictate. The UK and US have had this ability for at least a couple of decades now.

    The case for UK nuclear is based on the assumption that the carbon tax will double the wholesale electricity price and close all the coal stations. It’s never going to happen – this policy will push business abroad, put people out of work, and make it very difficult to heat their homes. It will be political suicide for any Government who tries to push it through. The death of the carbon tax is already assured – it will only last as long as it takes to bite the electorate and the backlash will be underway. I give it a couple of years.

    By then we will be committed to the new nuclear projects, leaving the UK with a hideously expensive cost for decades.

  52. “Coal is “dirt cheap” right now…”

    I do not think Jordan understands the concepts. Yes coal is cheap but the daily 100 car freight train of coal is not.

    The fuel cost for fossil plants are a significant costs. When the UK imports a year’s worth of nuclear fuel it cost about $30 million compared to the $300 million in fossil costs. A slight change in the fossil cost and that is $500 million, but it is only a few $$/MMBTU to make it a billion dollars.

    Currently, the UK gets a lot of power from nuclear but it has to decide what course of action to take when the existing nukes are retired. There are three and only three choices:

    Build a new nuclear steam electric station: Very expensive!

    Build a new efficient coal steam electric station with modern pollution controls: Very expensive.

    Build a new efficient gas fired steam electric station with modern pollution controls: Very expensive.

    So Jordan is not considering the cost of new steam plants. Jordan is also not considering the how nuclear lowers the cost of fossil fuel.

    “The UK and US have had this ability for at least a couple of decades now.”

    Power plants come on like in order of their generating cost. On a mild day with low natural gas prices, a CCGT gas plant might be able to beat at $38/MWh an old less efficient coal at $40/MWh. On a day with high demand, all the efficient fossil plants are on line already on line and demand is coming from $50/MWh to $100/MWh sources.

    It is hard to predict the future but I can tell how many time people have been wrong about ‘expensive’ nuclear power. About 30 years ago, I worked a new nuke plant when it went commercial. The state PUC said the power was not need so the new plant could not be put in the rate base. The utility said okay and sent out the bill to its customers with an apology. We had to produce your power with oil and sell the cheaper nuclear generated power to New York City. Oucch! One month later, the nuke plant was in the rate base.

    What is the status 30 years later! Yes, the oil power plant is still running to provide power to NYC. The utility has upgraded the two reactors on site and has licensed them to run 60 years. It has also applied to the NRC build an EPR.

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