Finding a common ground – a conversation with Dr. James Hansen on nuclear power

The Susquehanna Nuclear Power Station, a boiling water reactor.

Dr. James Hansen’s reply to my question about Nuclear Power

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A a few years ago, Anthony Watts posted a link “The Middle Ground where AGW skeptics and Proponents should meet up“. At AGU2013, Anthony asked Dr. Hansen a question in full session about the very same topic and a video of that exchange follows.

The proposition is, that in the highly polarized global warming debate, there are, or should be, some surprisingly broad areas of agreement. A video also follows showing Anthony asking Dr. Hansen about this at AGU2013

One such area of agreement appears to be support for nuclear power. In addition to the Middle Ground article, WUWT has posted many other articles, on Thorium and next generation nuclear technology, which have been well received by regular readers of this blog.

Dr. James Hansen is also a supporter of nuclear power. A few months ago, James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley published an open letter, calling for and end to opposition to nuclear power, for the sake of the environment.

If I have understood correctly, scientists who are truly concerned about CO2, such as James Hansen, support nuclear power, because nuclear power a plausible route to decarbonising the economy, without the difficulty of convincing voters to accept drastic curbs to their lifestyles.

Skeptics like myself tend to support nuclear power, because it is the future – we tend to love high technology and the glorious rise of human civilisation, and yet we are, contrary to the straw man stereotypes projected by many of our opponents, concerned about environmental issues, such as the megatons of toxic ash and sludge produced by coal power stations. We see next generation nuclear power as the clean, inexhaustible energy source of the future.

So I sent an email to Dr. James Hansen mid March this year, asking whether he had ever considered sharing a platform with Anthony Watts, to jointly promote acceptance of a nuclear powered future. I made it very clear I was asking this question on my own initiative, and had not discussed it with Anthony.

This was Dr. Hansen’s reply:-

“The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents.  This would cause nuclear power to win out for electricity. Otherwise we are going to get a very expensive dual renewables–fossil fuel system.  This fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work.  It is also a winning populist political strategy, providing some correction to the increasing disparity of wealth, allowing the hard-working careful low-income person a chance to make some money and contribute to a cleaner, healthier world.  This is what conservatives need to understand.  If they don’t, the changing demographics will sink them, and we will all suffer under a screwed up energy system.”

I replied to Dr. Hansen, pointing out that Conservative opposition to carbon fees was entrenched, and asked whether the issue of how to make nuclear power economically attractive, on which there was no agreement, could be set aside for now, for the sake of jointly promoting  research into next generation nuclear technology.

So far I have not received a reply to my second email to Dr. Hansen.

The conversation and questions I put to Dr. Hansen were meant in good faith. I hope the dialogue I have had to date with Dr. Hansen is not the end, that the conversation goes further, perhaps with other participants. Perhaps I am being naive, but I really am a keen supporter of nuclear power, and would like to find a way for everyone who supports a nuclear future to join forces, to overcome the decades of propaganda against nuclear technology, which has retarded its development in the West.

Here is Anthony asking Dr. Hansen about Thorium power at AGU2013

 

 

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178 Responses to Finding a common ground – a conversation with Dr. James Hansen on nuclear power

  1. Jeff says:

    Good that Dr. Hansen replied to you, and that there are folks interested in clean nuclear power and improvement of that. Sad that he’s in favor of “behavior modification by taxation” which only serves to make most of us poorer.
    China is apparently pulling out all the stops to get Thorium working ASAP (five years?), and if they do, they’ll hold the cards (and patents) for what happens on the (for lack of a better term) atomic front. I remember an article where a Chinese engineer basically said “the scientists/designers have all these wonderful dreams, but we’re the poor sods who have to implement it.” Sounds familiar….
    Anyway, would be great if there was some common ground that could be used to move forward with clean, AFFORDABLE, safe energy that isn’t a blight on the landscape and is practical….

  2. hunter says:

    It will be intersting to see how far this goes, if any where. I applaud your effort to reach out. I hope Dr. Hansen will carefully consider how he replies, especially in light of his care and concern for future generations.

  3. Roger Sowell says:

    This article explores the logical result of an electricity grid powered exclusively by nuclear fission power plants as currently designed and constructed. The end result is power prices that are many times higher than today, for example, residential price will be 5 times what it is today, while industrial power price will be more than 8 times what it is today.

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-two.html

    Surely, there is a better option than nuclear fission.

  4. Gary says:

    Dr. Hansen is mistaken in his opinion that the “fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work.” It fails to recognize that setting the fee is manipulation by government, not the market, which falsifies his idea. It’s like saying you can have any color of automobile as long as it’s black, as Henry Ford is reputed to have said. There is no choice, so it’s not a “conservative” position. Hansen needs to get over his social policy obsession and just promote a better technology.

  5. “The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee…”
    ————
    No, if nuclear power were taken off the sh!t list, a free market would sort things out.

    Besides of which, CO2 is not a pollutant and society does not need to be crippled by the warmunist anti-carbon agenda.

    “…providing some correction to the increasing disparity of wealth…”
    ————
    Getting rid of obama and his lot should take care of that. They are killing off the folks in the middle of the economic bell curve. We need a level basis of opportunity without the federal government skewing the rules in favour of its friends, and sticking its greedy, grasping fingers into private business.

  6. Bob Ramar says:

    Using Thorium in a power reactor is a proven technology. The United States constructed one at Oak Ridge in the early 1960′s and ran it continously for many years. You can extract Thorium from coal ash and get a two-fer; reduce coal ash bulk and obtain usable nuclear reactor fuel. Another benefit from a Thorium reactor is using the process heat to convert any carbon rich feedstock into liquid hydrocarbon (read: diesel) fuel! The research has been done. It is an engineering problem now.

  7. wws says:

    they always claim to be interested in the environment, but when you get down to brass tacks it’s always, “mo’ money, Mo’ Money, MO MONEY!!!”

  8. phlogiston says:

    Roger Sowell on March 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    This article explores the logical result of an electricity grid powered exclusively by nuclear fission power plants as currently designed and constructed. The end result is power prices that are many times higher than today, for example, residential price will be 5 times what it is today, while industrial power price will be more than 8 times what it is today.

    France falsifies your argument. Their percent of nuclear has approached 80% with unexceptional electricity prices. 100% nuclear is meaningless except as a straw man argument. Nuclear generation is bwst kept constant so nuclear should provide just baseline, something else more adjustable for peak power

  9. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Progress (in the form of broad support for nuclear power) seems to me unlikely any time in the next decade or two. The opposition to nuclear power among greens is even stronger than conservative opposition to carbon taxes. The other even more difficult factor is that the overriding green/malthusian objective is forcing people to live materially poorer lives. Any path which does not force reduced material wealth will face green opposition. You seem to imagine a shared set of priorities which are not in fact shared. I agree that nuclear power is the inevitable future, but not the near future.

  10. Col Mosby says:

    “This article explores the logical result of an electricity grid powered exclusively by nuclear fission power plants as currently designed and constructed. The end result is power prices that are many times higher than today, for example, residential price will be 5 times what it is today, while industrial power price will be more than 8 times what it is today.
    I have no idea where people get these figures from. Before natural gas became much much cheaper, nuclear power had become the cheapest power available- even cheaper than coal, previously the cheapest form of electricity. Currently operational and maintenance costs of
    nuclear power run around 1.35 cents per kWhr here in SC, a lttle more in other sections of
    the country. Uranium fuel costs are now less than 3/4 of a cent per kWhr, and a guaranteed 60 year lifespan (more likely 75 years ) Gen 3 plant these days,even in “most expensive build” U.S.,
    can be built for roughly $5 billion. That could be paid for over a 60 year period for less than a cent per kWhr. Costs for nuclear waste disposal are less than 1/10th cent per kWhr and decomissioning costs vary, most likely a small fraction of a cent per kWhr.
    Industry figures indicate the costs for multi-site nuclear power to be least, around $39 per MWhr (3.9 cents per kWhr), and $49 per MWhr (4.9 cents pe kWhr) for single reactor sites. Most sites are multireactor sites. Current national residential rates are roughly 12 to 13 cents per kWhr, with Hawaii (all coal and LNG) running the highest at roughly 35 cents per kWhr.
    The main reason natural gas has had a negative impact on nuclear build here in the U.S. (but NOT in China, or India or the Middle East or Russia or elsewhere) is because of the high upfront build costs for nuclear versus natural gas. But that is short sighted – natural gas prices will increase in time while uranium prices have been very steady and promise to continue to be so. We have plenty of uranium capacity and when fast reactors appear, with their need for a small fraction of the uranium used by today’s reactors, uranium from the oceans can be economically mined and will never become exhausted.
    If braindead Obama had devoted just one of those trillion dolars toilet flushes to nuclear power, he could have built 200 reactors, which along with today’s 100 reactors, could provide close to
    80% of this country’s electric power.

  11. Resourceguy says:

    It is with more than a little trepidation that I disagree with Anthony Watts, on anything. Solar costs are still plummeting and the leading edge of this tech innovation will reshape the debate whether pundits, industries, or nuclear cheerleaders like it or not. This is not easy for casual observers of this or any industry to navigate the twists and turns. From the time of Jimmy Carter’s install of solar panels on the roof of the White House to just a few years ago solar was uneconomic and many segments of it today exist by subsidy (shift of taxpayer liability) alone in pricing and configuration. That was followed by an industry shakeout with solar costs falling along with profitability and European subsidies. But now the costs are still declining in the lab, on the production line, and in financial disclosures as profit margins for the industry winners are reviving. Rooftop installations remain a sideshow to the core issue of utility-scale competitiveness. Also embedded in the cost comparison is the fact that utility-scale solar can be completed in stages and the whole project can now be completed in the time it takes to fill out the permit process paperwork for nuclear and coal. Natural gas is the only thing standing in the way of leading-edge solar at this point and I think even the casual observer can watch the evolution of policy and investment trends leading up to the next energy crisis as too many sectors and policies depend on it to remain cheap. It’s that straight-edge thinking again that gets them every time.

  12. PurpleToad says:

    As a person that is a reactor operator at a nuclear power plant, my opinion is that the grid is best supported by a wide variety of power sources. Natural Gas makes for the best peaking plants as it can respond to changes in grid conditions much faster than something like nuclear. As far a base load plant, that is what the nuclear plants are designed for. Making a plant do something that its not designed for then claiming its not the best option for that purpose is kind’ve obvious. There is a reason every utility has different plants for base load and peaking purposes. The goal of a nuclear plant is to get up to 100% power, stay there for 18 months, then shutdown, refuel, and repeat. There will always be a need for peaking plants and nuclear is not the best option for that style of plant, they just don’t change power quick enough. For that you need a power source that can change quickly with the conditions.

  13. James Ard says:

    Too late, former NRC Chairman Jazko shut down the Yucca Mountain project in the dead of night. Without a suitable waste storage location, the nimbys will rule the day.

  14. Frank says:

    The important thing to see about Hansen’s response is the sequence. Carbon taxes first. Then nuclear. Does anyone believe that the greens would stick to their word and go for nuclear–they would fight it tooth and nail. What we would get from Hansen’s proposal is just the standard green dream–very high energy prices and no appreciable increase in nuclear power. Hansen, Gore, and the ruling class greens would continue to be wealthy and powerful. The poor schmucks passing out global warming pamphlets at Earth Day will be out of work and desperately poor for the rest of their lives. And that would be sustainable.

  15. arthur4563 says:

    I might add that South Carolina is now constructing two more reactors (Westinghouse AP1000 1160 MW) , which will then have 9 reactors, supplying close to 80% of the state’s power. South Carolina electric rates are close to the national average of 12 to 13 cents per kWhr and will not go up as a result of having two more reactors.So much for that BS nonsense about nuclear power costing 5 times the national residential rate, or 65 cents per kWhhr.
    The two new reactors are being constructed on time and under budget and join another existing reactor at the same site, with a guaranteed build time of 36 months or less.

  16. RossP says:

    Well done Eric for making the approach and I hope the conversation continues. But I agree with Gary.
    Frankly I don’t understand Hansen’s argument that some sort of redistribution of money will help nuclear power win out –or is he just saying nuclear is expensive so we have to tax everyone and subsidise the lower income earners so they can pay their power bill ( I’m not sure how that equates with” the equal amount to all legal residents”).
    Jeff makes an important point about the Chinese charging ahead with the developments and getting all the patents ( if that is possible) while the west get distracted with IPCC reports and other nonsense. If it occurred then the Chinese would definitely be the “boss”

  17. Using Thorium in a power reactor is a proven technology.
    No it is not. There is much more on the learning curve before we can say that.

    Furthermore, the heavy lifting in the Thorium Power promise is in the continuous materials processing of the molten salt core. It must be the equivalent of a smelter + refiner done in air tight conditions next door to the reactor (or better, as part of a matrix of reactors and processors). There must also be a solution for the spent chemical reagents which will be mildly radioactive at best. It is not the physics that is the problem…. it is the chemistry.

  18. Les Johnson says:

    Eric: I think we could find consensus on the idea of a carbon tax, if it was based on Mckitrick’s idea of a TTT (tropical troposphere temperature ) tax, or the T3.

    There would be a very small initial tax, that increased as the T3 increased. No temperature increase, no tax increase.

    The T3 is the so called hot spot, and is a signature of global warming, and especially of AGW from CO2.

    For business planning purposes, you could use a 5 or 10 year running average.

    The ever present danger of course, is that inherent in all taxes. Politicians arbitrarily increasing the tax, based on revenue needs, rather than ecological needs.

    But, as a carbon tax goes, its the most acceptable, at least to myself. If I am wrong, and the global temperature increases to dangerous levels, there would be a built in mechanism to respond. If I am right, and temperatures don’t increase, then the cost is very little.

    https://sites.google.com/site/rossmckitrick/

  19. charles nelson says:

    As the Warmist camp fragments driving wedges like this into it will certainly help speed up the process!

  20. Cold in Wisconsin says:

    The greater expense of nuclear power in the U.S. is the regulation and time needed to approve a new facility which makes no contribution to the construction of the project. In a “friendlier” political climate those costs are reduced. If you have to spend gobs of money fighting the Green Lobby in the courts and regulatory agencies, preparing endless environmental impact studies with no assurance of success, you will have few investors and the few you have will expect a high return for the risk they are taking. Thus, higher prices to the consumer. If on the other hand, the government agrees to fast track the approval process, remove unreasonable impediments, and puts money into the basic research that everyone can use, the costs will be much lower.

    BTW if the Chinese do the research and get the patents, I suggest that we treat the patents in the same way that the Chinese treat our patents: “What patents?” And let’s remember that patents create a product specific monopoly which in general is not consistent with free enterprise. Patents are very friendly to the patent holder, but not to the consumer. Short patent life encourages innovation and reduces costs to the consumer. The Chinese just use our patent system to prevent U.S. companies from competing with them here in the U.S. while totally ignoring our patents in their own markets and the rest of the world. How dumb are we?

  21. JJ, too. says:

    Col Mosby said:
    “If braindead Obama had devoted just one of those trillion dolars toilet flushes to nuclear power, he could have built 200 reactors, which along with today’s 100 reactors, could provide close to
    80% of this country’s electric power.”

    This is really something we should all think seriously about. The ‘trillion’ dollar argument applies to a great many options other than nuclear. (Hint…restocking bank reserves is not one of them.) But a big head start to a hydrogen production, storage and distribution infrastructure could be.

  22. AnonyMoose says:

    Comment above “This article explores the logical result of an electricity grid powered exclusively by nuclear fission power plants as currently designed and constructed….”

    That uses a cost of 30 cents per kWh. Looks like the EIA has a figure of 10.84 cents. So maybe the numbers are a third of that article.
    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/electricity_generation.cfm

  23. Col Mosby says:

    An error : Hawaii produces electricity primarily using oil and LNG imported by ship. The oil is the main reason why Hawaii has such high electric rates.

  24. @Frank at 1:14 pm
    The important thing to see about Hansen’s response is the sequence. Carbon taxes first. Then nuclear. Does anyone believe that the greens would stick to their word and go for nuclear–they would fight it tooth and nail.

    Very well said. Perceptive.

    Hansen’s argument presupposes that the some “free market” agreement on a carbon-tax levy can be found representing quantifiable climate change risks. I’m skeptical of that. It also presupposes that third party effects and risks associated with nuclear fission are not ultimately worse than any danger actually posed by a marginal equivalent GT of coal use, the only real fossil fuel that would be displaced by nuclear.

  25. Les Johnson says:

    It is interesting that if we had gone to nukes, emissions would be at 1930s levels in the US.

    The US CO2 emissions would be between 50% and 75% of todays emissions, if nuclear power had taken hold, and all licensed power plants built. (assumes coal replaced nuclear, not gas)

    So, blame environmentalists for the high CO2 emissions today.

    If all the ordered nuke plants, at the time of Three Mile Island, had actually been built, CO2 emissions would be at 1957 levels in the US. If the same rate of orders had continued, the US would now be at 1939 levels of CO2 emissions.

    Comparing to France, with over 70% of power from nukes and a 40% drop in emissions, its not unreasonable.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/30/anti-nuclear-power-hysteria-and-it%E2%80%99s-significant-contribution-to-global-warming/#more-36920

  26. Dan in California says:

    Coal and nuclear fission plants generate the lowest cost electricity in the USA. This is why they together make up more than half of the total grid. Here’s a link to more detail about the costs of fission power:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Economic-Aspects/Economics-of-Nuclear-Power/
    Power generation costs vary widely by country. For example, it costs about $3.5 billion to build a third generation plant in China, and about twice that in the US. This is essentially the same plant, a Westinghouse AP-1000. The cost difference is due to legal fees, environmental studies, cost of money, etc.

    I’ve seen scare stories that the world’s uranium supply will run out in tens of years. Those stories make unwarranted assumptions. For example, there is 100,000 years of uranium dissolved in sea water but extracting it will cost about twice as much as current market value. So what? The fuel cost of running a power plant is about 1.5 cents/KWHr, so doubling that would mean an increase of that much, not the “Under my administration electricity costs will necessarily skyrocket” campaign promise of Barack Obama.

  27. AnonyMoose says:

    Comment above says that “Furthermore, the heavy lifting in the Thorium Power promise is in the continuous materials processing of the molten salt core. …next door…”

    Why does it have to be next door? I assumed that the core would be topped off with fresh material, while some of the older stuff was shipped to a regional facility for processing.

  28. Doug Uhrig says:

    A few questions:

    1. How long can a reactor be used before it can no longer be used?
    2. How much does it cost to decommission a reactor and find a “safe” place for radioactive parts and waste?
    3. Are our reactors safe from disasters and how much would disaster cleanup cost?
    4. Are any of these costs included in the per kwh cost of nuclear energy mentioned above?

    Just, you know, asking.

  29. hunter says:

    Roger Sowell offers a very thoguhtful critique of nuclear power based on an article that concludes the costs associated with nuclear power makes it unaffordable on a large scale.
    The article and the study it is based on would be more credible if it showed that France, the nation most committed to nuclear fission power, is suffering from unaffordably high power costs.

  30. Gary Pearse says:

    My vision, after all the terrible misallocation of veritable fortunes on CO2 without any demonstrable evidence of its negative impact, is to see private industry funds made available for research on nuclear, and for that matter, any other important sector. Hey, the oil and gas sector is even bankrolling Greenpeace, WWF, etc. etc. Probably government (unlikely the current one in the US) would at least have to provide some framework and incentives, particularly in the policy area, to make it attractive to do this research. One would need a Ronald Reagan to turn the tide.
    R&D was turned off by environmentalist impostors who really are anti-civilization zealots and, of course, the endless supply of useful idiots available to any cause. Hard to get the private sector interested in the nuclear sector for this reason.

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I am aware of your dated argument about the prohibitive costs of fission energy. A large part of the cost was due to over-redundant design in the the anti nuclear lobby’s pressures. Imagine a scenario 50 years hence where coal burning wouldn’t be allowed to release any CO2 – another Roger Sowell would present the same argument that coal is too expensive a technology. Or another, the price of the aluminum that caps the Washington Monument at $1/ounce – a days wage in the 1890s. Today it’s 78c/lb.

    http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/9511/binczewski-9511.html

    If we had had a strong R&D going up until the present, instead of using 1960s technology, you would find safe nuclear for a lot less than what you find in the literature. Even the 50-60s technology globally hasn’t killed a hundred people yet. Chernobyl, an old Soviet to-hell-with-safety design killed about 3/4 of the victims.

  31. Graham Green says:

    @Roger Sowell

    The UK government have agreed a strike price of £92.50/MwH with the French firm EDF for the first new reactor station. On the face of it this is twice the current wholesale price for electricity yet it compares quite favourably with the price paid for offshore wind generation.

    I understand that this is not the same as having an entire grid powered by baseload suppliers and the associated costs of giving the illusion of dispatchability to nuclear generation but the French already operate their nuclear generation, at least in part, as dispatchable.

    Either way this is not 5 to 8 times more expensive than current wholesale.

    In 10 years time when this station is operational 9 pence/kwH will look pretty darn good.

  32. LT says:

    ” If they don’t, the changing demographics will sink them, and we will all suffer under a screwed up energy system.”

    Yes Dr. Hansen, clearly you’ve been so good at predictions how could anyone possibly believe another one from you.

  33. Eric: Thanks for your effort to find some common ground on nuclear power between WUWT Skeptics and Dr. James Hansen, who is perhaps the original Warmist/Alarmist. I am pleased he replied to you (and indirectly our WUWT readers), albeit to push his Carbon Tax proposal.

    Way back in 2010, right here on WUWT, in my capacity as a Guest Contributor, I wrote the following:

    You may be surprised that I favor some version of a straight Carbon Tax, collected at the mine, well, and port, with the proceeds returned on an equal basis to citizens and legal residents. Yes, James Hansen and (pardon the expression Ralph Nader) also favor it, but, so do conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal, and others on the right. My support for this tax is based on what I wrote above, “We cannot fight something with nothing” and “We have spent, and continue to sacrifice too much blood and treasure protecting our access, and that of our allies, to energy from unstable regions of the world.”

    See my WUWT Topic at: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/30/skeptic-strategy-for-talking-about-global-warming/

    I favor a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX, collected at the port, oil/gas well, and coal mine and NOT the CAP and TRADE SCAM which is a politician’s delight and will not work.

    A STRAIGHT CARBON TAX at the SOURCE is what Hansen and Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and the Wall Street Journal and I favor. That will allow market forces (and NOT the inefficient and politically-connected forces that own our government) to select the most economical alternative energy source, be it nuclear, water, wind, biomass, or some combination, while still using fossil fuels which will be the major energy source for many years to come. The revenues from the STRAIGHT CARBON TAX would be returned to all citizens and legal residents of the US on an equal basis to partially make up for the higher cost of carbon-based fuels.

    As you might expect, that part of my much longer and well-received Topic generated some heated comments here at WUWT, but I made it clear my main motivation for a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX was NOT primarily for reducing our CO2 footprint. The MAIN purpose of a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from unstable countries and thereby conserve some of the blood and treasure of defending our access, and that of our allies around the world, to low-cost petroleum from unstable sources. Who is paying that cost? The general population, in the form of taxes towards the defense budget, plus the lives of thousands of their sons and daughters, and serious injuries to tens of thousands more.

    I wrote more about why I favor this type of tax and I included links to Krauthammer and the Wall Street Journal and one of the charts Hansen used in his 2008 Congressional testimony on my personal blog here: http://tvpclub.blogspot.com/2008/12/james-hansen-favors-carbon-tax.html

    and here: http://tvpclub.blogspot.com/2009/03/carbon-tax-yes-cap-no.html

    and here: http://tvpclub.blogspot.com/2008/10/carbon-tax-loser-too-bad.html

    Please read that material, as well as the comments and my replies on my WUWT Topic: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/30/skeptic-strategy-for-talking-about-global-warming/

    and continue the conversation!

    Ira Glickstein

  34. Bruce Cobb says:

    Of course “carbon” taxes would have to come first. That’s the only way they could make nuclear economically feasible, i.e. by punishing coal especially, but also NG.
    Hansen envisions killing coal and building nuclear plants, which would drive energy prices sky high.

  35. more soylent green! says:

    …The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents.

    The above is one of those things only a college professor would believe. It’s just another scheme for redistribution of the wealth, with the hidden caveat that the money wouldn’t be distributed as a direct payment but instead through increased government “services.”

  36. MikeUK says:

    Many people are so locked into an anti-CO2 battle that they can’t see where energy should be focused, into low-cost alternative energy sources.

    The Great Anti-CO2 War will rage without a winner until mankind develops a low-cost alternative.

  37. AnonyMoose at 1:37 pm
    Why does [the LTF reprocessing planet] have to be next door?

    All the salt has to be reprocessed, but only every ten days.

    A LTFR plant consists of a Thorium+Uranium233 core and a chemical reprocessing plant acting like a kidney removing the waste products and reactor poisons. It has to be a near continuous process. That’s why it needs to be next door, connected to the core by two well blanketed pipes.

    Because of the mechanics involved, I envision kind of a 5-spot arrangement of cores and reprocessors in an LTFR array. This allows for 1 reprocessing plant to service up to 4 cores and each core could call upon up to 4 neighboring reprocessing plants. ‘Cuz I expect the reprocessing plants to be a lot less dependable than the cores.

    Rasey 6/24/13 01:00for a fuller discussion with links to sources.

    Note well that the 2-fluid core (U-233 core, Thorium blanket) is mechanically more complex, but allows for simpler reprocessing. A 1-fluid core is the mechanically simpler design (and the one most talk about), but requires the more complex reprocessing scheme. So it is important not to confuse the differences.

  38. more soylent green! says:

    @Roger Sowell —

    I’m not in the position to dispute any of the numbers, I just want to point out that to the warmists, any price is worth it.

    Does anybody have the numbers to compare the scenario of a grid powered solely by nuclear fission plants v. a grid powered solely by wind and solar, or wind, solar and geothermal, or any combination of exclusively alternative energy sources?

    BTW: Are there many advocates of using solely nuclear power for our grid? The last time I read any of Robert Bryce’s work (see Power Hungry) he advocated for a base of nuclear power with natural gas plants to supply additional power on demand. It’s Bryce’s view closer to the mainstream?

  39. Rob Bradley says:

    A review of Hansen’s energy re climate positions can be found here: http://www.masterresource.org/2014/03/hansen-more-energy-realism/

  40. bair polaire says:

    WUWT has posted many other articles, on Thorium and next generation nuclear technology, which have been well received by regular readers of this blog.

    Count me out. I’m not ready to accept the proliferation risk of the thorium reactor. Bad people could feed it a lot of ugly stuff and get really dangerous stuff out… And as usual we would develop the technology that they might one day use against us.

    And I’m not accepting nuclear waste that is still hazardous when my grandchildren grow up. A half-life of more than 100 years is simply not acceptable. 30 years would be the upper limit. That brings the original waste down to 10 percent in about 100 years. (Still not gone!)

    Here is quite a good summary of the issues with thorium reactors:
    Not ‘green’, not ‘viable’, and not likely

    In this Briefing, we examine the validity of the optimistic claims made for thorium fuel, MSRs and the LFTR in particular. We find that the claims do not stand up to critical scrutiny, and that these technologies have significant drawbacks including:

    - the very high costs of technology development, construction and operation.
    - marginal benefits for a thorium fuel cycle over the currently utilised uranium / plutonium fuel cycles
    - serious nuclear weapons proliferation hazards
    - the danger of both routine and accidental releases of radiation, mainly from continuous ‘live’ fuel reprocessing in MSRs
    - the very long lead time for significant deployment of LFTRs of the order of half a century – rendering it irrelevant in terms of addressing current or medium term energy supply needs

  41. Thirsty says:

    @Ira Glickstein 1:56pm “The MAIN purpose of a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from unstable countries and thereby conserve some of the blood and treasure of defending our access”

    A noble goal but the first question is why a carbon tax and not an oil tax if dependence on ‘bad guy’ oil is the problem? Given the development of new regional gas and oil resources the calculus has changed dramatically since 2009.

    Using a little hindsight analysis, if this carbon tax was in place it may have crimped the massive investment in regional oil and gas reserves and voila no current energy renaissance.

  42. FreeTheNukes says:

    Some of the assumptions that Roger makes are incorrect. I’m not sure why he adds in 4 cents per kw/hour for the installation of cooling towers, pumps, and steam bypass valves. I can’t speak for all US nuclear plants, but the ones that I’m familiar with have all of those components as a part of the basic heat transfer cycle. Also the 60% capacity factor figure is not accurate for US nuclear plants. Last figure I saw was in the high 80s.

    He is correct in stating that our current plants are not designed to easily be ‘load-following’, however I’m not sure how big of a problem this really is. I don’t think we will ever see 100% of electricity generated via nuclear power. There will always be some renewables/natural gas plants to do the load following.

  43. DMA says:

    The 2014 Cold Fusion LANR Colloquium just finished at MIT with multiple presentations of heat production from nuclear sources that promise clean,cheap, abundant energy with no radiation problem and a potential of widely distributed small sources to replace the grid. These folks from all over the world have struggled without any appreciable monetary help for 25 years to bring their discoveries to a world in need of energy but ,much like the “Global Warming ” problem have been hampered by misinformation and politicization. If they had received 1/100000 th of the money spent on hot fusion research we would have this alternative power source now. As it is there are working research reactors in several countries and 3 or 4 private researchers that anticipate commercial products within a few years. Another promising field of research is anutronic fusion that has also struggled without adequate funding while billions are thrown away on 150 year old technology like windmills and diffuse sources like solar.
    If CO2 were a problem the reasonable way to control it is to develop a technology that will replace it because of economic considerations. Conventional nuclear and thorium reactors are good choices for now but the future is full of better alternatives.

  44. Gunga Din says:

    Nuclear power is good if done properly.
    The whole “carbon free” aspect is bogus.

  45. Just some air chair pondering.

    Half a century ago, even before the new ice age coming, I decided to study physics in order to help solving the energy problem that we would face in the future, especially when it would be so cold. This was aggravated by the OPEC oil boycot in the early seventies.It was clear that he who has the energy has the gold, as in the golden rule.

    It was also obvious that there was no alternative to going nuclear. I made windmill calculations in that time only to find that these were six to ten orders of magnitude less efficient than nuclear.

    But that’s all mood because it has nó relation to whether or not global warming “is true”, We are mixing economy/political/ideaistic bias with objective (true/false) science. How we need to secure energy is totally unrelated to the (in)significant role of carbon dioxide.

    For instance if you persuade the herd to go nuclear or get fried by global warming, then when inevitably the moment comes when gobal warming dies for good, then the reason to go nuclear also disappears.

    You cannot do poltics based on lies, It may seem to work on short term but it will backfire in the long term when the truth has finaly its boots on.

  46. Leo Morgan says:

    I commend Eric Worrall on his initiative.
    It’s pleasant to discover a like-minded individual who shares my judgements, specifically those in favour of nuclear power and against fake markets.
    As a youth I was a science fiction enthusiast, and in favour of nuclear power. I changed my stance upon reading Ralph Nader’s “The Menace of Atomic Energy.” The part that particularly swayed me was Nader’s account of three scientists who resigned from the nuclear industry in protest against it’s dangers. That story turned out to be a lie.
    I later read the late Dr Petr Beckmann’s marvelous book “The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear.” Partisan as a Green’s publication, it’s nevertheless rational as well. In it, he puts many of Nader’s misleading claims in context. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the three resigners were all converts to a religious cult that opposed plutonium as the devil’s work ‘because it is not found in God’s nature.’ This is a fact that Nader could not have helped but know. nevertheless he intentionally concealed it. Beckmann’s arguments are as valid today as the day he wrote them.
    Only Dr Hansen can truly say what motivates his weasel-worded rejection. After all, this proposal would contribute to the world adopting a policy initiative that would in his judgement ‘save the world’. But am I wrong to think it’s arrogance? That he’d rather see the world go to hell than co-operate with Anthony Watts on anything at all? Perhaps I am wrong. But it definitely looks that way.

  47. Bruce Cobb says:

    There may indeed be a future for nuclear, and I hope there is, but not in its current state. The cost kills it. Carbon taxes is most certainly NOT the way to go.

  48. rogerknights says:

    Here’s a three-part solution I endorse, spelled out in a book called “Prescription for the Planet: The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises,” whose details are outlined in the first reader-review, by G. Meyerson:

    This book is a must read for people who want to be informed about our worsening energy and ecology crisis. Before I read this book, I was opposed to nuclear power for the usual reasons: weapons proliferation and the waste problem. But also because I had read that in fact nuclear power was not as clean as advertised nor as cost competitive as advertised and was, moreover, not a renewable form of energy, as it depends upon depleting stocks of uranium, which would become an especially acute problem in the event of “a nuclear renaissance.”

    Before I read this book, I was also of the opinion that growth economies (meaning for now global capitalism) were in the process of becoming unsustainable, that, as a consequence, our global economy would itself unravel due to increasing energy costs and the inability of renewable technologies genuinely and humanely to solve the global transport problem of finding real replacements for the billions of gallons of gasoline consumed by the global economy, and the billions more gallons required to fuel the growth imperative. I was thus attracted to the most egalitarian versions of Richard Heinberg’s power down/relocalization thesis.

    Blees’ book has turned many of my assumptions upside down and so anyone who shares these assumptions needs to read this book and come to terms with the implications of Blees’ excellent arguments. To wit: the nuclear power provided by Integral Fast Reactors (IFR) can provide clean, safe and for all practical purposes renewable power for a growing economy provided this power is properly regulated (I’ll return to this issue below). The transportation problems can be solved by burning boron as fuel (a 100% recyclable resource) and the waste problem inevitably caused by exponential growth can be at least partially solved by fully recycling all waste in plasma converters, which themselves can provide both significant power (the heat from these converters can turn a turbine to generate electricity) and important products: non toxic vitrified slag (which Blees notes can be used to refurbish ocean reefs), rock wool (to be used to insulate our houses–it is superior to fiber glass or cellulose) and clean syngas, which can assume the role played by petroleum in the production of products beyond fuel itself. Blees’s discussion of how these three elements of a new energy economy can be introduced and integrated is detailed and convincing. Other forms of renewable energy can play a significant role also, though it is his argument that only IFRs can deal with the awesome scale problems of powering a global economy which would still need to grow. Tom’s critique of biofuels is devastating and in line with the excellent critiques proferred by both the powerdown people and the red greens (John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff); his critique of the “hydrogen economy” is also devastating (similar to critiques by Joseph Romm or David Strahan); his critique of a solar grand plan must be paid heed by solar enthusiasts of various political stripes.

    The heart of this book, though, really resides with the plausibility of the IFR. His central argument is that these reactors can solve the principal problems plaguing other forms of nuclear power. It handles the nuclear waste problem by eating it to produce power: The nuclear waste would fire up the IFRs and our stocks of depleted uranium alone would keep the reactors going for a couple hundred years (factoring in substantial economic growth) due to the stunning efficiency of these reactors, an efficiency enabled by the fact that “a fast reactor can burn up virtually all of the uranium in the ore,” not just one percent of the ore as in thermal reactors. This means no uranium mining and milling for hundreds of years.

    The plutonium bred by the reactor will be fed back into it to produce more energy and cannot be weaponized due to the different pyroprocessing that occurs in the IFR reactor. In this process, plutonium is not isolated, a prerequisite to its weaponization. The IFR breeders can produce enough nonweaponizable plutonium to start up another IFR in seven years. Moreover, these reactors can be produced quickly (100 per year starting in 2015, with the goal of building 3500 by 2050)), according to Blees, with improvements in modular design, which would facilitate standardization, thus bringing down cost and construction lead time.

    Importantly, nuclear accidents would be made virtually impossible due to the integration of “passive” safety features in the reactors, which rely on “the inherent physical properties of the reactor’s components to shut it down.” (129)
    ………………..
    Still, if such a new energy regime as Blees proposes can solve the climate crisis, this is not to say, in my opinion, that a growth regime is fully compatible with a healthy planet and thus a healthy humanity. There are other resources crucial to us–the world’s soils, forests and oceans come to mind–that a constantly expanding global economy can destroy even if we recycle all the world’s garbage and stop global warming.“

    Here’s the Amazon link:

  49. strike says:

    I wouldn’t make common cause with James Hansen, He’s a priest of church of global warming and therefore lacks honesty and credibility.

  50. Leo Geiger says:

    A revenue neutral carbon tax is often cited by economists as an efficient means of reducing emissions. At its heart is the understanding that people are smarter than governments. Given a market based incentive, people will find the most efficient ways to reduce emissions. The province of British Columbia is a real world example that it can be done successfully:

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2014/03/how-british-columbia-enacted-most-effective-carbon-tax-north-america/8732/

    A single revenue neutral carbon ‘tax’ (it is almost a misnomer to call it a ‘tax’ when it is revenue neutral) can be used to replace all the wasteful government subsidies on green energy, biofuels, bureaucratic ‘command and control’ regulations, complex cap-and-trade systems, and so on.

  51. Peter says:

    Stephen Rasey -
    Wrong. The Germans ran a thorium-powered pebble reactor successfully, publicly demonstrating its “inherently safe” design by turning off the gas cooling/heat transfer medium and letting the reactor simmer uncooled for days with no sign of excessive temperature, let alone meltdown. No liquid sodium used – just thorium seeds in high-temperature-resistant ceramic pebbles which could not melt and collapse to form an over-critical mass, and cooled by a heat transfer medium which could not become radioactive. Ultra-safe.
    At a later time they did have a purely mechanical problem with the valve designed to bleed off and replace depleted pebbles. Before they could re-engineer this valve, the German Greens Party – a powerful political party in Germany – raised a public outcry, lieing outright about the “dangers” of the design and getting the reactor shut down. A world tragedy for safe nuclear power, purely to satisfy the political ambitions of a bunch of airheads with no technical or scientific knowledge. and, apparently no care for the public good. German reactor research was permanently halted – a double tragedy, because if any engineers could design a cost-effective and safe reactor, you could put your money on German engineers.
    .

  52. Dan in California says:

    more soylent green! says: March 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm
    Does anybody have the numbers to compare the scenario of a grid powered solely by nuclear fission plants v. a grid powered solely by wind and solar, or wind, solar and geothermal, or any combination of exclusively alternative energy sources?
    ————————————————————–
    Neither of the first two scenarios is a good idea. Nukes want to run at 100% power all the time and thus are good for base load, which is about 1/2 the daily peak load. Other sources that can be throttled up and down are good for peak load plants. These include natural gas burners and hydro.

    The problem with a grid powered solely by wind and solar sources is that none of them provide power when you need it. Wind turbines provide power when the wind blows. Therefore, energy storage is necessary. Current technology power storage is about 18,000 MW in the US (1000 MW is a typical coal or nuke size) and about 70% efficient. Storage is expensive, and proponents of wind frequently omit storage costs in their proposals. Here’s a link to one of the bigger storage lakes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castaic_Power_Plant
    Note the Tehachapi wind farm is only about 30 miles from this and can take advantage of some of the storage capabilities.

  53. juan slayton says:

    Leo Geiger says: A revenue neutral carbon tax is often cited by economists as an efficient means of reducing emissions…The province of British Columbia is a real world example that it can be done successfully….

    I dunno about that, Leo. On the other hand, I hear that gas station owners in Bellingham might like it.
    : > )

  54. Berényi Péter says:

    “The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents. This would cause nuclear power to win out for electricity.”

    Attaching a political thrust to a technological proposal is unwise. It is certainly not for scientists to figure out how to make nuclear power cheaper than anything else, let alone winning populist political strategies and the like.

    For that’s what has to be done, nuclear power should be inexpensive in the first place. I also believe it can have built in safety, e.g. passive cooling and no long half life isotopes left in waste. The only thing we need is to abandon Cold War style Plutonium factories which also supply some energy as a byproduct, but only a tiny fraction of the full energy content of their fuel, and go for safe, high efficiency &. sustainable commercial energy production. That alone, with some thought, would take care of the “proliferation” issue, for all the energy used up in the industrial process, no material suitable for bombs is left behind.

    The only political decision needed for that end is the establishment of a sane, long term regulatory environment, where no political risk is attached to R&D investments. Otherwise only a price pressure should be kept up with no forced obsolescence of carbon based fuels. People are creative, they’ll find a way.

    Only artificial obstacles can prevent a fuel with 3 million times the energy content of coal become cheaper and safer than traditional alternatives.

    Even ordinary granite rock has some fifty times more energy in it, due to traces of Thorium and Uranium, than the same amount of coal. Go figure.

  55. @Ira Glickstein 1:56pm

    So does a “Carbon” tax include a tax on the export/import of wood pellets, wood and biomass plants that spew lots of CO2 into the air, just like “fossil” fuels? Does it include a tax on forestry companies for taking carbon absorbing species out the environment, and is there a different tax for equatorial rain forests that absorb a great deal of carbon versus our North American boreal forests that have a pretty neutral carbon absorption/production rate? Does it include the loss or gain in CO2 due to flooding of treed valley’s for a hydroelectric project? Does it include a tax on carbon used to produce the steel and concrete for a hydroelectric facility or a nuclear facility and all the stainless steel and other high tech piping and electronics? Same for every other type of power plant including wind and solar? Are there any energy producing technologies that don’t produce CO2? I am not aware of any except perhaps pyrolysis which would still require material that generated CO2 for production, containment and steam production … and looking at “pyrolysis – waste to energy plants, they certainly look to have a lot of carbon intensive material in them. A person lying on the beach absorbing the sun’s energy still produces CO2. Where does the taxation start and where does it stop? Simple answer: Once you give the power to tax carbon to the politicians and bureaucrats (like income tax), it will never stop. A carbon tax can’t help but favour one industry over another as the bureaucrats will always keep changing the definition of what does or does not get taxed for it’s “Carbon Footprint”. How big is the carbon foot print of a concrete or asphalt toll highway without a single vehicle on it? Huge. But people don’t think that way, do they? Not yet, anyway. So it’s back to the horse and buggy. OK for me, as I have both, but maybe not so good for you.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Concrete is said to be the most used material on earth other than water. Great source of tax?
    http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/footprints-concrete/

  56. Rob says:

    A BC style carbon tax is not a bad idea, especially if it doesn’t come in fast and opportunities for lower income households to improve efficiency are there if there’s an upfront cost problem in adjusting. I would worry that it could become a dead weight on the larger emitters and a problem for the economy since an equal rebate would amount to a tax on CO2 heavy industries ‘Robin Hooded’ out to everyone. It would likely just be passed on to consumers but exporters might have a problem.

    The point is, it’s a much better idea than pretty much everything else politicians have done.

  57. juan slayton says:
    March 31, 2014 at 3:34 pm
    Leo Geiger says: A revenue neutral carbon tax is often cited by economists as an efficient means of reducing emissions…The province of British Columbia is a real world example that it can be done successfully….

    I dunno about that, Leo. On the other hand, I hear that gas station owners in Bellingham might like it.
    : > )
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Not just Bellingham. Every community along the border has a large number of people who trip across the border to fill up. When I visit my mother in Grand Forks, BC, I fuel up at the Alberta border. At Grand Forks, I go 800 metres across the border to the store in Danville, Washington to fill up before heading back to Alberta without ever buying a single litre of fuel in BC. The fuel in Grand Forks was C$1.28 per litre versus a C$1.08 in Danville. The Carbon tax is sure working there. (Sarc) I don’t know of many people in BC that are happy about the Carbon Tax, but maybe don’t know the right people. No one I know believes it is revenue neutral either.

  58. Peter at 3:24 pm
    Stephen Rasey, Wrong. The Germans….

    Wrong topic, Peter. I was discussing LTFR (Liquid Thorium Fluoride (Molten Salt) Reactor). Your example is a Pelletized Thorium Helium Gas cooled Reactor.

    So the two are about the same as Dried Apples and Orange juice.

  59. Charles Hart says:

    China is posed to follow France’s low carbon nuclear based energy. We have existence proof that it can be done already (see France). We also have examples of how a solar/wind push works (see Germany). My money is on the Chinese.

    “The nuclear race is on. China is upping the ante dramatically on thorium nuclear energy. Scientists in Shanghai have been told to accelerate plans (sorry for the pun) to build the first fully-functioning thorium reactor within ten years, instead of 25 years as originally planned.

    “This is definitely a race. China faces fierce competition from overseas and to get there first will not be an easy task”,” says Professor Li Zhong, a leader of the programme. He said researchers are working under “warlike” pressure to deliver.”

    “The Chinese appear to be opting for a molten salt reactor – or a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) — a notion first proposed by the US nuclear doyen Alvin Weinberg and arguably best adapted for thorium.”

    “The thorium blueprints gathered dust in the archives until retrieved and published by former Nasa engineer Kirk Sorensen. The US largely ignored him: China did not.” [Note: I think Kirk also gets credit for "LFTR".]

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100026863/china-going-for-broke-on-thorium-nuclear-power-and-good-luck-to-them/

    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1452011/chinese-scientists-urged-develop-new-thorium-nuclear-reactors-2024

    More info:
    http://energyfromthorium.com/

  60. jai mitchell says:

    Thorium Salt reactors are a joke. Same with Hydrogen fuel cells (or rather, hydrogen fueling infrastructure)

    The Chinese research won’t provide a workable product in the next 10 years http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0328/Thorium-a-safer-nuclear-power

    “10-years” is code for “never”

    on the other hand, GEN III nuclear plans have already been approved: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1135/ML113560141.pdf for current operations.

    Believe me, in 10 years you will all be begging for carbon free energy production.

    REPLY: 1. NEVER underestimate the Chinese. 2. We won’t beg for something we won’t need in 10 years when current energy production technology (with all that fearsome carbon) does just fine. – Anthony

  61. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Resourceguy says:
    March 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Solar and wind suffer from intermittent and unreliable output level, regardless of the quoted power cost (which is based on peak, not average power), and are the most expensive sources of power at present in real workable systems. To compensate for that, a full capacity backup/alternate adjustable source (generally gas turbine) system is needed, so instead of cutting cost, you add complexity and actually increase cost over gas alone. If gas becomes much less available, coal is likely needed for backup. At some point, more solar and wind may make sense, but not from an economic standpoint, and not for centuries at least. If super cheap batteries eventually become a fact, the issue may change, but that is not the present world.

    Large nuclear may not be the best choice for many reasons, but it is not due to cost. New concepts possibly based on small distributed nuclear power plants (to cut transmission and interconnection cost), plants based on safer Thorium, or even individual home power based on LENR technology will eventually be add to improved conventional nuclear plants to satisfy energy needs. Solar has a nich use, but windmills are a bad idea for many reasons beyond the lack of reliable output.

  62. @Leo Geiger at 3:16 pm
    A revenue neutral carbon tax is often cited by economists as an efficient means of reducing emissions. At its heart is the understanding that people are smarter than governments.

    This is both true and false at the same time.

    In theory it is true. A carbon tax is an efficient means of reducing carbon compound emissions, so long as you only care about mass of the carbon and not the actual compounds. Trouble is we do care whether the compounds are CO2, CO, CH4, C2H6, C8H18, (Ca,Mg)CO3.

    But it is false for another reason. A revenue neutral carbon tax is an efficient means of collecting the tax, but the redistribution of its proceeds involves that very inefficient entity called government. And that’s where it breaks down. There is nothing neutral about the hand of government with a new source of lucre.

    “To tax or not to tax, that is the question.
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outraged lobbyists,
    Or to take arms against a sea of voters,
    And by opposing shaft them?
    To tax, to keep;
    To keep: perchance to do good: ay, there’s the rub;”

  63. Doug Badgero says:

    Nuclear is fine for base load but should not be used to load follow. The bulk of nuclear cost is embedded capital cost…..look at EIA numbers to confirm. They are very expensive per kWH if not operated at a high capacity factor. Simple economics.

  64. Mac the Knife says:

    “This fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work. “ NOT! Mr. Duplicity in the very next breath describes it as a wealth redistribution scheme, ala Barackward Obama.

    Mr. Duplicity is not interested in comity or ‘bipartisan’ compromise. His is a ‘divide and conquer’ approach, designed to lull and mislead in the same way his splicing of incompatible data sets yielded the misleading hokey stick!

    I would not trust Dr. MMaann as far as I could throw him… and, on a good day, I’d guess that would be about 10 to 12 feet.

  65. Taphonomic says:

    James Ard says:
    “Too late, former NRC Chairman Jazko shut down the Yucca Mountain project in the dead of night. Without a suitable waste storage location, the nimbys will rule the day.”

    Jaczko tried, but he didn’t. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act is still the law of the land. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to re-start their work on reviewing the Yucca Mountain License Application.

    http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/BAE0CF34F762EBD985257BC6004DEB18/$file/11-1271-1451347.pdf

    As an added bonus the Circuit Court called out Jaczko’s malfeasance in their ruling:

    “Although the Commission had a duty to act on the application and the means
    to fulfill that duty, former Chairman Gregory Jaczko orchestrated a systematic campaign of noncompliance. Jaczko unilaterally ordered Commission staff to terminate the review
    process in October 2010; instructed staff to remove key findings reports evaluating the Yucca Mountain site; and ignored the will of his fellow Commissioners.”

  66. yirgach says:

    I found it bit ironic that the next Youtube video after the Hansen/Watts dialogue was this one.
    Does Thorium have a far away look to it?

  67. Sweet Old Bob says:

    There is NO such thing as a “revenue neutral” tax. Governments ALWAYS waste money.
    If it was truely revenue neutral IT WOULD COST NOTHING .
    Just another way to scam the “little people” …

  68. Max Hugoson says:

    Spent 21 years working in Nuclear. Left 14 years ago. DEAD, DYING, GONE. Dispirited people, no future. NO FUTURE WITHOUT A TOP DOWN MANDATE (See FRANCE). Substituting reality with a PIPE DREAM. Sorry, won’t work.

  69. Eric Worrall says:

    If anyone wants to see the full original video, I must thank Sou from Hotwhopper, for publishing the following rather excellent instructions on how to register with AGU, to gain access to their official videos.

    This is what you need to do, if you’re not already registered.

    1. Go to http://virtualoptions.agu.org/

    2. Scroll down and enter your email address in the box under “Registration”

    3. Check your email and click the hyperlink or copy and paste it into the address bar on your web browser

    4. On the page that appears, be sure enter promo code AGU13 so you aren’t charged $100

    5. On the next page fill in the boxes – you’ll need to repeat your email address and come up with a password

    6. When you get to the end you can go back and check your email again, you’ll need to view it in HTML, not plain text, to read it.

    7. Click on this link again http://virtualoptions.agu.org/ and enter the email address and password you provided in step 5.

    8. I think it’s here that you have to fill in more details

    9. You’ll finally arrive at the page you want, which is full of videos – live streaming and all the sessions held so far.

    10. Set aside several hours for the next several days.

    11. Enjoy and learn :)

  70. Eric Worrall says:

    If anyone wants to view the original video, I must thank Sou for providing the following excellent instructions:-

    This is what you need to do, if you’re not already registered.
    1. Go to http://virtualoptions.agu.org/
    2. Scroll down and enter your email address in the box under “Registration”
    3. Check your email and click the hyperlink or copy and paste it into the address bar on your web browser
    4. On the page that appears, be sure enter promo code AGU13 so you aren’t charged $100
    5. On the next page fill in the boxes – you’ll need to repeat your email address and come up with a password
    6. When you get to the end you can go back and check your email again, you’ll need to view it in HTML, not plain text, to read it.
    7. Click on this link again http://virtualoptions.agu.org/ and enter the email address and password you provided in step 5.
    8. I think it’s here that you have to fill in more details
    9. You’ll finally arrive at the page you want, which is full of videos – live streaming and all the sessions held so far.
    10. Set aside several hours for the next several days.
    11. Enjoy and learn :)

  71. @Max Hugoson 4:51 pm.

    I can understand how people in the nuclear industry feel they have no future.
    People in the coal industry are feeling no future, too.

    The problem as I see it is that at least one of these two groups must have a future or mankind’s future is going to be dark.

  72. Mac the Knife says:

    jai mitchell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm
    Believe me, in 10 years you will all be begging for carbon free energy production.

    Jai,
    Stop your profligate waste of electrons, a non-renewable and finite resource in our abused and over used universe! It’s an environmental electron crime, causing unsustainable valence shell disruption with lambda like emissions… and you could get charged for that! I’ll be keeping my ion you, mister!

    Believe me, Jai. If you continue on this irrational path, in 10 years, you’ll be begging for free range, no hormone or meat by-product, environmentally conscious, locally grown and sustainable electrons…. and the Chinese will be the only source.
    Sincerely,
    Mac
    (PS: Sarchasm intended…)

    [The mod notes that sarchasm, of course, is that gaping whole between the CAGW religion and the real world. Mod]

  73. Gary Pearse says:

    bair polaire says:
    March 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    “Count me out.” on the basis of snake oil from an environmentalist writer:

    http://www.jonathonporritt.com/

    Your link was the work of this non-scientist who is on a level with Al Gore in being deeply over his head in his chosen topic. If you want to impress on WUWT you need to do more research than this. If you actually read the stuff, he even admits that it is safer and has much reduced waste. It’s like the revised IPCC proclamation of yesterday – were only getting 1.7C warming by 2100, instead of 4.5C but then it goes on with how hazardous this will be. Man only a year or two ago and that 2C was the limit we had to hold the line at 2C or face dire consequences. Poritt does the same thing. He’s in alarm about the dust from mining and the processing of fuel and the corrosive environment. This is definitely 60s stuff. He even remarks that people are optimistic that research will solve the problems but he doubts it. Trust me, engineering research WILL solve these standard problems. When you look at our technological world today – computers, rovers walking around on Mars, probes going into liquid methane lakes in very harsh environments. How about a Russian snapshot of the surface of Venus at 500C where half a dozen common metals melt, the air pressure ~100bars and clouds of dense sulphuric acid are floating around. Engineering!! not political science.

  74. Robert M. Marshall says:

    While I think it is always commendable to offer a olive branch, it is also prudent to recognize that there may be no common ground. Hanson has repeatedly exagerated, deceived, and condemed with lies. He and the prophets of global warming, climate change, climate disaster have no interest in abandoning the power they derive from the spector of global armagedon only they can prevent and the never-ending grants they receive from politicians eager to share that power. The have reached a point of desparation, seeing their lies exposed one by one. They have no choice but to focus the frenzy on on their deminishing number of zelots. Science is no longer effective, only the silencing of their detractors can restor them to their god like infallibility.

  75. ferd berple says:

    Sad that he’s in favor of “behavior modification by taxation”
    ================
    negative incentives do not work. psychology has shown over and over again that people do not react the way you expect when given a negative incentive. rather, they will cheat, lie, steal, and do all sorts of things to mess up your carefully orchestrated plans.

    you can’t hit someone with a stick and expect them to like it. they will do their best to turn the stick against you. the only long term way to motivate people is via positive incentives.

  76. Max Hugoson says:

    Interesting that my comment, after noting the TRUE FACT that I worked in Nuclear Power for 21 years, was…apparently “spiked”. I will repeat the plants that are left, although producing viable power, are aging. YES, they can work. BUT there is NO, ZERO, NONE growth potential. There is NO ONE who will put a PENNY into new nuclear development. In CASE YOU CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT..the LEFT, the Environmentalists and the “low level educated” American public will not, (allow), cannot tolerate and has NO INTEREST in reviving nuclear. The people working in the system are dispirited and “beaten”. I would NEVER recommend to a “young person” that they become “involved” professionally, as there IS NO FUTURE. This is not sour grapes, this is REALITY. Reality can be hard to handle. As the old saying goes, “Live with it..”

    PS: Anthony or Mods – You have my Email. Request my resume, and I’ll send it to you. Request some people to talk to who I have worked with, I will give you phone numbers and names.

  77. Peter says:

    Stephen Rasey @4.31

    “Using Thorium in a power reactor is a proven technology.
    No it is not. There is much more on the learning curve before we can say that.”

    There was no indication that your remarks were confined to a single type of thorium reactor

    My comment was a perfectly valid reply to your negative response to a correct previous posting. Furthermore it drew attention to an existing, valuable thorium power reactor technology that appears to have been forgotten..

  78. Patrick says:

    “jai mitchell says:

    March 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Believe me, in 10 years you will all be begging for carbon free energy production.”

    Like Al Gore claiming the Arctic would be ice free by 2013, we won’t have long to wait to disprove your claim too.

  79. Leo Geiger says:

    Wayne Delbeke says: “Every community along the border has a large number of people who trip across the border to fill up. When I visit my mother in Grand Forks, BC, I fuel up at the Alberta border.”

    The BC carbon tax is hardly the only thing that determines gas prices. People cross-border fill up when they live in provinces without carbon taxes too. As they should if it saves money, and good for you if you can too. It isn’t a significant issue from a policy perspective, though, because most people don’t live within a convenient drive to a cross-border fuel station.

    Wayne Delbeke says:“I don’t know of many people in BC that are happy about the Carbon Tax, but maybe don’t know the right people.”

    Apparently you don’t. From an Environics poll in early 2013:

    Today, close to two-thirds of British Columbians say they strongly (25%) or somewhat (39%) support this tax as a way to fight climate change, a noticeable increase over the past 12 months and now the highest level of support recorded since the carbon tax was first announced in February 2008. Since June 2011, the proportion strongly opposed to the provincial carbon tax has dropped almost in half (from 32% to 17%).

    Wayne Delbeke says: “No one I know believes it is revenue neutral either.”

    Good thing it isn’t a matter of belief but is instead a matter of law:

    The Minister of Finance is required by law to annually prepare a three-year plan for recycling carbon tax revenues through tax reductions. This plan is presented to the Legislative Assembly at the same time as the provincial Budget.

    People can get the numbers from the Ministry web site if they want to see in detail. A problem for some people, though, is they think ‘revenue neutral’ should mean on an individual basis, not across the entire tax base. They’ve completely misunderstood the entire concept if that is what they think, though.

  80. ferdberple says:

    jai mitchell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm
    Believe me, in 10 years you will all be begging for carbon free energy production.
    =========
    No. We will be begging for low cost energy, regardless of carbon content. And so will you. Else you would have converted to alternative supplies long ago.

    I actually lived off the grid for 20 years. How many years have you done this? How about a guess? ZERO? Correct? Yet you believe you have the solution. What you have is nonsense.

    2 billion people on this planet live off the grid. They have a miniscule carbon footprint. They are what is called poor.

    The Carbon Hypocrites want everyone except themselves to live the same way. Al Gore isn’t about to give up his carbon footprint. Nor is James Hansen nor Jai Mitchell.

    Big fat carbon footprints spouting off at how the rest of us need to clean up our footprints.

  81. ferdberple says:

    I don’t know of many people in BC that are happy about the Carbon Tax,
    ==========
    http://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-s-carbon-tax-plan-a-sham-auditor-s-report-finds-1.1214076

    The Canadian Press
    Published Wednesday, March 27, 2013 3:10PM PDT
    Last Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:56PM PDT

    VICTORIA – Auditor general John Doyle calls the B.C. government’s carbon offset program a sham.

    “For his part, Doyle says his office was subjected an unprecedented and orchestrated campaign of delay and interference, led by the carbon trust and the interests behind carbon offsets.”

    the BC carbon tax is a disaster. the auditor general has made this clear in no uncertain terms. it has made absolutely no difference, while draining public funds that could have been used to upgrade boilers in schools, hospitals and public facilities.

    instead the funds went to private industry to largely pay for 2 projects that would have been built anyways.

    any why do the people of BC not know this? because the auditor generals report was slammed by the very same people feeding off the tax even before it was released. somehow they got a copy, even before it was made public.

    CARBON TAX = CARBON CORRUPTION

  82. ferdberple says:

    There is NO such thing as a “revenue neutral” tax. Governments ALWAYS waste money.
    ===========
    governments don’t waste money. they skim the cream off the top and give to their friends in return for campaign contributions and other favors. whatever is left they give back to us. while telling us how lucky we are to get any of our own money back.

    this is revenue neutral in that no money was destroyed in the process. many poor people give a little each so that a few rich people can benefit a lot. All in the name of saving the planet.

  83. Leo Geiger says:
    March 31, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    “Wayne Delbeke says: “No one I know believes it is revenue neutral either.”
    Good thing it isn’t a matter of belief but is instead a matter of law:

    Well government must have gotten a lot more efficient since I was involved in studies of the cost of program delivery 20 years ago when the cost varied from 25 t0 80% of the program budget. If they are taking in C$5 billion dollars, giving back 3 million business tax, 1 billion in personal tax, and 1 billion in “low income tax credits” then were are the administrative costs coming from and where is the money coming for the annual updates. I would guess there is a billion dollars missing somewhere in the accounting and audit departments.

    And fredberple added the icing to this cake. But I suppose I am just a curmudgeon that grew up in BC in better times.

  84. Roger Sowell says:

    Re thorium as a future basis for nuclear power:

    Some of the drawbacks of LFTR include,

    1) The Oak Ridge National Laboratory LFTR was an experimental, small-scale partial system only, not a full power plant. It was only 7 MW of thermal output, meaning serious scale-up would be required to achieve a commercial-size unit. Roughly, 450-to-1 scale-up is required to obtain a 1,000 MWe output reactor. That degree of scale-up is not trivial, nor is it even guaranteed to be successful. Chinese researchers are today attempting the scale-up.

    2) Materials used in the reactor developed serious inter-granular cracking in all metal surfaces exposed to the molten salt. This cracking would seriously limit the life of a commercial-scale reactor. It is questionable if such a reactor could last for 30 years.

    see e.g. http://moltensalt.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/references/static/downloads/pdf/ORNL-TM-6002.pdf

    Public fears over the reactors cracking apart like a dropped egg would be sufficient to cause massive demonstrations to halt such technology. It would be especially difficult to prove to the NRC that a reactor at 20 years of life is sufficiently un-cracked to continue operation. We have enough troubles today with pitting, erosion, and metal loss in nuclear reactor tube walls. Inherent cracks in the LFTR metal surfaces will be a PR nightmare.

    3) Costs to construct and operate are speculative at best. So is the safety of such a system, especially given the inherent cracking mentioned above.

  85. Steven Mosher says:

    T3 is not the best fingerprint. Stratospheric cooling is.

  86. Roger Sowell says:

    @ phlogiston March 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    France falsifies your argument.”

    That talking point is full of misdirection. France nationalized the entire power industry. Then charged whatever price they wanted to. It makes sense, too, because one of the few things that France exports is, well, nuclear power plants. It would make for very bad PR if the home country had realistic power prices, not fully subsidized by the government.

  87. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Gary Pearse March 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I am aware of your dated argument about the prohibitive costs of fission energy. A large part of the cost was due to over-redundant design in the the anti nuclear lobby’s pressures.”

    Actually, the designs are rational and reasonable steps to contain live nuclear fuel, with thousands of little pellets in close proximity inside the reactor.

    The costs I quote in my article are not dated, they are fresh and up-to-date. As evidence, the South Texas Nuclear Project planned expansion was cancelled because the cost was to be $17 billion – or more. The vendor would not say exactly how much more.

    Also, again as evidenced, the Vogtle expansion project presently underway in Georgia is expected to cost $15 billion or more, even with the creative financing that bills the power company’s customers for power that they are not yet receiving. In effect, that knocks off 25 percent from the price. Severance is absolutely on-target with his cost estimate of $10,000 per kW.

  88. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Col Mosby at March 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I have no idea where people get these figures from. “

    My article, linked, gives great detail on the origin of those figures. In brief, Severance, MIT, and California Energy Commission, all three independent and credible sources without an axe to grind in the nuclear debate.

  89. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Graham Green at March 31, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    The UK government have agreed a strike price of £92.50/MwH with the French firm EDF for the first new reactor station. “

    Well then, the Brits didn’t negotiate as well as did the Indians. India settled on a price of 6 rs per kWh, which, converting both the British and Indian prices to common USDollar, is 15 cents for Brits, and 10 cents for India, per kWh.

    see http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-03-09/news/48051208_1_india-and-france-european-pressurised-reactors-major-hurdle

    The international nuclear plant vendors are having to give away their product, in an effort to sell anything at all. The French agreed to cut their cost of finance to around 4 percent for the Indian plant.

  90. Roger Sowell says:

    @ FreeTheNukes at March 31, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Some of the assumptions that Roger makes are incorrect. I’m not sure why he adds in 4 cents per kw/hour for the installation of cooling towers, pumps, and steam bypass valves.”

    That is incorrect. The 4 cents additional is for “,. . .a larger condenser, cooling pumps, and cooling tower must be built to achieve this. Also, steam bypass lines, control valves, and a control system must be installed.”

    These equipment are in addition to existing equipment. Of course, I am always open to a different but safe way of achieving load-following. The French claim to have done this, but it seems highly dubious. Its always with their New reactors… has anybody any experience at all with following load with a nuclear power plant?

  91. Doug Badgero says:

    Some suggestions when people are arguing that nuclear is not competitive:

    Determine their assumed cost of capital, you can make any capital intensive project look very expensive by assuming an above market rate for capital. Just a few percentage points will make a huge difference.

    Consider the time value of money. The same thing that makes them expensive in the early years makes them cheap in the later years. That is because of their high initial costs. You are paying for tomorrow’s electricity at today’s rates…..it removes inflation from a large portion of the costs. As some others have mentioned on the thread.

    The pay as you build models save customers millions or billions in financing costs by not paying interest on interest. Nothing complicated just basic math.

  92. rogerknights says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    T3 is not the best fingerprint. Stratospheric cooling is.

    But hasn’t the slope of that cooling lessened in the last 15 or so years so the cooling is less than was projected?

  93. @Wayne Delbeke says: March 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm
    @Ira Glickstein 1:56pm

    THANKS Wayne for your comments and questions on my comment!

    So does a “Carbon” tax include a tax on the export/import of wood pellets, wood and biomass plants that spew lots of CO2 into the air, just like “fossil” fuels?

    No. As I said, the STRAIGHT CARBON TAX is collected at the port, well, and mine, and therefore only on fossil fuels that have been sequestered for eons. Wood is short-term sequester of carbon, absorbing CO2 (aka “Plant Food”) from the Atmosphere as it grows and then releasing it back to the Atmosphere as it burns or rots a relatively short time later. In the context of fossil fuels, a dozen or a hundred years is a short time. Therefore, wood is counted as biomass, not a fossil fuel.

    Does it include a tax on forestry companies for taking carbon absorbing species out the environment, and is there a different tax for equatorial rain forests that absorb a great deal of carbon versus our North American boreal forests that have a pretty neutral carbon absorption/production rate? Does it include the loss or gain in CO2 due to flooding of treed valley’s for a hydroelectric project?

    No, no, and no. The advantage of a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX on fossil fuels at the port, well, and mine is that it does NOT require the government to hire an army of investigators to check and monitor the entire economy and sniff out everyone who “passes gas” :^). We already regulate and tax fossil fuel commerce at the port, well and mine so it should be easy (even for an incompetent government) to figure out how much oil, gas, and coal is produced, and hard for the producers to cheat by very much. Of course there will be some carbon that will get by the system, but, by and large, most of it will be accounted for by utilizing the records already required by our corporate tax system. (The CAP and TRADE SCAM is exactly opposite in this respect. It is hard to administer and easy to cheat on.)

    Does it include a tax on carbon used to produce the steel and concrete for a hydroelectric facility or a nuclear facility and all the stainless steel and other high tech piping and electronics? Same for every other type of power plant including wind and solar? …

    Yes. A STRAIGHT CARBON TAX on fossil fuels collected at the port, well, and mine will include ALL such carbon, regardless of where it is destined to be utilized. No exceptions for supposedly “good” uses (such as fossil fuels used to construct water or wind or nuclear plants) and no special penalties for supposedly “bad” uses (fossil fuels used to construct coal-fired power plants). The whole idea is to make it easy for the government to collect the taxes using the present corporate tax system, and not to require any additional government inspectors with their noses in the details of our lives and our businesses.

    …A person lying on the beach absorbing the sun’s energy still produces CO2. Where does the taxation start and where does it stop? …

    Is a person lying on the beach a “port, well, or mine”? NO! Therefore, he or she can breath out CO2 all he or she wants, and the government will not tax that activity under a STRAIGHT CARBON TAX on fossil fuels.

    … “Carbon Footprint”. How big is the carbon foot print of a concrete or asphalt toll highway without a single vehicle on it? Huge. …

    You missed the main point! What Hansen, Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal and I are proposing is NOT calculating or taxing anyone’s “carbon footprint”. We propose taxing the carbon in fossil fuels at the SOURCE (port, well, mine), which will raise the price of all fossil fuel power to the individual consumer or industrial consumer, and thereby make alternate energy sources relatively less costly to them. They will then use their own best interest to either adopt whichever alternative power source (water, wind, nuclear, biomass…) makes economic sense to THEMSELVES, -OR- to stick with fossil fuel power, if that is less expensive TO THEM.

    The government will not be in the business of picking winners and losers and rewarding or penalizing particular parts of the economy on the basis of political connections. (This is NOT the CAP and TRADE SCAM.)

    We propose a REVENUE NEUTRAL accounting where all citizens and legal residents (but NOT illegal aliens) share EQUALLY per capita 100% of the tax revenue, probably as a credit to their income tax.

    This may be a way to split off some of the portion of the citizenry who usually votes for the Democratic Party because it will help poorer residents who generally use less energy and will thus pocket some of their share of the carbon tax revenue.

    It will also help those who conserve energy by driving energy-efficient cars (like my 10-year old Prius) and by insulating their homes, moderating their heating and air conditioning, etc.

    It will penalize those, like Al Gore, who live large in their mansions and fly often in private jets because their share of the carbon tax revenue will not cover the added cost of their fuel costs.

    Ira

  94. Kit P says:

    “Left 14 years ago. ”
    Twenty years ago I decided to go back to graduate school school for environmental engineering after more than 20 years in the nuclear field. The power industry has a history of booms and busts. It takes a lot more people to design and build power plants than it does to keep them running. While people like the Clinton/Gore are anti-nukes if it a solution for AGW, they just talk about renewable energy.

    At the end of the week, I head back to China to continue putting the finishing touches on a nuke under construction. Going toe work at the nuke plant requires driving by a huge coal plant running on imported coal. In 2005, China could no longer produce enough coal to meet rapidly growing demand.

    The new nuke plant is designed to load follow just like every nuke plant I have worked at. Nuke plants load follow just fine. The economics of load following depend on the cost of replacement fuel. For the next 100 years!

    Folks like Hansen and Sowell make predictions our of a sense of self importance that few believe. More importantly. The people who are responsible for producing power have to make choices based on many interrelated uncertainties.

  95. Jeff says:

    “ferd berple says:
    March 31, 2014 at 5:39 pm
    Sad that he’s in favor of “behavior modification by taxation”
    ================
    negative incentives do not work. psychology has shown over and over again that people do not react the way you expect when given a negative incentive. rather, they will cheat, lie, steal, and do all sorts of things to mess up your carefully orchestrated plans.
    you can’t hit someone with a stick and expect them to like it. they will do their best to turn the stick against you. the only long term way to motivate people is via positive incentives.”

    Hi Fred,
    That’s what I meant….sticks (hockey or otherwise) are pretty much useless as motivation. Carrots (or carats :) ) are better…

    It seems that the only thing politicians from every stripe can agree upon is increasing taxes, or their income/pensions…everything else is a matter of contention….

    “Of the people, by the people, for the people” …yep, we’ve heard of it….sad…we need more Lincolns and fewer of the current lot….

  96. Leo Geiger says:

    ferdberple says: “…the BC carbon tax is a disaster. the auditor general has made this clear in no uncertain terms.”

    You are completely mistaken, in no uncertain terms. The (highly contested) BC auditor report was about a carbon offset program. It was not about the revenue neutral carbon tax.

    I can understand why you are confused, though. Even some media reports couldn’t keep these two completely different things straight in some of the reporting.

  97. Leo Geiger says:

    Wayne Delbeke says: Well government must have gotten a lot more efficient since I was involved in studies of the cost of program delivery….. I would guess there is a billion dollars missing somewhere in the accounting and audit departments.

    So now “guessing” there is money missing is a valid criticism of a policy? There is no “program” to deliver either. It’s just tax collection and setting rates, which the government is already doing anyway.

  98. gallopingcamel says:

    Roger Sowell:
    Your website is a rabidly anti-NPP with all kinds of misinformation about the cost of nuclear power. Nuclear power plants in this country are expensive because our government wants them to be. Nobody in their right mind would invest in NPPs here. Ditto for coal power plants.

    It won’t matter as the Chinese can build a nuke a month and a coal powered plant every ten days. Consequently they will enjoy really cheap electricity. They can build a Westinghouse AP-1000 for $2 billion. Over its 40 year life at 0.85 capacity this reactor produces 300,000,000,000 kWh of electricity so the $ 2 billion “Overnight Cost” works out at less than $0.01/kWh.

    I took the trouble to spend a week in a nuclear power plant and can tell you that your “Experts” are full of it:
    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/electric-power-in-florida/

  99. @Peter at 5:44 pm
    I confess a myopia about Thorium = LFTR. I thank you for bringing up the Pebble Bed Rector concept and the Germany Thorium High-Temp gas cooled Reactor project (THTR-300 (Wikipedia))

    I do not agree that Thorium Pebble Bed Reactors are “proven” technology. There is still a learning curve to climb. The THTR-300 only ran from 1983-1989, generating power from 1985. It had the misfortune to have a radioactive dust release in 1989 during the Chernobyl fallout.

    I don’t think I would call any High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HGTR) proven technology at commercial scale yet. From Wikipedia VHTR

    The HTGR design was first proposed by the staff of the Power Pile Division of the Clinton Laboratories (known now as Oak Ridge National Laboratory) in 1947.[1] Professor Dr. Rudolf Schulten in Germany also played a role in development during the 1950s. The Peach Bottom reactor in the United States was the first HTGR to produce electricity, and did so very successfully, with operation from 1966 through 1974 as a technology demonstrator. Fort St. Vrain [Colorado] Generating Station was one example of this design that operated as an HTGR from 1979 to 1989; though the reactor was beset by some problems which led to its decommissioning due to economic factors, it served as proof of the HTGR concept in the United States (though no new commercial HTGRs have been developed there since). HTGRs have also existed in the United Kingdom (the Dragon reactor) and Germany (AVR reactor and THTR-300), and currently exist in Japan (the HTTR using prismatic fuel with 30 MWth of capacity) and China (the HTR-10, a pebble-bed design with 10 MWe of generation). Two full-scale pebble-bed HTGRs HTR-PM, each with 100 – 195 MWe of electrical production capacity are under construction in China as of November 2009,[3] and are promoted in several countries by reactor designers.

    The moderator of HGTRs is graphite, either as prismatic blocks, or graphite pebbles.

    I grew up in Colorado. Fort St. Vrain was a problem child of the electric utility. High pressure, high temp helium is a leaky problematic fluid. It has theoretically attractive thermal and neutron properties, but it is an engineering challenge for a working electrical utility.

    I’ll confess I suffer from a Chernobyl Syndrome: graphite moderated reactor designs give me the willies. I understand graphite is a lovely substance in high temperature applications. But it is also a 1000 degree lump of coal provisionally starved of oxygen. Never let air get to it. Our oxygen rich atmosphere makes it possible for an accident to get so much worse.

    Naturally liquid sodium isn’t my favorite primary loop fluid either.

  100. Patrick B says:

    Gary says:
    March 31, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Dr. Hansen is mistaken in his opinion that the “fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work.” It fails to recognize that setting the fee is manipulation by government, not the market, which falsifies his idea.

    Exactly right – Hansen is correct only if you first assume the emission of CO2 is an external cost and that cost can be and will be accurately priced by the government. None of those assumptions have any basis in reality.

  101. markx says:

    The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents. ……This fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work.

    Sue, great in theory, and within a state, a market based approach is very workable … if you keep the broader market out of it and make it a realistic trade between involved parties (witness the sulphates licences – USA – early 90s, which was very successful.

    But, if you are going to tax and redistribute, you then have governments and financiers to deal with …. and they are just getting too good at pillaging and looting….

    The growth in America’s financial sector has been amazing, with its share of gross domestic product rising from less than 3 per cent in 1950 to about 5 per cent in 1980 and more than 8 per cent in 2006. Its share of total corporate profits grew from 14 per cent in 1980 to almost 40 per cent by 2003.

    Salaries in US financial services were similar to other industries until 1980, but are now on average 70 per cent higher than those elsewhere. This remarkable growth is referred to as the ”financialisation” of the economy.

    http://www.theage.com.au/business/less-fancy-financial-footwork-please-20140330-35rrg.html

    And if you are doing it on an international scale, then you have to deal with all the issued of different stages of development, national GDP differences, currencies, levels of education, levels of unemployment etc. In short, all the down-falling factors of ‘Free Trade” and the Euro… where you can make these things appear to work for a few decades… but eventually they fall over.

    Great discussion in here, by the way. Some great info on nuclear power, much appreciated.

  102. markx says:

    typo above… “Sure, great in theory….”

  103. Tsk Tsk says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    @ phlogiston March 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    “France falsifies your argument.”

    That talking point is full of misdirection. France nationalized the entire power industry. Then charged whatever price they wanted to. It makes sense, too, because one of the few things that France exports is, well, nuclear power plants. It would make for very bad PR if the home country had realistic power prices, not fully subsidized by the government.

    Put up or shut up. So far you’ve just managed to pull numbers from extremely biased sources or simply made them up. If you want to claim that France is subsidizing the price of electricity, then provide the source linking to the numbers. The reputable sources all show that France has some of the lowest electricity prices on the continent and that includes the lovely “renewable” subsidies in Germany and Denmark.

  104. Walter Horsting says:

    MSRs are the future due to safety, 99% fuel burn! walk away safe, low pressure! high thermal efficient design. Green Energy’s waste stream of rare earths tosses yearly enough Thorium to power the planet. Most issues with the MSR were worked out in the 60s at ORNL including the freeze plug, and alloys for the Fluoride salt metallurgy. Problem is our DoE is in a NDA agreement with China allowing them to walk away with our design while suppressing US designs. US has a choice counter China with full out MSR design or buy emission free power from China for the next 100 years.

  105. Tsk Tsk says:

    bair polaire says:
    March 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    WUWT has posted many other articles, on Thorium and next generation nuclear technology, which have been well received by regular readers of this blog.

    Count me out. I’m not ready to accept the proliferation risk of the thorium reactor. Bad people could feed it a lot of ugly stuff and get really dangerous stuff out… And as usual we would develop the technology that they might one day use against us.

    And I’m not accepting nuclear waste that is still hazardous when my grandchildren grow up. A half-life of more than 100 years is simply not acceptable. 30 years would be the upper limit. That brings the original waste down to 10 percent in about 100 years. (Still not gone!)

    Here is quite a good summary of the issues with thorium reactors:
    Not ‘green’, not ‘viable’, and not likely

    Then you’re a fool. All of the points in your linked article are easily debunked. Here are a few of my favorites:

    “thorium reactors do not produce plutonium. But an LFTR could (by including 238U in the fuel) be adapted to produce plutonium of a high purity well above normal weapons-grade, presenting a major proliferation hazard. ”

    Dump in a bunch of 238U and the reaction stops because the Thorium neutron economy just isn’t that great. It’s an extremely poor way to generate plutonium. It’s far easier to get plutonium from a conventional LWR reactor run in a short cycle and then with its fuel rods reprocessed. 233U? Umm, it has a bunch of 232U mixed with it. Your paper glosses over the fact that 232 is a hard gamma emitter that a) kills those trying to work with it and b) is very easy to detect globally and at a distance.

    But Oliver just glosses over the 232U problem by claiming that since the US detonated a 233U bomb decades ago, then there simply must be a way to separate the 232U from the 233U. What’s really amusing is just a page or two later he goes on to complain just how toxic 232U is in the reactor and how big a problem it is. So, 232U isn’t a problem for making a bomb, but it is a problem for running the reactor. Cognitive dissonance much?

    Here’s a thorough debunking of Olle’s nonsense:

    http://pche-sts.blogspot.cz/2012/09/response-to-oliver-tickells-anti.html

  106. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Tsk Tsk, re France.

    Perhaps you will accept the words on nationalization from France’s power company’s own website, EDF. http://about-us.edf.com/profile/history/1990-to-today-and-beyond-43674.html

    On April 8, 1946, a law nationalizing 1,450 French electricity and gas generation, transmission, and distribution companies led to the creation of Electricité de France (EDF), a state-owned industrial and commercial entity also known under the acronym EPIC (établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial).

    On July 1, 2004, 70% of the electricity market was opened to competition. On November 19, we changed our corporate status to become a limited company.”

    Therefore, from 1946 until 2004, EDF was a state-owned, nationalized electric utility. The monoply can and did charge whatever price it wanted to, without the need to show a profit.

    You can believe whatever you like, of course.

  107. Grant says:

    If the US had spent as much time and as much money on researching liquid salt thorium reactors as it did fusion, we’d have a viable commercial reactor by now. It’s not too late though.
    The great safety advantage of thorium liquid salt is that it can’t explode because it won’t produce hydrogen gas during an accident. The fuel will simply be dumped into a vessel below the reactor and will cool down on its own without water. Because there’s no risk of explosion, there is no need for very costly containment structures.
    If a president made the research a priority he/she could convince , over time , the public on its merits. After all, the AGW crowd has laid the ground work.

  108. Roger Sowell says:

    If you want the truth about nuclear power, read Sowell’s Law Blog. There are currently four articles in the series The Truth About Nuclear Power – all carefully researched and documented. Many more articles remain to be published.

    1. Nuclear Power Is Not Competitive – wind and natural gas drive down off-peak prices and nuclear plants are shutting down because they cannot compete. (examples shown)

    2. An All-nuclear grid would require outrageous power prices to pay for the nuclear plants, especially when they cannot run at baseload but must (somehow) follow the load. Capital charges must increase when the kWh are reduced to follow the load.

    3. Nuclear Power Plants cost far too much to construct – $10,000 per kW (examples given, South Texas Nuclear Plant expansion, Vogtle plant expansion)

    4. Nuclear Power Plants consume far more cooling water than the best natural gas plants – 4 times as much water. (examples given – South Texas Nuclear Plant’s water purchase agreement)

    Facts are facts, no amount of repeating glib talking-points from the nuclear industry can refute the facts.

  109. Tsk Tsk says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    @ Tsk Tsk, re France.

    Perhaps you will accept the words on nationalization from France’s power company’s own website, EDF. http://about-us.edf.com/profile/history/1990-to-today-and-beyond-43674.html

    “On April 8, 1946, a law nationalizing 1,450 French electricity and gas generation, transmission, and distribution companies led to the creation of Electricité de France (EDF), a state-owned industrial and commercial entity also known under the acronym EPIC (établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial).

    On July 1, 2004, 70% of the electricity market was opened to competition. On November 19, we changed our corporate status to become a limited company.”

    Therefore, from 1946 until 2004, EDF was a state-owned, nationalized electric utility. The monoply can and did charge whatever price it wanted to, without the need to show a profit.

    You can believe whatever you like, of course.

    You are thick, aren’t you? Show me the subsidy. You do understanding that just calling something nationalized doesn’t make money appear, don’t you? You do understand that France actually exports electricity, don’t you? It’s one thing to subsidize something for internal consumption, but export of electricity actually requires one to make a profit unless you want to claim it’s all a jobs program. Regardless, you failed to address the point raised.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2353305
    The Fukushima disaster has lead the French government to release novel cost information relative to its nuclear electricity program allowing us to compute a levelized cost. We identify a modest escalation of capital cost and a larger than expected operational cost. Under the best scenario, the cost of French nuclear power over the last four decades is 59 d/MWh (at 2010 prices) while in the worst case it is 83 d/MWh. On the basis of these findings, we estimate the future cost of nuclear power in France to be at least 76 d/MWh and possibly 117 d/MWh. A comparison with the US confirms that French nuclear electricity nevertheless remains cheaper. Comparisons with coal, natural gas and wind power are carried out to the advantage of these.

    It’s pretty clear that you believe what you like regardless of actual facts.

  110. cgh says:

    As usual, Sowell is here to be nothing more than an antinuclear propagandist. What’s interesting is how the real world contradicts his fantasies. France is far from being the only predomiantly nuclear jurisdiction in the world. Ontario has had nuclear power as more than half its total electricity generation for more than 25 years. And until the passage of the Green Energy Act subsidizing solar and wind, it was one of the lowest cost jurisdictions in North America for either residential or industrial rates.

    Moreover, for Sowell’s economic mythology to be accurate, it would mean an entire continent has gone insane. Just two countries, China and India, have declared the plans for and begun building what will be more than 300 power reactors in service before 2040. Both countries are building reactors at a rate of two a year and accelerating. And the scope of the forward commitment can be illustrated by the forward commitment on large forgings by large steel companies and boiler shops. So what do thousands of Chinese and Indian engineers, scientists, politicians, utility managers and economists fail to understand that only Roger Sowell does?

    The hubris is astonishing.

    And there’s a lot of rot in this thread about thorium. There is of course no need for thorium at this time. The OECD Red Book outlines the resources available and the production price regimes at this time. There’s at least a century’s worth of uranium currently in known reserves and that despite the fact that exploration activity has been at an all time low for more than 10 years.

    Secondly, there’s no need to develop new technology. CANDU reactors can use thorium fuel in many different fuel configurations without any modification to existing reactors.

  111. Londo says:

    Bob Ramar: ” Another benefit from a Thorium reactor is using the process heat to convert any carbon rich feedstock into liquid hydrocarbon ”

    Yes, that would be the real sweet spot for our society. Produce our own fuel for transportation, keep the CO2 levels up to benefit forests and wild life while keeping our money out of the hands of religious fanatics in the Middle East. The future can be very bright indeed.

    We are nothing more than a death cult if we deny our planet the molecule of life.

  112. otropogo says:

    A solid gambler’s rule of thumb is “don’t risk any bet you can’t afford to lose”. At present, nuclear power is such a bet. That climate change zealots and climate change “skeptics” can agree on the desirability of pursuing nuclear power development “ready or not”, shows what desperately inept gamblers they both are, and doesn’t bode well for the future of humanity, or any complex life forms on earth, for that matter.

  113. bair polaire says:

    Gary Pearse says:
    March 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm
    bair polaire says:
    March 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    “Count me out.” on the basis of snake oil from an environmentalist writer:

    http://www.jonathonporritt.com/

    … If you want to impress on WUWT you need to do more research than this.

    Agreed. But if you want to convince me that thorium reactors are a solution to our energy problems you must do better than a little name calling and – please excuse – snake oil selling on your part. What has poor Al Gore and the corrupted IPCC process to do with this issue?

    Trust me, engineering research WILL solve these standard problems.

    I’m hearing this “argument” for nuclear power since I was a kid in the seventies. Since then we had Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima – and we still don’t know where to safely store the nuclear waste for millennia. I know we can and will find a lot of technical solutions. But the main issues with ANY nuclear power generation are still not resolved: Waste, accidents, terrorism and proliferation. It’s only partly an engineering problem.

    My main argument was: I find nuclear waste that remains hazardous for more than three generations – the people that we still can talk to – not acceptable. Thorium is not a solution to this problem.

    For the next 50 to 100 years we should use our engineering skills to make conventional energy use more efficient. Why take the risks of nuclear power just in order to continue wasting most of that energy?

  114. Frank says: “The important thing to see about Hansen’s response is the sequence. Carbon taxes first. Then nuclear. Does anyone believe that the greens would stick to their word and go for nuclear–they would fight it tooth and nail….”

    Yes, you’re right. If one is suffering from a severe messiah complex, any solution that permits saving the world without the assistance of the putative messiah is totally unacceptable. Watch the pea.

  115. Eric Worrall says:

    Robert Sowell, for the record I do think it plausible French nuclear power is probably expensive, but the true cost is covered by the government.

    EU states often do odd things with subsidies. For example, an ongoing problem with EU relations with Africa is that the EU subsidies EU based farmers to produce food, then dumps the food on the global market at subsidised prices. This has been identified by organisations such as Oxfam as a major issue for farmers in poor countries – it is hard to compete with a government backed business which is prepared to absorb endless losses.

    However, my proposition to Dr. Hansen was that, with more research, it might be possible to create nuclear systems which were so inherently safe, that most of the elaborate safety systems currently employed would be simply unnecessary.

    Passive safety appears to be a priority goal of nuclear research.

    For example, Pebble bed reactors attempt to attain passive safety through a core design which simply shuts down if it overheats – the “pebbles” expand as they heat, which along with other physical constraints causes the chain reaction to subside if the core overheats – a larger, less dense core means a higher probability of neutrons escaping the core without contributing to next step of the fission reaction.

    Similarly, LFTR systems use a plug of solidified salt at the bottom of the liquid salt core, to keep the reactor running. The plug is kept solid by an electric fan powered by the reactor. If the electric fan stops, for any reason, the core melts the salt plug, and drains into a holding tank, away from the moderator elements required to keep the nuclear chain reaction running.

    Contrast this to the Fukishima disaster, where the destruction of the active cooling system resulted in a meltdown, and the advantage of passive safety becomes obvious.

    However, even if research does produce and confirm a Passive safety system, which is so reliable, that we can do away with containment domes and other paraphernalia of current generation reactors, significant political effort will still be required to overcome entrenched public fears of nuclear power – fears which are at least partly justified in my opinion, by the rather scary track record of nuclear disasters to date.

    Max Hugoson, take heart mate – there is still hope.

  116. SAMURAI says:

    It’s a 100.00% certainty that the world will have to move from fossil fuels to thorium in the near future. It’s no longer a question a question of IF, but merely a question of when.

    There aren’t enough uranium reserves available to meet the planet’s power needs when the population hits 10 billion by around 2050; a mere 36 years away.

    Wind & solar energy sources are too diffuse, expensive, intermittent, unreliable and inefficient to be relied upon as a primary or even secondary sources to feed a power grid. Wind and solar may be viable alternatives for individuals looking for a backup power system for their homes, but that’s about it.

    Thorium is about as abundant lead and is found in large quantities all around the globe. One average sized rare earth mine accidentally produces enough “waste” thorium to meet 100% of the earth’s energy needs for 1 year and there are thousands of such mines scattered all around the world. Thorium used in LFTRs requires no special processing: just dig it up, refine it and burn it. About 1.5 grams of thorium is all that is required to supply an individual’s entire energy needs for a year…

    Perhaps the biggest advantage LFTRs have over conventional Light Water Reactors (LWR) is safety as LFTRs run at single atmospheres pressure and require just ONE passive fail-safe safety system: GRAVITY… As longer as gravity works, LFTRs are safe. LWRs require 70~100 atmospheres of pressure, cooling towers, containment domes, many redundant safety mechanisms to keep them from melting down.

    Since I live 150KM south of Fukushima, I must admit I’m strongly against LWR reactors… My family had to carry Iodine pills in our pockets for 2 months following the Fukushima meltdown… I don’t want anyone in the world to go through that.

    The Thorium Age officially starts from June of next year when China throws the switch on their first test LFTR. China will be building 100′s of LFTRs over the coming decades to replace their filthy coal-fired plants, which are destroying their environment.

    If the West doesn’t follow China’s model of rapid development of LFTRs, it will be economic suicide as a second wave of production will flood China’s shores to take advantage of the cheapest and most unlimited quantity of near free energy available in the world.

    The cost/kWh of LFTRs could perhaps as low as $0.02~0.03/kWh; or even less when calculating the additional revenues steams from sales of rare radioactive isotopes, desalination of seawater and synthesized hydrocarbon products, which can be produced at LFTR facilities.

    The geo-political and socio-economic ramifications of transitioning from a fossil-fuel based world economy to a thorium based one will be phenomenal. $Trillions in energy savings will be available for new technology development, business expansion, production and transportation costs will decrease, cost of living will drop, real wages will increase, no senseless wars for oil will need to be fought, cleaner air/water, the petro-funding for Middle-East terrorist groups will dry up, oil embargoes will be meaningless, land grabs like Russia is doing in Ukraine will become more difficult to pull off, 3rd-world economic development will explode, etc. etc., etc…

    We live in exciting times.

  117. Nylo says:

    I’m contrary to the idea of trying to find any level of agreement on anything with James Hansen. That’s providing an escape route for him, a way to slowly redirect his message. Someone who has done so much to try to hurt skeptics and who has always shown such an antiscientific behaviour should never receive such a benefit. James Hansen should finish his days fully discredited and, if possible, being ridiculed by his colleagues. I wish him as long a life as needed for him to see that happen.

  118. igsy says:

    Regardless of the merits or otherwise of a carbon fee, Hansen’s reply is pure political economy, and completely science-free. Activists go ape when, say, an experienced economist and politician like GWPF’s Nigel Lawson shares a media platform with the “scientists”, yet fall straight into their three monkeys act when it’s the other way round.

    Hansen’s inability or unwillingness to separate the means from the ends rather sums up the whole debate. For too many of these guys, it’s not enough to control CO2 emissions – there also has to be some mix of “de-growth” and redistributive taxation policies. To be as fair as possible to Hansen, at least he recognises that the more extreme de-growth scenarios, such as those peddled by “stinky” Kevin Anderson, are not feasible.

    You would think that if folk really were desperate to save the planet from a sure and terrible fate, they would gladly reach a compromise with those that don’t share their doom-laden vision. That compromise is on the table – nuclear power, with fracking as a bridge technology buying much-needed time to meet the engineering challenges associated with scaling up intermittent technologies such as solar. No need to bring tax and politics into the mix.

    But they don’t want that compromise. Hansen has only confirmed what Delingpole and others have repeatedly observed: it never was about the science.

  119. Londo says:

    “My main argument was: I find nuclear waste that remains hazardous for more than three generations – the people that we still can talk to – not acceptable. Thorium is not a solution to this problem.”

    Then you main problem is with your own ad hoc time limit on an undefined hazardous waste and what somebody might do with it. Of course thorium cannot solve that, only you can solve that. But why should we care.

    Just to address your three generations limit set by “people we can talk to”. Why? Our society has proven that it is capable to pass on written communications and traditions over time spans that exceed your three generations limit. Heard of Pythagoras? 2500 years right there. We are able to maintain structures much more fragile than underground storage facilities for many more generations than three. Hagia Sophia, Pantheon. Even societies that lacked the knowledge of writing were able to pass knowledge and traditions over more than three generations.

  120. Londo says:

    “There aren’t enough uranium reserves available to meet the planet’s power needs when the population hits 10 billion by around 2050; a mere 36 years away.”

    But this is the reality of economics of reserves. It is pointless to look for them beyond that time span. The 40 year limit has been almost the norm for many reserves for at least the last 40 years. I agree with your main point though, that Thorium is not a question of if but when.

  121. R. de Haan says:

    How can you find common ground with Dr. Hansen. According to his predictions half the earth landmasses must have disappeared into the ocean by rising sea levels right now..

    Doesn’t he live on a boat?

  122. Greg says:

    “The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents. ”

    Note way he tries to refer to carbon tax as a “fee”. Oh, I’d much rather pay a “fee”. Great idea doc.

    Then duplicity of pretending that 100% of funds would “distributed to the public”. BS! When did any scheme run itself , cost free and redistribute everything. By the time we include collection costs, bureaucratic bundling and corruption we’d be luck if 50% got handed out.

  123. Berényi Péter says:

    @Steven Mosher

    T3 is not the best fingerprint. Stratospheric cooling is.

    Trouble is RSS Lower Stratospheric Temperature, while cooling indeed, shows a rather curious pattern. Trend for the entire 35 years is -0.28°C/decade, but for the last 20 years it is only one seventh of it, -0.04°C/decade. In other words, robust “fingerprint” stuff is a twenty years old story, since then — nothing.

  124. cedarhill says:

    Let’s go all in with Hansen for phase 1 – build zillions of nuke plants. In phase 2 we’ll quietly build synfuel hydrocarbon manufacturing plants under the greenie “recycling” mime. We’ll use all that CO2 and make completely pure hydrocarbons and all the excess electricity. Should work for a few billion years. Hey! It’s “sustainable”.

    One might as well use even the loons like the politicians use them.
    It’s fun! It’s Green! It’ll be Great! Might even see him chaining himself to Harry Reid’s Senate door demanding more nukes. He could even win a real Nobel or Pulitzer or Academy Award. If not, then let’s chip in and build him a new Greenhouse.

  125. Doug Huffman says:

    Roger Sowell says: March 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm “Re thorium as a future basis for nuclear power: [ ... ]”

    I glanced at the operating history of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment to see that THORIUM FUEL WAS NEVER LOADED.

  126. Kit P says:

    “If you want the truth …..”
    Fat chance from a California lawyer.
    “nuclear plants are shutting down because they cannot compete ”
    Two small, single units reactors have shut down after a long useful life.
    “wind and natural gas ”
    First you have to have a wind resource. A certain amount of wind in the PNW works because of hydroelectric. The wind is at a lower cost of because of PTC but it does not work on cold winter nights or hot summer days in the PNW. There are no old wind-farms that still produce power. In the Southeast there is no wind-farms because there no wind resource. The choice is natural gas, coal, and nuclear.
    “cost far too much to construct ”
    All power plants are expensive to build. State PUC know what the cost of too much natural gas and shipping cost for coal are going up too.
    “4 times as much water ”
    All steam plants use about the same amount of water. STP is on an artificial lake. Been there to do a study on the essential service water system. A very nice power plant.

  127. Patrick says:

    “Kit P says:

    April 1, 2014 at 3:56 am”

    For those not “in-the-know” what do PNW, PTC, PUC and STP mean? Readers at WUWT are not all American, nor from CA.

  128. James Ard says:

    Taphonomic, Thanks for the update on Yucca Mountain. That is good news. And if we oust the Senate Majority leader in November we may see some real progress.

  129. gallopingcamel says:

    SAMURAI April 1, 2014 at 12:48 am,

    That comment of yours was so impressive that I saved it into my LFTR folder. Brilliant!

  130. Doug Huffman says:

    Doug Uhrig says: March 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm “A few questions: 1. How long can a reactor be used before it can no longer be used? 2. How much does it cost to decommission a reactor and find a “safe” place for radioactive parts and waste? 3. Are our reactors safe from disasters and how much would disaster cleanup cost? 4. Are any of these costs included in the per kwh cost of nuclear energy mentioned above?”

    1. The fuel can be used until the neutron poison fission products interfere with reactivity and control. The vessel can be used until neutron embrittlement is excessive. 2. The cost is largely set by external/political considerations. The safe place has been found and USN NPP has decommissioned a hundred or more reactors. 3. The USN has ~6500 reactor-years of safe operation under far more technically demanding circumstances than a simply electric generating plant. A disaster is technically unpredictable – see Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s popular writing on The Black Swan problem. 4. Yes, some costs are in the cost to the consumer.

  131. bair polaire says:

    Londo says:
    April 1, 2014 at 1:33 am
    “My main argument was: I find nuclear waste that remains hazardous for more than three generations – the people that we still can talk to – not acceptable. Thorium is not a solution to this problem.”

    Then you main problem is with your own ad hoc time limit on an undefined hazardous waste and what somebody might do with it. Of course thorium cannot solve that, only you can solve that. But why should we care.

    Just to address your three generations limit set by “people we can talk to”. Why? Our society has proven that it is capable to pass on written communications and traditions over time spans that exceed your three generations limit. Heard of Pythagoras? 2500 years right there. We are able to maintain structures much more fragile than underground storage facilities for many more generations than three. Hagia Sophia, Pantheon. Even societies that lacked the knowledge of writing were able to pass knowledge and traditions over more than three generations.

    True. I would add gothic cathedrals and individual human rights to that list of past achievements that have been passed on through time. But past achievements is not the point. We can be glad that no ancient people developed the means to make the earth we are currently living on uninhabitable for tens of thousands of years. They didn’t leave us with toxic waste we have to take care of if we like it or not. They didn’t make us pay for a few decades of inefficient energy use a couple of thousand years ago. There are some good (political) arguments for thorium use: China is doing it, oil money goes to the wrong people… But in the end thorium would still be a transition energy source because of the risks involved.

    When it comes to passing on negative externalities I still think the three generations limit is a good idea. It would help not to severely limit the choices of future generations.

    We are able to maintain structures much more fragile than underground storage facilities for many more generations than three.

    Are we? Have you ever heard of the Asse II mine in Germany? A former salt mine used as a deep geological repository for radioactive waste in the mountain range of Asse in district Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony. In 2013 the parliament decided to get all the stuff out that was meant to stay there for eternity – after only 30 years. The salt mine is leaking. The cost will be horrendous.

  132. Jimbo says:

    If you really believe that co2 is going to destroy the planet then the next logical thing to do is look at the best alternatives. Nuclear is not perfect but it’s the only current viable alternative. Gas fracking can also help. France produces 70% of its power from nuclear.

    The problem is that greens are like the opposition party in the UK – their job is to oppose.

    PS I don’t believe for one minute that Warmists think that the trace rise of the trace gas co2 will destroy our biosphere.

  133. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

    Let us assume we get political agreement to build nuclear plants to replace coal, oil and natural gas for electricity generation. Let us assume we have in hand today reactor designs which are practical and safe, leaving aside for the moment exact definition of “safe”. Let us assume we have financing in hand.

    How long would it take to get enough new nuclear plants in operation to replace enough coal plants to make a significant difference in CO2 while still maintaining sufficient supply to support current usage and reasonably projected growth?

    Depending on other assumptions, the answer would be a rather large range. The exact value is not important. What matters is whether the range in any way overlaps the figures we keep hearing from Hansen and others about how much time we have left to save the planet.

    Al Gore claimed in 2006 “we only have 10 years left to solve the global warming problem”. If that clock is still ticking our time runs out sometime before the next US presidential election.

    James Hansen claimed in 1988 that sea level rise would put the road in front of his office in New York City underwater by 2028 (40 years), assuming a doubling of CO2. The projected rise is about 10 feet and in the 23 years since the prediction was made we’ve seen about 2.5 inches.

    And they have plenty of company in the litany of climate doom deadlines. Depending on your choice of climate prophet, we’re either long dead, dead already, almost as good as dead, or circling the drain Real Soon Now.

    No matter what optimistic assumptions you make about building new nuclear power stations, it can’t possibly be done on the schedule demanded by Hansen and others. So before we talk about common ground on nuclear power, let’s have a little discussion on just where those climate “tipping points” are. If they’re two years out, per Al Gore, we’re toast. Might as well enjoy the time we have — get your order in now for a case of Hennesey cognac before Kim Jong Un completely corners the world’s supply. If it’s another 17 years out, per Jim Hansen, we should all chip in and buy him some wellies because he’ll have to wade through his office lobby and the rebuilt World Trade Center tower will have a boat ramp.

    Construction on unit 3 at plant Vogtle (Georgia) started March 12, 2013. Originally slated for operation in 2016, the schedule has slipped by some 14 months. Unit 4 construction began November 21, 2013, originally scheduled for operation sometime 2017. Both units are Westinghouse AP1000 designs and will provide net 1117 MW.

    By way of contrast, units 1 and 2 construction began August 1, 1976. Unit 1 become operational June 1, 1987 and unit 2 followed on May 20, 1989.

    Cheop’s Law: everything takes longer and costs more than originally planned.

  134. Paul Nevins says:

    If the big shots in the environmental organizations actually believed in AGW or actually cared at all about the environment we would already have a couple of hundred more nuclear power plants in the US. As long as there is no huge push for nukes from them you can be certain they are not the least concerned with any real climate change.

  135. JeffC says:

    we already have clean, safe energy via coal and nat gas … nuke would be nice but not required …

  136. cgh says:

    Alan, you are making a number of assumptions that are probably unwarranted.

    1. “How long would it take to get enough new nuclear plants in operation to replace enough coal plants to make a significant difference in CO2 while still maintaining sufficient supply to support current usage and reasonably projected growth?”

    The world’s existing fleet of 435 reactors was built over a period of just 20 years. In that time, it grew from 0 to about 15 per cent of the world’s total electrical energy supply. It went from zero to about 8 per cent of total energy supply. It should also be remembered that many of these were first-of-a-kind engineering projects, requiring much more design and development work in basic reactor physics than is the case today.

    And it was done at a time when the world’s industrial base was much smaller than it is today. As I noted above, India and China have begun to build the first tranche of about 400 reactors which will be in service by the middle of this century. And yes, they have the industrial capacity to do this.

    2. “Construction on unit 3 at plant Vogtle (Georgia) started March 12, 2013. Originally slated for operation in 2016, the schedule has slipped by some 14 months. Unit 4 construction began November 21, 2013, originally scheduled for operation sometime 2017. Both units are Westinghouse AP1000 designs and will provide net 1117 MW.”

    Guilty of selective evidence. CANDU reactors Qinshan 4 and 5 completed in China 10 years ago were built and commissioned 30 and 100 days AHEAD of schedule and under budget, respectively. They used advanced modular construction methods and are the latest examples of the Advanced CANDU reactor. The fact that North American and European nations build things inefficiently now is not necessarily a sign that the technology is flawed but that our western civilization may be sufficiently inept or decadent as to prevent it from achieving what it used to achieve. With their 500 series of heavy water reactors, the Indians are consistently hitting their project milestones now.

    What seems to be going on here is Americans projecting the incapability of their nation to undertake and complete projects in a reasonable timeframe and projecting that to all nations indefinitely into the future. It also assumes that nuclear will never become a standardized, off-the-shelf product. You should introduce yourself to the world of SMRs before you jump to such conclusions.

    3. “Let us assume we have in hand today reactor designs which are practical and safe, leaving aside for the moment exact definition of “safe””

    We don’t need to leave it aside. It’s already beyond reasonable dispute that nuclear power is by far the safest way to produce electricity reliably and on a large scale. The Paul Scherrer Institut has all the numbers to demonstrate that based on the historical record to date.

    As for the business about Gore/Hansen tipping points, I agree with you entirely. The reasons for nuclear development have nothing to do with imaginary climate crises and everything to do with the reliable and economc supply of electricity.

  137. mpainter says:

    cgh says that nuclear power plants are safe. Here is one that ignores what he does not like to hear. As far as I am concerned, the verdict is in and there is no such thing as safe nuclear power generation.

  138. Damian says:

    Why does every decent idea come tethered to a wealth redistribution fantasy that only serves to make everyone poorer in the process. How in the world to the words carbon tax and free market end up in same sentence?

  139. _Jim says:

    re: DMA says March 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm
    The 2014 Cold Fusion LANR Colloquium just finished at MIT with multiple presentations of heat production from nuclear sources …

    Acceptance of this technology will finally occur when Home Depot and Lowes begins to carry a LANR-powered hot-water heater (and combination home-heating subsystem).

    Presently, we have a ‘polluted’ information field on account of the failures of a number of academic labs to forcibly reproduce the Pons-Fleischmann experiment without understanding what they were doing, disregarding process, procedure and materials purity and/or composition. The forensic work by Dr. Peter Hagelstein who examined the long string of failed experiments are followed up by his many repeated successful, excess-energy producing experiments and theoretical work which shed light on the ‘polluted’ background in which LANR technical ‘progress’ presently labors today.

    I will post below, for the edification of those with a little broader than usual scientific background, a link to a video series taken at the 101-level 2014 MIT IAP CF course (conducted in January 2014). Drs Hagelstein and Schwartz are open and quite forthright with their data and experiences in this field.

    A caveat at this point must be issued: The average layman, however, is not likely to make much of this video series, as may those who shun actual data based on traceable measurements involving repeatable (and repeated) experiments. Another group who may have trouble sitting through 20 plus hours of dry, technical presentation on this subject may be those whose minds are already ‘made up’ on this subject.

    1) 2014 Cold Fusion 101 video lectures

    I have not yet seen the series DMA refers to, but will post a link nonetheless:

    2) 2014 CF/LANR Colloquium at MIT Full Coverage

    .

  140. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

    cgh says:
    April 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Alan, you are making a number of assumptions that are probably unwarranted.

    I was trying to make the best reasonable case for large scale coal -> nuclear substitution and show that it still won’t meet the doomsday deadlines promoted by the CAGW crowd, even if they’re willing to discuss nuclear power. I completely ignored delays due to regulatory and court proceedings, which in the case of the new Vogtle reactors consumed another 6 years. So the net effect of all my assumptions is most likely to understate the total deployment time, although I admit I’m working with estimates that might not apply outside the US.

    Bottom line, I don’t think James Hansen’s professed support of nuclear power is meaningful given the higher priority he places on a CO2 tax, and the incessant demand we drastically reduce CO2 now. The level of reduction on the schedule he demands is not possible without similarly drastic reductions in total electrical supply.

    Let’s try to get a rational assessment of just what and how urgent the problem is before we go shopping for solutions.

  141. _Jim says:

    re: cgh says April 1, 2014 at 7:46 am
    … The world’s existing fleet of 435 reactors …

    Commercial, power-producing reactors? How many reactors total (mil and civilian) in the world?

    .

  142. SAMURAI says:

    Doug Huffman says:
    April 1, 2014 at 3:43 am
    Roger Sowell says: March 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm “Re thorium as a future basis for nuclear power: [ ... ]”

    I glanced at the operating history of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment to see that THORIUM FUEL WAS NEVER LOADED.

    =================================

    The first Oak Ridge Lab MSR wasn’t loaded with thorium as it was merely proof of concept reactor and in that regard, it worked flawlessly..

    The next test phase of the LFTR program was to build an actual LFTR power generator, but the NRC/Defense Department/LWR business interests/political elites/”other” business interests (I’ll leave it at that)…. pulled the plug on LFTRs development for various reasons: LFTR’s nuclear isotopes were not conducive to bomb making, LFTR’s business model didn’t require lucrative fuel rod replacement contracts/revenue streams, $billions in LWR R&D had already been expended and the powers that be wanted an ROI on those expenditures, political deals involving LWRs had already been established, a huge LWR bureaucracy was already entrenched, etc..

    Regardless of the reasons, it was simply one of those historic mistakes that will perplex historians for generations. We’d certainly live in a much better and different world now had that tragic mistake of history never occurred…

    Anyway, China’s LFTR program is about to rewrite history; just 40 years later than it should have taken..

  143. more soylent green! says:

    Dan in California says:
    March 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm
    more soylent green! says: March 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm
    Does anybody have the numbers to compare the scenario of a grid powered solely by nuclear fission plants v. a grid powered solely by wind and solar, or wind, solar and geothermal, or any combination of exclusively alternative energy sources?
    ————————————————————–
    Neither of the first two scenarios is a good idea. Nukes want to run at 100% power all the time and thus are good for base load, which is about 1/2 the daily peak load. Other sources that can be throttled up and down are good for peak load plants. These include natural gas burners and hydro.

    The problem with a grid powered solely by wind and solar sources is that none of them provide power when you need it. Wind turbines provide power when the wind blows. Therefore, energy storage is necessary. Current technology power storage is about 18,000 MW in the US (1000 MW is a typical coal or nuke size) and about 70% efficient. Storage is expensive, and proponents of wind frequently omit storage costs in their proposals. Here’s a link to one of the bigger storage lakes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castaic_Power_Plant
    Note the Tehachapi wind farm is only about 30 miles from this and can take advantage of some of the storage capabilities.

    Dan, I’m not advocating for either of those and I agree that the idea of an entirely nuclear-based power grid or an entirely alternate energy source powered grid are each bad ideas for the reasons you listed. My point is that many of the greens have visions of the latter but they have no idea of the costs and tradeoffs involved. Most likely the greens don’t care, but there is a small percentage of the population that can be persuaded with facts and numbers.

  144. tonyb says:

    resource guy said

    ‘It is with more than a little trepidation that I disagree with Anthony Watts, on anything. Solar costs are still plummeting and the leading edge of this tech innovation will reshape the debate whether pundits, industries, or nuclear cheerleaders like it or not. This is not easy for casual observers of this or any industry to navigate the twists and turns.’

    I always believe in energy horses for courses. Solar might make sense in some places. In Britain we are having vast 50 acre solar ‘farms’ foisted on us in greenfield sites. Britain is not renowned for its sunny climate and in winter-when the power is most needed-such solar installations are likely to be producing next to nothing yet gaining a big subsidy. How does that make sense?

    tonyb

  145. Peter says:

    Stephen Rasey at 8.43

    Thanks for your informative reply.
    In further response I have five points to make regarding Thorium-powered pebble-bed reactors.

    1. I think six years of operation in Germany, four of them supplying commercial power, is pretty damn good experience – much more than most current “unconventional” reactor designs.

    2. I don’t know your sources, but I suspect that the “radioactive dust emission” you quote was the same problem with the pebble valve that I mentioned – the ports of the valve closed in on a pebble and partially ground a pebble, which, of course, would have produced some dust. A purely mechanical problem which would have been rapidly solved had the development of the reactor not been shut down by the politicians.

    3. You provide an informative list of HTGR forerunners, but these were completely different reactors to the pebble bed in their engineering design – much more complicated, for a start. The German pebble bed design is starkly simple, with little to go wrong. And, of course, it requires no massive and expensive containment dome, emergency cooling system or emergency power supply.

    4. I believe you exaggerate the problems with hot helium as a coolant. It requires careful engineering design, but no more than superheated steam under high pressure which is highly corrosive and like a bomb if it escapes.

    5. Hot graphite does require to be isolated from oxygen, but in the German pebble bed design, the graphite is sealed in the pebbles by a casing of high-melting-point (~2000 C) silicon carbide ceramic. In the event of an unforeseen breach of the reactor, the whole reactor charge is not exposed to the environment, because it is contained in hundreds of individual hard pebbles.

    Another contributor (to whom I must apologise for I cannot now find his posting) claimed as a safety feature of pebble reactors that the pebbles increase in diameter with heat, so reducing the fission cross-section and thus shutting down the reaction. This is not quite true. Raised temperatures increase the vibrational amplitude of the fissile fuel atoms. The ensuing Doppler effect makes neutron capture slightly less frequent and therefore shuts down the reaction. But the number of fissile atoms in each pebble is very small compared to the total number of atoms in the pebble. Any increase in pebble size is so small as to present no significant changes in overall fissile performance, as ceramics have a characteristically very low coefficient of thermal expansion..

    The original German pebble reactor design was sold to the South African and Chinese Governments. The South Africans have been unable to make any progress, but the Chinese immediately built a demonstration reactor which has been used to show visitors the complete safety of the reactor when the coolant is shut off. They are now well advanced with building two full scale commercial reactors, so we will soon see whether the claims for Thorium-powered pebble-bed reactors can be realised in practice. My money is on the Chinese – I believe we will all be buying reactors from them or building these relatively simple reactors under licence from them..

    This is a frustrating situation here in the UK, where we built the world’s first commercial power reactor – and lost the technical advantage due to incompetent political interference.

  146. Papa Bear says:

    @Sowell

    Your claim (below) is without merit. You have cherry picked a non-reviewed paper by a lawyer, and built a strawman army from it.
    The end result is power prices that are many times higher than today, for example, residential price will be 5 times what it is today, while industrial power price will be more than 8 times what it is today.

    Publishing misinformation like this is reprehensible.

    Counterpoints:
    1.) Historical and current nuclear power wholesale pricing does not exceed $0.10 per kWh in any region of the country. Rhetorical hand flourishes and vague references to a lawyer’s written opinion based on models to not change facts.
    2.) No rational engineer would suggest building nuclear power to meet 100% peak capacity. The only scenario where capacity would exceed minimum (base) load would involve storage/use of excess energy.

    Shame. On. You.

  147. DirkH says:

    Damian says:
    April 1, 2014 at 8:29 am
    “Why does every decent idea come tethered to a wealth redistribution fantasy that only serves to make everyone poorer in the process.”

    To buy the necessary votes.

    “How in the world to the words carbon tax and free market end up in same sentence?”

    To sell the idea of a new tax. When your population consists of experts on TV sitcoms and sports it works splendidly.

  148. SAMURAI says:

    Londo says:
    April 1, 2014 at 1:48 am
    “There aren’t enough uranium reserves available to meet the planet’s power needs when the population hits 10 billion by around 2050; a mere 36 years away.”

    But this is the reality of economics of reserves. It is pointless to look for them beyond that time span. The 40 year limit has been almost the norm for many reserves for at least the last 40 years. I agree with your main point though, that Thorium is not a question of if but when.
    ===========================

    My point is that with LFTRs, the nuclear decay chain of thorium yields uranium 233, which can be chemically removed from the molten salts and fed back to the neutron core so the uranium never needs to be replenished. All that is required is to burn more cheap and abundant thorium and the reactor generates its own neutron source… Amazing… It’s almost like a perpetual motion machine on a colossal scale.

    LWRs only burn about 0.5% of the U235 in their fuel rods before Xenon gas degradation destroys the solid fuel pellets and the reactors need to be shut down to replace them.

    LFTRs burn 99% of thorium to energy, and since Xenon is a gas, it merely boils out of the liquid salts and can be easily removed chemically while the reactor is running..

    A very elegant, cheap and efficient way to produce energy with no costly downtime required to changeout/rotate fuel rods.

  149. cgh says:

    Damian, that’s a feature, not a bug. Wealth re-distribution is the purpose of this, as Maurice Strong made abundantly clear in his address to the 1992 Rio conference.

    Mpainter, consider yourself rebutted.
    http://manhaz.cyf.gov.pl/manhaz/Warsztaty_10_2004/wp4/Wp4_ang/MANHAZ%20Workshop%20Severe%20Accidents%20Hirschberg%20Final.pdf

    Scroll down to slide 19. If that’s not good enough for you, look up the original full ENSAD report. All the raw data is there.

    Since you consider nuclear so hazardous, name one person killed by radiation from the Fukushima accident. Since you consider nuclear so hazardous, name one person killed by radiation from the Three Mile Island accident.

    And don’t waste my time with speculative stuff about cancer. UNSCEAR’s dealt with all that in their reports.

    Alan, I agree with you entirely regarding Hansen and the meaninglessness of his timeline. Every power reactor built in the world was built for reasons of the need for electricity supply with NO credit ever made for emissions avoidance. That’s the reason any generator is built, regardless of the pieties mouthed in public. Britain isn’t building reactors for some amorphous climate change goal. It’s building reactors because wind has proved completely inadequate to supply electricity reliably and at an affordable price.

    Jim, there’s 435 reactors (approximately) producing electricity in the world today. The number increases by about half a dozen every year, mostly from Chinese and Indian construction, with about 2-3 removed from service every year. The World Nuclear Association has the full list on their website in the country profiles. They are distributed across more than 40 nations, but Canada, US, UK, China, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, South Korea, Belgium, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, India account for about 90 per cent of them.

    In addition to that, there’s about 200-300 research reactors at various universities and research institutes. The WNA website should have the number somewhere on it. Military reactors are much harder to get much evidence and precise numbers. The US has none since the removal of the Savanah River/Hanford Reservation reactors. It’s had a military plutonium surplus since the mid-1970s. Russia I believe still has a couple of production reactors which aren’t doing very much. Britain still has one of the Windscale Piles working, I think. France has Cadarache, and Pakistan, India, Iran and Israel each have at least one military production reactor. All of these military production reactors are small, typically ;less than 100 MWt. As non-power reactors, they are also non-pressurized, meaning that they’re not producing steam and hence operating at low temperatures, typically considerably less than 100 C.

  150. Larry in Texas says:

    I am very much in favor of increasing our nuclear power generation capacity in the United States. But that does NOT mean I favor a sort of “alliance” with James Hansen on the subject. Hansen is first and foremost a political animal – abysmally uninformed on carbon taxes and economic matters, but nevertheless as political as they come – given where he worked for many years.

    I see no advantage to it for skeptics, who will be used by Hansen to make himself look good, rather than making a dent into the current opposition to nuclear power. Let us keep our respective distances, and as he and we (for the most part – I note some of the dissenters in this post) agree on the matter of nuclear power, so much the better.

  151. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

    mpainter says:
    April 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

    As far as I am concerned, the verdict is in and there is no such thing as safe nuclear power generation.

    In an absolute sense, there’s no such thing as safe living. Our foolish ancestors thousands of years ago took this incredibly dangerous thing called “fire” right into their dwelling places, and look at all the suffering and death that has caused. It’s been downhill ever since. Of course, lacking the internet at the time they couldn’t be aware that the maximum sustainable human population for the entire planet was at most a few hundred thousand.

    We have managed the risk of nuclear power for over 50 years. We have also managed the risk of live H-bombs flying over our heads 24 hours a day for about 40 years starting in 1956 or so. As a previous poster has noted we’ve managed the risk of nuclear reactors (and weapons) aboard Navy ships ever since 1958.

    Would I like more safety assurances? Of course, but I won’t refuse the advantages of nuclear power because it can’t be made absolutely safe. With good procedures and good people and sufficient budget to support them, we can make nuclear power very safe now. With more R&D we can develop safer designs and better materials. If you absolutely refuse to bring fire into your cave, you’re stuck in the cold and dark forever.

    Personally I think James Hansen is crazy to refer to coal trains as “trains of death”, so I see no urgent need to shut down existing power stations and replace them with something else. Which is why I don’t advocate a crash program to go nuclear.

    However in the longer run I believe that if our technical civilization is to continue to advance, we simply cannot walk away from the 4 million-fold energy density improvement nuclear processes have over chemical ones.

  152. @Peter at 9:44 am
    1. Yes, good experience. Much more experience than LFTR unconventional. I hesitate to call a design proven until someone is ready to build a copy. THTR-300 had some bugs to work out.

    2. Same episode. Source from Wikipedia. Dust released while unjamming pebbles. Then operators tried to hide the radioactive release by blaming Chernobyl fallout. When they were found out, the project was toast.

    3. HTGR is a superset of reactor designs that includes THTR and general PBR reactor types. It is the High Temp, High Pressure Gas Coolant the identifies the class.
    it requires no massive and expensive containment dome, emergency cooling system or emergency power supply. It does require containment — that was THTR’s downfall. The Helium is under pressure and it too must be contained (along with the dust it carries) if it leaks. It might require a smaller cheaper containment dome than a PWR, but it still needs one.

    4. All I can say is the public experience of Fort St. Vrain was frequent shutdowns because of helium leaks. Helium will leak through openings that will contain steam. I agree that the explosiveness of superheated water to steam is not as great as with Helium.

    5. I agree the SiliconCarbide shell on the graphite pebble is an important safety feature.

    On negative feedback via temperature expansion. I’ve heard this from several sources. Particularly with Navy reactors, greater demands on electrical power increases steam throughput lowering the temperature of the steam, lowering the temperature of the primary coolant, contracting the moderator, increasing the reaction rate and power output. It is a remarkable design. Perhaps some of the reactor control veterans listening in can confirm or correct and supply details.

    As for frustration, yep. Our society needs to choose between
    1) continued coal power
    2) increased nuclear power to replace coal
    3) freezing in the dark.

    Oil is too valuable for electricity gen.
    Gas is too valuable for baseload, better for heating and topping.
    Wind too unpredictable
    Solar not available at night
    Hydro, not enough to go around and environmentalists hate it as much as coal.

    It is coal or nuclear (of some kind) in some rational mix.

  153. aletho says:

    In fact, promoting nukes is not about co2 or profits. It’s always been about one thing only, the military industrial complex. Absent that prerogative there would be no planned nukes and also no IPCC or AGW hypothesis.

  154. Errata: 4. explosiveness of steam is GREATER than with pressurized helium.

  155. Peter says:

    Stephen Rasey @11.57am

    We are basically in agreement..

    Especially on one point I have been plugging for years but still brings people up short whenever I bring it up in discussion – which I always do!

    OIL IS TOO VALUABLE TO BURN

    The human race could last for hundreds of thousands of years – in spite of our best efforts to the contrary. Our descendants will curse us for wasting the most accessible oil.

  156. aletho says:

    Peter,
    Ever hear of methane hydrates?

    Saving oil for the unborn would not just be foolish, it would be immoral.

  157. @Peter at 1:02 pm
    Oil, liquid hydrocarbons, is meant to be burned —- as a transportation fuel.
    Try feeding the world without oil.

  158. clipe says:

    NOTE: This is one of a four-part series on the BC carbon-based energy tax. The parts are:

    British Columbia, British Utopia
    Fuel on the Highway in British Pre-Columbia
    The Real Canadian Hockeystick
    Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/11/british-columbia-british-utopia/

  159. Peter says:

    Oil is a valuable, irreplaceable chemical feedstock which enables the chemical industry to make many important products much more cheaply than by using other feedstocks.

    Shale gas can be burned for top-up electricity generation, and used as fuel for cars and trucks.
    Liquid fuels for air transportation can be made from agricultural waste.
    Nuclear is the only sensible option for baseload electricity generation and Thorium is the most sensible fuel..

  160. aletho says:

    Peter,

    Actually, chemical feedstock is the one application where biofuels are truly preferable for use over petroleum.

    Biofuels should never be used for transportation fuels. Petroleum is far far more economical for that purpose.

    Nuclear power is proven time and again to destroy habitable land for countless generations, total insanity.

  161. Eric Worrall says:

    Peter
    OIL IS TOO VALUABLE TO BURN
    The human race could last for hundreds of thousands of years – in spite of our best efforts to the contrary. Our descendants will curse us for wasting the most accessible oil.

    I have heard that argument before (didn’t Jimmy say that in the Stainless Steel Rat stories? :-) ), but I suspect our descendants will be fine.

    Between advances in genetic engineering, and nanotech, I suspect our descendants will have no problem creating economical chemosynthesis plants using just about any raw materials.

    I know (or used to know) someone who is involved in this, he synthesises vitamins on an industrial scale using genetically modified yeast. There have also been programs to synthesise plastics biochemically from simple pre-cursors, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic

    If all else fails, Saturn’s moon Titan is basically a vast ball of crude oil and methane. It might seem ridiculous to even consider mining hydrocarbons from another planet, but there is no doubt that we could produce technology capable of economically shifting large masses around the solar system, if we absolutely had to. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

  162. aletho says:

    We must remember that, just as AGW is only a hypothesis, petroleum as a product of squished ferns and fish is also totally unproven. Depleted fields are known to replenish. Petroleum is found in geologic formations where it could never be found under the dinosaur theory.

    Regardless of the possible finite nature of petroleum, it is but a small fraction of known carbon based fuels. Methane hydrates exceed it by orders of magnitude.

  163. cgh says:

    Eric, I agree entirely with your comment. There is not and never will be an absolute shortage of raw fuel. There will only be in the future as there has in the past shortages of invested capital and technology to make use of it.

  164. otropogo says:

    “SAMURAI says:
    April 1, 2014 at 12:48 am


    Since I live 150KM south of Fukushima, I must admit I’m strongly against LWR reactors… My family had to carry Iodine pills in our pockets for 2 months following the Fukushima meltdown… I don’t want anyone in the world to go through that.”

    There’s little danger of that. I happened to arrive at the tip of the Shandong peninsula two days before Fukushima happened, and was stuck there for the next three months. I couldn’t find a source of thyroid blockers anywhere in a city of more than a million, and curiously, neither could my wife, back in Canada.

    The Chinese and Canadian governments were singing from the same page: “the amount of radioactivity in the environment is harmless, we’ll get you the thryroblock when you need it”. I found out later that the Canadian government backed this up by making a secret deal with the Canadian Pharmacists associations not to sell thyroid blockers to the public.

    Of course the real reason for this obscenely irresponsible deception – since there’s no way either government could possibly deliver the pills to the public when they became necessary – was that they would have had to pay millions of dollars to the manufacturers to make these pills, which are normally only made in enough quantity to supply the staff of nuclear power facilities and the immediately surrounding neighbourhoods, and more money to distribute the pills and instruct the public when and how to take them.

    The message to thoughtful people had to be read between the lines – find your own supply, and make sure you have an appropriate meter or alarm as well, as the government is never going to warn you that you’re about to be irradiated because of its own negligence.

    On my return to Canada, the only place I could find thyroid blocking packets was in health food stores, and at rather steep prices – $22 to $25 for a 10 day course of treatment. I ended up buying online from LEF.org, paying under $3 for a 14-day course of the same strength. I bought a Nuke-Alert keychain alarm as well (and was able to test its accuracy at a local hospital).

    Few people think about how dependent on the conscientiousness of government leaders and officials nuclear power would make everyone downwind, or that civil defense, medical, and political leaders would likely argue (in camera, of course) that cancer for millions (of other people) months or years down the road would be preferable to immediate carnage on the highways injuring thousands (and possibly obstructing their own getaways) of panicked motorists trying to escape the fallout.

  165. Eric Worrall says:

    otropogo and SAMURAI

    As far as I know thyroid pills are just Potassium Iodide – http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp . The idea is that if you take a large regular dose of safe iodide, you dilute the impact of any trace amounts of radioactive iodine you absorb. If presented with a large amount of iodide, the body will only take what it needs – and if most of that iodine is “safe”, non radioactive dietary supplement, then the probability that your body will absorb radioactive iodine is substantially reduced.

    So if you can’t get the pills, it should be possible to purchase pure Potassium Iodide from a pharmacy or chemistry supply store, mix the required dosage, and administer it yourself (only in an emergency of course – I’m not advocating this action, nor am I a doctor – this is just what I would consider doing in such a situation).

    Having said that, the best thing is not to be caught in a radiation disaster. I understand why people have negative perceptions of nuclear power. Frankly I wouldn’t want to live near a nuclear power station built to the Fukishima design.

    Hence my emphasis on the need for more research into passive safe designs.

    Fukishima got into trouble, because it wasn’t passive safe – when all the active safe systems were destroyed by the Earthquake and Tsunami, there was nothing left to prevent a meltdown.

    Passive safe systems, by contrast, should shut themselves down, in the absence of any external equipment whatsoever. So even a total power blackout and complete failure of external systems should not cause a passive safe system to melt.

  166. Gregg says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    “Therefore, from 1946 until 2004, EDF was a state-owned, nationalized electric utility. The monoply can and did charge whatever price it wanted to, without the need to show a profit. ”

    Roger, you’re evading again. Tsk Tsk asked you to provide evidence supporting your implication that French nuclear power is “fully subsidized by the government”. Saying it was nationalised until 2004 is, well, tangentially interesting, but says nothing about subsidies. You may be correct, but you’ve yet to provide any evidence. I’m still waiting (As is Tsk Tsk, I suppose).

  167. Gregg says:

    … For clarity’s sake, I’m hoping you’ll provide evidence to support your assertion in toto. That is, that French nuclear energy was “FULLY subsidised” (my emphasis). Me, I’d love the idea of a big fat zero on my energy bill …

  168. Peter says:

    I know that at least for the last ten years of which I have personal knowledge,,French domestic electricity bills have been much the same as the rest of Europe, cheaper than many. French citizens are a stroppy lot and would soon dismiss any government that made them pay significantly more for electricity than neighbouring countries. – especially as they know well that their superb fleet of reliable nuclear power stations produces power at very low costs – and they are proud of their technical achievement. This is something they do better than the Germans!!

    Furthermore, EDF sells its surplus (off-peak) megawatts to all its neighbours, who would not pay over the odds.

    I realise that none of this is proof that some sort of political double dealing does not exist to subsidise EDF, but the realities of the huge amounts of money involved, of state budgeting and aggressive French journalism make it unlikely that sufficiently large subsidies exist.

  169. gallopingcamel says:

    Peter,
    France exports of electricity to the UK yesterday averaged 1,999 MW compared to 2,299 MW from wind power. The 2 GW from France is pretty steady while some days the wind does not blow!
    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

  170. otropogo says:

    “Eric Worrall says:
    April 1, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    otropogo and SAMURAI

    As far as I know thyroid pills are just Potassium Iodide – http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp . The idea is that if you take a large regular dose of safe iodide, you dilute the impact of any trace amounts of radioactive iodine you absorb. If presented with a large amount of iodide, the body will only take what it needs – and if most of that iodine is “safe”, non radioactive dietary supplement, then the probability that your body will absorb radioactive iodine is substantially reduced.

    So if you can’t get the pills, it should be possible to purchase pure Potassium Iodide from a pharmacy or chemistry supply store, mix the required dosage, and administer it yourself (only in an emergency of course – I’m not advocating this action, nor am I a doctor – this is just what I would consider doing in such a situation).”

    Thanks for the link – it makes this reply a lot easier to compose. But I think you should have taken more care in reading its contents.

    Where in the cited page did you learn that any amount of potassium iodide is “safe” so long as it’s not the radioactive isotope?

    Where did you see any instructions on making your own solution from potassium iodide crystals, as you so recklessly suggest?

    Did you not notice the differential doses for infants, children, and adults, and infer from that that KI is indeed toxic above a certain amount? In fact, didn’t the mere fact that such treatment is limited to periods of 10 to 14 days suggest as much to you?

    No, your statement that “the body will take only what it needs” of potassium iodide is false. If it were true, no one would buy KI tablets. Your statement is dangerously misleading.

    You can fill up the thyroid with enough KI. That doesn’t mean that you can’t poison the body with the surfeit.

    Yes, a safely useable solution, as described by the link you provided, can be produced from crystals and water by a knowledgeable , careful person with enough time, and administered safely by a careful person. And indeed, during the period of the Cold War (and perhaps still, being downwind of the Hanford nuclear facility) pharmacies in Washington State were required by regulation to keep adequate supplies of KI crystals on hand for a fallout emergency, to be prepared and distributed as and when needed BY PHARMACISTS.

    How the public health authorities planned on getting this “just in time” solution to the public quickly enough to be useful, remains a mystery to me.

    You have also misrepresented the reality of Fukushima’s failures. The most damaging failure in Fukushima was not the meltdown, but the failure IN ALL THREE REACTORS of both the automatic mechanism and manual backup procedure for venting pressure from the containment vessels, leading to the explosion of accumulated gases, the breaching of the containment vessels, and ultimately the long-term contamination of large tracts of inhabited and farmed land.

    I have yet to find an explanation for two sets of three identical failures in three machines that are minutely and regularly monitored and tested. But I’m fairly certain that its not a problem gravity will solve. And meltdown is not the only danger posed by radioactive material – by a long shot.

  171. cgh says:

    “But I’m fairly certain that its not a problem gravity will solve.”

    It’s a problem that never would have happened had the seawall been just 10 metres higher. All of the reactors shut down safely during the earthquake. It was the tsunami that did all the damage by demolishing the diesel storage tanks and flooding the backup generators.

    Even with the station inundated, the generators would have worked fine if they had been according to standard modern requirements behind steam doors and the storage tanks had been properly bunkered. The newer Fukushima B plants, and Daiichi Units 5 and 6, just a few miles down the coast were entirely unaffected by the events, as were the rest of Japan’s nuclear fleet.
    The Daiichi reactors were not destroyed by nuclear fission; all three reactors (the fourth was already down for maintenance and refueling) shut down safely. What destroyed them was the decay heat from the fuel. This potential problem exists in all LWRs because of the small core size. In other reactor types, the problem can be either minimized or does not exist. In old Russian VVER 440s, for example, decay heat is much less of a problem because these reactors have at least double and as much as triple the water inventory in the core, doubling or tripling the time before the core is uncovered.

    In CANDUs, the problem does not exist at all, because the reactor’s physical size is so large that all of the decay heat simply radiates into the building concrete without any effect.
    It should also be noted that passive shutdown systems are extremely difficult to do in LWRs, whether they are PWRs or BWRs. Because they are pressure vessel reactors, the shutdown rods must be driven into a high pressure steam environment. In the case of BWRs like most of the reactors in Japan, they have to be driven in from underneath the reactor. That requires in-plant electrical power. CANDUs however do not. The calandrias are at STP, meaning that the reactors can be shut down and decay heat removed without any electricity in the plant at all. This is not something new; CANDUs have had this characteristic since the early 1980s.

  172. Eric Worrall says:

    otropogo
    Thanks for the link – it makes this reply a lot easier to compose. But I think you should have taken more care in reading its contents.

    Where in the cited page did you learn that any amount of potassium iodide is “safe” so long as it’s not the radioactive isotope?

    I did not say any amount of Potassium Iodide is safe, I said in a desperate radiological emergency I would be tempted to try to mix my own dose, if I could find instructions on doing so.

    Where did you see any instructions on making your own solution from potassium iodide crystals, as you so recklessly suggest?

    I didn’t – I was simply postulating a course of action I might consider in a desperate emergency.

    Did you not notice the differential doses for infants, children, and adults, and infer from that that KI is indeed toxic above a certain amount? In fact, didn’t the mere fact that such treatment is limited to periods of 10 to 14 days suggest as much to you?

    No, your statement that “the body will take only what it needs” of potassium iodide is false. If it were true, no one would buy KI tablets. Your statement is dangerously misleading.

    Fair point, if the risks inherent in what I described were not obvious, I apologise. Once again I thought I made it clear that this was a course of action I would consider if I personally was exposed to radioactive iodine, and no other option was available. I was also trying to describe my understanding of why iodide pills work. By increasing available iodide available to your body, you reduce the probability that the body will absorb radioactive iodine.

    You can fill up the thyroid with enough KI. That doesn’t mean that you can’t poison the body with the surfeit.

    Correct.

    Yes, a safely useable solution, as described by the link you provided, can be produced from crystals and water by a knowledgeable , careful person with enough time, and administered safely by a careful person. And indeed, during the period of the Cold War (and perhaps still, being downwind of the Hanford nuclear facility) pharmacies in Washington State were required by regulation to keep adequate supplies of KI crystals on hand for a fallout emergency, to be prepared and distributed as and when needed BY PHARMACISTS.

    How the public health authorities planned on getting this “just in time” solution to the public quickly enough to be useful, remains a mystery to me.

    I was *not* suggesting people should DIY if pharmacist prepared medicines were available – I was answering what I would consider doing in a desperate emergency where pharmacy prepared medicines were *not* available. Obviously it would be a horrifying, high risk decision either way – a choice between radioactive iodine contamination or self administering a toxic substance.

    You have also misrepresented the reality of Fukushima’s failures. The most damaging failure in Fukushima was not the meltdown, but the failure IN ALL THREE REACTORS of both the automatic mechanism and manual backup procedure for venting pressure from the containment vessels, leading to the explosion of accumulated gases, the breaching of the containment vessels, and ultimately the long-term contamination of large tracts of inhabited and farmed land.

    No, I did not provide a complete description of the Fukishima failure. My understanding there was at least a partial meltdown. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster#Core_meltdowns Obviously there were a lot of other problems.

    I have yet to find an explanation for two sets of three identical failures in three machines that are minutely and regularly monitored and tested. But I’m fairly certain that its not a problem gravity will solve. And meltdown is not the only danger posed by radioactive material – by a long shot.

    Passive safety is about a lot more than preventing a meltdown. It is about making the reactor inherently safe, even in the event of total system failure.

  173. Gregg says:

    “Roger, you’re evading again. Tsk Tsk asked you to provide evidence supporting your implication that French nuclear power is “fully subsidized by the government”. Saying it was nationalised until 2004 is, well, tangentially interesting, but says nothing about subsidies. You may be correct, but you’ve yet to provide any evidence. I’m still waiting (As is Tsk Tsk, I suppose).

    … For clarity’s sake, I’m hoping you’ll provide evidence to support your assertion in toto. That is, that French nuclear energy was “FULLY subsidised” (my emphasis). Me, I’d love the idea of a big fat zero on my energy bill …”

    Roger, you sill there? I’m still hoping for a direct and honest answer.

    *Sigh*

  174. otropogo says:

    “cgh says:
    April 2, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    “But I’m fairly certain that its not a problem gravity will solve.”

    It’s a problem that never would have happened had the seawall been just 10 metres higher. All of the reactors shut down safely during the earthquake. It was the tsunami that did all the damage by demolishing the diesel storage tanks and flooding the backup generators.”

    And yet, new reactors currently under construction on the same tsunami-exposed coast of Japan are NOT being built with seawalls “10 meters higher”.

    In fact all of your safety points, including that of “passive shutdown”, are just mantras without constant reliable monitoring and testing of all nuclear facilities. What Fukushima decisively demonstrates is that such reliability is a pipe dream, even in one of the least repressive and technically advanced nuclear nations in the world.

    That anyone would expect more conscientious monitoring, reporting, and addressing of nuclear safety issues in states where whistleblowers are likely to “disappear” at the first toot is sheer lunacy.

  175. otropogo says:

    make that “least repressive and MOST technically advanced nuclear nations in the world.”

  176. F.Tnioli says:

    Jentlemen,

    discussing energy prices, safety issues, role of nuclear power as a preventor of otherwise larger emissions and pollution – all this is nice, however, all this is IRRELEVANT to the current situation in nuclear power generation industry. Therefore, you might want to re-consider whether you are wasting your (and others’) time talking about said issues, jentlemen.

    Because there is a simple fact: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FUEL.

    Repeat, mankind doesn’t have sufficient Uranium to plan for any major increase of nuclear power generation. This is the real reason why there are so few new reactors being built – nobody is ready to invest billions of dollars without solid certainty that there will be enough fuel to keep a power station functioning for most or all of its service life. Talks about breeder reactors, thorium reactors etc, – are interesting, however, i don’t see those reactors being built left and right. If at all. This means, the only thing we can count on – is the Uranium-235 reactors. Further info – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_uranium .

    Period.

  177. otropogo says:

    “F.Tnioli says:
    April 7, 2014 at 6:09 am

    … mankind doesn’t have sufficient Uranium to plan for any major increase of nuclear power generation. This is the real reason why there are so few new reactors being built – nobody is ready to invest billions of dollars without solid certainty that there will be enough fuel to keep a power station functioning for most or all of its service life. ”

    Well, I guess that’s why those suicidal mainland Chinese are building 25 new reactors, and the Russians are offering any country in the world a choice of reactors down to the two-on-a-barge size, complete with guaranteed fuel delivery contracts for the next five years, disposal of the waste, training of the technicians, or Russian supplied ones, as well as building the plants on site or training the client how to do it.

    In any case, five years is plenty of time for the existing reactors to make the planet uninhabitable for mankind. Please remember also, that you’re not required to “waste” YOUR time reading “futile” posts on this subject. I certainly wouldn’t be offended if you were to employ your time more constructively elsewhere, building a fallout shelter, perhaps.

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