Quote of the Week #36 – Carbon sequestration's fatal flaw

qotw_cropped

This is a parody gone mad. Green advocates howl about the issues of nuclear waste storage, arguing that nuclear energy becomes impractical due to the need for long term safe storage, in some cases tens of thousands to millions of years, or as the EPA puts it “25,000 generations”. The Yucca Mountain project was shut down in April 2010 because nobody seems to have the will to actually store nuclear waste below ground. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry stockpiles used fuel rods near major cities in holding pools, and they are running out of room. Are we safer this way? I think not. Thanks Obama.

It seems that ‘Carbon storage’ faces the same dilemma. Can it be safely stored for thousands of years? Or will it turn into a tree killing zone like this one below?

Tree Kill Zone, near Mammoth Mountain CA

More here from USGS on the Mammoth Lakes CO2 leak.

CO2 sequestration illustrated below, relies upon putting CO2 directly into underground storage. Ironically, using salt domes, just like Yucca mountain, and even less secure coal mines.

http://susty.com/image/carbon-capture-geological-storage-illustrated-diagram-power-plant-pipe-underground-injection-co2-transportation-carbon-dioxide-natural-gas-production-utilities-compression-rock-crosssection-image.jpg

From the Times of India:

‘Carbon storage’ faces leak dilemma: Study

CCS supporters say the sequestered carbon would slow the pace of man-made warming. It would buy time for politicians to forge an effective treaty on greenhouse gases and wean the global economy off cheap but dirty fossil fuels.

Critics say CCS could be dangerous if the stored gas returns to the atmosphere. They also argue that its financial cost, still unknown, could be far greater than tackling the source of the problem itself.

The new research, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, wades into the debate with an estimate of capturing enough carbon to help limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the figure set in last December’s Copenhagen Accord.

The gas will have to be stored for tens of thousands of years to avoid becoming a threat to future generations, a scenario similar to that for nuclear waste, it says.

This means less than one percent of the stored volume can be allowed to leak from the chamber per 1,000 years.

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

Gee, where have we heard this before?

Advertisements

162 thoughts on “Quote of the Week #36 – Carbon sequestration's fatal flaw

  1. Actually, if it all leaked out over 1000 years that would be good. We won’t have fossil fuels to burn 200+ years from now, and boosting CO2 will help offset the natural cooling that precedes glaciation

  2. The new research, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, wades into the debate with an estimate of capturing enough carbon to help limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the figure set in last December’s Copenhagen Accord.
    Based on the literature that appears to me to be correct, this amounts to 3.6 doublings of atmospheric CO2 concentration. We don’t need CCS. We’ve got plenty of time to get the 400 to 500 new reactors built so we can retire most of the coal plants. Of course, the rest of the world needs to get busy, too. China and India will need that number of reactors, too.

  3. There are better ways to store nuke waste. Glass suspension is an interesting technology that can limit radioactivity and contain the particles in a low-cost medium. It can then be dispersed to reduce risk.
    Of course, it’s still nuclear waste, and nobody wants that. Even if it’s in perfectly safe radioactivity limits. Thanks, environmentalist alarmists.

  4. I’d like to respectfully disagree with you on part of this, sir.
    “spent” nuclear fuel consists of two main parts: fissile material that can be used for new fuel rods, and valuable rare earths. Reprocess the fuel properly and there is little need for long-term storage.
    Long-term storage of unprocessed nuclear waste was a tarded idea from the outset. James Earl Carter decided we should forego reprocessing as an example to the world. Well, the World has spoken, and what they’ve said is, take your example and shove it.
    Such rogue states as France, England, and Japan are all reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. France just opened a new facility that uses 3% as much energy as the old 1970’s technology to extract the usable uranium and plutonium.
    While I’m writing, I’ll suggest that within 50 years we will have improved processes for creating DME from that CO2 we want to sequester right now; DME being a miracle chemical that can replace gasoline as a primary transportation fuel. I would think it inadvisable to sequester CO2 in a manner which would make it inaccessible for our future transportation needs anyway.

  5. I think the last paragraph in the T of I story is the most telling: “It [the International Energy Agency] estimates that over the past two years, countries have committed 26 billion dollars in CCS projects. Thanks to this funding, “between 19 and 43″ large-scale demonstration projects would be launched by 2020.” We can and should reduce CO2 & other GHG emissions now. Maybe sequestering can allow for the safe use of fossil fuels in a few decades.

  6. Thanks, Anthony, for mentioning two of my favorite gripes! Storing high-level spent fuel rods in water pools next to Lake Michigan (Zion reactor etc.) and over critical groundwater supplies (Clinton, IL and others) is just damn stupid!! Yucca Mountain wasn’t perfect, but it sure the hell was more secure than this approach!
    Regarding carbon dioxide storage….jeez! The energy demands alone (for carbon dioxide capture, purification, transport and compression) makes this a born loser, not to mention the long-term risks!
    Carbon dioxide is actually a valuable resource, as soon as this is recognized, the game will change.

  7. Very interesting. I am aware of the issue at Mammoth Mountain concerning the dead trees around Horseshoe Lake. Never thought about it from the CO2 sequestration standpoint – if the sequestered CO2 (and I don’t know enough about how effective the sequestration is – Anthony, or any one else – perhaps an expert in this area as to how effective it is) did migrate over time, I can see the disaster it could cause. Of course, that depends on how fast migration occurred, trees in the proximity, etc.

  8. What Mike says: …but even more telling than that is it says 26 billion over the past two years… …Thanks to this funding, “between 19 and 43″ large-scale demonstration projects would be launched by 2020.”
    Excuse me but if the money has been committed, shouldn’t they be launched now? Just in case reason doesn’t win the day, and it’s no sure bet it will, I don’t want those poor coal miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, China, and Oz to lose their jobs. Let’s get the ball rolling on this CCS business now (even if it’s not going to work).
    Mike says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm
    I think the last paragraph in the T of I story is the most telling: “It [the International Energy Agency] estimates that over the past two years, countries have committed 26 billion dollars in CCS projects. Thanks to this funding, “between 19 and 43″ large-scale demonstration projects would be launched by 2020.” We can and should reduce CO2 & other GHG emissions now. Maybe sequestering can allow for the safe use of fossil fuels in a few decades.

  9. Some folk’s stupidity needs to be sequestered fro 10,000 generations.
    (But five will do.)

  10. This means less than one percent of the stored volume can be allowed to leak from the chamber per 1,000 years.
    ===============================
    Gee, where have we heard this before?

    Well, not from nuclear waste plans. One percent would be a disaster. There’s no comparison between the toxicity of nuclear waste and CO2.
    And no comparison here. We’re currently putting CO2 straight in the air. If we bury it, and it then slowly leaks, that’s still a lot better than direct emission.
    If you read the linked article carefully, the trees were killed not by CO2 in the air, but in the soil. If this is a real danger, there are plenty of treeless sites that could be used.

  11. That CO2 sequestration illustration makes it all look so very simple. Reminds me of the Sunday newspaper supplements in full color with all the marvels the future will bring — flying cars, individual jetpacks, rapid speed monorails, and on and on …
    Flights of fantasy are so cheap till someone has to pay the piper, either in the form of piles of money or, even worse, their lives in the event there is release of all the stored CO2. Not likely to happen? Tell that to the residents of the Gulf coast about how unlikely a massive oil leak is — all it takes is one.

  12. CS comes with a guarantee that terrible accidents would occur. No containment is fail safe for a high pressure gas. A leak along fracture zones could quietly fill up a valley and kill not only trees but every living thing in the valley you and me included. The risk from stored nuclear w is far less. We could also send n-waste to deep space where in a few million years there would be no trace of it.

  13. I wonder at the alarmism over nuclear waste storage. It is quite irrational. Mother nature has managed to do it for billions of years:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor
    Note: “Remarkably, most of the non-volatile fission products and actinides have only moved centimeters in the veins during the last 2 billion years.”
    Of course the Aussie outback is probably even better, being in the middle of a plate with low rainfall, a lack of significant earthquakes etc. But try and sell that to the Aussie public…

  14. Anthony/Mods, could you provide the link to the Carbon Capture & Geological Storage process diagram? That’s a good one to have access to at a moment’s notice, thanks!
    REPLY: right click on the image, then copy the link -A

  15. The trees in the picture are dead for one of three reasons – (i) their roots have not been able to take up the water and minerals they need, (ii) a herbicide has been applied or (iii) old age. The uniformity of death rules out old age.
    I would bet a whole English pound that their roots have been disturbed or the water table altered in a manner they could not survive.
    My fear is that the picture will further the fanciful notion of CO2 being a pollutant. People will look at the picture, read the sign and conclude that “excessive” CO2 in the air has poisoned the trees. They will infer that CO2 is a herbicide. This is one of the most effective lies the warmists have told because people are naturally concerned about air quality. But a lie it most certainly is, and one that needs to be nailed.

  16. In my geologist days I did a stint working on nuclear waste storage for the US government. The best idea I heard was to lower it down-hole when testing a nuke. The periphery of the blast zone forms a metre thick spherical layer of impermeable glass. The NTS was already thoroughly contaminated so Yucca Mountain seemed like the perfect site.
    Anywhere that isn’t near where I live ;^)

  17. Mike says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm
    “Maybe sequestering can allow for the safe use of fossil fuels in a few decades.”

    Define safe, and while you are at it Mike, explain to us what exactly it is about CO2 that makes it unsafe. An remember, we’re talking trace amounts of CO2 – not at an atmosphere of pressure with nothing else.

  18. As of several years ago , the USA sequestered 3% of our CO2 and today, likley double that … in Oil wells.
    Going price was $10/ton. …. Not to get rid of it: THEY PAY FOR IT. It enhances oil recovery.
    We also Sequester a third of our Carbon in effect, by planting Trees.
    The REAL Fatal Flaw is that the IPCC considers Fish Bones — Calcium Carbonate — to be immediately recycled – – since they DISSOLVE IN WATER.
    They then ignore the persistant value of 5.4 years for CO2 residence ( = 19% is taken out every year ) that both our Chemists & Radioactive Decay people have measured.
    The true secret is that it DOES dissolve – – 250 million years later, as part of the Geological Process. Someone took part of a sentance from a Geology Textbook & used it out of context.
    So the reduction in FISH BONES – – because we Preferentially fish the Bony fish – – Account for 94.6 % of the CO2 gain in the Air.
    Think:
    >> We know the 100 year-residence-time WORKS, both for Now & at the End of the Ice Age Warming.
    >> We know the 5.4 is a MEASURED Quantity (call it Input). It cannot be wrong.
    THUS : 5.4% of the problem is in the “Input” so the Rest must be in the OUTPUT NOT HAPPENING.
    The “100-year” Residence Seems to work because it is from the change in the BALANCE between Input (Smokestacks) & output (permanent Loss e.g. Fish bones).
    But How can an Ice Age do what MAN does ?
    … BOTH our Fishing, and the Ice Age Warming, favor the BoneLESS fishes — because the Squid, octopus, jellyfish, etc. are mostly Tropical.
    Further, the CO2 fall after 1500 A.D. can be ascribed to the Stewart Island Impact Tidal Wave … killing fishermen. Thus more Bony Fish, and less CO2.
    It has always made no sense that CO2 went UP after Ice Sheets melted & trees grew there instead: CO2 should have gone DOWN.
    It could only have been an Oceanic effect, as there is more Ocean than land, it could push Up harder than the Trees could pull Down.
    (PS the AGW explantion for 1500 AD: EVIL COLUMBUS the PLAGUE CARRIER, is bunk: New World Populations did NOT fall: Parish records show populations repeatedly reach the same point, set by what the Land can support, then drop, then rise again. Any Larg pre-Modern Life Loss – – simply reduced the number of people who Starved. ).
    When I read Alaskan fishermen complaining about Squid showing up in their nets when Squid once were rarely seen North of Mexico — & I realized the recent Warming could NOT have changed Squid’s range by more than a tenth of that, the “Eureka” Moment hit me.
    All 3 affect THE BALANCE: of ingo & outgo:
    Fishing, Major Warming (remember, we are talking 12 degrees F. Hemisphere, not the last 30 years’ paltry few TENTHS of a degree, as Hansen lectured Letterman on recently), and in Reverse: Asteroids.
    Man is still small compared to the Oceans but we can effect things by favoring 1 fish over another.
    It’s been 140 years since we nearly exterminated the Sperm Whale.
    Fishing is still the most Disruptive thing we do.
    If we establish No-Fish Zones ala’ New Zealand, we fix the Problem. And make a Profit: in more Fish.

  19. CO2 is what makes us breath. If we didn’t have CO2 in our lungs, and instead had an abundance of oxygen, we would actually feel out of breath.
    Based on this information, I can report, graypaper style, that all this hyperventilating and panic attacks can be traced back to AGW’s wrongly thinking CO2 is bad and are therefore avoiding consuming it. Apparently they think cow’s milk is very bad for you too.
    http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Hyperventilation_-_makes_you_feel_as_if_you_can%27t_get_your_breath

  20. Carbon sequestration is a great idea as long as one does it according to Hammurabi. Instead of building stocks of perishables such as the EECs “Butter Mountain” and “Wine Lake”, you store non-perishable food during the years of plenty.
    When the lean years come, the stocks of grain and other foods mitigate the famines that would otherwise occur. Imagine what would happen to a planet with 7 billion people if there was another 1816, “The Year Without a Summer”.
    There will be another 1816 so if our leaders were as able as Hammurabi they would be sequestering carbon in the form of food rather than rocks!

  21. The nuclear waste long term storage problem is made even nuttier by a requirement that the sites have to be surrouned by HazMat signs that will last as long as the material is hazardous. But wait, that’s not the greenest bit. The signs have to be intelligible by people who, a thousand or a million years from now, might not speak english or recognize symbology like a skull and crossbones.
    Hard to believe, isn’t it?

  22. Duncan,
    Right on! Jimmy Carter killed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods in the USA. While I consider his decision to be unfortunate, he was well qualified to make it because he was our only president with nuclear reactor training. Furthermore, there have been plenty of presidents since Jimmy Carter and none had the testicular fortitude to reverse Jimmy’s ban until George Bush II.
    Unfortunately, we are now so far behind the Brits and French, it would be futile to create wet reprocessing (PUREX etc) capacity here. We need to leap-frog the French (pun intended) by introducing Gen IV nuclear plants with integral dry reprocessing.
    You are probably well aware of LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors) so I include the following link for those who may not have heard of them:
    http://energyfromthorium.com/2008/11/21/joe-bonomettis-tech-talk-at-google/

  23. I cant wait till all this CO2 bunk is over. Tired of worrying about being taxed to breathe. Any event I want to see REAL environmental issues taken up such as murcury and lots of pollution in our drinking water. Fluoride needs to be removed from our drinking water. Do some research and youll see even from the government reports that its toxic and causes a host of ailments includeing bone cancer, Thyroid issues, arthritis, hip/bone fractures. Do some research, learn for yourself dont just take their word for it that its good for your teeth. GMO’s are a huge problem also. Check those out, just look up saftey reports for GMO’s and fluoride. GMO’s almost all cause sterility, mutations, low birth weights and within 3 generations almost complete sterility, causes organ failures too. (Look up! GMO causes organ failure in huffington post) Think about that… 80% or more of corn in US is GMO, same with Soy, and cotton is lower. High Friutose Corn Syrup study was done at Harvard Medical compareing between sugar and HFCS, Keeping the same calorie count the rat who ate the HFCS was fatter. Same amount of calories. These are real problems not CO2 which I love cause without it plants wouldnt be able to breath and exhale oxygen for me to breathe.

  24. 1. CO2 has a resident life of 15 years in the atmosphere, hence CO2 should not be a worrisome item on the agenda. All the CO2 we are emmitting now will be turned into trees, insects, birds, grass, cows and fish in 15 years time.
    2. The more there is, the higher the rate of its natural sequestration by global vegetation. Vegetation grows at a faster rate with increased CO2 levels, so there is a POSITIVE FEEDBACK there. (Global warmists’ favourite phrase)
    3. The planet is not warming but cooling down a bit for the last 15 years or so and no sign of warming up, even if CO2 is on the increase.
    4. Capturing CO2 gas underround is madness of the first order, both financially and technologically. It will one day escape and create a very dangerous CO2 mega-bubble that would kill people, animals.
    5. Most probably the increase in atmospheric CO2 we are seeing originates from the oceans and not anthropogenically. We are only guilty for 3% of atmospheric CO2.
    6. If we have to sequester CO2 gas, than the best and cheapest way is to plant trees, trees and trees. It is the greenest way, pun intended, to sequester CO2. But then, who will be losing the billions of dosh in Carbon Capture research if we do it the natural way?
    7. IT’S JUST MONEY ALL THE WAY-FORGET SAVING THE PLANET-HYPOCRISY RULES OK

  25. Eric Gisin says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm
    We won’t have fossil fuels to burn 200+ years from now
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    You sure? I’m not.
    …..Gold suggested that coal and crude oil deposits have their origins in natural gas flows which feed bacteria living at extreme depths under the surface of the Earth; in other words, oil and coal are produced through tectonic forces, rather than from the decomposition of fossils.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold#The_Deep_Hot_Biosphere
    Freeman Dyson on Tommy Gold:

  26. I find it hard to believe that some people are so carbonophobic that they are actually thinking of extracting CO2 from the air and pumping it into the ground. This is the same kind of induced fear that might lead to the development of a self-reproducing biological CO2 removal agent that could get out of hand and cause a runaway global plant CO2 starvation event.

  27. Another Lake Nyos perhaps? In 1986 a sudden degassing of that lake released 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 killing some 1800 people and 3500 livestock.

  28. Dimethyl ether (DME) is a wonderful substitute for both propane (a direct replacementwithout even modifying your tanks or burners) and diesel fuel. Best of all it’s easily made from clean, abundant coal. (Yes, I live in Kentucky – but only because resources here are clean and abundant). (Sigh. Yes, I smoke but only because I enjoy fine tobacco aroma on a suprisingly predictable, frequent, repetitive basis that has nothing to do with nicotine levels in my blood.) (Rolls eyes. No, I’m not level headed just because I have tobacco juice running out both sides of my mouth).
    The real problem with CO2 sequestration is the perception of the need for it. Powerplants would do far more good if they’d scrub every bit of mercury out of their exhaust and pump the CO2 directly onto crops. Everyone likes crops.
    The CO2 could also be turned into dry ice to store ice cream. Everyone likes ice cream.
    Or the CO2 could be temporarily stored by using it to grow barley, which would then be later fermented to release the CO2 – but producing beer as a by-product. Everyone likes beer.
    But pumping a non-reactive gas undergound and assuming it will just stay there for thousands of years? This seems a bit suspect, with a risk of failure far more probable than the prospect of our distant offspring rubbing themselves with a radioactive skin cream. The consequences could be as bad as having a neighbor who grills out with charcoal every night for a thousand years.
    Ack. I think I just threw up a little – in my mouth.

  29. It was that pathetic fool Jimmy Carter that outlawed spent fuel reprocessing with an executive order. He said that it was to keep “terrorists” from getting the materials to make a nuclear bomb. Then he arranged a deal for North Korea to get nuclear reactors. What a putz!
    He also wrote an executive order to ban super sonic transports. Because they would lead to Global Cooling. What a putz!
    If the French (not to mention the Japanese, Iranians, and North Koreans) are smart enough to reprocess spent fuel, why aren’t we???
    Guess what Bunkie: We are! These United States have been reprocessing spent fuel for the Navy nuclear power program since the 50’s. They have been doing it with the Expended Core Facility dismembering the fuel assemblies and the fuel being processed at the Chemical Processing Plant at the Idaho National Engineering Lab for years. (It’s been a while since I was involved, so I may be out of date. If anyone is current, please let me know.) The technology is there.
    Sometimes, you just want to cry!
    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  30. We won’t have fossil fuels to burn 200+ years from now
    We have over 200 years “reserves” of fossil fuel. In two hundred years, I’d be very surprised if we had under 1000 years’ reserves. More likely, over 2000 year’s reserves. If we are even using fossil fuels for most current purposes, which I doubt.
    As for world temperatures, in 200 years we’ll probably be able to completely regulate world and local climate. If we bother to, that is. (Eventually, we will bother — when the Milankovitch cycles end our comfy optimum and our toesies get nippy.)
    Things don’t stand still anymore!

  31. It is said that Co2 is outgassed from the oceans at 8ppmv per one degree temperature rise thereby making little difference to atmospheric concentrations as oceanic temperatures have limited variation.
    Does anyone know if Co2 outgasing from fresh water bodies is at the same rate as from the Oceans? Also how much Co2 in total is contained in all the freshwater bodies on earth?
    Just trying to get some sort of picture as to the importance of lakes/reservoirs etc in the great scheme of things as their temperature is likely to fluctuate much more than the oceans.
    tonyb

  32. Duncan 8:51, Mike Borgelf 9:42, George Turner 12:09:
    “DME being a miracle chemical that can replace gasolene…….”
    Also cures warts, I understand. No, really!

  33. There are few universal laws in the universe that have the potential to cause humanity so many problems as the law of ‘unintended consequences’ and when coupled with the good intentions of utterly stupid people it has all the potential of an epic disaster in the making.
    The cretinous campaign against atmospheric carbon dioxide will either destroy our civilisation or it will be a clear historical lesson for our descendents to wonder at. Those in the future might marvel at our gross ignorance, our lack of common sense, our ability to lie and cheat ourselves into believing the unbelievable and our unwillingness to engage in any degree of critical analysis and self examination.
    It is even now stunningly obvious that atmospheric carbon dioxide poses the same threat to the planet as goblins and dragons and giant invading tripods from mars. Even now at this time when our leaders are engaging in economic suicide and chasing fairies and fantasy figments the evidence that carbon dioxide is a harmless and indeed essential ingredient to life on earth is ignored.
    There was once a time when we burned or drowned women to death if the cows gave sour milk or the wife of a local bigwig went mad/set the house on fire/commited adultery.
    These days we invent snake oil cures to non existent mythical dragons instead and we are no more advanced than when doctors prescribed bleeding a patient to death to save them, aaah it must be the malignant humours that cause illness and typhoid/plague is spread by bad smells or so the consensus once believed.
    I wonder at the staggering ignorance I see on a daily basis and wonder still more at the incredible fact that I can so clearly see it all and so many so called brilliant people cannot.

  34. The biosphere is perfectly capable (and has been) sequestering C02 all on it’s own, with no help from man.
    What’s up with the re-invention of the wheel here?
    As for Mammoth area, since when did volcanoes ever do anything but create kill zones?

  35. Charles Wilson says:
    June 27, 2010 at 10:18 pm
    “PS the AGW explantion for 1500 AD: EVIL COLUMBUS the PLAGUE CARRIER, is bunk: New World Populations did NOT fall: Parish records show populations repeatedly reach the same point, set by what the Land can support, then drop, then rise again. Any Larg pre-Modern Life Loss – – simply reduced the number of people who Starved. ”
    Given the huge amount of both archaeological, ecological, and historical evidence to the contrary, please post some evidence or identify these “parish records” that “New World Populations did NOT fall.”

  36. What a rich vein of outstanding comments.
    I just love this blog.
    Duncan says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm
    Duncan, I didn’t know about DME. Something else for me to get acquainted with. I was aware of the nonsense regarding reprocessing nuclear fuel, as I will commented later on them.
    Thank you very much.
    CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm
    Storing nuclear wastes in a populated area over a Yucca Flats type place simply has to be the operative definition of cultural insanity.
    Yes, carbon sequestration carries very high risk. I was just going to comment on those lakes in Africa when…
    Robert says:
    June 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Another Lake Nyos perhaps? In 1986 a sudden degassing of that lake released 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 killing some 1800 people and 3500 livestock.

    Here’s the story: http://pagesperso-orange.fr/mhalb/nyos/nyos.htm
    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    June 27, 2010 at 11:35 pm
    Oh I just love Dr. Gold. And Freeman Dyson, a man too smart for a PHD. Both heretics and both usually right.
    Of course Dr. Gold had a good point on the formation of hydrocarbons in the mantle. There is even more evidence today as we are finding natural gas all over the place. All we need to do is some fracturing, and there you are. See http://geology.com/articles/marcellus-shale.shtml.
    Lots of folks here jumped on the issue of recycling nuclear fuel. The French, you know, those people so many Americans like to make fun of, have been recycling their fuel for decades. Have you read of any incidents of leakage or diverted fuel for bombs or anything like that? Of course not. It doesn’t fit in with the PC view of nuclear energy. Nor do they like to talk about France getting 90% of their electricity of fast breeder reactors. Nor about the fact they are quietly supplying electricity to Germany and England, to make up for their silly embracing of alternate energies.
    Read all about it in the excellent book http://www.terrestrialenergy.org/.
    England is going to be in a big mess when they run out of reliable electricity. France will be in a position to save their collective hind ends with safe and reliable nuclear energy. Partly repaying the debt of England saving their collective hind ends during WW II?
    Just got to love this blog.
    Thank you Anthony

  37. Pardon me for asking, but what was the “Quote of the Week”? For me it was the sign DANGER : CO2 HAZARD AREA AHEAD, for it so neatly encapsulates the madness, the utter insanity, of the alarmist mantra of catastrophic climate change. Of the 33 responses so far, it seems that only 20% (Eric Gisin, FatBigot, CRS Dr.P.H., evanmjones, James, Alex Ellul, and Spector) may agree. As FatBigot (June 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm) says
    “My fear is that the picture will further the fanciful notion of CO2 being a pollutant. People will look at the picture, read the sign and conclude that “excessive” CO2 in the air has poisoned the trees. They will infer that CO2 is a herbicide. This is one of the most effective lies the warmists have told because people are naturally concerned about air quality. But a lie it most certainly is, and one that needs to be nailed.”
    Please, people, come on board. Nail the scam!

  38. I worked on the Yucca Mountain Project 2001-2007. It was mugged in slow motion by the Democrats, who always underfunded it to slow it down; the original planned completion date was 1999 — when I got there they were looking at around 2015.
    The plan was to store the waste in tunnels, about a quarter mile underground and at least another quarter mile above any aquifers; the aquifers in that area went essentially nowhere anyway. It’s in the middle of a WW2 bombing range, so access was already restricted due to unexploded ordnance. The site would be “temporarily” sealed for 300 years, to allow removal for reprocessing if possible, then permanently sealed. An area was tentatively set aside for a possible reprocessing plant on-site.
    There were howls that it was less than 100 miles from Las Vegas. It was never mentioned that the top-secret (still) underground test sites, much more radioactive, are less than 80 miles from Vegas.
    There’s a fund of by now more than $60 billion from utility fees specifically dedicated to building a waste storage facility; it’s probably now just another political slush fund, like Social Security. That fund would have finished Yucca easily if the politics had allowed. [Sigh…]

  39. gallopingcamel says:
    June 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm
    Carbon sequestration is a great idea as long as one does it according to Hammurabi. Instead of building stocks of perishables such as the EECs “Butter Mountain” and “Wine Lake”, you store non-perishable food during the years of plenty.
    When the lean years come, the stocks of grain and other foods mitigate the famines that would otherwise occur. Imagine what would happen to a planet with 7 billion people if there was another 1816, “The Year Without a Summer”.
    There will be another 1816 so if our leaders were as able as Hammurabi they would be sequestering carbon in the form of food rather than rocks!
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Unfortunately our leaders in the USA (Clinton) listened to the grain traders and did away with the stock piling of grain in the 1996 with the “Freedom to Farm” Act. When the USA ran out of stored grain in 2008 the Grain Trader Association wrote a letter to Bush asking that grain storage not be resumed by the USA since it mucks up “the free market” Grain trading giant Cargill as well as seed giant Monsanto posted record earnings in 2008 while food riots were happening in third world countries and the world economy started crashing.
    Isn’t it nice to know we are in such good hands with our intelligent and honest politicians?

  40. In the usual propaganda about exciting CO2 sequestration projects i never read something about the efficiency. How much of the energy produced by a coal- or gas fired plant is expected to be used up for the filtering and sequestration? Anybody got some percentages?

  41. No alarmism follows, just the “facts” as currently agreed by reproducible experiments.
    CO2 is a long-lasting gas which appears to have been in the air for as long as we can measure. Radioactive materials have always coexisted with humans also, but they decay by definition, some with short half lives, some with long. The ones with short half lives are generally the most hazardous because a given weight produces more radiation in a given time. The physics are understood extremely well and have been for 50 years.
    There is no chemical way to estimate the term of containment of CO2 that is safe. The best that we can do is to establish what we think is an unsafe concentration, and try to avoid that.
    There is a chemical way to estimate the safe containment of radioactive material. In short, it needs management for a time that through decay or dilution or reprocessing, reduces its emission to below the levels that existed prior to its use to make energy. For many separated isotopes in reactor waste, a week is enough time for them to decay to very safe levels. Overall, the way a reactor is operated, plus its design, determine how long waste should be stored before it decays to the level of radioactivity in the mine where it originated. Of course, mine grades vary too; some are high enough to require robot mining, others are safe enough for humans to work a lifetime in them with no adverse effects.
    Working these variables into a general statement, without reprocessing, nuclear waste decays to the level of its ore in a few hundred to a few thousand years. Naturally, if you dilute it 10:1 by encasing it in glass (a well-studied process) these figure reduce to a few decades to a few hundred years. We started making rad waste a half century ago and to my knowledge, it has harmed nobody. It would be fair to say that we can do the same for several more half-centuries.
    The oft-repeated mantra that rad waste needs to be managed for 25,000 years, or sometimes 250,000 years, is completely without foundation. It is alarmism in the category of the discredited hockey stick, except that the observations are far more reliable for nuclear.
    In theory, rad waste is dangerous only if people approach it too closely. If you keep more than a mile away most of the time, you don’t have much to fear. It is prudent to process it and store it, because it is a valuable resource for the future.
    Back to CO2, it need not be managed at all either. It is dangerous only if it passes beyond bounds of safe levels, but people cannot agree on the definition of the safe levels, be they lowest or highest. In the meantime, I await reproducible experimental evidence that it is causing significant harm. If it is shown to be causing harm, then it is of theoretical greater danger than radioactive materials, because the latter decay away to near-nothingness in time. CO2 seems to hang around forever. If you wish to make apple to apple analogies, compare it to the poison arsenic, which also hangs around forever, not to radiactive material, giving oranges and apples.
    At this point, we depart from the facts.
    Safety concepts are not entirely based on maths and physics and chemistries. There are social implications as well. Someone above mentioned that flouridation of water supplies should not be enforced on populations. But then, if you said the same about chlorination, you would know that a large death rate would be inevitable through spreadings of disease vectors currently killed by chlorination.
    The effects of chlorination and flouridation are known well enough to do benefit:cost calculations. They are known well also for nuclear material. Science is still grappling with CO2, largely because of the social implications that people keep making guesses about – the science of CO2 is not yet reproducible in experiments, to a useful level for policy making.
    That is why we have blogs like this one.

  42. Ok, this one
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/CO2-Sequestrierung#Kosten
    says
    “Die IEA schätzt, dass die Kosten gegenwärtig bei 50 bis 100 US-Dollar pro Tonne abgeschiedenes CO2 liegen” – 50 to 100 USD per ton extracted CO2.
    And from here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_capture_and_storage#Cost
    i get this snippet “based on typical coal fired power plant emissions of 2.13 pounds CO2 per kWh”
    so that’s 5 to 10 US cent cost / kWh for Carbon sequestration.
    So it will double to triple energy costs; in other words, 50% to 66% of the power output of a fossil fuel plant will be used to extract the CO2 it produces; IOW we will need twice to thrice the number of power plants.
    I gotta come up with a hare-brained scheme like that on my own sometime in the future, there seems to be a lot of money in there…

  43. DirkH says:
    June 28, 2010 at 3:56 am
    “[…]
    So it will double to triple energy costs;[…]”
    Addendum: working with producer prizes, not retail prizes.

  44. Green advocates don’t want viable solutions. They want intractable problems that can be used as a pretext to impose their ideology on everyone else. So they need to make the use of “carbon storage” politically unacceptable just in case it does actually work.

  45. Alex Allul says above “6. If we have to sequester CO2 gas, than the best and cheapest way is to plant trees, trees and trees.”
    Not quite. The new trees have to carry more carbon than the pre-existing vegetation; and they have to be maintained as renewing forests in perpetuity.
    Merely planting some trees on grassland and walking away does noting for the long-term sequestration of carbon when you start talking in centuries or more. Stable CO2 sits near the bottom of the decay chain.

  46. Most of these techno-weenies who are frightened of things nuclear seem happy enough to stash several micro-curies of Americium-241 (half-life ~460 years) about their house. How weird is that?

  47. Both CCS and geoengineering belong in the garbage bin of incredibly idiotic, completely useless, costly, and possibly dangerous ideas. Of course, there are those who stand to profit from it who stand to gain at the expense of all humanity who are pushing them, while the typical Alarmist stance seems to be “we shouldn’t have to resort to this, but because of you skeptics foot-dragging, we may be forced to”. The Alarmists in short are offering us a false choice; either cut back our “carbon” emissions now, or begin CCS and/or geoengineering operations. Freud’s principle of a “death drive” seems to be remarkably apparent in the Alarmists’ campaign against the life-giving gas C02. I really hope some moronic troll comes back with something like “if you think C02 is harmless, try breathing in a paper bag and see how long you last”. Go ahead, make my day.

  48. One of the pernicious aspects of AGW is that it lowers the intelligence levels of its true believers.
    This stupid article is a great example.

  49. Having read so much on the latest crisis caused by alarmism, most every solution creates problems worse than the ones they said would be catostrophic.
    They tell me they must fight hydraulic fracturing in oil wells. The frac process is done 2 miles from the water table but they say it will dirty the water.

  50. Why doesn’t someone invent “nuclear credits”? You could then have the coal industry buy the nuclear credits and the nuclear industry purchase carbon credits. That way, whenever you have a release of nuclear waste, the coal industry could just plant more trees in the Amazon.

  51. Billy Liar says:
    June 28, 2010 at 4:10 am
    Most of these techno-weenies who are frightened of things nuclear seem happy enough to stash several micro-curies of Americium-241 (half-life ~460 years) about their house. How weird is that?
    __________________________
    I take it you are talking about the smoke detectors in every home per requirement by US law?
    Dr. Petr Beckman twitted the anti-nuke types about the radiation from granite and radon gas until they made laws to have houses tested for radioactivity. Turns out the low level of radioactive gas seems to help prevent lung cancer.
    ” …low doses of radiation are good for you. It stimulates the immune system and checks oxidation of DNA through a process known as “radiation hormesis”—and thereby prevents cancer.” http://www.donaldmiller.com/Advantages_of_Nuclear_Power.pdf
    “..The radiation hormesis model explains why residents of radon spa areas (in Japan, Germany, and central Europe) and people who live in homes that have high radon levels also have a decreased incidence of cancer. But perhaps the most impressive study that shows just how good low dose radiation can be for you is one just published in the (Spring 2004) Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons…” http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller12.html
    Politicians motto: “Never let science get in the way of a good scare story that can be used to control people.”

  52. Well, someone mentioned Lake Nyos already but still, here’s the quote from Wikipedia:
    ‘Lake Nyos is a crater lake in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, located about 200 miles (322 km) northwest of Yaoundé.[1] Nyos is a deep lake high on the flank of an inactive volcano in the Oku volcanic plain along the Cameroon line of volcanic activity. A natural dam of volcanic rock hems in the lake waters.
    A pocket of magma lies beneath the lake and leaks carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water, changing it into carbonic acid. Nyos is one of only three known lakes to be saturated with carbon dioxide in this way, the others being Lake Monoun, 100 km (62 mi) away SSE, and Lake Kivu in Rwanda. On August 21, 1986, possibly triggered by a landslide, Lake Nyos suddenly emitted a large cloud of CO2, which suffocated 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby villages.[2] Though not completely unprecedented, it was the first known large-scale asphyxiation caused by a natural event. To prevent a repetition, a degassing tube that syphons water from the bottom layers of water to the top allowing the carbon dioxide to leak in safe quantities was installed in 2001, though additional tubes are needed to make the lake safe.[3]
    Today, the lake also poses a threat due to its weakening natural wall. A geological tremor could cause this natural dike to give way, allowing water to rush into downstream villages all the way into Nigeria and allowing much carbon dioxide to escape.’
    There’s lots more on the subject but I think just the introductory paragraph should give us pause for thought. Lake Nyos is not the only ‘Killer Lake.’

  53. It seems odd to me that a basic fact seems to never be brought up when discussing CO2 (and nuclear material, for that matter).
    Being at the bottom of a rather substantial gravity well, as we find ourselves, the total mix of elements we have today is basically the same amount of elements that have been sitting around, here at the bottom of the well, since. . .hmm. . .about the time that the growing accretion of materials substantially cleared the orbital path around the sun, which was (quickly does some math, which will not be displayed in public) around a few billion years ago. Give or take the random addition of smaller bits of matter in the form of asteroids or other naturally occuring ‘space junk’ as it were.
    So, since it’s all been here, all along, I’m often curious about the hoo-ha concerning exactly where these various materials happen to be, at any particular given moment, or over a particular period of time. They obviously haven’t remained completely static in the same locations they congealed in as the planet cooled. Which would seem, since none have been added, and none subtracted, that there is quite likely to be some sort of cyclic mechanism which has developed along the way to move things about. And that these cyclic methods don’t merely consist of physically moving the materials from point a to point b, but also includes the chemical (or nuclear, in the case of things radioactive) transformations of same.
    Well, as I’m being beat about the head and shoulders for being such an obtuse simpleton, allow me to continue. Since the hoo-hah about CO2 appears to stem from man’s ability to use such chemical reactions (and also, to manipulate radioactive materials to concentrate or exploit the energy transaction), and the resulting by products, which, basically is a zero sum game with regards to the amount of carbon and oxygen one started with – my basic question is this –
    Why would any truly serious person consider simply sweeping stuff physically under the rug, so to speak? If the ‘problem’ is the result of a chemical reaction, how is a physical activity going to remedy the situation in the least, other than to exacerbate the supposed ‘imbalances’ (which appears to be the gist of the hysteria) being created? Is this all an elaborate set up, once we’ve ‘sequestered’ the material (CO2)(with emphasis on the O2 for this example) for great rounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth that we’re basically about to smother ourselves due to asphyxiation from lack of oxygen?
    Here’s a radical idea – how about simply participating in a fully cyclic set of activities, instead of simply obssessing about one sided ones? As mentioned by several previous commentors, sequestration through chemical processes which we are already quite aware of – such as – and this is really almost too darned oversimplisitic, I’ll grant – GROWING THINGS! Yes – using nature’s own little dirt and sunlight processing machines to magically eliminate our CO2 “problem”. And not just to have rather odd and apparently useless by products, such as. . FOOD, or BUILDING MATERIALS, but substances which can be used to fuel not just the animate, but the inanimate, as well – such as those little microbes that ‘eat’ CO2 and H2O, and poop – Diesel Fuel!
    Oh, look, a sustainable loop! We don’t have to invent and build fancy metal machines – Mother Gaia has come to OUR rescue for a change!
    Oh, and btw, yes, Carter was a complete idiot, about nuclear reprocessing, as well as a long list of other things short of tying his shoes. For low level substances, for which there is no other viable use, sure, put it back in the ground (you know, where it came from) – but for more energetic materials, which are busily, as we speak (or read) half-lifing themselves into uselessness to the genus Homo Sapiens, every moment we “store” such material and do not take advantage of the energy transaction, is a moment we lose. Forever. Since we do not have the technology to complete that particular cycle, yet. When we start manipulating stars and such, the discussion may be resumed. Until then, “storing” heavy radioactives such as uranium and plutonium is just plain stupid and wasteful. Put it to use for maximum benefit. Re-process it and get about boiling some water to spin some turbines.
    I think I’ll stop now, and allow my sheer ignorance to be mocked, ridiculed, and the explanations flow as to exactly why I’m being a simpleton about all this. The joy of WUWT allows me to do so, without having to worry about the ad hominem, which is something that would hurt my feelings, the true crime against nature. Heh.

  54. It’s strange how irrational fears of nuclear energy and CO2 both typically come from the same group of people, and excessive costs are created by exagerating risks.
    On nuclear, I”ve seen comments that GenIV designs may be able to use existing waste as fuel but not found any decent descriptions of how that works.
    On CO2 sequestration, that just seems pointless to take a potentially useful product and bury it at some crossroads. It would seem far more sensible to me to use it, perhaps for synthesising methane and making synthetic fuel.

  55. Natural gas contaminates the soil with methane, causing methane-consuming bacteria to multiply and suck up the oxygen in the soil. That interrupts the crucial exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the soil and air, and carbon dioxide, methane and other components in natural gas build up and contaminate the tree’s roots. The roots die and the tree follows, said Carl Cathcart, a certified arborist hired by the trust.

  56. While I consider his decision to be unfortunate, he was well qualified to make it because he was our only president with nuclear reactor training.
    Such as it was. His duties at his assignment to the Division of Reactor Development in Schenectady consisted of attending a not-for-credit *introductory* course in nuclear reactors at Union College — a “Nuclear Power for Dummies” class.

  57. Fuel reprocessing need not be done nor long-term disposal of spent fuel at the level needed for our current and future US nuclear reactors, if here in the US we would start building CANDU reactors. Designed in Canada when they had neither the large metalworking ability to make a large steel reactor vessel for a LWR, nor uranium enrichment, the CANDU design uses fuels considered too low grade for the “traditional” nuclear plants, originally natural (un-enriched) uranium. It is rather flexible in the fuels it can use, and has been shown to be able to use our “waste” nearly directly.

    Recycling of LWR fuel does not necessarily need to involve a reprocessing step. Fuel cycle tests have also included the DUPIC fuel cycle, or direct use of spent PWR fuel in CANDU, where used fuel from a pressurized water reactor is packaged into a CANDU fuel bundle with only physical reprocessing (cut into pieces) but no chemical reprocessing. Again, where light-water reactors require the reactivity associated with enriched fuel, the DUPIC fuel cycle is possible in a CANDU reactor due to the neutron economy which allows for the low reactivity of natural uranium and used enriched fuel.

    Basically here in the US we are sitting on a pile of money, wondering how much more money it’ll take to forever bury it in the ground.
    I still support reprocessing due to its benefits. For one:

    Finally, the fast breeder reactor can employ not only the recycled plutonium and uranium in spent fuel, but all the actinides, closing the nuclear fuel cycle and potentially multiplying the energy extracted from natural uranium by more than 60 times.

    This is included to indicate generally how much more energy can be extracted with CANDU reactors given their flexibility in fuel supply, and because fuel that is too depleted for even CANDU’s can still be reprocessed.
    Also:

    If reprocessing is undertaken only to reduce the radioactivity level of spent fuel it should be taken into account that spent nuclear fuel becomes less radioactive over time. After 40 years its radioactivity drops by 99.9%,[27] though it still takes over a thousand years for the level of radioactivity to approach that of natural uranium.[28] However the level of transuranic elements, including plutonium-239, remains high for over 100,000 years, so if not reused as nuclear fuel, then those elements need secure disposal because of nuclear proliferation reasons as well as radiation hazard.

    With both CANDU reactors and reprocessing, our current stockpile of “spent” fuel will provide us many decades of clean reliable energy, no new uranium need be mined, and our really-long-term nuclear waste disposal needs will be far smaller.
    And maybe by the time we’d have to start digging up some fresh fuel they’ll finally have figured out how to make viable fusion reactors. 😉

  58. So Mammoth Mountain is a volcano, which are known to emit CO2. This has nothing to do with carbon sequestration. Volcanoes are notoriously uncontrolled (maybe the biggest understatement I’ve ever made!), and the theory is that some of the CO2 was not vented, but trapped underground somehow, just like natural gas, and recently something changed that allowed it to escape to the surface, where the high soil gas concentration (~90%) killed the trees.
    The difference between this natural CO2 trapping and well-engineered CO2 sequestration is that responsible engineering of sequestration would deposit the critical liquid CO2 in a geological formation that was deep enough so that the pressure would keep it as a liquid, and in a geological situation that was known to be tectonically stable and proven capable of holding it for geologically significant time periods (spent oil pools).
    This is beside the point of whether CO2 capture and sequestration is required, as others have pointed out it adds considerably to the cost of electricity. The process is useful in oil production, enhancing and extending production from oil fields by maintaining pressure and decreasing oil viscosity. Ironically, because the oil is burned in vehicles after production, there is no real sequestration until the oil field is finally depleted.

  59. Geoff S @ 3:56,
    Well said Geoff, your observations on the ‘intractable problem’ of nuke waste are spot on. It’s also seldom mentioned that a lot of the ‘nuclear waste’ is simply stuff like uniforms, cleaning cloths, etc, that have simply been used at the nuclear facility, and are therefore ‘contaminated’.
    As you touch on in your post, nuclear waste is a solved problem, but it is not in the interests of the chattering classes to admit that. It must remain as ‘problem’ with which to beat the evil energy companies whenever they suggest that nuke power might be a good idea.
    The fact that we can store it, reprocess it, dump it into one of the mid-ocean subduction zones, or lob it into the sun is unacceptable. As you note about CO2, it cannot be solved, it must remain as a problem, no solution is allowed.

  60. “Furthermore, there have been plenty of presidents since Jimmy Carter and none had the testicular fortitude to reverse Jimmy’s ban until George Bush II.”
    At the moment, US nuclear power plants are running on recycled nuclear bombs, and after the latest rounds of bomb cuts between the US and Russia we will probably have enough recycled nuclear bombs to run our nuclear plants another 10 years.
    Personally, I would rather live next to nuclear power plant waste awaiting recycling/ disposal then live next to nuclear bombs awaiting recycling/disposal.

  61. “This is a parody gone mad.”
    Oh.My.God, the genepool is rotting. We’ll be prosimians by 2020.

  62. Carbon dioxide sequestration has never sound like a good idea.
    It is just another idea. Following the idea to its logical end, the questions arise as to how we can reliably store pressurized gas under ground for thousands of years, and what do we do with it at the end of the planned sequestration period?
    First, there is no reliable way to store anything for thousands of years. You must plan on the stuff leaking, and it would be wise to design calibrated leaks so that you can plan on how much gas gets leaked into the atmosphere.
    Secondly, there is no way to plan for anything over thousands of years. There is no way to estimate the unintended consequences of sequestering so much pressurized gas for so long. You cannot calculate the risks.
    Carbon dioxide sequestration is just another idea.
    End of story.

  63. Perhaps putting BP in charge of CO2 sequestration would make people realize that deep drilling is not exactly foolproof!

    Chuckles says:
    June 28, 2010 at 6:22 am
    ….
    The fact that we can store it, reprocess it, dump it into one of the mid-ocean subduction zones, or lob it into the sun is unacceptable.

    What exactly would be wrong with dumping spent rods and other heavier-than-water nuclear waste into a subducting Pacific trench, after encasing in concrete, steel, glass or some such? It would be far out of the food chain, shielded by miles of overlying water, and eventually would get sucked into the earth, not to reemerge for a billion years or so. A lot cheaper than shooting it into the sun…

  64. @ Gail Combs
    check out wikipedia on radiation hormesis. Another case of people with an agenda hijacking wikipedia. Professionals in the field don’t like radiatio hormesis because it makes their jobs unnecesary. Applies to most forms of chemical pollution, too. So, the environazis don’t like the subject, either.

  65. Wouldn´t it be cheaper to sequestrate all Gwrs. and store all of them following the procedures for garbage disposal? ☺

  66. Well sequestration of CO2 is sequestration of OXYGEN !!
    With no apparent let-up in the rate of deforestation, and despite tree farming to combat that; we humans can ill afford to sequester Oxygen.
    The words “Criminally Insane” are the ones I would use to describe those people promoting carbon sequestration.

  67. Duncan and Geoff Sherrington have said all that’s need to be said on this item Just let us get on with building nuclear.

  68. One thing floors me about the carbon sequestration debate, why in heaven’s name are people talking about storing liquid CO2 under ground when its been sequestered quite effectivly for hundreds of millions of years as limestone or dolomite. Stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and I believe about half the verticle height is limestone and that sedimentary geologic layer extends for hundreds if not a thousand miles. Is there anywhere you can go around the world and not run into limestone at some point if you dig straight down deep enough? Mother nature is increadibly good at sequestering this stuff, she does it at room temperature using living organisms and once its gone, its not coming back unless its through some subduction mechanism at the edge of a continent. Remeber, the atmosphere started out in the 7000 ppm range hundreds of millions of years ago. We are standing on much of this.

  69. Gail Combs says:
    June 28, 2010 at 5:16 am
    Thank you for the interesting link. I think pretty much the same applies to exposure to UV. People who live at higher altitudes don’t seem to suffer from the higher exposure (I wait to be corrected!).

  70. There is a cheaper process called “compost making”, by mixing chopped global warmers with leaves, some water, and let it decompose, we could get a valuable mixture of humic substances for agricultural use.

  71. Yucca Mountain is not a salt dome. Yucca Mountain is actually a long ridge made of volcanic ash (long since turned into rock).
    I lived in southern Nevada for a few years and Yucca Mountain hysteria was in full swing at that time. One thing you need to understand is Yucca Mountain was picked for it’s political and geographic properties, not it’s geological properties.
    Nevada is a state with a small population and not much political power. Both with Democrats in power and the senior U.S. Senator from Nevada as the Senate Majority Leader, the project was killed, with no replacement location or new nuclear waste strategy to replace it
    The Yucca Mountain project was years behind. The mountain is just not geologically suited for the purpose of storing nuclear waste for thousands of year. There are other places better suited for this purpose, but these were passed over for political reasons.
    The real problem with Yucca Mountain was the strategy of burying nuclear waste. The smart thing to do is the reprocess, reuse and recycle nuclear waste as other countries do (here’s one thing we should be learning from the French).

  72. Billy Liar says:
    June 28, 2010 at 10:22 am
    Their skins become “conveniently and robustly” coloured brown or black, as melanin increases.

  73. I think it was Alvin Weinberg, the original inventor of the light water reactor, who once said:
    “Nuclear waste is not a substance, it’s an action. Wasting valuable nuclear materials is something stupid governments do”.

  74. I did not find the answer to this question at the USGS site: How does too much CO2 kill a tree? What concentrations are deadly to plant life?

  75. Slow leaks of sequestered CO2 may kill a few trees – as the gas rises through the soil, flushing out the air that the roots of most trees need to breathe – and perhaps a few people from time to time as it collects in hollows, but there is also the possibility of catastrophic eruptions, like a volcano.
    In a worst-case scenario, CO2 leaks gradually from its deep reservoir, filling the pore spaces of the overlying rock most of the way to surface. Assume that as well as porous strata, there are strata sufficiently impervious that the upwards migration is slow allowing the gas pressure to approach (or at any rate reach the same order as) the isostatic pressure throughout much of the depth. Now let the deep reservoir – stressed by the CO2 pressure or wracked by an earthquake – fracture abruptly. Containment fails catastrophically all the way to the surface; as the CO2 escapes upwards it expands explosively, blasting pulverised rock into the atmosphere and releasing tens of millions of tons of CO2 over the course of a few hours or days. This is essentially the mechanism of explosive volcanic eruptions, except that in volcanoes the explosive driver is mainly superheated steam (plus CO2). Here, the escaping CO2 is not hot but cold – cooled by its largely adiabatic expansion. This makes things worse. Unlike a magma volcano, in which escaping CO2 is mostly hot enough, and therefore buoyant enough, to billow up into the sky and be safely dissipated, such a “CO2 volcano” will produce a tidal wave of frigid CO2 flooding over the landscape, asphyxiating everything for miles around.
    In a concrete, though entirely fictional scenario – I hope – imagine the electricity plants of New York city feeding CO2 into leaky reservoirs down to ~4km beneath Long Island for ten years, when the reservoir fails. Queens becomes a 10km diameter crater a few hundred metres deep, ash fills up the East River and Harlem River and buries Manhattan 10m deep. The CO2 cloud covers the entire metropolis out the the west of Newark. Fatalities ~5-15 million, depending on how quickly people flee the initial eruption. (OK, this makes assumptions about the particular geology of Long Island that probably aren’t valid and which I haven’t bothered to check, but I hope it helps you appreciate how dangerously CO2 sequestration could go wrong if it were sufficiently badly managed. Of course, no one would ever do something as daft as this, would they … ?)
    If we still want CO2 sequestration (it’s completely unnecessary), I suggest it would be better to look into biological sequestration methods; eg., let CO2 enriched air flow through long hydroponic polytunnels, with additional CO2 being fed in along their length, for food or biomass yields enormously higher than obtainable from open field agriculture. There’s more than enough open land between Jersey City and Newark, say, to use up the aforementioned CO2 from the metropolis’s electricity production – both safely and productively.

  76. “Roger Sowell says:
    June 28, 2010 at 11:49 am
    @ GrumpyOldMan, re Duncan and Geoff Sherrington and nuclear power plants.
    Not such a good idea, actually. The Nuclear Death Spiral happened before, and will most certainly happen again if more nukes are built in the USA. ”
    That’s very interesting, Roger. I foresee a similar death spiral happening in Germany over the next 5 years as the Solar Energy feed in tariff will drive the cost of a kWh up and up and up. Germans were not prone to self-generation in the past but that was because we had no reason to. When nuclear power got big here – in the 70ies – the energy generation sector was still public and prices were held low by decree. This is different now, and the very technologies that make small scale PV installations work are the ones we will need to decouple from the grid.
    Very interesting prospects for us…

  77. When I first heard of CCS a few years ago, I immediately thought of Lake Nyos in Africa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_nyos
    Thought to have been caused by a nearby landslide, in 1986 the lake “burped” a large cloud of carbon dioxide which killed 1700 locals by asphyxiation (as well as livestock and other fauna). I only wonder how similar geological events would affect a CCS site.

  78. Roger Sowell says:
    June 28, 2010 at 11:49 am
    @ GrumpyOldMan, re Duncan and Geoff Sherrington and nuclear power plants.
    Not such a good idea, actually. The Nuclear Death Spiral happened before, and will most certainly happen again if more nukes are built in the USA. see
    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/06/coming-nuclear-death-spiral.html

    Is this any different from the Green Energy death spiral? It seems to me if customers have the choice to use expense electricity or inexpensive electricity, they will almost always choose the latter.

  79. You see, alternative energies create a chain reaction of printing money, and then, a black hole of poverty, folowed by transfer of wallets content to the “chosen ones”elites.

  80. Correct it for me its wrong or point me to some more info if its right , but I have been told that there is some relatively cheap and safe reactor technology available that would use those nuclear wastes as a fuel for electricity generation eliminating 90% of them in the process and an leave the remaining 10% in a a state that would only require a century or so in storage for it to become harmless, and the only reason that it is not in common use is that it is not PC.

  81. “Enneagram says:
    June 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm
    You see, alternative energies create a chain reaction of printing money, and then, a black hole of poverty, folowed by transfer of wallets content to the “chosen ones”elites.”
    Well, it works a little different but you have the direction right…

  82. How can anyone who reads this blog still believe that CO2 is so dangerous that it needs sequestration? What part of ‘ the warming effect of CO2 is strongly logarithmic’ do you not understand?
    How has it come about that spent nuclear fuel and CO2 are being labelled as a similar problem? That article is bonkers. I have to remind myself that half the population has IQ’s of less than 100. One of those must be responsible for such rubbish, and others equally endowed no doubt read it and take it seriously.
    However, interesting and worrying at the same time and good material for Quote of the Week. Many thanks as always.

  83. Wasn’t there a paper late last year or early this year, the gist of which was that to sequester the CO2 from one coal fired power plant would take nearly the entire output of that plant?
    DaveE.

  84. The trees were not killed by CO2 directly. that is why it quote of the week.
    All tree roots need oxygen to respire. when oxygen falls below 10 – 15 % rootgrowth is inhibited at 3 -5% growth stops. Air spaces in the soil are being filled by CO2, hydrogen sulphide or methane.
    Trees die for sinilar reasons if ground becomes saturated with water.
    All of this is entirely irrelevant to CCS technology.

  85. I live near a Geothermal Power Plant that provides me and a lot of other people in the area with both hot water and electricity we use, and while it is far lower on the CO2-sins totem pole than the Coal/Oil/Gas type plants there is some CO2 in its exhaust, and it was recently hooked up to a plant that uses the exactly that same stuff as raw material to produce metanol , that can then be used as a fuel for e.g. all kinds of automotive contraptions powered by IC engines ( or Fuel Cells even ). See here
    http://www.carbonrecycling.is/isp.html
    for further info if you are interested. Note this is an industrial scale plant not an experimental pilot plant unit and supposed to turn out 2 million litres of the stuff this year and 5 million a year when it has gotten up to full steam, and I think it is not being publicly subsidized, so I assume its economically viable on its own merits.
    Of course the methanol is a carbohydrate and when that is used as a fuel some of it ends up in the athmos, in the end, but its less than the amount that would end up there if exhausted directly, and probably more “ecofriendly” than making corn booze
    for the same purpose.

  86. Björn says:
    June 28, 2010 at 2:52 pm
    “[…]
    year and 5 million a year when it has gotten up to full steam, and I think it is not being publicly subsidized, so I assume its economically viable on its own merits.

    Please don’t forget we are living under Kyoto economics in Europe. From the page you linked to:
    “Emissions of CO2 will become more expensive as the European Trading Scheme for carbon dioxide matures in Europe.”
    So they made this investment planning for future increases in the price of emissions. Also, this plant needs energy to work – geothermal energy in this case. Surely a nice thing, and i think that synthetic fuel makes more sense ATM as an energy carrier than batteries, but without an abundance of geothermal energy it wouldn’t work.
    Unfortunately they don’t say which process they use, or what the efficiency is, they have this fuzzy statement: “Carbon Recycling International has developed clean technology which enables direct conversion of renewable energy to fuel at small or large scale plants and which can take advantage of distributed energy systems.”
    on their “Technology” page.
    They belong to Mannvit. This page says they’re using some catalytic process:
    http://www.mannvit.com/RenewableEnergyClimate/BiogasandBiofuel/MethanolfromCO2/
    They also mention electrolysis, so they’re extracting hydrogen from water, along the lines of this article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Methanol_Synthesis
    Still nothing about efficiency. Hmmm…. It looks like they’re using a process like this one:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/g5286177543341xx/
    My google search was
    “methanol synthesis efficiency electrolysis catalyst”
    and yielded this snippet in the Saito paper:
    “Methanol synthesis from CO2 and H2 over Cu/ZnO-based catalysts was extensively studied under ….. sources, for H2 production by water electrolysis using … Energy efficiency=35% bty a fuel cell/combined cycle power plant …

    Of course, we still don’t know what efficiency the Icelandic plant will yield, maybe they use a different process or have improved the efficiency. Nonetheless, pretty interesting.

  87. I seem to me I read an article which stated 50% of the power plants produces would be used to pump CO2 to their storage areas. The coal or natural gas electric plant would pay storage a storage fee. Oh, did I mention the storage areas are old oil wells and the oil company are hoping, by pumping the wells full of CO2, to recover more oil.

  88. FatBigot says:
    June 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm :
    I’m no fan of radical environmentalists but as a chemistry geek I can tell you that CO2 can be toxic as it’s % by volume concentration in the atmosphere increases. Around 7.5% by volume will kill you.
    BTW that would be 70,000 ppm to reach 7%. We would have to increase the concentration 200 fold to surpass this and I don’t see that happening.

  89. Killing Yucca Mountain was a simple way of killing current nuclear power generation in the US. When the online plants run out of room to store the spent fuel rods, their permits will not be renewed.
    Consequences?
    We’ll just leave those for our children to sort out.

  90. I work at a nuclear plant in Michigan, capacity 2200 MWe (two units). They were built for just over 1 billion dollars completed in the late 1970s (1975 and 1978). The “nuclear death spiral”, to the extent that it ever occurred, was caused by the politics of an ignorant enviro movement delaying start-up and raising costs. These plants are now the cheapest to operate baseload generation on the grid, save hydro.

  91. “Green advocates howl about the issues of nuclear waste storage, arguing that nuclear energy becomes impractical due to the need for long term safe storage, in some cases tens of thousands to millions of years, or as the EPA puts it “25,000 generations”.”
    Many years ago, before it was taken over by our social engineering “betters”, Scientific American had an article by Glenn Seaborg about nuclear waste. The simple point was we should compare the radioactivity of nuclear waste to the uranium that was dug out of the ground. The time for the waste to be less radioactive than the original ore should be used for planning a nuclear waste site. This turned out to be about 25,000 years. Geologists can easily find sites that will be stable for much longer than this. More efficient reactors and fuel reprocessing will achieve a better burn-up of the nuclear fuel and reduce this time considerably.

  92. Roger Sowell says:
    June 28, 2010 at 11:49 am
    Roger, parlais-vous francais?
    There’s a whole country, real-time demonstration in France that completely demolishes your selective argument.
    Your argument is observationally correct elsewhere only in the sense that higher costs have resulted – but they arise from hurdle after hurdle placed in the path of progess by greens who do not understand nuclear matters and do their best to destroy nuclear power generation.

  93. The real problem with carbon sequestration is some place to put it. The diagram, for example, is assuming that a depleted oil or gas field is available to inject it into at an economic distance (less that 10 miles) from the source. There are a lot of areas in the US where no place to put the CO2 is available near existing sources.

  94. The folks on this blog recognise that CO2 is not a pollutant so it makes no sense to waste money on sequestration.
    On the other hand, nuclear waste needs to be burned in Gen IV reactors to generate wealth in the form of electric power and valuable isotopes.

  95. “Nuclear death spiral” indeed! That’s hilarious, Roger. So what is it about the irrational anti nukes and their lawsuits that causes increased costs of nuclear that you don’t understand? I suspect you know this all too well and are being deliberately obtuse.
    Why isn’t so called “green, renewable energy”(subsidized by holding a gun to people’s heads – aka taxation) a death spiral? It is of course and not just financially but also in energy break even terms where most of these technologies aren’t even nett energy producers. Now that’s a death spiral I can believe in.

  96. Geoff Sherrington: re France’s nuclear, and greens in the USA.
    WUWT has hosted the nuclear argument several times before, and France is always trotted out by someone as “these guys are doing it, and they are FRENCH!” The proper response is, and remains, that the French nationalized their nuclear industry so their capital costs are not comparable. When viewed entirely on a variable cost-to-produce basis, nuclear is one of the cheapest electrical energy sources. On that same basis, though, hydroelectric is cheaper still. Wind and solar are also cheaper, as is geothermal, wave, tidal, and ocean current. Rain is free. Wind is free. Sunshine is free. Waves are free. Ocean tide is free. Ocean currents are free. The only proper cost comparison is full costs, including design, permitting, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning. On that basis, nuclear power fails miserably. No one can dispute those facts.
    Here is my challenge, actually two challenges, for those who are gung-ho on nuclear power.
    Challenge One: tell me why none of the approximately 15 islands (state or nation) with a population roughly sufficient to support the electrical output of one nuclear reactor, (1000 MWe), such as Oahu in Hawaii, elects to generate electricity via oil or diesel instead of the “ultra-cheap” power from a nuclear power plant – as nuclear advocates insist that it is so cheap. When I looked at the numbers in May of 2009, Oahuans could cut their power price by a factor of 4 if they would only build a nuclear power plant. see
    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/05/nuclear-weapon-complacency.html
    Challenge Two: if nuclear advocates are correct, please do this experiment and report back to me here or on my blog. Contact a lender with lots of money, tell them you will build a nuclear power plant of 2200 MWe output using two modern reactors, and you will borrow their money to build it. You will only need – and you name a figure. I have heard $5,000 per kW. For the 2200 MWe plant, you will then require $11 billion. Tell them you will not produce saleable electricity for four years for the first reactor, and six years for the second – or whatever time frame you believe is realistic. Tell them your on-line factor is very high, in the high 90-percent range. Then tell them, and this is crucial, that you will sell the nuclear-generated power for 2 or 3 cents per kWh, as nuclear power is the cheapest form of power there is. Point to the South Texas Nuclear Project for proof of a low-cost of production. Tell them you have long-term contracts for 40 years, and you will pay back the money loaned to you only from the sale of electricity from your new plant. Then point to the French nuclear industry as your example of how this works out great for them. Then, let me know what the lenders’ response is. Since nuclear power is so advantageous, according to the nuclear advocates, this should be easily done and we should see thousands of nuclear power plants springing up all across the globe.
    I have had both of these challenges “out there” for more than a year now. The silence is deafening. Chirp….chirp….crickets…crickets….
    The fact is that nuclear power is far too expensive to compete. Stating that “it has the lowest cost of production” is a bit like a person who owns a very, very expensive automobile, we could say costing $1 million with a huge monthly bank note, disregarding his monthly payment to the bank. Instead, the car owner brags about his very low operating cost-per-mile due to the ultra-efficient engine with hybrid technology, but most importantly he has his own oil wells and oil refinery to produce diesel fuel at 5 cents per gallon.
    By the way, regarding the French nuclear technology? Areva’s fourth-generation plant that is under construction in Finland is having a heck of a time – the price is now double the initial estimate, and completion date is estimated as two or three years beyond the initial date. The cost will increase much more during the next few years, and the startup date will be pushed back ever farther. It’s a bit tough to blame this one on the greenies in the USA. Even with hundreds of nuclear power plants already built around the world, the nuclear construction industry cannot learn from its past mistakes. see
    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-refinery-on-schedule-and-budget.html

  97. Mike Borgelt,
    Most of the lawsuits were over shoddy construction, not obstructionism. For a real-life view of how nuclear power plants were built with falsified x-rays on welds, see the South Texas Nuclear Project. For the nuclear death spiral case, see Louisiana. For inability to estimate costs and construction schedules, see any of the present planned projects – South Texas Nuclear Expansion, and the Vogtle plant in Georgia. City of Austin (TX) refused to sign on to the STNP Expansion – they learned a very good lesson the first time. City of San Antonio had a brief exploratory relationship, but then withdrew also. What if they offered to build a nuclear plant, and nobody signed on as a co-owner? Seems that is the situation today, so the reactor vendor from Japan stepped up as a co-owner. Pretty sad, that.
    The NRC has design and construction standards for a reason. Nuclear power is not like a firecracker, where oops we get a puff of smoke and a sharp bang if something goes wrong. Everybody can laugh. Nuclear nuts tend to forget this, it seems. If the industry could and would design them properly, build them to code the first time and verify to the inspectors’ satisfaction that they meet code, then there would be little reason to bring a lawsuit. But perhaps that is too obvious and unprofitable, and nuclear construction companies make far more money from change orders, ripping out inferior work and doing it over and over again. I’m just guessing on that one.
    Which one was it that never received an operating license due to inferior and dangerous construction, and was converted to fossil fuel? Shoreham, perhaps? Which one had the containment dome dropped and bent out of shape? The list of nuclear construction screw-ups is never-ending. Like a well-known battery-powered rabbit, the screw-ups just go on and on …. and on….. and on….
    Those who advocate nuclear power for electricity in the USA have a long way to go to convince me that it is safe, it is economically attractive, and it should be done. I’m actually hoping one of these modern projects does get built. If and when it does, many billions over budget and many years behind schedule, the nuclear death spiral will begin again, and this time there will be several alternatives to expensive nuclear power. Distributed generation based on natural gas micro-turbines will easily beat nuclear power’s exorbitant prices. Banks will scramble to loan the money to install these things. Nobody in their right mind will remain on the grid, and the utilities that are dumb enough to build a nuke will see their customer base evaporate. And I will be laughing and laughing.

  98. Re LarryD says: June 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm
    @Atomic Hairdryer, how much detail on GenIV reactors using “spent fuel” do you want?

    Thanks for those, particularly the Fischer paper. It does seem like much of the current nuclear waste is being wasted. I also heard a side effect of nuclear FUD is some reactors producing medical isotopes for treatment and diagnostics are closing, leading it increased costs and supply shortages.
    As for Mr Sowell, don’t forget another big factor in increasing costs and delays, endless planning enquiries and objections from ‘green’ who prefer to little the landscape with thousands or tens of thousands of windmills, rather than more effective, efficient and low CO2 alternatives like nuclear.

  99. Roger Sowell says:
    June 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm
    Challenge One. Build a medium capacity nuke facility in a remote place. We have this problem in Australia, pop 20 million, area about the same as USA. The deterrent is that for the last 30 years, nuclear scientists have been diverted from recator physics to using isoptopes to find why frogs are dying – that sort of switch from hard physics/engineering to soft bio stuff. As a result, we lack a learned middle-aged group that could be proficient in the assemby of a unit such as you describe. This is the main technical reason. The answer to your challenge is within the words above, goodbye crickets. The political complication is that greens hold the balance of power here and there and are as obstructionist as usual.
    Challenge Two. Raise venture capital and build privately. The capital exists when the need exists, even if Government. Witness China, Peoples’ Republic of. They are currently building at least 20 1 GW plants. The cost is in the ball park you mention, but as we who have calculated nuclear costs for decades know, it is very hard to arrive at an agreed and workable costing basis. e.g. Did the Govt of PRC pay for the land in Guandong where these are 6 being built? Did it have to lodge advance insurance risk deposits?
    “In November 2009, work began on a six-reactor nuclear power plant in the eastern coastal province of Fujian. The first two reactors (each 1,080 MW) of the $14.6 billion facility will become operational in 2013 and 2014. In mid-December, the China Guandong Nuclear Power Group started construction on the $10.1 billion Yangjiang nuclear power plant (Figure 3) in Dongping Town, Yangjiang City. The first of six domestically engineered CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors (each 1,080 MW) is expected to come online by 2013, with all units being completed by 2017.”
    Remember, the cost of a FOAK is much higher than successives.
    I’ve been down south in this part of China, a few tens of km from this site. The main activity I saw on the way south from nanning was coal trucks in endless procession from 400 km south in VietNam and a bit of tea growing and subsistence farming. So I guess you are opposed to modernization by the peasant class. (Except that as a group, the Chinese are rather intelligent and hard-working, with little time for philosophies about angels on the heads of pins).
    In short, even with the Gorges Dam for hydro, the expansion of nuclear is huge – possibly 150 new plants by year 2050. My common sense tells me that this would not proceed it if was a dud financially. I guess that answers Challenge 2.
    I have not vetted this reference closely, but it is rather similar to many now appearing – http://www.powermag.com/issues/departments/global_monitor/China%E2%80%99s-Nuke-Power-Boom_1696.html
    In 1993 when I went to Yunnan from Hong Kong, the Government had just funded an airline with about a dozen B737. By 1995, the operation was privatised and named Dragon Air. I suspect the same will happen with Guandong Nuclear Power Group.
    Was there anything of consequence that I missed in this answer to your belief-driven post?

  100. Geoff Sherrington: that is not an answer to either challenge, that is an interesting dodge.
    Islands, sir, islands are the topic. Last time I checked, Australia is not an island. But you do seize upon a valid point: if nuclear plants were so very, very safe and economical, why then is there so very, very much opposition? These should be as easy to design, permit, and construct as a local grocery store!
    As to China, yes, I’ve heard similar stories. I’ve also worked in China and am very familiar. You won’t find me anywhere near a Chinese nuclear plant, judging from the condition of the other manufacturing facilities I have seen. As to their reported costs, they adopted the French subterfuge of government-run subsidies – thus are not credible. Try building such a plant in the USA, in say, South Texas for example. Without government subsidy. The last price estimate I saw was for $17 billion, but the Japanese vendor said it would be higher but would not say how much higher. Now, why would that be? Why not just be honest and admit that the finished power plant will cost $25 to $30 billion?
    Challenges still open. Nice try, though!

  101. There’s no such thing as “green” as the proponents see it. There’s no such thing as “clean energy.” There never will be. The longer we use any given power source, the greater its contribution to (list your pollution of choice here) will be, but never will they not pollute. Movement and transduction of energy just doesn’t work that way.
    Solar panels create a deficit in outgoing radiation -> The net thermodynamic result is an increase in terrestrial energy (IE heat waste.) They must be manufactured. They must also be disposed of. None of these things are “green.” They all change the environment.
    Windmills withdraw energy from the circulatory system of the earth. Assuming the circulatory system’s energy gradients come from external sources (to the system itself) then the energy input to the circulatory system is somewhat pre-decided. Withdraw energy from that system and there’s no telling if/when it will be replaced. The energy withdrawn from the system is pretty small compared to the total amount, I’m sure.. But so too is [CO2], and that certainly is construed as a long term problem. We’re talking about long-term plans to upset potentially delicate energy gradients on an ever-increasing scale.
    Nuclear fuel and fossil fuel liberate stored potential energy as the heat byproduct of a reaction, that is, converting Pe to Ke and various byproduct specie.
    Electric and hydrogen sources are not primary, that is, they must be derived from a driving source, so, they can be safely excluded from discussion.
    Even hydroelectric power is nothing more than a complicated solar panel from which terrestrial free energy is increased.
    No power source escapes thermodynamics. All produce waste. All produce heat. If you include heat waste as pollution, no power source is “green” or “clean.” If you don’t, you’re taking an idealistic view and picking your poison subjectively. No technology in and or around the movement or generation of energy will ever escape this.
    Long ago, some university suggested that two policies that are often strange bedfellows (PEI (political energy independance) and AGW) should divorce. There is in fact three: The future loss of terrestrial energy sources (using up the fuel,) PEI and AGW. The first is a foregone conclusion which requires long-term plans, clear direction and realizable goals. The second requires short-term planning, transparent motivation and global communication. The third is a manufactured scientific anomaly, no more than an example of Blondlot’s N-rays leveraged by the propensity toward guilt or profit into a global hysteria.
    The skeptic badge pinned on those arguing with AGW may be the most important badges ever pinned: Science as a religious weapon of politics vs. the discipline most likely to advance mankind is an ever-ongoing war, and this is one of the first ever fully recognized global battles over the quality of thought and information.
    /jumps off soapbox

  102. Don’t forget the toxic chemical byproducts of solar cell production (any semiconductor production) that must be disposed of.

  103. Yes Roger Sowell,
    Power is expensive. You use a lot of words but I don’t see any point.
    The Finn’s can either burn coal, gas, or uranium. That’s why Areva’s plant is so expensive, because it can be.
    There is zero competition for coal, gas, and nuclear because whatever alternative source you name is either not plentiful enough to be significant or has the added cost of having to be backed up by coal, gas, or nuclear. Don’t forget to factor that into the cost of your windmills. Also, the cost of running a windmill includes the cost of the backup source sitting idle.

  104. I was rather rabidly anti-nuke due to the 25,000 year storage requirement… then I found out that was based on a ‘decay to background’ measurement. If you change the requirement to ‘decay to original ore’ it’s more nearly 250 years. Very doable.
    And we can assure the waste will be at least as well stored as the original ore. Just stick it in a hole in the ground.
    At that point I realized I’d been ‘had’ by the green movement… The start of the birth of a skeptic…

  105. Wow, Australia is not an island. It is two actually but if we just consider the mainland (the big island for you Taswegians) I can fly my airplane until I run into sea in any direction and still be in Australia.
    Roger’s other comments are about as accurate as his comment about Australia. He’s a raving loonie anti-nuke.

  106. Mr Sowell,
    You are correct nuclear is expensive to build. It is also cheap to operate. Those who do not like nuclear simply assume a high cost of capitol to make nuclear appear too expensive. For instance, one anti-nuclear site I visited assumed a 15% cost of capitol for most of the capitol. No one would build a nuke plant given this cost of capitol, nor would they build a coal plant, auto factory, or steel mill given that cost of capitol.
    According to the US EIA nuclear is competitive with other thermal sources and considerably cheaper than renewables. The below link contains EIAs estimate for the total cost of production for various technologies, a snapshot of cost in 2016. It includes the cost of subsidies, which can make a big difference for wind and solar. Rest assured that these estimates are not perfect, but the assumptions are relatively easy to find (e.g. nat gas prices, cost of capitol, etc.) and they are the same across technologies, i.e. they don’t assume nuke capitol cost at 15% and wind capitol cost at 6%. A nuke plant once built also provides some protection against the machinations of the commodity markets since fuel costs are a smaller portion of total production costs for nuke. Nuke plants operating today are providing this protection now as energy commodity prices have gone up considerably in the last ten years or so.
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html

  107. E.M.Smith says:
    June 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm
    …At that point I realized I’d been ‘had’ by the green movement… The start of the birth of a skeptic…
    Unfortunately, the regulators and the politicians have been had by the greenie movement; but, are too stupid to realize it.

  108. Duncan says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm
    … I would think it inadvisable to sequester CO2 in a manner which would make it inaccessible for our future transportation needs anyway.
    Ahh. Monitored Retrieveable Storage for CO2.

  109. Citing an environmentalist web site, like the one that is referenced for the Yucca Mountain Project being shut down, is like citing RealClimate for impartial information on climate change. What is stated at the environmentalist web site is not correct.
    The Senate did not shut down the Yucca Mountain Project. Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2011 suggested de-funding the project (what Congress will do about this when they finally get around to establishing a 2011 budget is up to Congress, which has the power to allocate funding). The Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, has ordered the shutdown of the Department of Energy Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management and re-allocated FY 2010 funding for shut down.
    Chu also submitted a request that the pending License Application for the Yucca Mountain repository be withdrawn with prejudice (i.e., so that it cannot be resubmitted). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board considered this request and ruled today (6/29/2010) that the DOE cannot withdraw its application as this would violate the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. This ruling will probably be appealed. In the mean time, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will continue to evaluate the License Application and write its Site Evaluation Report based on the License Application.
    In addition, there has been a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals that challenges the ability of Obama and Chu to take these actions claiming that these actions violate the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. This case is scheduled to be heard in September. It basically boils down to whether the president and Secretary of Energy can refuse to implement the law of the land. This will probably be fought out in the courts for quite a while. However, the ruling today by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will have set a precedent.
    In the mean time, spent nuclear fuel is being stored on site at multiple nuclear reactor sites all around the country and the government is paying millions of dollars to utilities for breach of contract for failing to have a repository to accept this spent nuclear fuel. The Nuclear Waste Fund is still collecting money from utilities and their customers to build a repository in addition to the billions of dollars that have already been collected.
    Reprocessing could allow reuse of spent nuclear fuel but there would still be nuclear waste from reprocessing that would need to be disposed. There is also defense nuclear waste from 65 years of building nuclear bombs and developing reactors. Thus, there still is need for a repository and Yucca Mountain remains a safe, viable option as demonstrated by more than 25 years of studies documented in the Yucca Mountain License Application. But don’t believe me, you can read the License Application at http://www.nrc.gov/waste/hlw-disposal/yucca-lic-app.html and make up your own mind.

  110. Mike Borgelt, wow, that was an impressive rant. You might want to investigate the technical definition of “island” as opposed to “continent.” Pay close attention when you get to the part about “continents are on their own tectonic plate, such as Australia.” (You are welcome.)
    I do note that, as usual in argument or debate, the loser resorted to name-calling. That is a certain sign that you are out of ammunition. Thanks for playing, that was fun!

  111. Roger Sowell says:
    June 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm
    Roger, why don’t you write a short, pithy essay here on why you hate nuclear. I need it to answer your challenges more precisely, because I thought I had answered them in general. As, it seems, did others.
    Please be aware that I have been involved in the costing (and operation/management of several types) of large energy sources since the mid-1970s.
    Do you agree with the rationality of equating waste radioactivity to the radioactivity of the input ore? Even this has been hijacked by a subtle change, whereby some people express the comparison against natural uranium radioactivity. It’s the ore grade comparison that matters, because we are now mining a lot of ore with no apparent ill effects on the miners.
    I’d have no problem living near the Chinese Guangdong complex. Last time I met with them, they expressed no overt desire to suicide as a group. But there were some underground mines (not uranium) where my instincts told me there was no need to enter.

  112. Geoff Sherrington: you may have missed the WUWT post recently where all this was hashed out pretty well. My views are in comments on that post.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/25/renewable-energy-%E2%80%93-our-downfall/#comments
    You are also welcome to see my blog, in particular Nuclear Nuts.
    “Hate” is your word, not mine. I will be happy to support power from nuclear power plants when it costs no more than does natural gas power, will not poison the populace with an explosion, and will not produce long-lived nuclear waste (especially plutonium).
    If you have the credentials you say you have, then you should know better than to support nuclear power. To support nuclear power is to impose an un-bearable burden on the poor and those who are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck. It also imposes an unconscionable burden on future generations who must live with and clean up the nuclear waste our generation left for them.
    They will not thank us for that. It is a shame: we knew better, but did not do better.

  113. “Challenge One: tell me why none of the approximately 15 islands (state or nation) with a population roughly sufficient to support the electrical output of one nuclear reactor, (1000 MWe), such as Oahu in Hawaii, elects to generate electricity via oil or diesel instead of the “ultra-cheap” power from a nuclear power plant – as nuclear advocates insist that it is so cheap.”
    perhaps the reason is the same as why other countries embark in ridicolously expensive and inefficient programs like wind and solar?
    “challenge 2 etc”
    nuclear reactors are airplanes, they would be very simple and cheap to build and operate if ridicolously complex and expensive certification requirements were removed.
    basically, they are made expensive by decree. reason is simple, bureaucrats hate anything they cant understand or that costitute a risk for their career, like big lumps of metal suspended in the air and bound to eventually fall, and try to eliminate any career risk connected to these things by making them impossible to build or operate. or at least find a way to dodge any possible legal risk through absurd certifications.
    why we dont build more nukes? answer is simple: stupidity. even if it is ultimately our fault, because we let the stupid and the dishonest climb to the top of the power chain.
    where people is smart nukes are successfully build and used in total safety, just look at the US Navy, for example.

  114. It appears I’m not the only one who views nuclear power plants as economically unviable in the USA. Below is a link from NRDC, a very “green” advocacy and legal group. Their article shows that nuclear power cannot hope to compete with natural gas unless gas becomes expensive, or a carbon tax is imposed. Plus, it appears their conclusions were based on an unrealistically low cost to construct for a nuclear power plant. Their cost-to-construct is hopelessly low, at $2000 per kWe. The STNP expansion is now at $7000 per kWe, and that cost is known to be too low. How much too low, the vendor will not reveal. The more realistic cost is likely $10,000 per kWe.
    http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/pnucpwr.asp
    It is also a fact that natural gas price is low and will stay low for decades, thanks to huge LNG plants and enormous reserves of shale gas around the world.
    I don’t make this stuff up.

  115. Mr Sowell,
    From your link:
    “Exelon preliminary analyses estimate that gas prices consistently above $5 to $6/mmBTU [approx. $5 to $6/MCF] are needed for new nuclear plants to be competitive.”
    While I agree with that statement, nat gas has been in excess of $6.00 mmBTU many times in the last five years. Peaking at about $14.00 mmBTU a few years ago. This does not even consider the change in price that would occur due to massive build out of nat gas power plants. Nor does it consider the cost of delivering this gas to the locations it would be needed. Just as with electricity, nat gas prices vary regionally based on limited pipeline capacity (transmission capacity in the case of electricity). To replace retired coal plants with nat gas would require billions of dollars to build out pipeline capacity. Finally, the economic life of a power plant is at least 40-60 years are you suggesting that you, or Exelon, can know what nat gas will cost in the year 2070???? Once again, THAT is a big advantage of nuclear – you are not subject to the price fluctuations of nat gas or coal. You are also producing today’s power largely with yesterday’s dollars. Just as my house payment (the levelized capitol cost of my house) seems pretty cheap 19 years after I bought the house, I suspect the levelized capitol cost of a nuke plant built today will seem cheap 20 years from now. Just as the levelized capitol cost of today’s plants is a bargain now – thirty years after they were built.
    Would I put all my eggs into the nuclear basket – absolutely not. I certainly would not put them into nat gas either.

  116. If memory serves, Carter’s plan was to build a civilian reprocessing capability, using a UREX process. The congresscritters had no problem cutting off power plants from defense facilities, but balked on funding the proposed UREX facility. Reagan declined to use his superior political gifts to reverse the situation.
    BTW, does anyone else think sequestered CO2, aquifers and limestone formations could be an unfortunate combination?

  117. Re: Doug Badgero says: June 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm
    “Finally, the economic life of a power plant is at least 40-60 years are you suggesting that you, or Exelon, can know what nat gas will cost in the year 2070???? Once again, THAT is a big advantage of nuclear – you are not subject to the price fluctuations of nat gas or coal.”
    Can you expand on that one? I’ve seen nuclear fuel prices and availability as a objection to building new plants. Is price stability based on existing US stocks that can be reprocessed? There seems to be FUD around potential “peak uranium” but I’m not convinced these are true. As I understand it, they’re mostly based on existing, known deposits and it’s only in the last few years been in mining company’s interests to survey for more.

  118. Atomic
    The cost of fuel is a relatively small part of the cost of operation for a nuke. Look at my link to the EIA report. Cost of production for various technologies is contained in the table near the end of the report. The big costs are:
    Levelized capitol cost – This is primarily the cost to build the plant. Realizing that this cost must be financed via a combination of debt and equity. The interest rate on the debt and the yield on the equity are key in determining the viability of any capitol intensive project (power plant, factory, anything that costs a lot to build). This is how the anti-nuke movement makes nukes look expensive…..just assume a high interest rate on the loan taken out to build the plant. From the EIA report, levelized capitol cost is high for a nuke, but not as high as wind and solar.
    Fixed O&M costs are the costs of operation that don’t depend on whether the plant is operating or not. Such as labor cost.
    Variable operating costs are the costs of operation that vary based on how much the plant operates. This is dominated by fuel costs. This is very low for nuke and dominates nat gas plant costs. For instance, per the EIA report variable O&M for nuke is about $10 per MWHr but nat gas is $50-60 per MWHr. To be fair, it is essentially zero for solar and wind.
    As you can see nuke costs for fuel are relatively low both from an absolute perspective and as a percent of total cost. That is the primary reason that nukes provide some protection against the volatility of nat gas and coal.
    To the point of your question – sorry it took so long I just wanted a more complete story for anyone interested. I am by no means an expert on U mining but I know there are significant deposits in the US, Canada, and Australia. We also get fuel from dismantled weapons. The real tragedy is that we stopped R&D. Breeders, thorium, and things we can’t even imagine could make U availability irrelevant.

  119. @ Doug Badgero re natural gas price fluctuations.
    Yes, we can confidently say that natural gas will be cheap for many, many decades. The minor price increases over the past few years were from market speculators, a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, and perhaps temporary supply shortages into California – that turned out to be due to illegal market manipulation as charged by the FERC (the US regulatory agency for natural gas pipelines). Internationally, the Russians cut off the gas in a cold winter, causing prices to jump. These things happen.
    For those who want the facts, not the bluster, please see this link for the last 37 years of natural gas price history in the USA. After adjusting for inflation, natural gas is the same price today as it was 30 years ago. Yet the annual volume consumed in the USA has increased almost 40 percent. Basic economics states that this does not indicate a shortage of a commodity – rather the reverse, that there is more than adequate supply.
    The huge additions to known reserves, as stated above, from shale gas, LNG plants at previously stranded gas fields, and recovery from coal-bed methane, plus recovery from tight sandstone make the future of natural gas secure. There is also an enormous reserve in the oceans along the continental slopes in the form of frozen methane hydrates. Technology will provide the means to tap those reserves, too, when the price is right.
    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9190us3m.htm
    As to nuclear power plant costs compared to other power plants, it is not a fair comparison to charge every technology with the same cost of capital. Lenders do not do this, as is well-known. Lenders assess the risk of the venture and the technology, the credit history of the borrower, and other factors before deciding the rate of interest for their loan. Nuclear power plants therefore are rightfully charged a higher cost of capital to construct. The very fact (and it is a fact) that nuclear power projects will never be started without having the US government guarantee at least a part of the loan indicates the bank should charge a higher interest rate. Such a government guarantee is as easily withdrawn as it was extended. Note that the loan guarantee does not cover all the cost to construct – not even one-half.
    In practice, the electric utility raises funds for construction through debt and issuance of equity. The equity typically is in the form of preferred stock, with a dividend rate of 10 percent or more. The debt is usually through the sale of utility bonds, with a coupon rate at whatever the bond rating agencies decide. The net cost of capital is easily 15 percent. With the dismal success rate of new nuclear projects (e.g. the Finland plant is already double the base cost with years yet to go before startup), and when the first such new project in the USA falls flat on its assets, double or triple or even quadruple the original budget and many years behind schedule, any subsequent projects will find their cost of capital far higher than 15 percent.
    Bet on it.
    Thus my position: why would any utility in their right mind build a nuclear power plant? They must be nuts. Their power prices must increase, their customer base will disappear, their shareholders will revolt, and their competitors will prosper – those who sell distributed generation systems. These are indeed interesting times. Nuclear utilities are not having a good day. Or week. Or decade. Nor will they – ever.
    The nuclear utilities know the facts of which I speak, and know that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change them. All they can do is hide these facts, and hope that nobody ever discovers and reveals the facts. Not going to happen. The new media is here to stay – internet, blogs, websites, and those of us who write things on them.
    One can follow the ups and downs of the South Texas Nuclear Project Expansion through the local San Antonio newspaper and the rather interesting comments there. Their website is http://www.mysanantonio.com/ just type in the words “nuclear plant” in their search engine.

  120. @Roger Sowell
    You assume the Obama regime won’t tighten the noose on gas once they finish with coal. There is no reason for that assumption. There is already a lot of chatter about how the new methods of extracting gas, that have so moderated the price, are dangerous to the water table. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, they will use it. This is a lot more plausible than EPA’s endangerment finding, after all. The reason the price moderated had more to do with electrical demand that has remained low due to the Obama recession continuing with no end in sight and no real attempts to end it.
    It takes a lot of gas to run a power plant. Even if there is adequate supply to prevent large price increases, it would take a long time to build the infrastructure to move enough gas to replace the fraction of our electricity being produced by coal. And environmentalists and EPA brown shirts will be fighting that every step of the way.

  121. And by the way, I’m still paying $32 per mw-hr in fuel adjustment charges for the last natural gas price bubble, down from over $40. By the time that rolls off my bill, there’ll have been another bubble. That’s more than enough incentive to build something besides natural gas, and to pay for it.

  122. And that’s in a service territory fortunate enough to be using coal for over 50% of the power. I hate to think what the lemmings in CA are still paying for the last gas price bubble.

  123. Roger,
    The assumptions in your post indicate that you must have a crystal ball that I do not possess. Surely you must be a multimillionaire by now.
    My previous posts contained facts and the predictions of others – primarily EIA. The following contains some of my predictions and I freely admit I have no crystal ball:
    Commodity prices are not solely subject to the supply and demand of the commodity. They are also subject to fluctuation due to the monetary policy of the world’s central banks. This is IMHO one of the primary reasons commodity prices are high now, e.g. gold, oil, copper, etc. To understand this, research the work of the late Milton Friedman. Therefore, the price of nat gas is not so solely dependent on simple supply and demand as you would have us believe. You also seem to believe that this massive demand increase you envision will have little or no effect on the price of supply. Finally, shale gas fracking and LNG plant construction only makes economic sense if nat gas prices stay relatively high…especially LNG plants.
    Your reference to past data to support your position that inflation adjusted nat gas prices have not changed has made my point about my house payment better than I ever could. The difference is that your method leaves to your predictive abilities that nat gas prices will not go up in the future, my method LOCKS IN much of tomorrow’s generation costs at today’s prices. By the way, cumulative inflation since 1975 is 315% using your link, nat gas was about 70 cents in 1976, it is now 4 dollars. Since 3.15 times .7 is $2.21 – you are also factually incorrect.
    Your cost of capitol arguments are silly. If the cost of capitol for nuke plants really does turn out to be 15% then no one will build them. It is laughable to suggest that anyone will build a plant without knowing what their cost of capitol is. If plants do come in over budget and behind schedule then I agree no one will build anymore in the USA. It is also laughable to suggest that the federal loan guarantees are somehow unfair. Have you paid any attention to the amount of subsidies that renewables get??? Nuke loan guarantees cost the govt nothing unless the loan goes into default. Utilities actually pay the govt for the guarantee, just like I paid a VA funding fee for my VA mortgage many years ago. I think we will have to disagree on the likely hood of default.
    Finally, MEAG has already issued bonds in support of it’s portion of the Vogtle project. They are rated A+ and A- by Fitch. I agree that this is because of govt backing as discussed. The difference is I am okay with that. As stupid govt subsidies go this one doesn’t even make my top 100 list.

  124. Of course, it doesn’t take 2500 kw-hrs a month to cool a house in CA, either. Otherwise, coal would be 50% of the mix there, too.

  125. Mike G, nobody is advocating replacing coal with natural gas – at least I’m not (I’m aware of that argument, and it is dead). What is at issue is meeting new electrical demand with natural gas, not nuclear.
    Obama’s toast. He knows it, too. The oil spill has cleaned his clock. This timely little hurricane Alex has shoved the oil up onto the beaches, and it will all be blamed on the Obumbler for his do-nothing policies. We get another little hurricane in the Gulf, and yet more oil on those beaches, and Democrats will turn on Obumbler in order to save their own elected seats.
    No energy bill, no carbon tax, no cap-and-trade, nada. Just good, clean-burning, natural gas at cheap prices, keeping the nuclear power plants forever on the drawing boards.

  126. I hope you’re right Roger. My biggest fear is what this bunch of ideological nutcases is going to do after they become lame ducks the first Tuesday in November. They have enough votes to enact a lot of spiteful vengence during that two month period before the get sent packing.

  127. Doug Badgero, Utility debt and equity issuances are a matter of record. So is the price of natural gas. It is not expensive, and is declining in price. The MIT study required $6 gas for a nuclear power plant to compete, using $2000 per kWe as their cost. Given that the true cost of a new nuclear plant is much closer to $10,000 per kWe, we could expect the break-even price for natural gas to be roughly 5 times their value, or $30 per million Btu. Not going to happen with the world swimming in natural gas supplies.
    And if you were correct that LNG plants only make sense with high natural gas prices, then why were so many built more than a decade ago? (see Qatar) Why are so many being built today also? (see Australia) You might be surprised at how low the natural gas sales price can be for a stranded gas LNG plant to be profitable. (Hint: their feedstock costs them zero, and the entire plant is run on free natural gas.) You also seem to believe that US regulations govern the entire world, where the majority of the shale gas lies outside the US. Those people are not dumb, and given the choice of self-produced shale gas, or waiting for Russia to shut off the valve (yet again) in an epic cold winter, which do you think will happen? The UK has already commissioned LNG receiving and vaporization terminals even though they have some natural gas from the North Sea. Those Brits are thinking ahead, and clearly this time.
    The likelihood of default is essentially 100 percent for a new nuclear power plant built in the USA. It will take more than a decade to see who is correct, but understand this: the lawsuits and legal attacks in the 70’s and 80’s were nothing, repeat nothing, compared to what is about to be unleashed in the modern era against any new nuclear power project. There are far, far more attorneys, and far, far more anti-nuclear groups, and many, many more laws upon which to base the lawsuits. Any new nuclear power plant will take much longer than a decade to complete – if it ever gets completed. We can also expect that lawsuits will be filed in the near future to shut down unsafe existing nuclear power plants – before they fall apart like Swiss cheese due to horrible maintenance.
    Like I said above, I do hope some utility is dumb enough to actually start construction on a nuclear power plant somewhere in the USA. Then the fun begins. The loser will be that electric utility. The winners will be the distributed generation manufacturers, the power consumers who install the DG systems, and of course the attorneys. We attorneys never lose, we get paid either way.
    As to renewable subsidies, these are merely the modern form of political pork, helping politicians keep their voters happy. In decades past, these took the form of military contracts, military bases, NASA locations (Johnson made sure NASA headquarters was in Texas, a small town we know as Houston, as in “Hello, Houston, we have a problem.”), and other government largesse such as the space shuttle component manufactories. A new nuclear power plant, on the other hand, will not get a politician re-elected, and will likely get him thrown out on his assets, too.
    Ask the voters in Kansas, who recently almost took up arms when their legislature wanted to “equalize” the nuclear power plant costs that roughly half the state had paid for in higher electric bills, and give lower power prices to the other half now that the plant was paid for.

  128. Re: Doug Badgero says: June 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm
    “To the point of your question – sorry it took so long I just wanted a more complete story for anyone interested. I am by no means an expert on U mining but I know there are significant deposits in the US, Canada, and Australia. We also get fuel from dismantled weapons. The real tragedy is that we stopped R&D. Breeders, thorium, and things we can’t even imagine could make U availability irrelevant”
    Thanks for that. The trick seems to be to include costing on a like for like basis, and getting the full fuel cycle right. In the UK, we seem to have a slight advantage given existing reprocessing facilities and knowledge but also seem to be throwing that away.

  129. Re: Roger Sowell
    “It will take more than a decade to see who is correct, but understand this: the lawsuits and legal attacks in the 70′s and 80′s were nothing, repeat nothing, compared to what is about to be unleashed in the modern era against any new nuclear power project. There are far, far more attorneys, and far, far more anti-nuclear groups, and many, many more laws upon which to base the lawsuits. Any new nuclear power plant will take much longer than a decade to complete – if it ever gets completed.”
    So you’re saying costs of nuclear are artificially inflated by irrational fears of nuclear, promoted by NGO’s who benefit from green schemes? Not suprised lawyers are happy to go along with this considering the costs and fees generated. Here in the UK though, we also have anti-terrorism legislation that could be used against anyone harming the security and economy of the nation, especially if it’s to advance a political agenda. Shame we don’t use that, but as you say, it’s about votes, not rationality.
    Here in the UK, it’s not just nuclear though. A while back we had the nice Mr Hansen come to visit to help NGO’s stop our Kingsnorth supercritical coal station. That dragged on for years and cost E.ON and the UK taxpayer millions. What I don’t really understand is the objection given the new plant would create 20% less CO2 than the capacity it replaced. They’d also be around 8% more fuel efficient than the old plants they replaced, and be ‘CCS ready’ for whenever anyone gets that working. Given we’re meant to be cutting CO2 for some reason, but still need to keep our lights on, I don’t really understand the NGO’s objections.
    Nuclear has the same problem. Years of consultations, legal challenges, vexatious FOI requests from NGO’s like Greenpeace, who also seem to object to FOI requests on their pet scientists for some reason increasing costs before shovels even hit soil. Finland’s EPR gets used as an example of cost overruns, but those are FOAK costs and assuming they’re not based on fundamental design flaws. One delay was due to a design change to better withstand aircraft impact. Why not just put air defences around stations instead? France’s EPR was delayed with some protests on the anniversary of Chernobyl, but that accident was human error and safety systems are designed to avoid repeats. It seems irrational.
    The UK recently published a study by MottMac available at the bottom of the page here-
    http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/projections/projections.aspx
    It covers the costs of coal, gas, nuclear and renewables and says much the same as the EIA report-
    “In the longer term as nuclear moves to NOAK status, and as carbon and fuel prices rise, nuclear is projected to become the least cost main generation option with costs around £67/MWh, some £35-45/MWh below the least cost fossil fuel options”
    Costs naturally being inflated by absurd carbon policies rather than more rational policies like energy and fuel security. But those policies support the massively subsidised wind industry-
    “Onshore wind is the least cost zero carbon option in the near to medium term, with central cost estimate of £94/MWh some £5/MWh less than nuclear on a FOAK basis. Offshore wind is much more expensive, with costs of £157-186/MWh (depending on wind farm location). While offshore is projected to see a large reduction in costs, compared with onshore wind, it will still face much higher costs at £110-125/MWh for projects commissioned from 2020.”
    which can’t do baseload. So it seems rather irrational and inefficient to me, especially as the DECC statistics for last Winter showed a 7% drop in output compared to previous years, and despite more windmills coming online. Renewables policies may help people get rich, but don’t seem to do anything for energy security compared to nuclear.

  130. In the absence of an energy storage breakthrough, nuclear power is the “Least worse” carbon free energy source, and attacks on it equate to support of coal,oil and gas.

  131. Imposing a carbon tax to enable nuclear power to compete with fossil fuels is irrational since CO2 has nothing to do with climate changes, either warmer or colder. Long-term temperature records without urban heat island influences show zero warming even though CO2 has continually increased in the atmosphere. Case closed.
    Levelized power plant cost studies such as those put forward by EIA and UK (or anyone else) are meaningless unless the true cost of a nuclear power plant is used: $8,000 to $10,000 per kW, and appropriate risk-adjusted cost of capital is used, meaning much higher for nuclear than for fossil fuel plants. All else is agenda-driven nonsense.
    Fortunately, the truth of these matters is clear and no longer hidden by those who want to poison the planet with toxic nuclear waste. They also want to experience badly constructed, aging and poorly maintained nuclear power plants in unstable countries without adequate safeguards that leak radioactive substances or catch fire or explode. They also have no problem with escalating price of electricity to critically harm the poor and those on fixed incomes.
    Objective, rational minds will always choose natural gas or coal. Nuclear power has no place in the energy production matrix.

  132. Good grief Roger, Qatar and Australia are EXPORTERS of liquefied natural gas. They build CONDENSATE refineries to export to other countries. The question is, “Who is going to build the gasification plants to put it into pipelines?” The answer is, “Not the USA unless gas gets and stays expensive.” The complete answer is, of course, countries like Japan that have no nat gas resources of their own.
    “Levelized power plant cost studies such as those put forward by EIA and UK (or anyone else) are meaningless unless the true cost of a nuclear power plant is used: $8,000 to $10,000 per kW, and appropriate risk-adjusted cost of capital is used, meaning much higher for nuclear than for fossil fuel plants. All else is agenda-driven nonsense.” Puhleeze, stating your predictions as fact and repeatedly stating all other opinions as wrong does not make your predictions any more correct. The fact is much of the financing for the Vogtle project is already secured via fixed rate debt and the cost of capitol IS NOT prohibitively high. “Agenda driven nonsense” indeed, pot to kettle your black.

  133. Doug Badgero,
    I’m sorry, sir, I really am. I have tried to have an intelligent, rational discussion with you, but I have failed spectacularly. Your logic escapes me (and everyone else who has read this exchange and made emails and direct comments to me).
    Perhaps you are unaware of who designed, built, owns, and operates the LNG facilities I referred to. You are probably unaware, as well, of the several LNG receiving and regasification facilities along the US coastline and elsewhere. You could look it up.
    Perhaps you are unaware of the projected costs of new nuclear power plants in the USA – such as the South Texas Nuclear Expansion ($17 billion was considered far too low by the project sponsors, hence the public lawsuits and falling out). Perhaps you are also unaware of the devastating analysis by Craig A. Severance, CPA, on the subject of nuclear plant costs. You may want to increase your knowledge by investigating these things.
    Until then, good day, sir.

  134. Roger Sowell says:
    July 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm
    “Quote: “Natural gas is bubbling up in Europe’s energy debate, emerging as the likely main potential energy source in the medium to long term.”
    Thanks for the link. Now they only need to start cutting down the feed in tariff for solar severely – in line with the capacity growth of 50% a year, otherwise the cost eats us alive – and we might avoid a collapse of the grid in Europe. I expect a long, painful and very expensive process.

  135. Roger,
    You seem to think the fact that CO2 has little or nothing to do with climate change matters a jot. It only matters if there is a transformational change at the ballot box this November. That is what I’m praying for: A transformational change in November and an even bigger one two years hence.

  136. Sounds an awful lot like someone is trying to drum up the next price bubble in natural gas. People make a bundle in the commodities market by doing that. Us ratepayers take it in the shorts, though.

  137. Mike G says:
    July 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm
    “Sounds an awful lot like someone is trying to drum up the next price bubble in natural gas. ”
    Given the volume of the trade, that’s like accusing someone mentioning “peak oil” on a forum of trying to talk up the price of oil.

  138. “Sounds an awful lot like someone is trying to drum up the next price bubble in natural gas. People make a bundle in the commodities market by doing that. Us ratepayers take it in the shorts, though.”
    Mike G,
    I presume you mean me. First, I think you overestimate the importance of this blog on the financial markets. Second, I can assure you my only point was that fueling all future generation plants with nat gas based on an assumption that it’s price will not change significantly for the next 20 years (or 50 years) is financially irresponsible.

  139. @Badgero
    Nope, Roger.
    I didn’t mean to imply that he will be succesful. The next bubble will come regardless of all his arm waving. I’m just really tired of paying $50 to $70 a month fuel adjustment from the last bubble. The folks in GA are, too. That’s why they approved Vogtle 3 and 4, which I expect to go on line in 2016 on time and on budget.

  140. Sorry about that. I hope, and believe, you will be right about Vogtle. Just to be clear also. I believe the best approach is a mix of fuel types. Nukes should never be asked to load follow that is a job for nat gas and coal, especially nat gas. Nukes cost too much to build to sit idle. I am not sure people realize it but there are plants that only operate a few days a year to handle peak heating and cooling loads, given current available technologies these should be nat gas.
    Nukes should definitely have a role in baseload power though. A bigger one than they have now IMHO.
    Regards,
    Doug

  141. Maybe, in Europe, they’re tired of being held hostage by the Russians. They’re still wacky in the head about CO2. So, the reason for the LNG might be the Russians, instead of a buildup of CO2 burning assets. Just pondering on my part. I haven’t looked into their plans.

  142. If you could read anything noble into what T Boone Pickens was trying to do a while back, it was to spare the wasting of natural gas fueling power plants because it could be much better used fueling our transportation.
    I don’t think there was anything noble about his plans, though. He appeared simply to be trying to influence national policy for his personal benefit.

Comments are closed.