Nuclear Power Subsidies Threaten Wind and Solar Power… Proof That Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Guest post by David Middleton


The push to save U.S. nuclear plants for the sake of fighting climate change is threatening support for the bread and butter of clean power: wind and solar.

New York and Illinois have already approved as much as $10 billion in subsidies to keep struggling reactors open for the next decade as part of a plan to limit fossil fuel consumption. Lawmakers in Ohio, Connecticut and New Jersey are debatingwhether to do the same.

The reactors, which are being squeezed by low natural gas prices, offer a singular advantage in the fight against global warming because they produce round-the-clock electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. Yet renewable energy operators including NRG Energy Inc. and Invenergy LLC say keeping nuclear plants open will leave grids awash with excess power, leaving little demand for new wind and solar farms.

“It’s the wrong policy — and whether it proliferates or not is going to be a really big factor,” Invenergy Chief Operating Officer Jim Murphy said during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York Monday.



“Renewable energy operators say keeping nuclear plants open will leave grids awash with excess power, leaving little demand for new wind and solar farms.”

Keeping the “grids awash with excess power” is the only way to handle bellwether events without having to rely on brownouts and blackouts.  Solar and wind can neither provide base-load nor flexible response to bellwether events.  Increasing reliance on renewables makes it imperative that we keep the “grids awash with excess power.”

There appears to be a lot of whining about subsidies for nuclear power… With the renewables crowd doing all of the whining:


Nuclear’s economic woes comes as wind and solar are starting to show they’re cheap enough to compete with traditional generators, after years of help from subsidies. The push to aid reactors began last year after Exelon Corp. successfully argued in New York and Illinois that since nuclear does not contribute to global warming, its plants should receive a premium to help level the playing field with wind and solar.

“The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution,” Joseph Dominguez, an Exelon executive vice president, said in an interview. “We sell electricity without air pollution — and that’s a different product.”

There are key differences between wind and solar subsidies and those for nuclear, according to clean-energy developers. Renewable energy credits have spurred an emerging industry, whereas nuclear subsidies are to preserve aging plants. And while wind and solar developers compete against each other for subsidies, those for nuclear benefit a single technology.

Market Rules

“The renewables industry has been playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices,” Amy Francetic, an Invenergy senior vice president, said in an interview. “This is picking and winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”


“The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution,” Joseph Dominguez, an Exelon executive vice president, said in an interview. “We sell electricity without air pollution — and that’s a different product.”

Nuclear power absolutely is the leader of the pack at reducing so-called “greenhouse” gas emissions:


Figure 1. Nuclear and gas kick @$$, wind breaks even and solar is a loser.

If reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important, nuclear power is the obvious answer.  If reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a reasonable cost is important, natural gas is the obvious answer.  If treading water is important, wind is the obvious answer.  If failure is important, solar is the obvious answer.  So, Mr. Dominguez is generally correct.

“The renewables industry has been playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices,” Amy Francetic, an Invenergy senior vice president, said in an interview. “This is picking and winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”

Really?  Ms. Francetic, *government* always picks “winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.”

As far as the renewables industry “playing by competitive market rules that have helped to produce good prices”…


Figure 2. Ms. Francetic, Data is laughing at you.

The most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report on energy subsidies reveals the following:

Solar and wind power are insignificant sources of energy.

Energy Subsidies1

Figure 3a. U.S. Energy production by source 2010 & 2013 (trillion Btu), U.S. Energy Information Administration.(Corrected for error in Geothermal Btu shortly after publication.)


Figure 3b. U.S. primary energy production 1981-2015 (million tonnes of oil equivalent), BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Solar and wind power receive massive Federal subsidies.

Energy 2

Figure 4. Federal subsidies by energy source 2010 and 2013 (million 2013 US dollars), U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The solar and wind subsidies are truly massive in $/Btu.

Energy Subsidies3

Figure 5. Subsidies per unit of energy by source ($/mmBtu), U.S. Energy Information Administration. (Corrected for error in Geothermal Btu shortly after publication.)

The true folly of solar power is most apparent in subsidies per kilowatt-hour of electricity generation.  At 23¢/kWh, the solar subsidies in 2013 were nearly twice the average U.S. residential retail electricity rate.

Energy Subsidies4

Figure 6. Subsidies per kilowatt-hour of electricity generation, U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Solar and wind subsidies are weighted toward direct expenditures of tax dollars.

Energy Subsidies5

Figure 7. Subsidies by type for wind, solar, nuclear, coal and natural gas & petroleum liquids, U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Table ES2.

Federal solar and wind subsidies were 3-4 times that of nuclear power in 2013.  Only 2% of the nuclear power subsidies consisted of direct expenditures, compared to 72% and 56% for solar and wind power respectively… And the renewables industry has the gall to complain about New York and Illinois kicking in $500 and $235 million per year in extra subsidies to keep nuclear power plants running in their States.  Really?

Solar power simply can’t work without massive subsidies.  While the economics of wind power are improving, renewables are still extremely expensive relative to existing coal and nuclear power plants.

Most of the Federal subsidies for oil & gas (96%), coal (71%) and nuclear power (67%) consist of tax breaks.  The subsidies for oil & gas aren’t really even subsidies.  These are standard tax deductions and depreciation of assets.

What About the Externalities?

What about them?  The cost of compliance with pollution regulations is built in to the cost of fossil fuels.  The mythical Social Cost of Carbon has no net present value at a real world discount rate.  What about the externalities of renewables?  The costs of backup generation and power failures due to their intermittency are not built into the cost of these energy sources.

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208 thoughts on “Nuclear Power Subsidies Threaten Wind and Solar Power… Proof That Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

  1. ‘At 23¢/kWh, the solar subsidies in 2013 were nearly twice the average U.S. residential retail electricity rate.’

    They plan to make up for it with volume.

  2. “Renewable energy operators say keeping nuclear plants open will leave grids awash with excess power, leaving little demand for new wind and solar farms.”

    That statement alone shows it is not about providing power, it is about keeping the solar and wind gravy train rolling along.

    • The central issue is this: wind and solar electricity prices are often costed by comparing them with ‘new coal’ or ‘new gas’.

      But that not how distributors see it. It they have an investment in a power station the comparison is to use the marginal cost of generating an additional kWh with what hardware they already have, and that is far less than buying power from someone who has to cover their capital investment.

      At this time there are three very large renewable installations in South Africa. They are offering power to Eskom for less than the cost of ‘new coal’. But Eskom already has lots of coal powered generating capacity. They are refusing to accept any of the renewable power until they can raise the cost of electricity they sell to cover the difference between their marginal cost and the cost of the renewables.

      The government is refusing to allow them to raise the selling price. So they keep their coal fired assets running instead, for the marginal cost of additional coal. That’s common sense.

      Buying the renewable power only saves them the cost of coal while sticking them with the capital cost. They will play along, but not to their own disadvantage. Why should the renewables get a return on their investment but Eskom doesn’t?

      • A published memo from ESKOM, theSourth African monopoly electricity generator and distributor, quoted actual costs of producing electricity. The cheapest was the (old) nuclear plant at Koeberg, the most expensive fossil fuel was an older coal-fired system, and ‘renewables’ cost ESKOM about 3 times more than the most expensive coal! So, the ANC Government (as corrupt as most others) is forcing ESKOM to go ‘renewable’, because? One wonders which Government pockets were filled?

  3. Which energy sources have the unintended consequence of freely distributing the base of the food chain throughout the world?

    Carbon Dioxide is the base of the food chain for all Carbon based life forms.

  4. The Bloomberg chart at the link “cheap enough” is wildly misleading, showing wind at the same cost as coal-fired and gas-fired generation. What a crock, you have to have coal and gas plants up but idling just to be able to use wind at all on the modern grid. “Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them…”

    • The truly disgusting thing is that when renewables make other sources of power cost more, the increased costs are included under the other sources, not under renewables. Making the renewables look, to the uneducated, like they have become less expensive.

      • MarkW – “.. when renewables make other sources of power cost more ..”

        Good Point – The energy burden of constructing the renewables falls squarely on the existing energy sources, and that’s in addition to continually powering the grid. (That’s one reason why the first step towards renewables should not be dismantling existing power plants.)

    • This passage is truly idiotic:

      Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.

      In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power.

      These record breaking deals are not indicative of solar becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power.

      First, the bid came from a consortium led by Masdar, essentially a company owned by the UAE. Couture says it is likely that Masdar felt it needed to win the bid politically in order to gain a firmer footing in its home market. Couture adds that the arrangement “is effectively more of a PPP” (public-private partnership), than a traditional, privately financed IPP (independent power project).

      The price itself is probably also artificially low due to a host of factors:

      1. Low land prices (possibly free);
      2. Very good loan terms (including low interest rates and quite likely a long loan tenor);
      3. An indexed price (i.e. escalating over time);
      4. Very low taxes in the UAE; and
      5. Low-cost labor.

      The first, fourth and fifth items cannot be replicated everywhere. The second is crucial because solar power has no fuel cost and negligible operating costs, so almost all of the expenses are incurred on day one. Moritz Borgman of Apricum, another expert on solar in the MENA region, put it quite well: “One can suspect that Masdar had access to long-term financing through the wealthy emirate of Abu Dhabi that no commercial banks, the primary source of capital for the other bidders, could match in cost.”

      Finally, three cents is almost certainly just the initial price; it is probably pegged, for example, to the dollar in order to protect against significant currency devaluation. Another likely option is inflation adjustment or some other form of contract price escalation. In each case, the price would merely start at three cents – no one can say reliably where it would end up, however. In the chart below, we calculated what the inflation-adjusted strike price for new nuclear power in the UK (from the proposed Hinkley plant) would be over the guaranteed 35 years. At a mere two percent inflation, the price doubles over the guarantee’s timeframe of 35 years from 11.6 to 22.7 cents, producing a price of 16.5 cents midway after 17.5 years – roughly 50 percent higher than the starting price. As Couture says, the starting price is therefore almost irrelevant.

      • ‘Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world.’

        It is not only cheap, it’s priceless because it is worthless.

      • Is this 3c. the *marginal* cost of power, all CAPEX having been ignored?
        And measured where? At the turbine, or as-delivered to Medina?
        Don’t forget the incremental cable-copper-cost of harvesting power from all these wide-spread sources as compared with a CENTRAL generating-plant of the same capacity.

      • I meant NVE’s contracts are 4C and below (3.87 I think was the latest public announcement.)

      • NV Energy, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, has agreed to a power purchase agreement (PPA) at a $0.0387 per kWh rate for the 100 MW output of First Solar’s Playa Solar 2 installation. It is likely the lowest rate for solar energy-generated electricity made public to date, Bloomberg reports, and is likely the cheapest electricity available in the U.S. today.


        Those prices represent dramatic price reductions for NV Energy which, according to the filing, paid an average of $0.1377 per kWh in 2014 for solar generation…


        There’s something fishy here. $0.0387/kWh is a 72% reduction from $0.1377/kWh.

        While the cost of utility scale PV installations has declined…

        It hasn’t declined by anything close to 72%.

      • And when fossil plants are forced to cut power because of solar and wind generators providing the load, that lower fossil percentage is charged against them as a lower capacity factor. Yet another way to make fossil burners look bad.

      • Even worse… In Texas power plant operators have to report their deliverable capacity to ERCOT a day in advance. If fossil fuel or nuclear plants fail to deliver, they have to pay for the replacement electricity. Wind operators don’t have to pick up the tab if they fail to deliver.

      • What good is solar power at night? Late evening, early morning. Is we all shoul only be using electricity from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM in the summer and from 12:00 noon to three in the winter?

      • One only has to look at the mess in South Australia where unreliable, but mandated, wind and solar continue to raise the “already high” price of power. Sending light and heavy industries who are unwilling to pay the high power costs out of the state. With its current plans to install $1.3billion in batteries, diesel generators and OCGG, the cost can only go higher. South Australia has the highest unemployment in Australia and it is going to go higher because of the madness and stupidity of renewable power.

      • David Middleton – the rate they paid in 2014 is likely based on net metering of the rooftop solar that was put back on the grid (which was paid at retail, not wholesale – ugh), though it could be for the other smaller solar projects that they have under contract. NVE didn’t have much solar back them – most renewable is geothermal and a 150 MW wind farm – they signed a couple of PPAs to meet the Renewable Portfolio standard back in the late 2000s at very high prices because the law was clear and they were short. These contracts are directly related to the low gas prices vs cheaper construction all in beautiful context of the tax credit.

    • Also it doesn’t count the cost of connecting the power source to the grid.

      Power plants (gas, coal or nuclear… or tidal, hydro or geothermal) are centralised. You just need to pay for connecting the one point.

      Solar and Wind are so diffuse that they cover huge areas. And disparate areas.
      And they all need to be connected to the grid.

  5. The situation facing nuclear plants varies enormously in different areas, with different energy generation technologies. Basically, the nuclear plants have been losing money over the past several years in certain areas where renewable requirements force their acceptance on the grid,
    reducing the power being bought from nuclear plants. Nuclear plants are characterized as baseload plants, and to produce low prices (which nuclear can easily do) they must sell all of the energy they produce. The cost of running a nuclear plant is not reduced when all their power is not purchased – that only reduces their income, which results in operating losses. Here in South Carolina, over 50 percent of power is nuclear and that will shortly increas to near 80% when the two new AP1000 reactors go online. Electric rates here are quite reasonable and there are no govt subsidies for energy. Nuclear operators of plants that have been losing money, particularly in the midwest, that
    if the govts don’t want to buy all their power, they will simply shut down some of them and force
    the grid to buy all the power produced by those still in operation. THIS is the argument that forced state govts to agree to pay a per kWhr rate that will enable the nuclear plants to remain in operation in a situation where all of their power in not purchased. If they don’t then all that lost nuclear power will have to be replaced by fossil fuel power, and THAT can’t be allowed to happen in the states that are greenies. The claim that renewables are successfully competing is nonsense – their power is worth nowhere near the value of reliable power. In the case of rooftop solar, the grid is “paying”
    solar roof owners essentially retail prices for the power they put on the grid. That’s crazy, although at least they usually require like-for-like compensation (i.e. peak power removed from the grid must be paid for by putting peak power onto the grid , etc). Florida apparently won’t allow solar roof owners to put their excess power onto the grid because they must abide by the requirements demanded of any power producer that feeds the grid, i.e. they must be capable of providing power on demand, which they obviously cannot do. So, far from competing,solar and wind generators
    are allowed to operate without meeting any of the requiremnts demanded by all other grid providers. Anyone who claims solar/wind are “successful” power providers is full of B.S.

  6. The only thing I would argue with the author is his statement: “If treading water is important, wind is the obvious answer.” Sprawling industrial wind factories are destroying communities across America! The article should be edited to say: “If failure is important, wind and solar are the obvious answer.”

    Industrial Wind: A NET LOSER – Economically, Environmentally, Technically, and Civilly:

    It’s hilarious that Invenergy’s senior vice president, Amy Francetic, said, “This is picking winners and losers in a way that’s troubling.” What a joke! The only reason the wind industry exists in the first place is because the cronies at the top have been “picking and choosing winners and losers” in the energy market. Invenergy only went ahead with building their 58-turbine project here in Orangeville, NY in Western New York State because the Wind PTC (Pork-To-Cronies) was extended in the Fiscal Cliff Deal on December 31, 2012.

    New York Wind Wars: Hiding the Facts (PTC allows Invenergy to desecrate):

    • The numbers are what they are. Relative to coal, wind breaks even in terms of costs and emissions. Here in Texas, wind works fairly well… Although it does create some grid issues.

      • This assumes that there is some value in avoiding emissions…

        Given that assumption, replacing coal with wind power is an even trade off and solar power is a HUGE loser.

        The key point is that even if you assume there is some value in avoiding emissions, natural gas and nuclear outperform wind and solar by a wide margin.

        Now, if you don’t apply any value to avoiding emissions, wind and solar would be just plain stupid.

      • The fact that backup power is never included in these analyses to me simply screams fraud. They have availability estimates, so they can easily include an estimate for backup costs. But that would interfere with the narrative.

      • On another thread benben is claiming that in a few years, half of our electricity will be coming from renewables.
        The delusion is strong in them.

  7. Proof that the EnviroWhackos know that CO2 is not the cause of Global Warming, Climate Change, or whatever they call it this year. If CO2 was the cause Nuclear power is the only way to actually reduce the level so as to prevent Climate change. More than ten 1 GW Nuclear power plants could have been built and paid for on just the money Obama wasted on “Green” energy. Another fifty can be built on the subsidies needed to meet Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

  8. In New Zealand it is geothermal that plays the role of nuclear in the US (but with some GHGs). It’s the lowest cost incremental base load. Wind is petty good here – long and thin N-S islands with a mountainous backbone in the face of the subtropical westerlies – so a relatively high utilisation.

    PV isn’t in the race because demand is lowest in NZ when it generates and so therefore is the revenue it can earn. To earn top dollar PV would need to service the winter evening peaks, and that requires the addition of another technology to store the energy or shift the load to when the sun shines. It is cheaper just to forget the PV and install the “other technology” (or work on shaving the peaks).

    • HAS
      A few weeks ago I saw part of a programme that included something about NZ wind power generation. There was a bit of a throw away line that wind power was a water saving measure and that wind power was more reliable than water power. I shortly afterwards had to change the station before I exploded from pointing out all of the inaccuracies portrayed as I perceived them.
      The thing that got me was the admission that wind power in NZ has nothing to do with “carbon” reduction even though that is exactly how it has been sold for many years.

      • I guess that’s why here in Aus, we’re proposing enormous pumped storage hydro projects to back up the unreliables.

      • I think the point is the other way round. The extensive hydro helps absorb the variation in the wind.

        As to their respective occurrence my experience is that rain and wind here tend to come at the same time. I should add that wind here stands on its own two feet, we are just lucky and get much better utilization than most elsewhere in the world. Don’t tell that to the tourists.

  9. Once again David Middleton’s great graphic presentation and concise explanations are a powerful antidote to the obfuscation and out-and-out lies spread by the ‘climate change’ industry.

  10. Cancel the kill permits for wind farms today – every one of those rotors stops turning tomorrow. It can be done, too – they are allowed to destroy endangered wildlife by Executive Branch action, not Congressional statute.

    In fact, if you force “green” energy to actually be green, it all dies.

    • Cancel the $0.02/kWh WPTC and no new wind projects will happen. That’s how “competitive” wind is.

  11. Here in New Zealand, we have already a energy market made up of ‘renewable’ power sources – mainly hydro – something like 80 to 90% I recall.
    You’d think the ‘Green’ jack boot would be off the throat of the average consumer….would you not?
    Oh no…not by a long shot.
    With the push to ever ‘better’ forms of energy (and we all know what that is) and this costing far more than our hydro sourced energy, it is accepted that it’ll hurt the less well off in our country…BUT…there is always those miraculous subsidies that can be granted to those less well off, paid for by, well, many of the less well off.

    Excuse me, but isn’t there something odd about that arrangement???

    Replace a cheap and clean source of energy with an expensive and fickle source, with the new one costing more, but is then offset by taxes taken from people who have now less dollars due to the higher energy expenses!!!

    Oh come on….this has just got to be p*** taking gone silly.

  12. The wellhead price for natural gas is around $3/mmBtu. In 2013, the solar subsidies were 6 times the price of natural gas.

  13. Hmmmm….
    Solar and & wind competing on a level playing field….maybe not so much.

    “Lies, damn lies and green energy lies”

    Yep, sums it up for me.

  14. Oil and gas companies do not benefit from subsidies. DD&A is a tax writeoff, no different than writing off your mortgage payment at the end of the year when you do your personal taxes. On the other hand, wind and solar take our tax dollars for their benefit.

    • Yep. The depletion allowance and the expensing of intangible drilling costs are subsidies in name only. All businesses get to write off capital expenditures against assets and expenses against income.

      • Dave, how does one account for the insurance subsidy granted to nuclear power plants by the Price-Anderson Act?

      • Correct, and when the $13 billion fund is depleted, who’s on the hook for the damages?

      • It’s $13 billion per reactor incident. So far, the fund has paid out almost nothing, including Three Mile Island…

        Since Price-Anderson was enacted, nuclear insurance pools have paid out about $151 million ($70 million of which was related to the 1979 Three Mile Island accident) in claims, while the Department of Energy has paid out $65 million.

        Until such a time that a reactor incident exceeds $13 billion, the question is moot.

      • Dave, as a matter of comparison, the Price-Anderson fund is at about $13 billion. The costs for the Fukishima incident is upwards of $188 billion.

      • engarpia, What is the cost of the NRC reactor design approval process? What is the justification for decades-long evaluations and delays?

      • Tsk Tsk, changing the subject is does not answer the question as to how one evaluates the subsidy provided to the nuclear power industry by the Price-Anderson Act. You still need liability insurance irrespective if you drive a 2001 Honda, or a 2015 Ferrari.

      • No Dave, the total amount in the fund TODAY is $13 billion. It’s not a “per reactor.” One small “accident” here in the US, and that 13 billion would be gone in less than a week. Once the $13 billion is depleted, taxpayers are responsible for the rest.

      • If the fund were to be exhausted, the nuclear power industry would have to refill it.

        Until such time that a reactor incident in the US exceeds $13 billion in claims, this is a moot point.

        A hypothetical subsidy is not a subsidy.

      • Dave says: “There is no comparison.” ….. correct, Fukishima is in a relatively sparsely populated area, Just image Indian Point Energy Center 36 miles north of NYC having a meltdown. That $16 billion won’t be enough.

      • There is no comparison because Fukushima was the result of one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, triggering a tsunami which knocked out the backup power supply, leading to a meltdown.

        If a 9+ earthquake, Yellowstone super-eruption, Tunguska-style bolide caused a similar disaster in the US, there would be a lot of subsidies doled out.

        Hypothetical subsidies are not subsidies.

      • Dave, you make me laugh. “If the fund were to be exhausted, the nuclear power industry would have to refill it.” … So we have an “incident” and the $13 billion is gone in the first month. In the next six months, lets say there’s $50 billion spent cleaning up the mess. I don’t think the nuclear power “industry” has that much cash on hand to pay the bill. Price-Anderson makes the federal government liable. So here is where the “subsidy” is. Tell me Dave, how do you calculate the value of this “subsidy?”

      • Dave says: “A hypothetical subsidy is not a subsidy.” ….. really?….. then tell me why a “hypothetical meltdown” was not insurable by private insurance companies?

      • Because 9+ earthquakes, Yellowstone super-eruptions, Tunguska-style bolides are well-beyond the scope of private insurance companies.

        Government exists to do the things that are too big for the private sector. Subsidizing genuine catastrophes is a function of government. Subsidizing politically favored boutique energy sources is not.

      • “Fukushima was the result of one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, triggering a tsunami which knocked out the backup power supply, leading to a meltdown.”
        Correct Dave, that’s why you need insurance.

      • Read your insurance policy. They generally don’t cover 9+ earthquakes, Yellowstone super-eruptions, Tunguska-style bolides and acts of war.

      • Read the Price-Anderson Act. After the fund is depleted, the federal government is liable. Doesn’t matter if the root cause is a flood, and earthquake, or a meteor strike, the people that get hurt in the event of a reactor “incident” will sue.

      • And if the reactor operator is guilty of negligence, they will probably win those lawsuits.

        However, a hypothetical subsidy is still not a subsidy.

      • It’s not hypothetical Dave, the Price-Anderson Act is real, and there are no “Act of God” exclusions contained in it.

      • Until such time that a reactor incident exceeds $13 billion in claims, the subsidy is hypothetical… It does not exist.

      • Dave, here’s a “hypothetical” you ought to ponder: If Price-Anderson was repealed tomorrow, every single nuclear power plant in the USA would immediately shut down.

      • “Until such time that a reactor incident exceeds $13 billion in claims” … You lose, Fukishima proves that $13 billion can’t cover a >$100 billion incident.

      • Fukushima was not a US reactor covered by the Price-Anderson Act… nor was Chernobyl.

      • “Another bit of hypothetical nonsense.” …, David Middleton, the only person on the planet that would operate a nuclear power plant without an insurance policy.

      • “Your pointlessness is acknowledged.” …Tell me Davie boi, would you drive your car without insurance?

      • “Your idiocy is mind-boggling.” ….Thanks Dave, it’s nice to know that you resort to ad-hominem when you lose an argument. Better luck next time.

      • You lost the argument in the first exchange. Every subsequent comment of yours was nothing but moronic trolling.

      • No matter how much you continue with the moronic, idiotic trolling… a hypothetical subsidy is still not an actual subsidy.

      • I find myself patiently explaining, at length and in great detail, the fact that you don’t understand insurance, and I’m being very polite. So, I suggest you stop being obtuse, and learn about liability insurance and how it works. Price-Anderson is a subsidy for the nuclear industry. You are welcome to continue to reject this fact, but you’ll lose. You need to stop and read what experts have said:

      • Keep calling me a “troll” Mr. Middleton, if you can’t counter my argument, it’s understandable, most folks resort to name calling when they obviously lose an argument. Thanks you.

      • Thank you again Mr. Middleton, I really do appreciate you calling me names! I especially like the fact that you found a you-tube video to do it with.

      • Price-Anderson is a subsidy for the nuclear industry. You can do one of two things. Prove me wrong, or continue to call me names……Your choice.

      • You have also proven that you behave like a 15 year old when you lose an argument.

      • Mr Middleton, it is very entertaining to watch you pull the same “troll” name calling over and over again. Seriously, do you expect different results?

      • “Dave says: “There is no comparison.” ….. correct, Fukishima is in a relatively sparsely populated area, Just image Indian Point Energy Center 36 miles north of NYC having a meltdown. That $16 billion won’t be enough.”

        This is just idiotic. You apparently believe that any nuclear accident must proceed to meltdown and said meltdown must condemn an area at least the size of the Fukushima exclusion zone. Let’s look at an actual example in the US: Three Mile Island.

        The cleanup of the damaged nuclear reactor system at TMI-2 took nearly 12 years and cost approximately US$973 million. The cleanup was uniquely challenging technically and radiologically. Plant surfaces had to be decontaminated. Water used and stored during the cleanup had to be processed. And about 100 tonnes of damaged uranium fuel had to be removed from the reactor vessel — all without hazard to cleanup workers or the public.

        And, most importantly, TMI-1, the reactor literally next door, continues to run to this day. So much for your presumption of $100BB+ disasters. The surrounding community was essentially untouched by the worst civilian reactor disaster in US history which included a partial meltdown of the core.

      • Regrading TMI Tsk Tsk states: ” the worst civilian reactor disaster in US history” …which is true, however that is a cherry pick, ignoring the Fukishima and Chernobyl incidents. Insurance actuaries won’t make the same mistake you are making, as they will consider all reactor meltdowns in calculating premiums for nuclear facilities.

      • David, engarpia is not here to debate, he’s here to lecture and change the subject whenever he is losing an arguement.

      • Tsk tsk, the Fukushima exclusion zone was a 100% political decision. There was never a need for it, the area is completely safe.

    • “Tsk Tsk, changing the subject is does not answer the question as to how one evaluates the subsidy provided to the nuclear power industry by the Price-Anderson Act.”

      Try again, sport. You cannot look at subsidies and costs separately. Back to your Coase, buckey. Reducing the regulatory burden and the associated deadweight losses would certainly free up additional capital to cover your hypothetical disaster scenario. And not that you’re truly interested in an intelligent response to your question, but Zycher has exactly that.

      Now, can you tell me the subsidy that solar and wind operators get for being exempted from the Endangered Species Act? How much subsidy do they receive for the disposal of radioactive spoil from the separation of rare earths?

      • Tsk Tsk, if you can’t stay on subject, and talk about subsidies, please go somewhere else.

      • Subsidies do not exist in isolation. The fact that you don’t want to discuss the impact of costs and the regulatory environment at all is telling. Seriously, you quote a Cato publication and you’ve never even heard of Coase? Time to visit the library, sport.

      • Maybe you can answer the question that Middleton is avoiding, is Price-Anderson a subsidy to the nuclear industry?

      • Yes Tsk Tsk, I read the link, but you know full well that when the Price-Anderson $13 billion is exhausted, the federal government will pay out the rest. That’s because they intentionally passed the act to enable commercial nuclear power.

      • Keep posting the dumb “troll” pictures Mr. Middeton, you defiantly expect different results by doing the same thing over and over and over again. It is entertaining.

      • Or here’s another fun one for you:

        By law the federal government is required (and past due) to provide a permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel. They have not done so because of political games played by Barry and Harry. Nuclear operators and rate payers have provided billion$ in disposal fee payments to the federal government and are currently holding spent fuel in cooling ponds and dry cask storage. If an earthquake and tsunami were to impact this dry cask storage and cause a breach of containment, who is responsible for that? Is it the nuclear operator who, again, by law is entitled to never having to hold material in dry casks, or is it the federal government? I suspect I know how you feel.

        Now talk to me again about subsidies in isolation.

      • Or perhaps you’d like to examine an interesting passage from your own Cato link:

        Any case in favor of Price-Anderson or similar legislation, if it is to be coherent to an economist, has to be couched in the form of a second-best calculation: that distortion in this case, the capping of liability is justified because it serves to mitigate or counteract the impact of some other distortion.

        (emphasis mine)

        Gosh, do you think that unnecessarily burdensome regulations might constitute a “distortion” and hence be relevant to the question of subsidies? I realize that Cato is a libertarian think tank, so it’s unlikely that they would have concerns over government regulation.

      • By the way Tsk Tsk, Fukishima (>$100 billion) proves that the $13 billion Price-Anderson fund is not adequate for a serious nuclear incident. So the Zycher “opinion” is demonstratively useless in the real world.

      • “By the way Tsk Tsk, Fukishima (>$100 billion) proves that the $13 billion Price-Anderson fund is not adequate for a serious nuclear incident. So the Zycher “opinion” is demonstratively useless in the real world.”

        It’s amusing that you taunt Middleton for his troll postings and yet all you say over and over again is: “Price-Anderson is a subsidy!”

        The Tohoku event is estimated to have cost over $300BB in material damage. It killed almost 30,000 people. Chemical plants were impacted and surely caused actual deaths unlike Fukushima. What is the cost of those? Did their insurance adequately cover it? Gosh, that sure sounds like a subsidy to me…

        There were known deficiencies in the design of the Fukushima reactor and its backup systems which are not present in US reactors. Your argument would have been as silly if you had invoked Chernobyl. The fact is that the worst civilian nuclear power incident in the US cost under $1BB. I know that disappoints you, but facts is facts. Now how about addressing my other points?

      • I’m actually the one doing the taunting (AKA Troll bashing). I answered his question about Price-Anderson. He didn’t like the answer and started babbling about Fukushima and auto insurance.

        Price-Anderson, “the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the Pipeline Safety Fund, the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, the Nuclear Waste Fund, and the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund” aren’t subsidies:

        These programs are not addressed in this report because of the difficulty in determining the sufficiency of the funds to meet potential liabilities and the fact that there is no direct federal budgetary impact in FY 2013.

        If a reactor incident in the U.S. caused damages above and beyond the Price-Anderson $13 billion cap and the Federal government had to cover the excess damages, a subsidy would then exist.

        Thus far, only about $151 million has been paid out under the Price-Anderson Act, including Three Mile Island.

      • Another point Mr. Tsk Tsk, when you post: “unnecessarily burdensome regulations” you’ve entered the realm of opinion. For example, in Russia, they consider the building of a containment vessel for a reactor to be an unnecessarily burdensome regulation (i.e. Chernobyl.) Here in the USA we have a “burdensome regulation” of constructing a containment vessel. The difference is that TMI had one, and Chernobyl didn’t. So the adjective “burdensome” in your verbiage is questionable.

      • “Tsk Tsk, Price Anderson covers spent fuel, dry casks, etc.”

        engarpia, if you’re not going to address my point, then please go away. The government is forcing nuclear operators to engage in riskier behavior because it failed to provide a permanent repository required by law. If I force you to jump off a cliff, that’s murder/manslaughter and not suicide. If you claim that Price-Anderson insurance is an appropriate response to a government failure, then congratulations you’ve officially lost the match.

      • “So the adjective “burdensome” in your verbiage is questionable.”

        As is all of the reasoning in your Cato link. But I think you will find that most people who post at Cato would have a big problem with the NRC’s approval process.

      • Tsk Tsk says: “There were known deficiencies in the design of the Fukushima reactor” That may be true, however ALL of the reactors properly shut down during the earthquake. So it wasn’t a reactor design deficiency that caused the problem(s). But you are in error when you say: “which are not present in US reactors” …. in fact the GE, Hitachi and Toshiba designs are common in many places other than Fukishima. There is no point in “addressing your other points” because this discussion is about nuclear power plant liability. Please try to focus on that.

      • Tsk Tsk, this discussion is about nuclear power plant liability, not NRC’s approval process. The NRC doesn’t issue regulations regarding the liability of nuclear power plants, so bringing up that issue is a diversion.

      • No this is not just about nuclear plant liability. I get that you don’t understand Coase, so it’s probably pointless to continue this, but on the slimmest chance that you can bother to figure out Coase, then re-read your own link. You do understand that we’re not just confined to the design of the nuclear vessel itself but the backup systems, don’t you? (Actually, I doubt that you understand this). The siting of the backup generators and the protective seawall were inadequate to the known tsunami risks. You’ll need to provide an actual citation for a similar situation in the US.

      • Tsk Tsk says: “No this is not just about nuclear plant liability.”

        Yes it is, you are trying to divert/subvert the argument into other, not-applicable areas. Let me put it to you simply….Price-Anderson is a subsidy to the nuclear industry. I don’t have to “address your point” because you’re dodging the central tenet under discussion.

      • It is really really simple Mr. Tsk Tsk. If Price-Anderson were repealed tomorrow, every single nuclear power plant in the USA would shut down immediately. Why? Because they couldn’t get private insurance companies to underwrite their operations. You see, private insurance companies know the risks.

      • So you can’t answer my points. You don’t understand Coase and you don’t understand externalities. You don’t understand the purpose of insurance and you don’t understand the role that government plays in distorting the market. You honestly believe that the NRC’s decades-long process of approving new nuclear designs has no impact whatsoever on the cost, safety, and insurability of nuclear power (Hint: passively safe designs are physically prevented from the same failure modes at Fukushima, TMI, or Chernobyl).

        Truly, all you can do is babble “subsidy” over and over. It’s clear that someone else will have to try to educate you, because I’m no longer interested in playing pigeon chess.

      • Tsk Tsk, says: “the NRC’s decades-long process of approving new nuclear designs has no impact whatsoever on the cost, safety, and insurability of nuclear power.” Actually it has a positive impact. For example the NRC would not approve the operation of the Chernobyl design. Why? Because it had no containment building. So, that is one specific concrete example where NRC “approval” had a direct and significant impact on safety. Contrary to your beliefs, some government regulations are actually good for you.

      • “ April 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm
        Keep posting the dumb “troll” pictures Mr. Middeton, you defiantly expect different results by doing the same thing over and over and over again. It is entertaining.”

        LOL ! engarpia ! LOL!
        I don’t think you realize that could be the point of Middletons post. (Yoda being the best one)
        You keep posting troll/s/crap and expect to get a different result.

        Me thinks “Yoda fool” (yo da fool) here.

    • question what did the earth quake and tsunami cost Japan excluding Fukushima? do you know or do you care, what about the lost of life, how many people lost their lives due to Fukushima radiation, none yet the quake and Tsunami killed here is what I found “On 10 March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,894 deaths,[37] 6,152 injured,[38] and 2,562 people missing[39] across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation.[40] A 10 February 2014 agency report listed 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings “half collapsed”, and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged.[41] The earthquake and tsunami also caused extensive and severe structural damage in north-eastern Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse.[32][42] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”[43] Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.[44]. Somehow Fukushima problems are small compared to losing 18,146 lives and nearly 300,000 buildings destroyed a bullet train lost and it tracks sweep away. The saddest part Fukushima need not happen if the greenies would have allowed the old Fukushima to be upgraded to the latest light water designs which need no power to keep them cool, or the other designs which simply need no cooling what so ever. from you comments you are big part of the problem around nuclear safety, not allowing it to advance, not the nuclear power industry.

      • Mark says: ” other designs which simply need no cooling”…. that is funny….. tell me, if there is no “cooling” how do you take the heat out of the reactor and use it to make electricity? You do understand that if there is no cooling that the temperature will not stop increasing as the nuclei split?

      • PS Mark, this discussion is not about the peripheral damage to Fukishima, it is about liability and Price-Anderson. Try to talk about the topic under discussion, and don’t divert to extraneous items.

      • engarpia@gmail . what would happen to wind and solar if all subsidies were stopped today ? if they had to assume grid connection costs and pay for back up costs when the sun don’t shine or wind don’t blow there would be no medium to large scale solar or wind plants in existence.

      • I think what he meant was ‘no forced cooling when SCRAMMED’.
        I,e natural convection can take care of the decay heat.

  15. Regardless of current comparisons, nuclear should be supported for when the price of gas goes up. It’s an insurance policy.

  16. Some electricity operators actually pay people to take their energy. link For reasons I don’t fully understand, it seems like they have to get rid of excess electricity.

    If you’re going to have enough electricity for peak demand, then you will have too much most of the time, unless you can turn some generators down or off. That’s called dispatchable generation. The cheapest dispatchable generation is currently natural gas. Wind and solar are the opposite of dispatchable. The French make nuclear dispatchable by bleeding steam directly to the cooling towers.

  17. “The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution,” Joseph Dominguez, an Exelon executive vice president, said in an interview. “We sell electricity without air pollution — and that’s a different product.”

    I love this.

    • He should have said, “The fossil generators sell electricity with air pollution. The solar and wind generators sell electricity when the Sun shines and the wind blows just right. We sell electricity without air pollution 24/7 — and that’s a different product.”

    • They should have said “we sell electricity where the water pollution and land contamination occured offshore during the manufacturing”.

  18. Sigh.Fukushima was a minor industrial accident, in which no one died, similar to 3MI.

    It was made into a disaster by deliberate overreaction applied by pressure groups and the media, which forced the Japanese government to undertake draconian evacuation and cleanup policies even though they had been informed that neither were necessary.

    Even Chernobyl, which not only was the worst nuclear power accident ever, but the worst nuclear power accident that there ever will be, as it takes a spectacularly bad design of reactor to create an open fire of carbon rods in a functional reactor, only killed 78 people. And the exclusions zone is perfectly safe as the millions of animals that have found sanctuary there, as well as the people who refused to move, can testify. No ‘hundreds of thousands of cancer cases’ ever appeared. Just the expected 3000 thyroid cases which could have been prevented by timely issuance of iodine pills.

    Once again we see that what really is happening in nuclear power terms, is cost manipulation by legislation. If you need a computer system to record every time an operator drops a pencil, and an insurance policy covering the entire replacement of a food of topsoil over 100,000 sq km of area to reduce local radiation levels to one tenth of natural background, then of course you can make nuclear too expensive.

    More people have died as a result of windmills, than at chernobyl, and look what they died for. Trifling amounts or expensive erratic unreliable energy,. and vast profits for windmill constructors and owners.

    Let’s get nuclear power in perspective. If you want to tackle something with a HUGE death rate, start with that irresponsible unshielded fusion reåctor that is the basis for all ‘renewable energy’. Did I tell you that ‘renewable energy’ accounts for over 9,000 deaths a year in the US alone?

    9,730 people will die of melanoma in 2017. Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun.

    AS far as long term waste goes, what else is natural uranium in the ground BUT long term nuclear waste, and in fact it accounts for a large proportion of the radiation we are all exposed to. Nuclear power is, from another perspective actually reducing the net fissile isotopes in the world. We are in fact burning nuclear waste to reduce it, when we operate a reactor. And as for a few tonnes of contaminated water that flows into the sea, well there’s 4 billion tonnes of Uranium in the sea already. Of which around a percent is U235…

    Nuclear power is scary because we have been educated to think it is. The facts are wildly different from the Hollywood pictures.

    It’s expensive because we have enacted legislation based on fear, not on facts.

    But that goes for the whole energy market. It has been manipulated by political and corporate forces for power control and gain, using fear and disinformation.

    There is no rush to do anything, from the peoples’ perspective. Quietly abandon renewables, build gas and if you must coal, and start to re-educate the public about the real facts of nuclear power.

    That by far the most likely way you will die of radiation induced cancer, is from lying on a beach in Cancun…

    And the second most likely, is after cancer treatment using radiotherapy some decades later.

  19. This whole thing with is it a subsidy/isn’t a subsidy… I’m just an ignoramus here, and to me a subsidy is an ongoing payment made to an industry to help keep the lights on. This Pricey Anderson act sounds more like a contingency fund – *if* there is a disaster, and *if* the fund isn’t big enough to clean it up, *then* the government steps in. There’s no ongoing payment, and in the business as usual scenario there won’t be one either. For renewables, however, sounds like ongoing payments by the government is part and parcel of business as usual.

  20. Please define the elements of subsidies for each production area. Many times the renewable industry seems to confuse subsidies with tax credits that all producers receive.

  21. Wind generators sell electricity without pollution!!!

    Typical nuke: 1000MW output typical WG: 4MW, so we need 250 WGs to equal 1 nuke.

    BUT, WGs typically give only 30% of there rated output, so we need 3 times more to match.

    That is 750 WGs to equal 1 nuke.

    How much material and energy go into the creation of a WG farm with 750 units spread over thousands of acres? I have not done the sums but in terms of concrete, steel, copper etc it is looking likely that the WG route is more costly.

    Then we get to operating these two choices. When the wind is wrong, we need external power that can be turned on or off very quickly to make up for WG intermittency. These other power generators need to be factored in.

    Although ‘free’ energy from the wind sounds good and obvious at first glance, after looking into the issue, it is not such a good deal after all.

    • But you have to keep the nuclear generator spinning in the background for when the wind doesn’t blow, so there never is an equating point.

  22. Why didn’t anyone question the troll’s assertion that the costs for the Fukishima incident is upwards of $188 billion? What is the estimate based on? Why so much? (fear factor?, because it’s a government job?) What is the source of the estimate?

  23. IQ/IQ test (intelligence quotient / integrity quotient):

    Question 1: If a force 10 earthquake and 30m high tsunami strike an industrial facility and cause damage to it, does this necessarily mean the design and safety of the facility was deficient?

    Lefties: “YES”
    Skeptics: “No”

    Question 2: Does the tectonic geology of the Baltic Sea mean that Germany should draw conclusions from the Fukushima accident? Is the probability of a force 10 earthquake and 30m tsunami equal in Germany as in Japan? And are geologists all oil-funded deniers anyway so what the hell?

    Lefties: “YES”
    Skeptics: “No”

    Question 3: Does “Tsunami” mean “big wave” in both the German and Japanese languages?

    Lefties: “YES”
    Skeptics: “No”

  24. This article is absolute rubbish.

    No time now to comment in depth, but will return later. Just a couple of points for now:

    Nuclear power in the US is almost 100 percent subsidized by the government.

    The stubborn refusal by nuclear plant operators to reduce output (they say it’s unsafe to vary their output) forces every other form of generation to reduce or go offline. Those gas, hydro, and coal plants bear the cost and maintenance burden that nuclear plants cannot and will not take on.

    More later.

    Much, much more.

      • One has to wonder what negative contribution to society is keeping Roger from telling his nuke lies.

      • He won’t bother. As a lefty, he’s proven his virtue by posting his lies, so now he can go home and tell all his friends in Mom’s basement how he told off a bunch of climate d#nIers.

    • Translation: I can’t prove anything I say but I’m paid by the word so I’ve got to write something, even if it’s nothing but shameless lies.

    • Re nuclear plant subsidies, the following is more than appropriate. Everything below is factual; nothing is opinion nor is it conjecture.
      Nuclear subsidies exist as:

      1) huge loan guarantees from government, approximately $8.3 billion for the Vogtle plant alone. The four US reactors presently under construction are in jeopardy from the designer’s bankruptcy (Westinghouse )

      2) government legal relief from radiation liability, under the Price-Anderson Act, (see commentary just below)

      3) regulation that no lawsuits during construction will be allowed (with a minor exception),

      4) regulation to raise electricity prices during construction to avoid interest costs on construction loans; South Carolina has already increased rates to pay for nuclear construction, now seeks another increase. “The latest request, if approved, will mean customers will be paying about $20 more per month for their power than they were at the beginning of 2009. ”

      5) operating and safety regulations that are routinely relaxed to allow nuclear plants to not spend money to comply.

      6) Regulation reform to subsidize nuclear plants operating – although they lose money otherwise – on the basis of “carbon-free” power; this directly penalizes coal and natural gas-fired power plants.

      7) New nuclear plants receive 2.3 cents per kWh generated for the first 10 years of operation. For a 1000 MW plant operating 100 percent (as nuclear advocates claim they do), that is $201 million per year. After ten years, that is $2 billion.

      8) The ability to charge customers for the costs of decommissioning a nuclear plant, when the already-collected funds prove insufficient for the lengthy and costly task. See e.g. Omaha, Nebraska and the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant.

      The language of the Price-Anderson Act states:

      “Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act in 1957 to ensure that adequate funds would be available to compensate victims of a nuclear accident. It also recognized that the risk of extraordinary liability that companies would incur if a nuclear accident were to happen would render insurance costs prohibitively high, and thwart the development of nuclear energy.
      . . .
      The Price-Anderson Act requires owners of commercial reactors to assume all liability for damages to the public resulting from an ‘extraordinary nuclear occurrence’ and to waive most legal defenses
      they would otherwise have. However, in exchange, their liability
      will be limited to capped amounts established in the Act.
      First, each licensed reactor must carry the maximum amount of
      insurance commercially available to pay any damages from a severe
      nuclear accident. That amount is currently $300 million.
      Any damages exceeding that amount are to be assessed equally
      against all covered commercial reactors, up to $95.8 million per reactor
      (most recently adjusted for inflation by NRC in August 2004).
      Those assessments would be paid at an annual rate of no more
      than $10 million per reactor. According to the NRC, all of the nation’s 103 commercial reactors are currently covered by the Price-Anderson retrospective premium requirement.

      Funding for public compensation following a major nuclear incident
      would therefore include the $300 million in insurance coverage
      carried by the reactor that suffered the incident, plus the
      $95.8 million in retrospective premiums from each of the 103 currently
      covered reactors, totaling $10.2 billion. On top of those payments,
      a 5 percent surcharge may also be imposed, raising the total
      per-reactor retrospective premium to $100.6 million and the total
      potential compensation for each incident to about $10.7 billion.

      Under Price-Anderson, the nuclear industry’s liability for an incident
      is capped at that amount, which varies depending on the
      number of covered reactors, amount of available insurance, and an
      inflation adjustment that is made every 5 years.

      The Act provides that in the event that actual damages from an
      accident are in excess of this amount, Congress will ”thoroughly review” the incident and take such action as is necessary to provide ”full and prompt compensation to the public.” ”
      — source: Price-Anderson Act Amendments of 2005

      To encourage the nuclear industry to build any plants at all, the inherently unsafe characteristics of nuclear power plants required government shielding from liability, or subsidy, for the costs of a nuclear accident via the Price-Anderson Act.

      Even as early as the 1950s, the nuclear industry was aware of the catastrophic nature of a nuclear accident, a meltdown due to a loss-of-cooling-accident, radiation released into the atmosphere or water, and the potential for hundreds of thousands of deaths or even many, many more. Industrial insurance underwriters also were keenly aware of the risks, and had their premiums adjusted accordingly. Utilities that wanted to enter the nuclear power business realized quickly that they could not afford to build the plants, plus pay for insurance premiums. The price for their nuclear-based power would be prohibitive – and the adverse publicity would be devastating. One can imagine the headlines: “Nuclear Disaster Insurance Increases Electricity Prices to Unaffordable Levels.” Or, some similar headline.

      Subsequent events have shown that such nuclear calamity is not only possible, but extremely deadly. Three major events have happened to date, at Three Mile Island in 1979 with a reactor core partially melting down, Chernobyl in 1986 with a core explosion, and Fukushima Dai-ichi in 2011 with three reactors melted down and four containment buildings exploded. With hundreds of reactors operating world-wide and almost one hundred more either planned or under construction, more meltdown disasters are inevitable.

      The very existence of nuclear power plants depends on Congress renewing the Price-Anderson Act as it periodically expires. Without the government assuming the excess liability, nuclear plants would shut down immediately. No utility company has resources of $1 trillion, and certainly cannot buy insurance in that amount. The Act is the single largest subsidy for nuclear power, greater than loan guarantees ($8 billion roughly for each reactor), the carbon tax on coal plants that benefits nuclear plants due to their “carbon free” power production, no lawsuits being permitted during construction (a limited exception applies), increased electricity prices during nuclear plant construction to avoid paying interest on loans, and operating safety regulations routinely relaxed to allow nuclear plants to continue operating without meeting safety standards.

      It is a struggle to think of any other industry that enjoys such a government benefit: what other industry would shut down tomorrow if its uninsurable risks were not borne by the government? The risks are so great, and the cost of insurance is just too high for the nuclear power industry to compete, or even exist, without the comfortable cushion of the Price-Anderson Act.

      Indeed, that raises the question: are nuclear plant operators too comfortable, too complacent, due to the certain knowledge that any catastrophic event will be paid first by $300 million in insurance, and then cost them only $100 million each? Any amount over and beyond those limits will be paid for by the US Government. Perhaps nuclear plants would pay more attention to safety, and operating procedures if they knew the plant would shut down or be sold at auction to pay the damages. Perhaps the nuclear industry would be much more self-policing if the limits were $20 billion for each reactor, not the $100 million that exists today.

  25. I have some experience with nuke plant closures since many years ago I worked at a nuke plant that closed in California and then subsequently worked at plants that were in trouble.

    Power generation is a local issue. Commercial US nuke plants were built at a time when local utilities were regulated. Costs were passed on to customers. Power plants were built to meet demand.

    A lot has changed in 40 years. Power generation has been deregulated. Fracking has caused an oversupply of natural gas. Wind and solar has been built for political reason not to meet demand for power.

    What happens in a community when a nuke plant closes? First the jobs go away. Then there is huge drop in the tax base when the plant is no longer generating power. Power has to be imported from some place that benefits from selling power to that community.

    What never happens? Renewable energy never replaces the baseload power from the nuke plant.

    The first misconception about nuclear power and the fossil generation is that it is subsidized. The power industry is a cash cow for governments. It is the role of government to redistribute money for the benefit of society.

    There is a clear economic trend in the US. Smaller, older, single unit plants are not economical and are closing. However, this experience with a local economic loss provides data to states about the ramification of closing nukes.

    Some states have decided keeping nukes running is better than exporting tax dollars by importing power that may be ‘cheaper’ in the short term.

    • “It is the role of government to redistribute money for the benefit of society.”

      No it is the role of government to do those things that can’t be efficiently done by the private sector. Things like policing and defense.

      Government NEVER redistributes money for the benefit of society, even if the politicians lie and claim that it does.
      What government does is redistribute money for the benefit of those who run government. Be it buying votes so that they can stay in power, or just siphoning off the money for themselves and their friends.

      • Never!

        Clearly MarkW was home schooled by his mother. And she did not do a very good job.

        Nuke plants and the people who work at them pay property taxes. Government uses that money for such things as schools, libraries, and hospitals; that benefit society.

      • Clearly Kit P has gone senile.
        Fascinating how his response to me doesn’t even address the issue I raised.
        But then, I’ve learned to expect that from him.

    • Germany turned off just under 505 of its nuclear overnight in 2011 after Fukushima.

      the grid did just fine.

      In the years since, renewables have filled the gap quite adequately.

      In the last month 4 of the 8 now remaining German nuke plants have been offline for various reasons… German grid has been fine, even setting some new records for percentage of power from renewbales.

  26. Here is a link concerning a PPA for a utility scale solar farm we have driven by in the southern Nevada desert.

    I also went to SUNPOWER web site. Like all solar, actual production and costs are lacking. I looked at there ‘solar calculator’ which is not working at the moment.

    They base their economics on panels lasting 25 years for the PPA.

    • They base their economics on panels lasting 25 years for the PPA.

      That’s likely generous, and when you’re talking about half a billion, there are going to be a lot of ones that die.

      • Another point is that the max capacity of those panels drops every year. Some say by 1% point per year. Solar enthusiasts claim that it is less. But even they admit there is a drop off.
        The economics assume that there is no drop off in efficiency right up till the time the panel needs to be replaced.

      • It’s not entirely clear from the reports I read, but those maybe individual photo diodes failing. As I think a wafer contains multiple diodes connected in parallel , and a panel has multiple wafers.

      • I always thought it was from degradation of the crystal lattice which resulted in both fewer photons being caught and increased internal resistance.

      • That’s just the silicon. the lattice defects are a problem when they cross the junction barrier, that’s where the resistive leakage comes from. But you also have the metalization that migrates and corrodes, while making a connection to the silicon, and from wafer to wafer. The current densities can be really large, in logic chip designs (as opposed to power generation) we’d have multi-million Amp’s per sq cm ( a silicon chip can
        tolerate current densities up to 10^10 A/cm^2 ). Which as connected by that silver conductive tape looking stuff. Electronics failure rates by type worst to best is Bad connectors, good connectors, mill spec connectors, solder connections, welded connection,wire, evaporated metal steps, evaporated metal contacts, evaporated metal interconnects. or something like that. And if you detected a theme, well that was intentional. Most failures are of the bad, broken or burnt up connection somewhere down the line kind. with a few connections that aren’t suppose to be there thrown in as well (like the lattice short). For solar, you then apply heat, cold, thermal cycles, water, some places salt(which moves around on surfaces, attracted to electrical charge), UV, mechanical vibration from wind. Some of those wafers will last 1000 years, they just won’t be connected to anything.

    • Figures suggest 30 to 40 years -30 year warranties are not uncommon.

      Degradation rate seems to be about 0.5% a year – but not for every panel:

      “According to a study undertaken by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) a few years ago, which looked at the ‘photovoltaic degradation’ rates of some 2000 solar installations, the average solar panel loses about half of a percentage point (0.5%) of efficiency per year, which means that a panel at the end of its 25-year warranty period should still be operating at about 88% of its original capacity. However, not every panel will see degradation rates as high as 0.5%”

      • Griff

        How are your solar panels working?

        “Figures suggest 30 to 40 years -30 year warranties are not uncommon.”

        Solar warranties are good for getting a fire started in your woodstove. I have read a few. First, the manufacture must still be in business.

        Second, you pay to take them down, you pay to ship them in the original packing.

        Third, panels are only part of a solar system and any part can cause failure of the whole system.

        It is for this last reason that I think solar panels, a limited resource, should only be used at utility scale PV project like here in the desert southwest. At least they may get repaired.

        If Griff had bother to read the links I provided, he would would see these PV systems are complex with tracking and water cleaning systems. Water is a scarce resource in this part of the world.

        Forth, failure of solar PV systems is not reported. Who cares anyway? The goal of PV is PR pictures not making power, or so it would seem. And why report stupidity?

      • “According to a study undertaken by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) a few years ago, which looked at the ‘photovoltaic degradation’ rates of some 2000 solar installations, the average solar panel loses about half of a percentage point (0.5%) of efficiency per year, which means that a panel at the end of its 25-year warranty period should still be operating at about 88% of its original capacity. However, not every panel will see degradation rates as high as 0.5%”

        That wasn’t a very good reliability report, they just collected field data, and I think the majority of the panels were in the field less than 10 or 12 years. And none of the manufactures have done accelerated life testing. They all just use field installations. Hot and Dry places are one thing, but hot, wet, and salty places, daily extremes in temp are death to electronics. Oh, don’t forget all the plastics and silicon getting UV irradiated. And you want to install a half billion of them, to charge batteries that last 4 or 5 years tops when used as laptop batteries. This is madness. And yes, there are folks who get on the train, and rake in the money, and as soon as it drys up. They will leave.

  27. This issue is also being debated in Ohio.

    “Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station employs 700 people full time, with an average annual pay of $86,000 before benefits. Keeping it in production will generate nearly $30 billion in economic output to the state.

    Next week the legislature in Columbus is scheduled to begin hearings on a bill that would correct some of the market flaws, as New York and Illinois have done in the recent past, and as New Jersey and Connecticut are now considering.

    On Wednesday night, the school board for the area including Oak Harbor passed this resolution:

    Resolution of the Board of Education of the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District Board of Education supports the work of Ohio legislators as they work on plans to help preserve our state’s baseload nuclear plants known as the Zero Emission Nuclear Resource Program (ZEN).”

  28. One of things to note about the solar industry is that output is often in expected generation not actual.

    From the nuclear industry:

    “U.S. electricity from nuclear energy in 2016: 19.7 percent, with 805.3 billion kilowatt-hours generated.

    Nuclear industry capacity factor (2016): 92.1 percent.
    Nuclear power uprates: More than 7,300 megawatts of power uprates have been approved by the NRC since 1977. That is the equivalent of adding seven reactors to the electric grid.”

    There is also a very good trend in the ‘Industrial Safety Accident Rate’ which went from 0.38 in 1997 to 0.03 in 2015.

  29. @Griff

    “In the years since, renewables have filled the gap quite adequately.”

    This is a story about the US not a small country in old Europe. Nuclear provides baseload power, it can not be replaced by wind and solar.

  30. Let’s do some math. Nevada has a 25% solar mandate. Say the local power company needs an average of 10,000 MW each hour. That is 2500 MW needed but with a 20% CF, 12,500 MWe of capacity must be on line.

    So the first obvious problem is that the PV are going to be producing a lot more power than is needed and then no power at night.

    The next obvious problem is that with a 25 life, 500 MWe has to be built each year.

    “Degradation rate seems to be about 0.5% a year”

    That is another 62.5 MWe needed each year.

    That 562.5 MWe is a huge mountain of hazardous waste generated each year just for one metropolitan area.

    They are predicting wind gust of 60 mph. Not driving the motorhome anyplace. Visibility will drop dramatically along with PV output. In the future, we will have to worry about flying PV panel debris.

    The bottom line is that solar is not the least bit sustainable.

    • Not just flying debris. Wind blown sand will scour the glass coverings which will make them less efficient.
      Additionally, if you aren’t careful while cleaning, sand or other grit on the surface can also scratch the glass.
      PS: On these big commercial installations, I don’t know if the glass can be replaced or not. On the home units that I have seen, it can’t.

      PPS: If you cover the panel with a replaceable shield, you have added to the cost of the installation and decreased efficiency (by and admittedly small amount) at the same time.

    • If the capacity factor (CF) is 20%, how do the providers get 25% of all electricity from solar? It’s not possible without storage, which is expensive (and never cost tallied by solar power advocates), and doesn’t exist. Even the huge 100 MWH Tesla battery (that’s 1000 X as large as one of their car batteries) touted as South Australia’s savior would need to be multiplied X 1600 to get 10,000 MW for 16 hours. And that assumes no cloudy days. Asking neighboring states to fill in during only cloudy days would put an unacceptable stress on the grid.

      • In Nevada, solar PV probably has a capacity factor closer to 30%.

        Even at 20%, you could get 25% of your electricity from solar. Just install more MW of solar.

      • Um, no. You over build the solar capacity beyond the 20% CF * 25% RPS. Build more, makes more – the RPS is set by load, not generation. So If I build 50% of my generation in solar, but my total generation is 200% of my load, I’m still beating the 25% requirement. (Say 100 MW is load – you have 200 MW of generation, and 100 (50%) of it is solar. At a 30% CF (which is what is seen in the Mohave and Sonoran deserts), you have an average 30 MW of generation for a 100 MW of load. Done. ) Remember this is all done on an ANNUALIZED basis – hence google and apple and all the other tree huggers(and cities now – thank you Las Vegas and Salt Lake) who claim 100% renewable. That’s annualized. SMH.

        Regardless, right now the bulk of the RPS in Nevada is being met by Geothermal, not solar – because its constant, not intermittent – though its getting very close – if Tonopah’s Crescent Dunes (thermal oil – disaster of a plant – two years? beyond COD) is on-line, that may actually be no longer the case.

        There are plants in the Desert SW that are not seeing the degradation that is supposed here – there is degradation, but its not at a 1% per year. Again, the problem is that we don’t have NERC reliability data to check it against. There’s no need to test – there are plants that are now in their second decade. Should probably look those up.

      • I was using Retired K’s numbers and assertions such as: “Nevada has a 25% solar mandate.” which would not allow other ‘renewables’ as geothermal, and his statement of 20% CF. I have already discounted the 800 MW from Hoover dam, as AGW enthusiasts don’t allow big hydro to be counted as ‘renewable’

        David: you said: “Even at 20%, you could get 25% of your electricity from solar. Just install more MW of solar.” I guess that means storage to get to the 25% number, not the 100% number I assumed, but didn’t clarify. I agree, that would need a lot fewer batteries, or selling power to neighbors. That’s a bookkeeping exercise depending on your politics.

      • Let’s say you mandate the following generation distribution:

        Nuclear 25%
        Coal 25%
        Natural Gas CC 25%
        Solar PV 25%

        If the capacity factors are:

        Nuclear 95%
        Coal 85%
        Natural gas 85%
        Solar PV 20%

        You would have to install the following capacity ratio:

        Nuclear 1.1
        Coal 1.2
        Natural gas CC 1.2
        Solar PV 5.0

        Now, this would raise havoc with the grid; but it could be done.

      • Nevada’s solar mandate is a percentage of the overall RPS – its not 25% of the total load. I think its something like 25% RPS, and of that 25%, 20% has to be solar. (I think its 20% not 25, but its been a while, and there have been assembly bills passed).

      • Also, Nevada doesn’t receive 800 MW from hover – its entitled to ~480 MW at most and that is split between NVE and some municipalities in Nevada. The RPS in Nevada only allows “small hydro” to be counted – not large, which means Hoover is out anyway.

        I looked up the specifics: “Included within the RPS is a requirement that at least 5 percent of the total renewable energy in the portfolio must be generated by solar facilities through 2015 and at least 6 percent must be generated by solar facilities beginning in 2016. In addition, the 2005 Nevada Legislature determined that energy efficiency measures can be used to comply with up to 25 percent of the annual RPS requirement. Of that 25 percent, 50 percent must come from measures installed at residential customer service locations”

        So efficiency is bigger than solar in the RPS, but its all still 25% of load.

  31. NERC has not developed reliability reporting standards for solar yet. It has begun it for wind, which will be interesting to review in 10 years. There is some discussion about how to calculate the solar reliability metrics but obviously, there is a HUGE solar lobby that doesn’t want any of this data collected, much less published. My experience has been that the bulk of the reliability issues are on the inverters, not the panels themselves. And that yes, you see some degradation in the PV panels over time, but within the performance guarantee of the contract. This is in reference to a long term PPA in the desert SW.

  32. The purpose of my example of the solar mandate was to show that it is not practical. As an engineer in the power industry, if it is not practical it will not happen. Politicians can mandate whatever makes them feel good but it takes engineers to make it work.

    “the RPS is set by load, not generation”

    Generation = load

    Storing significant amounts of electricity is not practical. Batteries are not green and very dangerous. If we want ugly let’s go back to the way we did coal 50 years ago and have really cheap power.

    For fixed PV 20% CF is ideal. 0% CF is what I expect because that is the most common. For tracking panels I think 30% may the BS number provided.

    Tracking violates the kiss (keep it simple stupid) principle for a marginal increase in generation. A 100 MWe plant makes $5000 worth of power for its best hour. At the same rate, a 1200 MWe nuke make about 1.5 million a day. The point here is that there is a difference in the level of urgency when keeping power flowing.

  33. Ptomely 2 writes,
    “Question 1: If a force 10 earthquake and 30m high tsunami strike an industrial facility and cause damage to it, does this necessarily mean the design and safety of the facility was deficient?
    Lefties: “YES”
    Skeptics: “No””
    The question I had is why so many died? I know the answer for only three. At the nuke, one worker died from injuries suffered in the earthquake. Two more drowned inspecting the main condenser. They thought they were safe.

    From other reading, I think the reason so many died is they thought they were safe. Government signs said they had arrived at a place that was a safe tsunami evacuation area based on experience.
    To answer question 1, the design and safety were not deficient.

    Let me provide a simple example. Our son just moved into a bigger house to accommodate a growing family. The smaller house was newer and had hard wired smoke detectors in every bedroom to meet code. The bigger house was older and had no smoke detectors in bedrooms but met code as pointed out by our house inspector. Also the gas dryer and water heater were no longer vented properly.
    We paid $1000 to have breakers installed, wire pulled, and boxes (11) installed for smoke detectors and ceiling fans. Before moving the baby to the new house my son and I completed the work and corrected the deficiencies.
    During original construction, the cost of exceeding smoke detector code would have been marginal compared to many of the cosmetic selling features.
    My point is that we live in a world with a low bid mindset. We have mindless regulations on coal plants without honest cost benefit analysis. We have unrealistic mandates for wind and solar without seeing what the impact will be.

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