End of a dream as the nuclear power industry dies a slow death

By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website. With enhancements by Anthony Watts

Summary: After decades of promises about its potential, the window of opportunity is closing for nuclear power. Hated by the Left despite its carbon-free generation of electricity, their opposition plus decades of utilities’ screw-ups have weakened it. New energy tech — renewables and fracking — appears to be finishing it off.

For example, Rancho Seco Nuclear generating station:

The plant operated from April 1975 to June 1989 but had a lifetime capacity average of only 39%; it was closed by public vote on 7 June 1989 after multiple referenda that resulted from a long record of multiple annual shut-downs, cost over-runs, mismanagement, multiple accidents that included radioactive steam releases, re-starts after unresolved automatic shut-downs, and regular rate increases that included a 92% increase over one 3 year span.[5]

Operation of the recreational area was assumed by SMUD in 1992. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, SMUD dedicated in June 2006 the Howard Ranch Nature Trail, a seven-mile (11 km) long trail that follows riparian and marsh habitat along Rancho Seco Lake and the adjoining Howard Ranch that once belonged to the owner of the famous racehorse Seabiscuit.

All power generating equipment has been removed from the plant and the now-empty cooling towers remain a prominent part of the local landscape. Also scattered throughout the area around the plant are abandoned air raid sirens that at one time would have warned people of a radioactivity release from the station. Additions to SMUD’s Rancho Seco property have included massive solar installations and, more recently, the natural gas-fired Cosumnes Power Plant, brought online in 2006. – source: WikiPedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rancho_Seco_Nuclear_Generating_Station

 

The Rancho Seco Nuclear generating station near Sacramento, CA with solar panels in the foreground. Closed by public vote in 1989.Image: Wikipedia

The prediction of “too cheap to meter” electrical power

Articles about nuclear power often start with a myth, as does this oddly named article by Michael Rose at the HuffPo: “The top ten myths of nuclear power“: “Nuclear power was sold in the US as being “too cheap too meter.” The quote is accurate. The statement is false. Here is the famous quote.

"Too Cheap to Meter" speech

“Transmutation of the elements – unlimited power, ability to investigate the working of living cells by tracer atoms, the secret of photosynthesis about to be uncovered – these and a host of other results all in 15 short years. It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter – will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history – will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds – and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age. This is the forecast for an age of peace.”

Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, in a speech at the Founder Day Dinner of the National Association of Science Writers, 16 September 1954.

His audience included some impressive people, including 5 Nobel Prize winners. At the head table with him. Strauss is sixth from left. Glenn Seaborg is first on left (1951 Nobel for Chemistry, chairman of the AEC from 1961 to 1971). Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1937 Nobel for Medicine) is third from the left. Irving Langmuir (1932 Nobel for Chemistry) is sixth from the right. Edward C. Kendall (1959 Nobel for Medicine) is fourth from the right.

The website of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission tells the story. Strauss’ optimism was not shared by many other experts at the time. This article gives more quotes by contemporary experts who were far more cautious about the future of nuclear power. Many of these look prescient today. There is no reason to consider Strauss’ statement the benchmark against which to compare the history of nuclear power.

Events have not followed Strauss’ prediction. But late does not mean wrong. Who knows what energy sources await us in the future.

Illustration from 1955 Progress Report, Atomic Power Development Associates, March 1956.

From the March 1956 Progress Report of Atomic Power Development Associates,.

Flash forward to 2017

“It is estimated that nuclear power will provide more than one-quarter of this country’s electrical production by 1985, and over half by the year 2000.”

— President Richard Nixon’s special message to Congress on 18 April 1973. Despite the claims, Nixon’s Project Independence did not propose building 1,000 nuclear power plants by 2000. Today nukes generates 20% of America’s electricity.

Nuclear power is dying in the United States. By now the causes are obvious. High among them are…

  • Incompetent government licensing. Until recently, in the US companies received construction permits based on incomplete plans. Then applied for an operating license, often leading to rebuilding and long delays.
  • Incompetent construction by firms with little experience on project so large and complex.
  • Too many accidents (in the US and around the world).
  • Every-changing government policy, often highly adverse.
  • Development of cheaper and more flexible energy sources.

Things looked dark in 2016 for nuclear power in America

“Most operating coal plants were built prior to 1980, and a significant portion of U.S. hydroelectric capacity is even older — the oldest hydro plant still operating was built in 1891. Most of the natural gas fleet and almost all wind and solar capacity has been built since 2000.” Most nukes were built in the 1970s. {EIA, February 2017.}

The US keeps shutting down nuclear power plants and replacing them with coal or gas.”

By Brad Plumer at VOX, November 2016.

“America’s largest source of zero-carbon power is in serious trouble …nuclear power, which still provides about 19% of the nation’s electricity. Since 2013, the United States has lost five nuclear power plants, retired before the end of their natural lifespan for economic reasons: Crystal River in Florida, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, San Onofre in California, Vermont Yankee, and, just at the end of October, Fort Calhoun in Nebraska. They’ve generally fallen victim to cheap natural gas, unfavorable market policies, and/or local opposition.

“That’s a huge chunk of emissions-free power — gone. Those five plants alone produced nearly as much electricity as all of America’s solar panels last year. That’s not a knock on solar at all; it just shows the scale of what’s being lost here. And, according to a new analysis by the Energy Information Administration, when those reactors get retired, utilities usually end up replacing the lost electricity by burning more coal or natural gas. We’re basically taking a step backward on climate change …

“The details behind each reactor closure differ. Crystal River needed billion-dollar repairs to its containment wall that didn’t make financial sense for its owner when electricity prices were so low due to cheap natural gas. San Onofre also needed costly repairs and probably could’ve survived if it had been allowed to operate at part-capacity, but regulatory delays made it unprofitable for the utility to keep the plant open.

“But the big picture is pretty simple. There are lots of reactors around the country that are already built and technically capable of providing carbon-free electricity for years to come, but are getting crushed by circumstance. Unless we decide to change energy policies so as to properly value nuclear’s carbon-free contribution (and see here for ideas on that score), those plants will keep vanishing, largely replaced by fossil fuels.

“So what does that future look like? A new report by Whitney Herndon and John Larsen of the Rhodium Group notes that 24 gigawatts of nuclear power are at risk of being retired between now and 2030 without major policy changes. That includes seven reactors currently scheduled to be shut down, like the two large units at California’s Diablo Canyon, as well as others that could face financial woes in the coming years.

“If all these plants close, the Rhodium Group estimates, about 75% of that lost power will likely be replaced by natural gas, and greenhouse-gas emissions will be higher than they otherwise would be.”

See this typically excellent backgrouder in the NYT: “The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States” by Diane Cardwell, February 2017. It quickly proved far too optimistic.

Projection on Borssele Nuclear Power Station

Greenpeace projects an image based on Munch’s ‘The Scream’ onto the Borssele nuclear power station in the Netherlands, 27 March 2011. © Greenpeace/Bas Beentjes.

The news in 2017 has been even worse for nuclear power.

Cuomo Confirms Deal to Close Indian Point Nuclear Plant.”

By Patrick McGeehan in the NYT, January 2017.

“Mr. Cuomo announced on Monday that the state had reached an agreement with the plant’s operator, Entergy, to shut it down by April 2021. …In his State of the State address in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Cuomo characterized the deal as a hard bargain he had driven to rid the region of a ‘ticking time bomb’ less than 30 miles from Midtown. He said the state would bear no costs in the shutdown or decommissioning of the plant’s two operating nuclear reactors. ‘I have personally been trying to close it down for 15 years,’ said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat. He added that the proposed closing ‘eliminates a major risk, provides welcome relief, and New Yorkers can sleep a little better.’ …

“Bill Mohl, the president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said …said the company had spent $200 million over the past decade battling New York State over the renewal of licenses to operate the reactors. The state’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group, joined the governor’s office in challenging the renewals and permits that Entergy needed to keep the Indian Point running.”

In another sign of the end of nuclear power, shutdown looms for Three Mile Island.”

By Michael Hiltzik at the LAT, May 2017.

“Exelon, announced Tuesday that it will permanently shut down the unit in September 2019. Exelon said a week ago that the plant hasn’t been profitable in five years. The company will take a charge of as much as $110 million this year related to the operation and planned shutdown. …nuclear power hasn’t received favorable treatment as a renewable energy source in the state’s energy policy as have solar, wind and hydro power. …Three Mile Island is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate through 2034, so the shutdown would come 15 years early.

“Still, the company had to acknowledge that nuclear power just isn’t competitive with other renewables or with natural gas generating plants. Three Mile Island was unable to sell its output into the regional electric grid in recent power auctions. “TMI remains economically challenged as a result of continued low wholesale power prices and the lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear energy,” Exelon says.

“That underscores a chronic malady of American nukes — they’re too hard to operate and simply not competitive. It’s that mismatch of cost that helps account for recent shutdown decisions such as the pending closure in California of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and the 2013 abandonment of San Onofre by Southern California Edison after a botched upgrade.”

In July the project to build two reactors in South Carolina was abandoned. The NYT tells the story. Here’s the bottom line…

“Originally scheduled to come online by 2018, the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina had been plagued by disputes with regulators and numerous construction problems. This year, utility officials estimated that the reactors would not begin generating electricity before 2021 and could cost as much as $25 billion — more than twice the initial $11.5 billion estimate.”

Some good news for nukes: “Georgia gives Southern Co go-ahead to finish nuclear power project” — Approval to finish the 2 reactors at Plant Vogtle, years behind schedule and 35% over budget. These might be the last two built in the US for a long time.

Enthusiasm for nuclear power fading around the world

Enthusiasm for nuclear power is fading even in nations with more rational regulatory regimes and more competent construction and electric utility companies.

Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End?

By Fred Pearce at Yale Environment 360, May 2017.

“From Europe to Japan to the U.S., nuclear power is in retreat, as plants are being shuttered, governments move toward renewables, and key companies face financial troubles. Even some of the industry’s biggest boosters believe nuclear is on the way out.”

“Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes? Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear — existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies.

“In an astonishing hammer blow to a global industry in late March, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse — the original developer of the workhorse of the global nuclear industry, the pressurized-water reactor (PWR), and for many decades the world’s largest provider of nuclear technology — filed for bankruptcy after hitting big problems with its latest reactor design, the AP1000. Largely as a result, its parent company, the Japanese nuclear engineering giant Toshiba, is also in dire financial straits and admits there is “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern.

“Meanwhile, France’s state-owned Électricité de France (EDF), Europe’s biggest builder and operator of nuclear power plants, is deep in debt thanks to its own technical missteps and could become a victim of the economic and energy policies of incoming President Emmanuel Macron.

Those three companies account for more than half of all nuclear power generation worldwide. Their ‘looming insolvency … has set off a chain reaction of events that threatens the existence of nuclear power in the West,’ says Michael Shellenberger, president of the pro-nuclear NGO, Environmental Progress. ‘The nuclear industry as we have known it is coming to an end,’ says Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, a California eco-modernist think tank that advocates for nuclear power. …

“Meanwhile across the country, utilities are shutting existing plants from California to Wisconsin to Vermont, often long before the end of their design life, because they cannot compete with cheap fracked gas or, increasingly, with wind and solar power. Six power reactors have shut since 2012, and plans have been announced to close seven others. This is no short-term trend. While gas and renewables get cheaper, the price of nuclear power only rises. This is in large part to meet safety concerns linked to past reactor disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima and to post-9/11 security worries, and also a result of utilities factoring in the costs of decommissioning their aging reactors.

“Westinghouse’s downfall was partly caused by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission wanting, as Gregory Jaczko, its chairman from 2009 to 2012, put it, ‘to ensure [the AP1000 design] could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials.’ A 9/11 clause, in other words.

“The fallout from the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima plant following the 2011 tsunami has had an even more chilling effect than regulatory actions. …After the accident, Japan — which at the time relied on nuclear power for 30% of its electricity — shut all its 48 operational nuclear reactors for safety checks. Six years on, only five are back online. In many parts of the country, local politicians are refusing point-blank to allow resumption. …

Fukushima also proved to be the tipping point in Germany’s long-running and bitter nuclear debate. The accident persuaded the conservative and previously pro-nuclear Chancellor Angela Merkel to call time. Within weeks of the accident, she set a deadline of 2022 for shutting down the country’s reactors, which at the time generated 22% of German electricity. The finality of Germany’s decision was confirmed when engineering giants such as Siemens announced their exit from the reactor-building business.

France has long been Europe’s most enthusiastic nuclear nation. But it too is getting cold feet. In the wake of Fukushima, President Francois Hollande committed to cutting nuclear’s share of energy generation from 75% to 50% by 2025, with the gap to be filled by renewables. …The majority of France’s power reactors — mostly of Westinghouse PWR design, and built by EDF — were commissioned in the 1970s. Their average age is now well past 30 years. Their 40-year design lives could be extended if a safety review due next year finds in their favor. But large-scale construction to replace them seems increasingly unlikely. EDF’s latest power-plant design …has been beset by teething troubles. The prototype, being built at Flamanville in northern France, is six years behind schedule, and its cost has tripled to more than $10 billion. …

“Late last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body, said Asia had become the “driver” of global nuclear development. …South Korea has 25 working reactors delivering power. China is constructing new reactors at the rate of eight a year. And both countries are increasingly eyeing the export opportunities created by the collapse of the old order in the U.S., France and Japan. …A beaten and bankrupt industry built on high-cost, bespoke construction could be ripe for annexation by companies that have learned to mass-produce reactors based on old Westinghouse PWR designs and that have replaced nuclear scientists with engineers and experimentation with replication.

“But the invasion still may not come. Even in South Korea, nuclear companies are operating in the face of a political headwind, blowing from across the Sea of Japan. Wary of public concerns after Fukushima, South Korea’s newly elected president Moon Jae-in called during campaigning for a switch in the country’s energy mix from nuclear to renewables.”

 

Looking back at some who accurately predicted the future?

The Next Big Future website provides reminders to skeptically read exciting articles about new technology.

  1. Nuclear power will be added faster than wind power“, August 2008.
  2. Breeder Reactors, Uranium from Phosphate and Near Term Thorium usage“, September 2008

On the other hand, experts’ analysis are more reliable, as seen in the bottom line from “The Future of Nuclear Power“, an interdisciplinary MIT study published in June 2003.

“The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power. …But the prospects for nuclear energy as an option are limited, the report finds, by four unresolved problems: high relative costs; perceived adverse safety, environmental, and health effects; potential security risks stemming from proliferation; and unresolved challenges in long-term management of nuclear wastes.”

Also see this presentation by a realistic voice during the last boom, by Paul L. Joskow (Professor of Economics, MIT): “The Economics of Investment in New Nuclear Power Plants in the US“, 12 April 2005, Twelve years later this looks brilliant.

  1. “Nuclear industry has a poor historical record on construction cost estimation, realization and time to build.
  2. Few recent plants built and limited information on recent actual construction cost experience.
  3. Nuclear industry has put forward very optimistic construction cost estimates but there is no experience to verify them.
  4. Nobody has ever {overestimated} the construction cost of a nuclear power plant at the pre-construction stage.”

Conclusions

Nuclear power looks like a dying technology for the foreseeable future. Cost overruns, accidents, incompetence — the nuclear industry died mostly from self-inflicted wounds.

For more information

Here are two recent books by James Mahaffey. He has a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and three decades experience in the industry.

  1. Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima (2015).
  2. Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey into the Wild World of Nuclear Science (2017).

ISee all posts about energy sources, and especially these…

  1. Fusion energy, too risky a bet for America (we prefer to rely on war),
  2. Lessons from the hysteria about peak oil (2005-2013).
  3. Stratfor gives us good news, showing when renewables will replace fossil fuels.
  4. Good news: here’s why we won’t run out of minerals (including oil).
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260 thoughts on “End of a dream as the nuclear power industry dies a slow death

  1. Interesting timing to this post. We were just discussing some of of this over at Climate Etc today. My 1972 thesis showed using my newly developed dynamic input/output analysis math (Wassily Leontiev, my mentor, won the 1972 economics Nobel for the static (no lags) version) that nuclear was uneconomic even given the best data back in 1972. Short and overly simplistic reasons: too much concrete, too much steel, and therefore too much construction cost, so way too much indirect economic cost ripple effects to offset the smaller than thought fuel cost advantage (when the entire nuclear fuel cycle was accounted for).
    That said, I am a big fan of technology development of gen 4 fission concepts, and eventually funding maybe a couple of utility scale demonstrations to sort a winner. It will eventually be needed, and it is more than just bothersome that China is doing this at present while the US isn’t. Wrote about it in essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke, with lots of specifics and references. Particularly recommend the very accessible TransAtomic Power white paper availabe via their website.

    • Some of the new reactor designs operate at near-atmospheric pressure, thus not need for a massive containment structure.

    • The comment that France wants to get out of nuclear energy is a fairytale. Macron said this shortly after his arrival, in the meantime he has quite different sounds announced (as the new Climate Guide of Europe). Thus, the French nuclear capacity is even to be expanded. Only the oldest nuclear reactors are to be switched off. Whereby this “should” should have happened years ago. Germany will (wants to) reduce its remaining nuclear reactors, but in this country is still diligently researched on the 4th generation. And the EU, too, continues to include fourth-generation nuclear energy as another pillar of energy generation.
      I do not know about other countries, but this article seems to me to be overworked. When Mr. Cuomo reaches a shutdown of an atomic reactor in India, that does not mean that all nuclear power plants around the world are about to be shut down. Is FABIUS MAXIMUS properly informed here?

      • Indian point, what Cuomo wants to shut down is in NY State, about 30 miles from the Empire State Building. It is also abput 20 miles from the house I grew up in, also in New York State.

      • “Climate Guide” is obviously meant to be “climate leader”; in German the word Führer is used for guide as well as for leader. A seducer is a “Verführer”.

    • Nuclear Energy Startup Transatomic Backtracks on Key Promises

      The company, backed by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, revised inflated assertions about its advanced reactor design after growing concerns prompted an MIT review.

      In a white paper published in March 2014, the company proclaimed its reactor “can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.” Those lofty claims helped it raise millions in venture capital, secure a series of glowing media profiles (including one in this publication), and draw a rock-star lineup of technical advisors. But in a paper on its site dated November 2016, the company downgraded “75 times” to “more than twice.”

      At that point, there were growing doubts in the field about the company’s claims and at least some worries that any inflated claims could tarnish the reputation of MIT’s nuclear department, which has been closely associated with the company. “I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics,” Smith says. He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue,” Smith says.

      The company has previously said it intends to build a demonstration reactor by 2020, but that timeline has slipped to 2021. Nuclear experts say that approval and construction of any advanced-reactor prototype requires a minimum of 10 years, given the extensive regulatory requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

      https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603731/nuclear-energy-startup-transatomic-backtracks-on-key-promises/

      Long on claims that raise capital, short on delivering. The Musk principle is pervasive in the energy field.

      • Here in Florida I pay *rummages around for latest bill* for the “Energy ” part of the billing, $0.076 for the first 500 kWh each month, $0.0864 for the second 500 kWh, and $0.0971 for any kWhs over 1000, plus a cost of $0.0063 tacked on to each kWh for what is called “Power” cost.
        There is also about $15 or so dollars in taxes and fees each month, and a customer charge of $15.
        Total for 2272 kWh is $251.58, or slightly over 11 cents per kWh, total including taxes and fees.
        This is less than it has been for most of the past 15 years here, I think.
        I recently calculated the payback time for installing solar power at my place, because we have net billing and there is a subsidy from the federal government, but the math is ridiculous.
        If I did all the work myself and valued my time at zero, I would have to pay more than 12 years of such bills up front before seeing one cent of “free power”. Or, IOW, before I have theoretically saved any money.
        And that is not taking into account any ongoing costs like for roof damage, premature failure of components, storm damages, etc. And assuming no further costs makes no sense.
        If I calculated into that the income from investing all of that money in the stock market instead, and assuming long term average gains from that investment, the payback time stretches way out.
        Far longer than any of that equipment will last.
        And by the way my calculation involved spending time shopping for the cheapest solar panels available on the retail market, which appears to be either Amazon or Home Depot, of which only H.D. makes sense because of concerns about shipping damage and their very friendly return policy (no questions asked replacement or refund or anything that is damaged)

      • BTW, things like electric motors can be easily made to run on any voltage, and I suspect many of not all of the things we have that run on electricity could be made to run on the DC voltages easily obtained by solar.
        In fact, I think just about everything electronic has as it’s first internal or external component a device called a “power supply” which converts 120v AC to the DC voltage required by the device.
        So, really, if we wanted to run our homes on self generated solar power, we could get rid of a lot of the costs by engineering our gadgets appropriately, from the get-go, for such.
        We spend money for components, and lose power, on both steps of converting to AC and then back to DC.
        This occurred to me when figuring out separately the cost to mine bitcoins with solar.

      • Here in Germany I pay $ US 0.79 cents per Kwh
        (euro 0.67cents )

        What ever happened to German rigour and pride in being accurate, correct and informed ? The unit is kWh not Kwh and you can’t specify a monetary amount as being both cents and dollars, it must be on or the other. ie it’s either $ US 0.79 or 79 cents.

        FWIW in France the unit price is about 0.11 euro / kWh but that is more than doubled by the subscription charges. EDF has always made more money out of subscriptions than from selling electricity.

        I was speaking to a friend last night about this and he had this directly from EDF execs about 30 years ago. It is still the same today for most household accounts.

      • What I find interesting is that no one is talking about fuel cells. In effect we can take our abundance of NG and the US Propane Infrastructure ( Hank Hill would be proud ) to power local facilities ( schools, factories and neighborhoods ) in a co-gen sort-a-way and have the residual heat for domestic hot water where it is practical. It will alleviate the load on the GRID while we get rid of renewables and perfect the next generation of nuclear power.
        http://www.bloomenergy.com/fuel-cell/solid-oxide/
        Read about the modular construction that MAJOR US firms are taking advantages of —-the reliability and elimination of the political meanderings of our no-nothing Politicians.

    • Reminds me of the Hayes modem. No one actually had a Hayes modem that I knew, but almost every modem used its command set. That is we pioneered a lot of nuclear technology, but it will be everyone else in the world that will prosper from it. Someone was ranting that levelized intermittent energy sources can compete with sustained sources like methane turbines. The push for variable output energy is too sexy to fight.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayes_Microcomputer_Products

  2. Not it’s time yet . . . But it’s coming. Not until the economic benefits are better than cheap fossil fuels, and the liability issues are dealt with . . . Not to mention the waste

  3. The United Staes has been a disaster at meeting modern energy needs. The D.O.E. was supposed to help our strategic position on energy supply, but what did we do? We mortgaged our soul to the House of Saud.
    Adm Rickover was willing to settle for heavy boiling water reactors instead of efficient, low nuclear waste reactors like breeders or the Oak Ridge MSR. Whether Thorium will ever catch on in the West, India has massive deposits, China is working apace on new designs, the five or so MSR developers in the US have to face massive bureaucracy and without new leadership won’t survive. Part of our demise as a world power…

    • Do not forget that the reason we are slaves to China’s Rare Earth production is that it costs too much to deal with the accompaning Thorium in US ores to justify the cost. Maybe we can sell the Thoriun to China?

    • The issue is not thorium=>U233 versus U235=>Pu fissile nuclear cycles. It is the other as yet unsolved engineering issues in the general concept of molten salt reactors. The best overview of them and possible solutions (which include basic advances in stuff like metallurgy) is the TranAtaomic Power white paper mentioned in my comment upthread. Everybody here should get it and read it.

      • Thorcon does not seem to see any issues with or they would not be saying they can make one in four years:

        “ThorCon is all about NOW. ThorCon requires no new technology. ThorCon is a straightforward scale-up of the successful Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). The MSRE is ThorCon’s pilot plant. There is no technical reason why a full-scale 250 MWe prototype cannot be operating within four years. The intention is to subject this prototype to all the failures and problems that the designers claim the plant can handle. This is the commercial aircraft model, not the Nuclear Regulatory Commission model. As soon as the prototype passes these tests, full-scale production can begin.”

        http://thorconpower.com/

  4. The nuclear industry is thriving in the technologically competent and visionary world leading countries of the future, like China and Russia, who understand STEM and value a cheap, plentiful, 24/7, zero emissions including CO2, wholly sustainable, low resource use 24/7 energy source.

    This group no longer includes the USA, led by short term clueless populist science deniers, carpet baggers and taking notice of extremist lobbies that exploit fear and ignorance for selfish gain, rather tha banning them (India) or locking them up as the dangerous sociopaths they are.(China).

    It’s a really bad idea to deny the need for plentiful energy in a technolology and energy dependent economy.

    Wholly stupid to believe that the energy sources of carbohydrate slavery plus wind and water mills and wood burning powered economies can somehow be made more intense and less intermittent by crooked/delusional subsidies.

    It’s about the laws of physics, stupid! Gung Ho is getting on with it. See pictogram.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/anzvbil1v8i2b0b/Where%20Nuclear%20Power%20Stations%20Come%20From.jpg?dl=0

    • It’s unclear how far natural gas can go. First global conventional gas is huge, presumably global shale gas is more huge, and frankly, I think offshore gas hydrate has really large potential.

      As much as I’d like the US to lead on MSR or other, I’ve got my doubts unless some super entrepreneur-engineer does it.

      • I agree. And gas is good for heat with >90% effient boilers and no pollution, just Protium and CO2 out.. Electricity much more expensive and ground sourced heat pumps somewhat impractical in cities where everyone lives. So go for nuclear electricity and save the gas for heating? UK has at least 40 years of Gas in the main Bowland field.

      • Not sure who you mean. Don’t know CE or B&W. If you [mean] Babcock and Wilcox they make parts, don’t supply reactors. Only GE HItachi and Toshiba Westinghouse are significant in this in the USA. And then only just. Please provide full names.

        • brianrlcatt, replying to ripshin

          Not sure who you mean. Don’t know CE or B&W. If you [mean] Babcock and Wilcox they make parts, don’t supply reactors. Only GE HItachi and Toshiba Westinghouse are significant in this in the USA. And then only just. Please provide full names

          Combustion Engineering, Babcock & Wilcox. Both were older (original 50-60-70’s) US nuclear component suppliers-builders-designers. CE had several very interesting advanced gas-cooled reactor prototypes, but their ideas did not overcome the marketing dominance of GE and Westinghouse in the mid and early 70’s.

      • brianrlcatt,

        Yes, sorry, RACooke is correct. CE is Combustion Engineering and B&W is Babcock and Wilcox. They were/are full NSSS suppliers, although CE was purchased by Toshiba/Westinghouse. Currently, there are quite a few CE plants in operation, including St. Lucie (2 units), Palo Verde (3), ANO (1), Calvert Cliffs (2)…and I think SONGS (2) were CE also. B&W has a couple left including Oconee (2 or 3, not sure), ANO (1), Davis Besse (1), and the infamous TMI (1 remaining).

        So, I would say that your characterization of them is inaccurate. They absolutely supplied reactors (PWR).

        Finally, my above post should have stated BWR, not Bar. There are quite a few GE designed boilers out there, still running and producing power.

        rip

    • Well said. The climate delusions of the consensus leads them farther from reality, not closer.
      And in a growing circle of destruction.
      Why are many of the same media promoting GMO fear and climate obsession now selling UFOs bs?

    • I take issue with anyone who claims that the way to move forward is to lock up those who disagree with your goals.

      • If it is the only way to save humanity from religious delusionals on the demonstrable science facts, why not. These are the deliberately deceitful priests of a wholly false religion and the enemies of humanity’s future in any developed form, surviving the next ice age as a developed civilisation, with NO fossil fuel to re build further than to agrarian poverty and feudalism. In Russia and China this is exactly what happens, and faster human progress is made withpout its enemies..

  5. Odd, I don’t see much about NRC, FERC, AEC, PUC, etc. Goodness knows none of those entities share any of the responsibility. Nope, must be a pure failure of evil free market capitalism.

  6. Nations that lose nuclear power are the ones too stupid to deserve it or to deserve a future. They will lose both.

    • Russia and China are setting themselves up as the power generators of the Old World. Those who control electricity control society. Trump’s energy independence will serve the New World well, and will develop international agreements that respect all NA/SA partners. It doesn’t matter what source is used as long as it is reliable.

  7. Good article. I was Southern California Edison’s project manager for its San Onofre Units 2 and 3 nuclear power plant from 1973 to 1979. Additionally I was SCE’s project manager for the CPUC prudence review in 1986 of this plants total building costs of 4.6 billion. The plants went into operation in 1983 and 1984 after starting construction in 1974.

    The CPUC ruled that about 95% of the plants construction costs were prudent and that amount went into SCE’s rate base.

    While project manager for construction of this SCE plant I reviewed about a dozen other nuclear power plants that were under construction around the country in that time frame.

    All US nuclear power plants experienced major cost increases and schedules delays during their construction. These increases were driven by the inability to meet targeted construction schedules because of underestimates of the time periods needed to install and start up the massive amounts of material, equipment and systems associated with these plants.

    The process of starting construction of these plants while engineering design was only about 30% complete was a major contributor to the evolving and changing project construction schedules as material and equipment requirements became defined as engineering was further completed. This engineering/construction approach was used to try to reduce the overall construction schedules for these massive projects.

    Also numerous delays in schedule occurred in nuclear plant construction as regulatory requirements evolved and changed during the construction periods including the consequences of the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 which in the case of San Onofre Units 2 and 3 delayed the plants construction by 2 years as new NRC regulations and requirements were reflected in the plants revised design, construction and startup.

    The massive size and scope of these nuclear power plants were simply too large to provide for control of project schedule and the failure to control schedule drove major cost overruns.

    The nuclear plant era for the types of plants built in the US ended long ago but this realization was slow to be recognized.

    There is no way nuclear plants can compete with the speed, cost effectiveness and simplicity that natural gas plants can be built.

    • Yup. Some current data. CCGT <$1500/kw and $3000/kw and greater than 4 years to comoletion. Nuclear (Voglte 3 and 4) now >11000/kw and > 12 years to completion. DUH.

      • CPP, nope. I am talking utility scale dispachable bulk generation. You are compareing a piss ant unreliable home generator. Apples to oranges. You can find real utility data on line at FERC or by googling specific utility generation regulatory documents. For CCGT, try FPL Port Everglades. For USC coal, try the Turk Arkansas plant. For 3 gen nuclear, try Voglte 3 and 4. Have a nice day.

      • “a piss ant unreliable home generator.” …..typical response from someone that is ignorant of mechanical systems.
        ….
        Also someone that is ignorant of “economy of scale”

      • CPP, before alleging ignorance of these issues, read my thesis and then essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke (with lots of footnotes for you to follow up, then the recommended TransAtomic Power white paper. Is hot linked in the essay in case you do not know how to find yourseld. There is surely ignorance on display somewhere here. Your to do is to figure out where,

      • Another example of your piss ant unreliable cell phone: “yourseld”

        And why on earth would I pay for your “ebook” ?…….If you can’t type straight, why should one assume you can think straight?

      • Nope I actually meant my Harvard University thesis on file in Widner Library. Now what did I do to make you so nasty other than compare yournHome Depot generator price to a utility grade and scale dispatchable generating unit?

      • Well for one thing, calling something ” a piss ant unreliable” deserves ridicule. It shows you are not mechanically inclined. It’s an artifact of being a trained to practice law…..law schools pickles one’s brain.

        Secondly, your reference to a white paper from a company who’s main product is vaporware (TransAtomic): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/12/23/end-of-a-dream-as-the-nuclear-power-industry-dies-a-slow-death/comment-page-1/#comment-2700790 You should know better.

        Now, can you show me a list of your published science, instead of your ebook opinions?

      • CCGT is a combined cycle gas turbine, it is nothing like a home generator. Notably efficiency is far greater (twice) than a simple ICE.

      • I would expect it to be more efficient, at > 6x the cost? You could get a water cooled diesel (or nat-gas) genset, and plumb the cooling water from it to provide baseboard heat…….that setup would be much a much more efficient use of fossil fuels than CCGT. Not even considering that locally generated electricity overcomes the transmission losses of a distant power plant.

      • Then why buy, best make your own much cheaper. But figures I see are about usd 750,00 per mw. It really is not expensive and very cheap and quick to build.

      • You failed to account for the cost of the gas.

        In reality a nuclear power station of adequate real safety* could be built at around $3000/KW and in under 5 years.

        The true lifetime levelised cost of nuclear when run as baseload to maximise income has been as low as $0.03c/kWh – completely comparable with coal and cheaper than gas.

        Why else are gas companies throwing billions at anti-nuclear campaigns?

        (*It would not of course meet current regulations, as these are designed to render it uneconomic).

      • C. Paul Pierett wrote, “I can get 2kw for $499 ($250/kw) at Harbor Freight:”

        If such a device is so good and universally available, why is anyone getting their power from the grid?

      • I recently lived through a hurricane which knocked out power to this entire region for several weeks to months, although a few got power back very quickly…in only several days.
        I personally went about two weeks running on a home generator.
        Most places in the US have no access to natural gas, so you are stuck with using either gasoline of propane in one of the units you can buy at a retail chain.
        I ordered one ahead of the storm that can run on nat gas or propane or gasoline and can be changed from one to the other at the flip of a switch.
        It is a 11,000 surge watts and 8,500 running watts unit. Cost about $1200, delivered. Unfortunately it did not arrive until after my power was back on.
        So I was using a somewhat smaller gasoline unit.
        One of these generators needs to have the oil changed about every day and a half under continuous duty, three days is really pushing it. They are incredibly noisy. They use about a gallon to 1.5 gallons of gas per 1000 watts per day. gas has very strict rules about storage and max allowable tank size for residences. You basically have to stick with multiple five gallon jugs. Storing volatile gasoline is dangerous, although his risk is manageable.
        But refueling requires turning the unit off and allowing it to cool to refuel it safely. So you are not going to have continuous power no matter what you do.
        But already the cost of fuel makes this power incredibly expensive.
        And you need to monitor the fuel gage and make sure that thing does not run itself out of gas…very bad for a engine like that, even if there is no trace of contaminants in the fuel tank, which there always is.
        Driving to buy gas, time to refuel the thing, which requires turning everything off and then back on one by one once it is running, big problems with devices with huge startup current, like well motors and vacuum cleaners and air conditioners…enormous problem when you are power constrained. Beyond what most people ae in any way able to even assess, let alone deal with.
        And that noise…in many places you will be made to turn it off at night except during a disaster, and in other places you cannot use them even during the day. Campsites and RV sites require use of an inverter type due to the noise issue…far more expensive.
        Propane solves some of the issues…like storage of a large amount of fuel, and delivery of same, and not having to turn it off for refueling, but you still need to change that oil frequently.
        Yes a few people are up to this, most are not though…and the cost adds greatly to price per kWh.
        And propane itself is usually more expensive per btu than gasoline. It is only obtained as a by-product of other processes, and so supply is constrained and so price is inelastic…it goes way up when demand is more than supply.
        I write this down so even a complete jackass can begin to see when he does not know what the hell he is talking about.

      • CPP,
        You are proving the truth about assuming. Mostly you, if you get my drift?

        Ristvan,
        Thanks for your excellent points.
        I have lived for nearly 3 months on an island with great dependency on personal sized generators.
        No one confuses them with grid power.
        And they are breaking down from the 3+ months of high use.

      • CPP,

        “a piss ant unreliable home generator.” …..typical response from someone that is ignorant of mechanical systems.

        The generator you propose has the following maintenance and service requirements, each of which requires shutting down the generator and allowing various degrees of cool down.

        For reference: https://manuals.harborfreight.com/manuals/62000-62999/62523.pdf

        – every 6 hours (at 50% load): refuel
        – every 50 hours / 2.1 days: clean/replace air filter.
        – every 100 hours / 4.2 days: perform 50 hour maintenance plus change engine oil, check and clean spark plug.
        – every 300 hours / 12.5 days: perfom 100 hour maintenance plus clean fuel tank, fuel filter, and carburetor, check and adjust engine valves, clean carbon build-up from engine combustion chambers.
        Warranty: 90 days
        Service Life (continuous duty) : 3000 hours / 125 days (??)

        A utility scale baseload power plant will run continuosly for months or, in some cases, years without shutdown and will continue to do so for 20+ years. The difference in reliability and longevity between a utility generator and the generator that you propose is several orders of magnitude.

        Finally, the output of your generator is 1.6kW continuous. The 2kW rating is a ‘starting’ or ‘peak surge’ rating (ie. approx 2 seconds). As confirmation of this, the engine is rated at 2.8HP/2.1kW and it is safe to say that the single phase generator has 80% efficiency at best.

        I’ll conclude by saying that I consider the rating of commercial/residential generators based on peak/momentary power to be a deceptive marketing practice because people with no knowledge of such things are easily misled.

    • Thorcon would beg to disagree. When you make molten salt reactors on an assembly line, the game changes radically.

      The entire ThorCon plant including the building is manufactured in blocks on a shipyard-like assembly line. These 150 to 500 ton, fully outfitted, pre-tested blocks are barged to the site. A 1 GWe ThorCon will require less than 200 blocks. Site work is limited to excavation and erecting the blocks. This produces order of magnitude improvements in productivity, quality control, and build time. ThorCon is much more than a power plant; it is a system for building power plants. A single large reactor yard can turn out one hundred 1 GWe ThorCons per year.

      http://thorconpower.com/

    • There are two things that have made nuclear power more expensive in the US than it should have been:

      The first was a paranoia about the possibility of an undiscovered common mode failure, so, while each generating station was broadly similar to all of the others, no two nuclear generating stations were identical. The converse of this was that each station had its own unforeseen difficulties. While the RBMK1000 reactors built by the Soviets all over the fUSSR did have a catastrophic common failure mode, devising a fix to prevent a second instance of that catastrophe fixed all RBMK1000 reactors, not just the remaining three units at Chernobyl. Designing a new reactor to not share potential problems with an existing reactor, while basically doing the exact same thing is a completely unnecessary expense.

      The second was even worse. To allow nuclear power plants to get built faster, the utilities could get a permit to start construction before they had a conditional permit to operate. As each nuclear generating station was unique, getting the conditional permit to operate was already more difficult than it had to be. Anti-nuclear advocates took advantage of this regulatory quirk to generate huge cost overruns by delaying the operating permit as long as possible once there was an asset to strand and then showing how the costs of the delays made nuclear power unprofitable. The Long Island Light Company’s Shoreham NGS ended up being decommissioned before it ever went critical to eliminate the cost of nuclear waste disposal.

      Finally “too cheap to meter” does not mean that consumers would not receive a bill for the power, but that a home with a 200 amp service connection would pay twice the flat rate of a home with a 100 amp service connection and the expense of reading all of the meters would not be worth the trouble of billing for only the energy consumed

  8. If and only if the ‘Cost of Carbon’ as derided by the green gang is taken into effect would nuclear ever be able to compete with carbon based fuels at their current costs. The current state of decline in the US nuclear business represents an answer to the unasked question “How safe is safe enough”. The costs of building and maintaining something that is ultrasafe to the n’th degree has proved untenable. If we insisted that airplanes or automobiles meet the same safety standards for accident and death we could not fly or drive.
    Eventually nuclear energy will be necessary to maintain our economies but that will not be for a very long time.

    • If we insisted that airplanes or automobiles meet the same safety standards for accident and death we could not fly or drive.

      Actually they do have to meet the same safety standards… a worst-case scenario does not result in

      1) People in an entire country/continent being threatened with poisoning.

      2) an area becoming uninhabitable for hundreds if not thousands of years

      Exxon Valdez (Alaska) and the BP Deepwater Horizon spill (Gulf of Mexico) were rightly considered major disasters in their own right. Yet, today, you can go back to those sites without special protective gear. Chernobyl and Fukushima… not so much.

      • Simply not true regarding Fukushima at least – I do think the NYT, given its general bias, would be unlikely to understate the danger, but evidently even they didn’t find anything worth mentioning:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/science/when-radiation-isnt-the-real-risk.html

        In that light, I tend to believe similar reports from the Chernobyl area that count those bodily harmed by the accident in dozens, not thousands. Looks to me like these “major nuclear disasters” can safely be put in the same basket as Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon: No lasting impact except what was/is caused by misguided overregulation and orchestrated panicmongering.

      • I am a Chernobyl survivor. The radiation spread all over western Europe as far as south western Ireland. Shame about some sheep though.

      • you can go back to Chernobyl and Fukushima in perfect safety provided you stay off the actual power station sites.

        The exclusion zone round Fukushima is less radioactive that many places in the world are, naturally.

        http://vps.templar.co.uk/Cartoons%20and%20Politics/haytor.jpg

        It is worthwhile reading Wade Allison on the ACTUAL dangers of radiation rather then the mythological ones…

        http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Public_Trust_in_Nuclear_Energy.pdf

        The long and the short of it is that low level radiation is on the DATA about 100-1000 times less dangerous than existing regulations surrounding nuclear POWER suggest. i.e. Fukushima they are trying to get radiation below 3mSv/yr – and yet Dartmoor (in the image) has levels of a far more dangerous gas – Radon – at 20msV or more, and indeed Ramsar in Iran is famous for levels up around 200mSv/yr.

        Whereas in cancer treatment…have you any idea of how high the doses are?

        among the 237 workers who bravely put out the fire at the Chernobyl accident, most of those who received an acute dose of more than 4,000mSv died within a few weeks of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) which is due to cells dying. Cell death from radiation is used beneficially in the treatment of cancer. High doses are delivered during a course of radiotherapy (RT) by aiming beams of radiation to kill the tumour cells. Millions of patients each year around the world receive such treatment and most return home thankful for more years of fruitful life. Such a course may last 4-6 weeks with a daily dose of 2,000mSv given each time to the tumour. Unfortunately it is not possible to restrict the radiation to the tumour alone and neighbouring tissue and organs may get as much as 1,000mSv each day – and these can indeed survive the RT course. Over a month the tumour gets more than 40,000mSv and the peripheral healthy tissue as much as 20,000mSv – that is five times the fatal dose experienced by some Chernobyl workers! Here is a very simple sketch of how it works. Each day the cells attempt to repair the damage caused by the radiation (as discussed below). For the tumour cells the repair mechanisms are marginally overwhelmed, and for the peripheral tissue with its lower dose the mechanisms are just able to complete repairs before the next day. This separation of the dose into daily treatments is named fractionation.
        After 4 to 6 weeks the tumour is hopefully dead and the peripheral tissue survives. Evidently, the success of
        such courses with their multiple doses is witness to these repairs. And everyone knows a friend or relative
        who has experienced this if they have not themselves.

        Civilizations as we now have constructed it, runs on energy. It is unthinkable to even consider what would happen to a modern city if its electricity supply failed. And yet no Western city has had a power station of any sort built in it for decades.

        Energy is life and death to billions of urban people. Energy is the biggest global market. Trlilions or more…

        In 2011, expenditures on energy totalled over 6 trillion USD, or about 10% of the world gross domestic product (GDP). Europe spends close to one-quarter of the world’s energy expenditures, North America close to 20%, and Japan 6%
        ..wiki.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption

        Did you actually expect anyone would tell you the truth about it?

        Funding anti-nuclear propaganda is done out of the petty cash.

      • Actually replying to some replies to me, but WordPress doesn’t allow replies nested that deep.

        I fear that we’re looking at a large jump in cancers/leukemia/etc over the next 50 years. There were a lot of radioactive iodine and cesium and noble gases released. Question… have people gone back to Chernobyl or Fukushima as permanent residents? No, I’m not talking about film crews in for short visits to make a documentary.

        “”Stuff happens” (e.g. Fukushima and Chernobyl) or to put it another way, a quote from the internet

        Sooner or later, in any foolproof system
        the fools are going to exceed the proofs

        A natural gas plant or coal plant blowing up is one thing. Fukushima/Chernobyl is another. Separate from that, there is still the unanswered question of “what do you do with tons of radioactive waste for the next several thousand years?”

      • How many people have died in the Atomic Industry and it’s accidents?
        How many people have died in Car accidents?
        How many people have died in Plane crashes?
        His statement is correct, you cannot apply the same requirements to cars and planes, cars would be way too expensive and Planes would never be allowed to fly.

      • There are plenty of places to put radioactive waste that would be perfectly safe and long lasting.
        The Yucca Mountain site or deep ocean subduction trenches, or even burial in deep ocean sediment …there is a long list of viable long term solutions. Although personally I think it should be put in a place where it can be gotten to when someone figures out how to use it.
        The only problems are irrational fears and weak leadership on the issue.
        Politics prevents a solution from being implemented, not technology or geology.
        As for a gas plant blowing up, lots of people would die.
        Unless one is exposed to sufficient radiation to cause acute radiation sickness, chances of death from it are minimal.
        Your fear of a spike in deaths from 50 years hence is unfounded.
        It does not happen.
        People exposed to low levels of radiation become less likely to get cancer, due to activation of cellular repair mechanisms.
        Even people who survived the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced only slightly increased cancer risk, and a tiny loss of life expectancy.
        People who lived for years in highly radioactive buildings in Taiwan, due to an industrial mix up, had LOWER rates of all cancers than people not so exposed.
        Fears of risk from low level radiation are not based on science and are for the most part completely irrational.
        As noted, there are people all over the world and involved in various occupations that are exposed to greatly increased levels of background radiation, and such people are not shown to be endangered by this.

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160811120353.htm

      • There is a big difference between Cancer treatment radiation exposure and environmental exposure.
        With radiation therapy cancer treatments, the exposure time is limited to minutes per day per treatment.
        In the case of Chernobyl and Fukushima the exposure is constant so long as you are in the area and the effect is cumulative. It is the Long Term exposure to somewhat elevated levels of 200 – 300msV lasting hours that creates the problem rather than a high dose exposure of 2000 – 4000msV lasting minutes

  9. Nuclear power globally is not dying.
    There is no fundamental reason why nuclear, a superb power source, should be replaced by unreliables like wind and solar, or gas of limited reserves.
    What you are seeing in the USA is a consequence of failed education. You have allowed propaganda to dictate science acceptance.
    Turn your efforts to speaking truth to nuclear power, revamp your many regulatory impediments and you will make nuclear great again. In under 5 years, if you try.
    Geoff.
    PS: Larry, don’t try to base your case on a half-dozen words at a social occasion. Such cheap to meter words have no standing against reality, unless you are among the poorly educated, who actually believe what they see in the mass media.

    • GS, it is a matter of exonomics (absent the bogus ‘cost of carbon’). Simple truth is that almost everywhere, at projected delivered LNG prices, 61% efficient CCGT is much cheaper than any alternative, while about 40% the CO2 intensity of USC coal.

      • DB, I fully agree. The new shale gas abundance wll last much longer than shale oil, formbasic geophysical reasons. My current calculations are 30-40 years more, withnthe shale oil abundance disappearing within a decade from now. Wrote about the latter extensively in ebook Blowing Smoke. Am on admittedly shakey geophysical ground with respect to shale gas.

      • Its very disingenuous to say ‘it is a matter of economics’ when government regulation and taxation has a 80%+ impact on capital and running costs.

        You can in theory build a nuclear reactor for similar prices to a gas power station. And uranium is WAY cheaper than gas per unit energy.

        Why else are gas companies funding anti nuclear propaganda?

        Only by raising hysterical objections and forcing weak governments into massive over regulation can the cots of nuclear be driven beyond the cost of gas.

  10. Not economic, extremely dangerous, see ya’.

    Nuclear energy is never going to work long-term when it is based on radioactive release. Fusion as currently proposed will be 1,000’s of times more radioactive than our uranium/plutonium if fission..

    Other elements and isotopes need to be used instead.

    • Bill, with respect I would like to rate your post 5 stars or greater for containing more completely false statements than any other this week.

      You should consider that renewable energy derives from a huge fusion reactor that runs completely unshielded and showers the earth with deadly radiation that kills more people in one state of the USA every year than have died from man made nuclear power in all human history.

    • Wrong. Dense Plasma Focus using pB11 is an aneutronic reaction — thus producing no radioactive waste.

      How it works

      video/211492763

      Reaching ignition

      video/212111841

      Complete Album of Videos
      Device video:

      video/211492763
      LPPFusion.com

      • Until someone actually demonstrates productions of cheap electricity from fusion, it remains a good idea which has been 10% disappointing and has produced nothing while sucking up tons of money.

      • Men– ever hear of R&D… new tech doesn’t emerge by magic… while heretofore fusion energy has yet to appear, the new approach of Dense Plasma Focus has already reached 2 or three criteria for fusion… while the third criterion for fusion– energy density— will be tested in early 2018… there is no basis for your proclamations that fusion will never be a useful energy technology using the DPF model.

      • Perhaps you should stick to criticizing me for what I actually said and not for what you imagine I might have meant. And I say that with all due respect.
        IOW…maybe you need to read what I wrote over again.

        I most certainly did not proclaim anything, and never even implied at all that I thought it would never be a viable source of power or a useful energy technology.
        What I said is true…so far…nothing.
        I am as hopeful as anyone, but after many years of keeping up with the ongoing research, I am not holding my breathe and would not bet on any imminent breakthroughs.
        You are of course welcome to do so.

      • “it remains a good idea which has been 100% disappointing and has produced nothing while sucking up tons of money.”

        Men- After I post information on a very promising and advancing approach to fusion energy at LPPFusion, I guess your REPLY cited above, is to be construed as an endorsement of fusion research?

        Your words.

    • If you look at the countries with the highest power consumption, you also know why. These are exactly the countries that want to build the most nuclear fission power plants:
      https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/151356/umfrage/stromverbrauch-ausgewaehlter-laender-weltweit/

      It’s not that I’m pro at nuclear power, but you have to keep your sense of reality, and many more nuclear power plants will (have to) be built in the next few years. There is no other way to satisfy the growing hunger for energy. Let’s hope that the new buildings are of the 4th generation and not old concepts, because resurrect cheaper.

    • Hans

      If you believe many nukes are going to be built in the US, you’re quite the optimist. I doubt you can find many in the electric utility industry who agree with you.

      In China and India — with their rapid economic growth — that is quite possible.

      • As soon as the first molten salt reactors come on line in China, that will change in a heartbeat. A number of countries and companies are working on making them. Molten salt reactors are game changers because they require no pressure vessel, they are walk away safe, and they can be made on an assembly line.

        See

        http://thorconpower.com/

      • “Hans

        If you believe many nukes are going to be built in the US, you’re quite the optimist. I doubt you can find many in the electric utility industry who agree with you.

        In China and India — with their rapid economic growth — that is quite possible.
        Reply”

        Larry,

        I do not know this on my own or on my own perfection. The source I have posted here in Germany and Europe is the best statistical source and this has very serious statements, which are based mostly on official numbers. I think even Donald Trump or another president knows that shale gas and shale oil are finite and that a counterbalance to fossil energy needs to be created. Apparently nobody believes in the breakthrough with wind and solar, mainly because of the uncertain situation on the storage side of the electricity generated by it. But also because of the high costs. Not only for the construction, but also for the later maintenance. Every single wind turbine and solar panel needs maintenance, otherwise it loses its efficiency over the years. And the more decentralized producers you have, the higher the maintenance effort. Atomic energy is currently the only other option, although of course it is fought by the green and left side.

  11. The article sounds right. One thing though. With most products there is a learning curve. Unit serial number 0001 costs X. And it requires a lot of fixes. But by the time you get to serial number 0020, things have fallen into a pattern. You’ve learned stuff. Unit 0020 costs less than Unit 0001 to produce. And it works better. Unit 0040 takes even less time to build and costs even less.

    But with nuclear power there appears to be no learning curve. The latest and greatest designs are experiencing horrendous cost and schedule overruns, Wind, Solar, Coal, Natural Gas — they show a learning curve. Nuclear doesn’t. Why?

    • Who says that there is no learning curve in economy for 4th generation reactors? These must first be built in larger quantities to be cheaper. There is a difference in both energy production and costs, whether I build a single wind turbine or a large nuclear reactor. Furthermore, costs for renewable energies are huge, taking the cost of all wind turbines and solar system together. Adding up to the costs of dams and hydro turbines, this small fraction of energy production brings together horrendous costs worldwide. Not counting the backup power plants, which also want to be built and maintained. I see it differently, every energy production costs a lot of money and resources, it is only the question of whether we want a steady and weather-independent generation or power generation, or a superficially environmentally friendly, but the CO2 emissions remain at the same level. Such as solar and wind.

      • Of course you could do it like California, neglecting the dams and hoping that the drought will continue. But do not be fooled, even wind turbines and solar panels require maintenance when they get old. I know this from the Karlsruher wind turbines, which were among the first to be built in Germany. Despite their maintenance, they were more and more frequently shut down until they were replaced.

      • The cost history in the US included almost exponential regulatory cost increases and the total lack of cookie-cutter designs. Most sites seemed to have different layouts, even in one brand.

      • Most reactors are now redesigned several times in the build phase to cope with the never ending regulatory ratcheting.

        Governments have utterly failed to stand up and face down commercial and political propaganda and have simply given in to all the nonsense talked about things that have huge commercial value.

      • Exactly.
        Nuke plants should be built to be identical using an optimal design, and red tape eliminated.
        There is no intrinsic reason it should be so expensive.

    • If you change the design more frequently than you change the serial number, there is *no learning curve*. Do it once, debug it, then freeze the design and you can reap the benefits of a learning curve. I’ve worked on a lot of “Serial #1” designs, and each was a law unto itself. After the debug process, they were much more tractable. By the time they got to volume production, they might actually be profitable.

    • Each location seems to be different from every other one. That would mean a lack of standardization. Small modular designs are being pursued because of this I think.

    • I’d quite like to see the regulatory cost actually fully broken out. Even as one of the primary rationales for SMRs – I still haven’t seen a credible estimate of what’s involved (anybody?)

      As Larry Hamlin says up thread – a lot of the projects are moving targets and the bureaucratic constipation consequent from a diet of adjusted specs makes me glad that I didn’t take up an offer of employment in the nuclear power business in the 1970s.

      The learning curve is swamped by vested interest, lobbying, accountants looking to ammortise non recurring costs and bureaucratic inertia. Innovation is stifled too – add in the Green loons and it’s not a good recipe.

      I have followed the attempts to get MSRs moving and given the benefits (esp the ability to do a more complete burn and throw in some “waste” ) this is getting a simply pitiful amount of attention from those who hold the assorted purse strings.

      Throw up a tin shed with several modded jet engines, an extension lead + gas pipe and you’re good to go – difficult to beat that ….

      • The San Onofre Unit 2 & 3 cost estimate in 1979 just before the Three Mile Island accident was $2.6 billion with operating dates of 1981 and 1982. The delays created by the Three Mile Accident to the San Onofre plant occurred at about the worst time possible in its construction schedule – that being near the end of the project after engineering and construction was well along and the project was commencing startup functions with various systems.

        The CPUC accounts for costs at these plants by allowing the utilities to accrue AFUDC (allowance for funds used during construction) which represents interest on expended funds over the course of the construction and startup of the project which reflects the lost investment return on these funds which cannot receive a return until the project is in rate base.

        At the end of the these projects the AFUDC represents a vey significant portion of the projects total cost.

        The growth in the San Onofre Units 2 & 3 cost from $2.6 to $4.6 billion was largely driven by the 2 year delay in its schedule created by Three Mile Island event and the largest portion of that cost increase was AFUDC.

        This key factor was largely responsible why the CPUC initially authorized 95% of the plants cost into rate base and then after an appeal by SCE changed that to a final approval of about 97%. Additionally despite the cost increases and schedule delays on the San Onofre Units 2 & 3 project it had a favorable cost and schedule performance compared to other projects elsewhere in the country.

  12. “Gregory Jaczko, its chairman from 2009 to 2012”

    Jaczko was Harry Reid’s Chief of Staff before Reid cut a deal with Obama. The deal was for Reid to roll-over on whatever Obama wanted from the Senate in exchange for Obama to appoint Harry Reid minions in various agency heads. Jaczko became head of NERC, specifically so that Harry Reid could ensure that Yucca Mtn High Level Waste Repository was shut down before completion. The lack of a permanent repository site for spent nuclear fuel is a serious and steadily growing problem for the nuclear power industry. Jaczko apparently was quite abusive as the boss at FERC and multiple complaints against his managment finally led to his departure.

    Harry Reid also got his minions into the BLM. The BLM controls vast amounts of land in Nevada. Thus with a Reid-minion running the regional BLM permitting in Nevada, Harry Reid ensured he was the GoFather power broker for anyone wanting some BLM land for a mine or development.

  13. Nuclear power looks like a dying technology for the foreseeable future. Cost overruns, accidents, incompetence — the nuclear industry died mostly from self-inflicted wounds.

    I do not usually call things out to much, but I have to call BS on this one.
    The nuclear industry is on the ropes for sure, but it is *not* self-inflicted.
    Cost overruns: Due to Govt. regulatory interference, which it often blatantly hostile. In some cases, it became clear that the govt. had no intention of ever issuing the licenses.
    accidents: Often caused by, *surprise*, govt. over-regulation and litigation. The poser child is Three Mile Island. After years of regulation and litigation for “safety”, always with “well, what about???” and “what about??”, on and on and on. Environmental groups at the time were quite candid, acknowledging that they were trying to shut down the project by increasing the costs to intolerable levels using fake “safety” concerns. Regulators aided and abetted the tactic every step of the way. Eventually, the plant control room was so complex and hard top manage that an accident was almost sure to happen. The accident postmortem review placed the cause squarely on the complexity of the control systems, caused largely by layer after layer of “safety” systems.
    incompetence: Govt. and regulators, period. I know you will find this absolutely *shocking*.
    not cost competitive: Utilities *forced* to buy expensive wind and solar when available, forcing baseload plants to run at partial capacity. Of course they will not be profitable. Hardly a level playing field, though. Ultimately, utility regulators are forcing the displacement of cheap baseload power with expensive wind and solar. Regulators again. The poster child for this regulatory malfeasance is the Northeast’s RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

    Wipe away an anti-nuclear regulatory establishment, get the regulatory monster under control, block frivolous litigation and lawfare, and you will see costs go right back down where they belong.
    We all accept that regulatory compliance is a cost of doing business. But at some point it is fair to ask. how much does the nuke cost, and and how much does the 2 decades of regulatory action cost.
    Do not even get me started on the Carter era ban on fuel reprocessing. After all, even France has been doing it commercially for decades without incident, and as a result has only a minuscule amount of high-level waste to deal with. {President Carter implemented the ban via executive order, it could have been removed at any time.}

  14. It has been obvious for fifty years that the biggest problem of nuclear energy is a substantial fraction of the population who turn into shrieking idiots when it’s even mentioned. But in today’s society, a substantial fraction of the population will turn into shrieking idiots over ANYthing. That’s a political problem, not a technical one.

  15. Nuclear power is proven. We know life without electricity isn’t acceptable and until/if renewables can provide 24X7 reliable power fossil fuels rule the energy sector. When fossil fuels run out nuclear will be the go to unless we’ve come up with new technology to replace it, or increase the efficiency of renewables many times over. I’m betting nuclear will be the only option when that time comes a century or few in the future.

    • (I can’t help it (: )…Do a seance with Scotty and ask where the renewable people can buy di-lithium crystals!

      • Dilithium is too unreliable. The crystals fracture. And then you get antimatter all over the floor. Zero point modules are the future. And they only pollute other dimensions.

    • Yes. If you want gigawatts of power on tap, you will be needing nukes. No matter how many more effective means of tapping oil, gas and coal there are, it will in the end become uneconomic compared to uranium and thorium.

      An fusion still remains possible, if only we could figure out how…

    • I’ll wager 10 million quatloos and twenty bars of gold pressed latinum that you are right, but that the newcomers will refuse to abide by our rules and mess everything up anyhow.

    • The author obviously knows nothing about the molten salt reactors that are being built — and are stunning gamechangers. When you can make nuclear reactors on an assembly line like an airplane, and run on a fuel (thorium) that will not run out for thousands of years, nothing will compete.

    • Probably the worst as far as I can see.

      Its cut and paste straight out of a environmentalists agitProp sheet.

      • Haha hey if both the environmentalists and the right wing WUWT blog are in agreement maybe it’s time to reconsider your position ;6

        • Mr Watts routinely runs articles by persons he probably does not agree with, such as by renewable energy advocates. It is one reason why the site is interesting, but not an endorsement of everything run.

  16. Meanwhile, the Georgia Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to continue Plant Vogtle Reactors 3 & 4. They are behind schedule an over budget, but the Commission decided that it was better to take a loss (for Georgia Power ratepayers) and get some value rather than scuttle the project, take a loss, and get nothing. This is not a good outcome; it is merely the best outcome from the available bad choices. As a Georgia Power customer, I will be paying for this. Former US Senator Sam Nunn supported this decision, as do I.

    It is extremely disappointing that the Vogtle construction was not managed better (as it could and should have been), but either way I’m going to be paying for the cost overruns and as long as I’m paying I’d rather get something for it.

    Based on current options, I believe in the long run we have no choice except to go nuclear (fission). But in the short term we (the US anyway) have the luxury of CCGT, thanks to expanded natural gas supplies due to fracking. So for the immediate future we can meet demand through CCGT and work on better fission designs. “Better” in this case means: faster and cheaper to build and less high-level waste produced. I’m not qualified as a nuclear power engineer, but from what I’ve read this means breeder reactors because they burn up most of what would otherwise be waste.

    So in my humble option, I don’t support any more nuclear construction. New domestic US generation should be CCGT, while we pursue better breeder fission reactors. If in the meantime workable cold fusion or LENR comes along, we can all cheer.

    • “Meanwhile, the Georgia Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to continue to plant Vogtle Reactors 3 & 4. They are behind schedule on over budget, but the commission has decided that it’s better to take a loss (for Georgia power ratepayers) and get some value rather than scuttle the project, take a loss, and get nothing. “This is not a good outcome;”

      You will always have to choose between two bad options when it comes to energy production. God drove us out of Paradise, as you know. Presumably there ran a fusion power plant with infinite resources for two. Or not.

    • 100% agree.

      USA has choices. Coal gas and nuclear are all available and cheap.

      Best estimates are that nuclear (fission) will outlast the other two by about 8000 years.

      Long enough to get fusion working one suspects.

  17. My electricity comes from a plant that uses two coal-fired utility boilers accompanied by steam turbine generators. I can see the exhaust stacks from a variety of locations, and have never once seen any emissions other than steam coming from them. I don’t know if the coal-fired plant across the state line to the north supplies any power to my area (doubtful) but on a cold day, the steam from the stacks is thick with water vapor. I don’t know what the objection is to coal, since these companies are required to use scrubbers to reduce pollutants, and this is NOT the 19th century. But people still want them shut down because ’emissions’!!! Apparently, the protesters can’t tell the difference between water vapor and smoke.
    There was a nuclear power plant north of me on the shore of Lake Michigan, but it was shut down and decommissioned quite some time ago because it was badly run and had several accidents, which were mostly due to sloppiness. You simply can’t take nuke anything for granted.
    But, better coal and gas than wind turbines. We need the hawks around here to keep the squirrels under control, maybe the coyotes, too. And windmills are lethal to raptors.

    • Sara, you just located yourself to this old Wisonsin/Chicago guy. The coal fired twin stacks are in Kenosha, Wisc. The visible ‘steam’ is from the SO2 stack scrubbers. Lake Michigan cools the steam condensate so there are no cooling tower plumes, and provide a famous winter salmon fishing zone. And the shut nuclear plant is the Exelon Zion plant north of Waukegan, IL. Highest regards.

      • The nuclear power plant at Clinton, IL, was under construction in the 1980s. There were several work stops during construction because the crews failed inspections. It finally started up in 1987. Thirty years later, the Clinton plant was supposed to shut down this year (2017) due to financial losses, but has kept going because Exelon got cash from the state of Illinois to keep going. Same thing for the Quad Cities nuke power plant.

        It was supposed to be the answer: cheap, clean electricity for central Illinois. Instead, it’s a tax burden, and guess who gets to pay for it? I have difficulty understanding how a company like Exelon can justify its own bad management, so that it requires a subsidy from the state.to keep operating, saving those jobs, etc. Maybe someone should take a harder, closer look at Exelon’s management and accountancy. Exelon seems to have some serious issues in that area.

        Personally, I like to see those stacks exhaling. It’s easy to tell how hard the wind is blowing and where the wind shear starts when you look at them.

        It just seems to me that refitting a coal-fired station to natural gas would be more cost-effective in the long run, since both the Bakken field and the Permian basin have turned out to be deeper and larger and higher quality than was anticipated.

    • right on Sara but…
      “Apparently, the protesters can’t tell the difference between water vapor and smoke.” The photos are always taken with the sun behind the water vapor (condensate actually) which makes it look black, like thunder clouds are black on the bottom and white on the top..?
      cheers

  18. The elephant in the room that people ignore is radioactive nuclear waste. If you amortize the cost of 5,000 years of waste containment over a 50-year reactor lifespan, and include it in the cost of power production, the numbers don’t look too good.

    The Fukushima Fiasco was the result of power loss to the waste containmenment area. The quake knocked out the power grid, and the tsunami knocked out the backup deisel generators. Without power for cooling, the water in the contaiment tanks boiled off. The radioactive waste then heated up till it caught fire. Once you factor in the costs of safely storing radioactive wastes for eons, nuclear power is not financiaaly feasable.

    • eons…

      At the %age burn rates for the present utilised decay regimes that’s a given – if a more complete burn truncates the issue significantly(dramatically) then why isn’t that option being physically explored?

      Burn the pre-existing and expensively acquired waste, get energy from it – and make it a whole lot less of a problem.

      • 1*

        You do not always have to fool around, it does not work. Does not go is not. In this case, you take a reactor type 4 and it works. There even eliminates the search for a repository.

    • The elephant in the room that people ignore is radioactive nuclear waste. If you amortize the cost of 5,000 years of waste containment over a 50-year reactor lifespan, and include it in the cost of power production, the numbers don’t look too good.

      More like the cockroach in the room.

      Nuclear waste is in fact a total non-issue.

      Its been made into one by people who want to block nuclear power.

      There are > 4 billion tonnes of long lived radioactive uranium in the worlds oceans.

      If all the power stations in the world simply dumped their waste on the deep sea floor, no one would notice.

      The ‘nuclear waste’ problem has been concocted by people with good commercial reasons to not want nuclear power, and been passed to the ‘useful idiots’ of the Green and Anti-nuclear movement to influence government policy.

      • That’s like the Japanese government telling its citizens that radiation can only hurt you when you think it does. The “What, me worry?” approach to nuclear power pioneered by nuclear physicist Alfred E. Newman. LOL. Consider the possibility that its attitudes like yours that have heavily contributed to nuclear energy’s bad rap; attitudes that minimize the risks leading to carelessness and shortcuts that cause disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima. You’re about to get your wish, at least in a small way, when Japan dumps more than 250 million gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific.

        http://enenews.com/ap-japan-poised-to-flood-pacific-with-1-million-tons-of-nuclear-water-contaminated-by-fukushima-newsweek-experts-want-japan-to-push-a-million-tons-of-radioactive-water-into-ocean-relea

      • That’s like the Japanese government telling its citizens that radiation can only hurt you when you think it does.

        1. They have never said that.

        2. It would be true in 99% of cases if they had.

        50 million gallons of water is literally a drop in the ocean, and it was so faintly contaminated you could have drink pints of it with no issues.

        You should stick to facts and avoid faux news sites. They are obviously affecting your health…

      • “They have never said that.”

        Depends on how you define “they”. Sounds pretty official to me.

        …we’re very concerned that a health study is starting at the end of this month. This is concerning the effects of the Fukushima residents, on the prefectural citizens. It’s headed by a Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, who’s at the Atomic Bomb Research Institute [Nagasaki University]. He’s the radiological health safety risk management adviser for the prefecture. He’s widely shown on national TV. He speaks widely in the prefecture, always saying there’s absolutely no concern with the levels of radiation in Fukushima. He says that mothers, even mothers exposed to 100 millisieverts, pregnant mothers, will not have any effect, health effect. Remember the number 100. Compared to that, the Soviet Union required a mandatory evacuation during Chernobyl at five millisieverts. This doctor is quoted as saying, “The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.” This is a direct quote. And he’s heading the study. And so, the citizens in Fukushima are very concerned.

        http://enenews.com/head-fukushima-health-study-100-msvyr-pregnant-moms-effects-radiation-people-happy-laughing-people-weak-spirited-brood-fret

      • icisil..

        The 100 ms is supported by the Taiwan residents in those radioactive apartment blocks. Check it out. They suffered a REDUCTION in cancer rates after 15 years exposure.

      • ECB, the issue of concern is not gamma rays, which is what those residents were exposed to, but the dispersion of man-made radioisotopes into the environment which can become incorporated into living tissue. Two very different things.

      • icisil

        I read that residents should have been moved back in a few weeks after the short term radioactive elements had decayed sufficiently. 1600 hundred people died of depression because they were not allowed to move back? Zero died of radiation exposure? The residents of Hiroshima who survived the bomb moved back after one year? All very puzzling where you get your scary stories from. I don’t get it.

      • sb,
        cesium 137, strontium 90, Plutonium 238/239/240 and Iodine 129 are not short-lived isotopes. All of these were released.

        You have zero data to support the claim that zero people died of radiation exposure. The government covers that data up.

        Fukushima released 168 times the amount of CS-137 released at Hiroshima. And Hiroshima was a one-time event. Fukushima is the gift that keeps on giving.

      • icisil

        “You have zero data to support the claim that zero people died of radiation exposure. The government covers that data up”

        Oops.. tin foil hat much?

        Sustainable Energy
        The Effects of Fukushima Linger after Five Years, but Not from Radiation
        While hundreds died in the evacuation, none perished as a result of exposure to radiation.

        by Richard Martin March 10, 2016

        https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601011/the-effects-of-fukushima-linger-after-five-years-but-not-from-radiation/

      • No I don’t tin-foil at all, but saying that official channels are the only legit ones is like saying peer reviewed climate science is the only real science on the matter.

      • Have you ever checked the radioactively levels of Perrier water?
        Or any groundwater for that matter?
        There is almost nothing on Earth that is not somewhat radioactive, so simply stating something about a large volume of “radioactive water” is meaningless, literally.

      • The overwhelming volume of radioactive waste is from medical isotopes, all those neutron sources for logging oil wells and such,, portable XRF units, smoke detectors, etc. etc. etc. I don’t recall the exact percentage of radioactive waster that comes from power plants, but it’s small.

        Shutting down all nukes will do almost nothing for the radioactive waste “problem” The problem is not disposing of the waste; it’s the reaction of uninformed citizens to the idea of disposing of the waste. Public opinion can be mobilized by a handful of activists, and this is one of the problems with democracy (not that I’ve come across a better system). Anti-nuke activists are also usually CAGW alarmists, from what I can see.

    • And that elephant in the room is like the elephant (that no one ever talks about) of base load power, or battery storage that doesn’t exist at a feasible level, that is required to make wind/solar work and renders them financially unfeasible

      • Yes, that is a more realistically elephant sized problem.

        Storage multiplies the cost of renewables by several times rendering it even more totally uneconomic than it already is.

        There is no point arguing over nuclear – in the end it will be no nuclear = no civilisation.

        And the question will be whether or not the powers that be will end civilisation for the masses and introduce a new feudal system after a post apocalyptic megadeath event, or whether post industrial civilisation will survive.

        Frankly I suspect it won’t. It’s beyond a critical mass of ignorance complacency and stupidity. The whole green movement illustrates that..

  19. “Hated by the Left despite its carbon-free generation of electricity, ”

    And the climate alarmists that want to roll back the standard of living a few hundred years hate it because of it being carbon-free generation of electricity.

    • An 1880’s article in the NYT proclaimed the end of civilization because cities would soon be buried under horse dung. Technology (i.e. “the car”) saved us.

      So let’s get rid of those immediately if not sooner.

    • There is a atomic fan, the godfather of antropogenic global warming, James Hansen. We should ask him why
      and why he does not teach this the green left side. Or is this side not so greenleft? But fossil fueled?

    • Haven’t got the numbers at hand but nothing is “carbon-free”. You don’t just find fuel rods lying around in boxes.
      I’ve seen numbers in ballpark of 30% of gas, depending on the grade etc.

  20. Like I said years ago nothing will compete with natural gas for quite a while. It will be the new “top this” benchmark that others have to beat and few can or will.

    But don’t worry about nuclear power dying. China has never met an energy source it didn’t like and they have so many pokers in the nuclear fire you just got to think one of them will work out. Then they will mass manufacture them and ship them around the world and take payment over the life of the utility so no up front costs. You can pay for it in Yuan 🙂

    • I am very skeptical about claims that China is building a lot of N plants. My guess is that 99% of their power plant construction is coal. for the US you are right NG is the way to go. We have enough NG to last past the time when our systematically miseducated citizens forget why they were so afraid of nuclear to begin with.

      • I beg your pardon? Did you really say “I am very skeptical about claims that China is building a lot of N plants.” ?

        Claims??? These are not ‘claims’ these are verifiable FACTS that people who are paid to inspect these things can verify, that satellite images can verify… I know that people such as yourself who believe in renewable energy make unsubstantiated claims all the time, but the nuclear power industry does not, by and large…

      • Walter. Yes, China gets most of its electric power from coal. And yes, they are expanding coal as they try to bring the remaining half of their 1.3B population into the industrial age. But they have two problems. First, unlike the US, Canada, and Australia, they simply don’t have all that much domestic coal. Projections are that they will start to run out of domestic coal resource in less than two decades. Second, they have major air pollution problems that they are starting to address. And coal is at the root of many of those problems. I’m told that burning coal for home heating is a big player in the air pollution issue, but if you take Mr and Mrs Wu’s coal stove away, what are you going to replace it with? Probably something that needs electricity and probably not a solar array that doesn’t work at night or a wind turbine that only spins usefully a third of the time at best.

    • Unless Trump manages to push the US forward in many ways, let alone in most, China’s takeover has already happened. Perhaps in 20 years’ time, one will remember the years 2016 and 2017, when the Americans chose Trump to deselect him four years later, leaving China at the same time as the world’s economic, political and military supremacy. Let us see, comrades.

      • I wouldn’t bet on Trump being “de-selected”. Three more years of slowly making positive changes (and the dems putting up candidates like Fauxcahontas) could keep him around.

      • Depends. the Democratic base is solidly behind Sanders and he is really well liked in the rust belt where Trump beat Clinton. But the Democratic elite, owned by their corporate masters, hate him. We shall see whether the corporate elites are able to game the system in 2020 if Sanders runs.

      • Of the past 5000 years there have only been about 200 when the Chinese weren’t the most advanced…

      • Hmmm, is that a fact, Tony?
        I suppose it may depend on what criteria one chooses, but it seems dubious to me.

  21. Onr reason for decline of nuclear power industry is “Every-changing government policy, often highly adverse.” You say that, but you never explain how it got that way. It so happens that there is a strong anti-nuclear movement among environmentaslists to whom environmentally inclined administrators are sympathetic with. Tghere is aq constants stream of demonstrations coming out nof this political movement. They resort to illegak, even criminal, devices in pursuit of this goal. Unfortunately, your paperer’s policy nis to shield their actions. Here is an example. On Long Island the electric utility LilCo had a nuclear bpower station being built at Shorehabut the environmemtalists had a constasnt series of protests and court actions going to stop the. TRhey finally got a court bnorder to stop the construction but it was too late: yje plant was already built and vready to go on line. Here is where the bpolitical pull of the environmenralists came I. They got the stateof New Uork to order the complete new station to be be dismantlewd and jubked. Building such a nuclear plantr and them dismantling is not cheap. Who pays for it? Lilco is no more. And the state of New Yotl ordered that the vrate payers of Long Island must poay the remaining cost. TRhis is what I have been doing for the lasy yen years. The sta irdered that a vpewrcentage of this cost must be added to every monthlyy electricity bill of all Long IUslanders. This is why our electricity bills are among the highest in the nation. And what did you, environmentalists gain? You get a minus zero that the New York Times and other sympathetic media keep a secret.

    • Absolutely. There has been a huge campaign against nuclear by environmentalists and by governments – its easy to make anything uneconomic by putting a man with a red flag in front of it…

      http://vps.templar.co.uk/Cartoons%20and%20Politics/red-clegg-flag.jpg

      The real questions is why? Who gains from destroying a cheap nuclear power option? Conventional gas that’s who.

      If you look at the reality, rather than the perception, we have a technology – nuclear power – capable of undercutting gas and coal in terms of electricity production, and together with the rise of electrical almost everything, that represents a larger and larger slice of the power market.

      Eco warriors constantly tell us that Big Oil is manipulating political and social and economic realities in order to maximise profits. What they fail to admit is that they are, in fact, Big Oil’s agents.

      Renewable energy is no threat to fossil,. On the contrary it increases the need for gas to balance, as coal is less suitable.

      Nuclear energy very much is a threat.

      Environmentalism has been the tool of the gas companies ever since Al Gore got the brief from Enron.

      The only question is whether or not they succeed in wiping nuclear out in the West. Elsewhere it is booming of course.

      In the UK it looks set for a resurgence as soon as we can break free of an EU which has essentially decided it will be nuclear free.

  22. Strange, very strange.
    Most USA homes have lethal, highly dangerous wires throughout, with only minimal protection against people sticking wrong things into the electricity they carry by request.
    Yet, nuclear power, the cause of far fewer deaths, gets a rough ride.
    People have strange views on domestic safety, most are uneducated and ignorant about both home electricity and nuclear power.
    Yet, they can vote. Geoff

    • And a lot of houses have methane piped into them, and the failure of a few safety devices, plus electric devices sparking, and an instant fuel-air explosive. It does happen, but the rate is so low, the risk is quite reasonable.
      Most of the claims on the hazards of nuclear depend on innumeracy combined with deliberate deception..

      • Each time you take the car out on the road there is a significant probability that you will not return, except in a hearse or an ambulance . But we cannot live without them .
        And how many thousands are killed in the US by legally held handguns? Is it more or less than those killed in nuclear accidents in the US over the last 70 years?

      • mikewaite on December 24, 2017 at 12:51 am

        You had me until the canard about “deaths by legally held handguns”. Far fewer than death by bathtub. And the bathtub deaths are almost never the bad guy trying to rob/kill you.

      • Make sure to subtract out all the people who deserved to die by dint of being engaged in some criminal pursuit.

        • Meth cookers and people making hash oil with volatiles would probably find some other way to do themselves in.

  23. Fort Calhoun,
    Good plant, good record,
    A sad situation when a plant with another 20 years of life left is shuttered due to NRC overhead, both in costs and lost opportunity, and the
    politics of crony capitalism.
    Would pay for itself in summer AC demand alone.
    The politics and the players behind this plant’s shutdown stink.

  24. Is this why Hillary gave/sold 20% of the uranium in the US to Russia? She knew we were too stupid to actually keep using nuclear, so sell it to a communist country that the media hates and Russia is not fond of the US. Guess that goes along with England reportedly buying natural gas from Russia because fracking is out in the UK. We freely supply the world with ways to degrade and destroy the US in every conceivable way. You’d almost think politicians elected therein hated the US and Europe.

  25. It seems to be mostly in the US, Japan, England, and bits of Europe that the nuclear industry is on the ropes. In the countries that will lead the future, like China, Korea, and Russia, they understand the real problems and look for real solutions. They value plentiful, 24/7 sustainable power from low-resources energy sources. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher used the bogus CO2 Warming Theory, falsely, to push Nuclear Power without working on the solutions to nuclear-power problems, in her political struggle to destroy the Coal Unions. She did manage to destroy the power of the Unions, but she let loose the greater evil of false but rampant CO2 CAGW Theory on both sides of the Atlantic. Because of eager political support on both sides of the Atlantic and in Europe for CAGW fairy tales, peoples’ whole manufacturing, transport, health and happiness is being put at risk for a proven rubbish of a hypothesis that does not stand up to the most rudimentary analysis. Coal is still King and the thing that is dying is peoples’ belief in the CAGW fairy tale, and Nuclear Power that hung on its coat-tails in the West. The next thing for the population to turn against en-masse is the Mediaeval bird-chomping Wind-Turbines and bird-frying Solar Schemes and unreliable solar schemes that rely on Coal/Gas Power back-up 24/7.

  26. Some years ago, one of the public criticisms of the nuclear industry in the UK was that it carried the burden of forever-changing governments forever changing their minds about which reactor designs to adopt. All this was on top of the forever-changing political, economic, and military, imperatives that the industry was being asked to meet.

    What and where is the endgame? Trying to be optimistic, perhaps it will be when the energy issue finally comes to absolute first place in the queue of issues that politicians have to deal with. Then, and probably only then, they may opt for quick build modular reactors which can be both made, and licensed, quickly. Before then, it would need politicians willing to face down the poll-bearers telling them that there is ~10% of the electorate often up for grabs to the politician willing to make silly green promises. The funding of environmental pressure groups is probably where CNN could find real Russian interference in Western democracies, should they ever wish to take the trouble to actually research the matter.

    Will the new reactors be made by companies based in the US or Japan, or, more likely in my opinion, companies based in Russia and China?
    It may end up like high-end space ship launches which use the Russians with their cheap-and-cheerful technology. The US, by excessive health&safety regulation, and other petty governmental bureaucracy, had almost managed to kill the goose that laid the golden technological egg. Only recently is the US attempting to encourage industry to claw back lost time and money in economic launches[*]. I’d guess the nuclear industry is probably set back another two decades or more.

    [*The saddest thing of all is seeing NASA lose sight and funding for its real mission, only to go off on wild goose chases involving climate and carbon dioxide.]

    • Rolls Royce make nice small ones. (Every company worth its salt should have its own reactor and Spitfire)

  27. If the West wants to keep it’s urban sheeple in I-bollocks and washing machines, there is no other way BUT nuclear or fossil.

    Whether the west dies of stupidity or finally embraces nuclear power, remains to be seen: Or perhaps the plan is simply to chop power to the large metropolises and let the people die. Nothing would surprise me.

    This article is yet another projection based on a flawed model. A model that was past its sell by date 5 years ago when it become evident that renewables are a pointless dead end.

  28. the nuclear industry died mostly from self-inflicted wounds.

    Drawing conclusions from recent short term events results in some very silly statements. Things like ice free arctic, children not knowing what snow is, electricity being too cheap to meter and the nuclear industry having died.

    • “the nuclear industry died mostly from self-inflicted wounds.”

      If you look at recent attempts to build nuclear plants, the above statement seems to be true. South Carolina and Georgia projects looked almost like serious attempts to screw everything up.

      Is it possible to build a nuclear plant today without ridiculous delays and cost overruns? Surely regulation is not to blame for all of this. Why can’t engineers and construction managers manage a large project? Are there recent examples of successful projects in the U.S.? Or has the toxic combination of politics, over-regulation and an incompetent big-project construction industry simply made it impossible?

      • It didn’t die, its just on pause. Right now natural gas is plentiful and cheap, the plants are comparatively quick to build, and there’s little to no irrational fear of them.

        But freezing in the dark tends to erase irrational fears of something that might happen. Since no one is freezing in the dark right now, there’s nothing to overcome the irrational fears. At some point in time economics are likely to change. Resources run out, or the idiots trying to kill off fossil fuels entirely get their way. Enough people freeing in the dark, or starving because they can’t get food fresh food at a reasonable price, and the emotional response to current misery NOW swamps the irrational fear of something that might happen later, the people demand warmth and food. So the politicians start fast tracking projects, deregulating, new players seeing a chance to profit buy up existing technology or develop new tech and go to market with it, the badly run projects become case studies on how not to do things so that new projects are more effectively managed, and poof! there’s a vibrant nuclear industry again.

        Which is why calling it dead is just drivel. Technology changes, politics change, economics change, and right now those things don’t favour nuclear. When they do, nuclear will be back with a vengeance and this article will seem as silly as predicting that children won’t know what snow is.

  29. Not much concerned about nuclear energy dying out.

    Leaves more room for atmospheric CO2 enhancement technologies.

    France will have big issues on its hand over the next several years, what to do with old nuclear power plants!

    I see a large surge in COAL and GAS in the near future, once this idiotic anti-science CO2 hatred gets relegated to the porcelain and flushed to where it belongs.

  30. To bloggers commenting here,

    There is a large gap between quoting what you believe to be correct in the writings of other people, and having been a participant at the time in question and adequately senior to know what was really going on.
    So please pay most attention to the comments of people closest to the action at material times.
    Geoff.

    • How do we know who is closest to the action at material times and who has the knowledge? This is a blog, where people have “stage names”, one name and sometimes both. There’s no way to know who is and is not qualified without a pedigreee on everyone who comments.

      • Many bloggers state present or past direct involvement. Not many are obviously fabricated. Part of the present nuclear contention arises from false names spreading propaganda, hence I prefer genuine names. Geoff.

      • That is true Geoff but incomplete. There is also the risk of vested interests. Stating ones “seniority” is important for transparency and disclosure of such interests.

    • Yea well ok…
      Bill Gates and his company TerraPower. Would they be close to the action?
      From Terrapower website:

      ———————————-
      Bellevue, Wash., October 2, 2017 –
      TerraPower, LLC signed a joint venture with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to form the Global Innovation Nuclear Energy Technology Co., Ltd. This agreement represents a significant milestone for TerraPower and CNNC’s affiliate, China Tianjin TWR Investment Company (“CTTIC”), in ongoing discussions made possible under policies and agreements for cooperation by the governments of the United States and China.

      The two companies plan to work together to complete the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) design and commercialize the TWR technology.
      ——————————–

  31. India will be joining the nuclear club in a big way because they have lots of fissionable resources (mostly thoriium) compared to any of the other energy options. With the closer ties India is making with Israel, you’ll have the three major components of development: (1) an overwhelming need and (2) a technology base renowned for science, technology and engineering and (3) huge financial motivation.
    Sadly, it means the Western Democracies will simply squander billions whistling along while Asia simply runs away.

  32. A rather superficial and ignorant article which equates “nuclear power” with light water reactor
    and even so, paints a rather exaggerated negative portrait of that still viable technology. The article obviously is clueless as to why nuclear power suddenly became expensive, especially in locales where there is lots of renewable generation. Utilities forced to buy renewable, when available,
    do not buy nuclear plant output, which immediately increases the cost of the output in an almost linear fashion, since the nuclear fuel costs are a small portion of the cost of production, and couldn’t be saved in any event. THAT is the reason some nuclearplants have been operating in the red for the past several years. The operators then threatened to shut down the plants and force the grid to operate with unreliable renewable power. The state then subsidized the nuclear plants to make them profitable again. Traditional light water nuclear plants are designed to operate as baseload plants, meaning at (or above) their stated capacities. Many nuclear plants in this country operate at 110% of capacity. While powered up, every nuclear plant should operate at least at 100% capacity. The reported capacities of nuclear palnts , which are roughly 90-94% , incorporate down times for refueling, schedueld for thetime of year (Spring, FAll) when the plant’s power is not required. Here in South Carolina, we produce 60% of our power thru 7 nuclear plants and the generation cost the previous quarter for nuclear power was less than 4 cents per kWhr.
    The only failure in niuclear construction over the past several years, in which over 100 nuclear plants are being built world-wide, has been in the good old, “can’t even manufacture steel anymore” U.S. The 4 Westinghouse reactors being constructed in Georgia and SOuth CArolina experienced cost overruns – mainy due to the lack of U.S.stel manufacturing capability – in particular Chicago Bridge was an utter failure, even after being bought out by Westinghouse to correct their operations. Russia, China and South Korea have been contracting and building nuclear plants everywhere and guarantee a build cost, usually around $5 to $6 billion USD. The failure of American nuclear is not the failure of nuclear – it is the failure of American nuclear – which hadn’t built any reactors for decades and decades. The American nuclear power construction industry can’t be dying , since it hasn’t been alive. You have to be alivein order to die, as they say.
    The article fumbled that one ad also its biggest stupidity is equating light water reactor desing with”nuclear design.’ Right now there are at least a dozen companies (and two nations, China , India) worldwide designing nuclear power plants and NONE of them are designing traditional, conventional light water reactors. They are instead designing small modular molten salt reactors. They are cheap and easy to build (in factories) (cost less than half the cost of a $5 billion
    conventional reactor) do not require bodies of nearby water for cooling,do not requie extensive site preparation, can be located ANYWHERE – even in city buildings, do not require highly trained operators, or many of them, do not require refueling shutdowns, are NOT baseload but are mid load generators, meaning they don’t require auxillary mid aload generators like conventional reactors. Are highly proliferation resistant, are impossible to melt down or explode or throw emisions into the environment to any appreciable extent, can produce power cheaper than any other power generation technology – roughly 3 cents per kWhr. THIS is what is going to kill conventional light water reactor nuclear power. It will also wipe out renewables in all likelihood.

  33. Tragedy of all this is that you can run a typical Nuke plant for about 18 months on a pickup truck load of fuel pellets. I worked this industry from 1988 to 1994 as a field service tech for Babcock & Wilcox doing steam generator maintenance during refueling outages and saw first hand what was involved.

    IMHO the major costs associated with these plants are the volumes of “Government Regulations” written for them by the NRC. Yeah, another example of “I’m from the Goobermit and I’m here to help!”

    Although some of these plants have had their problems with minor accidents over time, not ONE person has died from any of the accidents in the USA to date, including the infamous TMI meltdown!!

    Having said all that, I’d have one of these in my back yard if I could because working in them like I did I got a much better understanding of them!

    • No deaths in US commercial reactor operations. A good record.
      In 1961 there was a military training reactor accident resulting in 3 fatalities.

  34. The USA is undergoing a renaissance in oil & gas extraction brought on by advances in fracking tight formations. This will not last forever, but it will have a negative impact on new nuclear generation.

    Solar and wind are probably here to stay as much of the cost of electricity has moved away from cost of generation and onto things like “delivery charges”, “infrastructure”, “debt reduction” and good old “taxes”.

    When we run out of fossil fuel (more accurately when the cost of extraction exceeds that of using competing technologies like nuclear) there will be change back to nuclear because 8 billion people cannot live with intermittent forms of energy generation. But for now politicians can afford to make stupid decisions because it doesn’t cost much to get a new gas plant online.

  35. I think offshore nuclear power is good idea:
    “Research for the future

    In the field of research, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is currently developing a small offshore nuclear power plant (OFNP) which would be located at a minimum distance of 12 km from the coast. The plant combines two established and proven technologies: the nuclear reactor and the offshore oil platform. It would be placed on deep waters far from coastal populations, and would only be connected to land by an underwater energy transmission line. By placing the platform on an area with a depth of at least 100 meters, the sea water absorbs the movements of the sea floor and protects the plant from earthquakes and tsunamis. The sea can also be an infinite source of cooling water in case of an emergency.”
    http://www.foronuclear.org/en/ask-the-expert/121982-what-is-a-floating-nuclear-power-plant

    The technological aspect is important, but I think it works best in terms political problems with nuclear energy. And for nations not land locked, it could solve their energy needs.
    The China and Russian designs seem like they could ok in terms of short term use, but long term goal should be to make them unsinkable and resembling fortress in terms of security threats- and MIT design seems more in that direction..
    Or lifetime of them could start with say 50 years, but it could evolve so lifetime is centuries and
    couldn’t sink with a battleship [though not including nuclear weapons used against it- which would prohibitive to start off with such requirement, but once market is established, having longer lifetime
    design could worth doubling or tripling the construction cost of the ship.

  36. Reductionist molecular genetics, upon which the linear no threshold (LNT) is based, shipwrecks on the rock of quantum physics, specifically quantum chaos. (The same is true of much of reductionist drug-discovery driven molecular biology, accounting for the odd paradox of exponentially increasing bioscience research investment but simultaneous drying up of new drugs in the pipeline.)

    Here’s the cartoons biology of radiation carcinogenesis: an ionizing particle makes a strand break in a cell’s chromasomal DNA. This can initiate neoplastic carcinogenic transformation. Sounds scary? It can’t be good surely. If even a single ionizing particle can do this then LNT must be right – there can be no safe dose?

    Here’s the real world: each DNA strand on every chromosome in every cell in every human, is broken at some point every 14 minutes. Then repaired by DNA repair enzymes. There is continuous breaking and repair all the time.

    What is causing all this chromatin breaking? Presumably it is something that can be exploitated politically. Is it free radicals from atmospheric pollutants or food additives? Is it the orangeness of Donald Trump’s hair? Is it climate change? Is it denyal of climate change?

    No it’s none of these things. It’s just the world – the quantum world, which at atomic and subatomic scales is quantum-chaotic. On this scale our everyday concept of reality breaks down. Particles exist in a cloud of locations simultaneously, not only one. They pop in and out of existence, and forward and back in time. Quantum uncertainty and spontaneous events form a chaotic background to all atomic and molecular scale phenomena. An individual molecular perturbation, of the kind on which molecular biology including radiation biology is so myopically fixated, is of very small significance. Much larger perturbation involving millions of molecules is needed to make a significant difference to a living system. This means – THERE IS A THRESHOLD FOR BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS.

    Biologists need to understand the implications of quantum physics and pop their hubris.

    A brick thrown into a still pond would make a significant visible splash. The same brick thrown into a raging stormy sea, would not.

  37. Predictions of its a-bortion are premature. The nuclear power industry is viable, and will evolve with the flow and ebb of production and demand.

  38. “read my thesis”

    Economic advise from someone who brags about saving money by spending twice as much on a car that gets bad mileage.

    Should ristvan let go of college thesis? Yes! Should Harvard Law stop writing book energy? Yes!

    Being well spoken does not mean that your are not ignorant.

  39. Nuclear Power Learning and Deployment Rates; Disruption and Global Benefits Forgone

    Abstract

    This paper presents evidence of the disruption of a transition from fossil fuels to nuclear power, and finds the benefits forgone as a consequence are substantial. Learning rates are presented for nuclear power in seven countries, comprising 58% of all power reactors ever built globally. Learning rates and deployment rates changed in the late-1960s and 1970s from rapidly falling costs and accelerating deployment to rapidly rising costs and stalled deployment. Historical nuclear global capacity, electricity generation and overnight construction costs are compared with the counterfactual that pre-disruption learning and deployment rates had continued to 2015. Had the early rates continued, nuclear power could now be around 10% of its current cost. The additional nuclear power could have substituted for 69,000–186,000 TWh of coal and gas generation, thereby avoiding up to 9.5 million deaths and 174 Gt CO2 emissions. In 2015 alone, nuclear power could have replaced up to 100% of coal-generated and 76% of gas-generated electricity, thereby avoiding up to 540,000 deaths and 11 Gt CO2. Rapid progress was achieved in the past and could be again, with appropriate policies. Research is needed to identify impediments to progress, and policy is needed to remove them.

    Source: http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/10/12/2169

  40. According to this, Chinese and American scientists may have just discovered a method to double the efficiency of solar using nanometer materials.

    The disaster in Japan is quite scary for many people. It would be difficult to imagine that many Americans would want a nuclear power plant put in their back yard. Renewables are becoming more price competitive and are clearly the long term solution. Carbon fuels do not have the potential for lasting forever, renewables do.

    https://phys.org/news/2017-12-hot-electrons-solar-energy.html

    • Get back to us with your predictions when battery storage is up to snuff. Until then solar/wind are, and always will be, marginal players, and will never replace hydrocarbons, unless they just entirely disappear.

    • Solar will never be as energy dense as fossil fuels. And fission is a million times as energy dense as fossil fuels. We have enough thorium to last for many thousands of years. And we already proved we could successfully breed it into fissile U233 in the 60’s and 70’s. Coupled with molten salt reactors which we also successfully developed in the 60’s and 70’s we will soon go to thorium molten salt reactors. No point whatsoever doing grids out of solar not that we have “rediscovered” thorium molten salt reactors. The land and material usage is simply not justifiable with such low energy density.

  41. I have , in a long lifetime, seen just this kind of expert prediction fail virtually every time. And they never learn . As a fairly successful mineral and metal commodity forecasting consultant (many repeat clients), amongst other mining industry work I’ve done , predicting future supply, demand and price is a thorough technical-economic exercise outside the scope of economists and the usual academic futurist analysts.

    My forecasts are good for a decade or two depending on the maturity of the commodity and this, like weather forecasting limitations, is for a similar reason. An unknown chaotic element soon renders a forecast past its best before date. An example is the platinum group metals. Palladian had surged up to over $1000/oz and platinum was ~at about 500 early in the new millennium. I forecasted these metals to reverse position with Palladium swooning to ~300 and platinum going to 900+. Diesel exhaust systems use platinum and EU was diving into diesel cars. Today, diesel is considered evil and a major use of platinum is drying up along with the millions of acres of palm oil plantations that were foist on a number of poor countries.

    Yes, i inadvertently have earned a PhD in scepticism. The eggheads predicted mass starvation, pestilence, croplands gone to dust, running out of Resources, peak oil, 6C temp rise, whittled down to 2C , and hey, even 1.5C will wipe us out! I on the other hand have made huge global forecasts on these matters none failing so far. My model: NONE of the egghead negative forecasts will come to pass.
    I have a scientific theory on this, but this for another time.

    • My thesis is that people have been predicting the end of the world since shortly after the invention of language, and the future track record of such predictions will closely mirror the record of such predictions in the past.
      BTW, the first spoken words were almost certainly “Hey honey, can you grab me a cold one while you are up?”
      The next ones were “It’s the end of the world as we know it!”
      Personally, I feel fine.

  42. You don’t want nuclear? Fine. You will burn coal. You have no choice.

    Wind and solar (a/k/a “renewables”) are not, can not, and will not, be an important energy source for a modern technological civilization. As I type this it is almost 10 pm on a late December evening. Solar output has been nill for about 6 hrs. The temperature is headed to minus 15°C. The winds, not more than a light breeze all day, are dying down. You need a fresh breeze to run your windmills.

    You will burn coal.

  43. “I can get 2kw for $499 ($250/kw) at Harbor Freight:”

    Me too but I do not think it will start the AC on my RV.

    There is a reason most of our power is made with steam turbine generators. Steam plants are expensive but a plant with the foot print of a Walmart supplies a city million people.

    It is called economy of scale.

  44. “Separate from that, there is still the unanswered question of “what do you do with tons of radioactive waste for the next several thousand years?””

    This question has been answered many times in many places. In fact I worked on the US answer.

  45. “In the case of Chernobyl and Fukushima the exposure is constant so long as you are in the area…”

    So who was exposed and what was the exposure at Fukishima?

    If you are going to make claims do you think maybe you should look that up.

  46. Who was it who said ” necessity is the mother of invention”. I think this will always be true. Any doubters out there ?

  47. It’s hard to avoid cost over runs when the regulators change the regulations 5 times before the plant is finished.

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