Union of Concerned Scientists For Nukes!

How will this change the doomsday clock? ~ctm

From Reason

Activist group finally recognizes that it can’t achieve its energy and climate goals without nuclear power.

Ronald Bailey|Nov. 13, 2018 4:00 pm

The activists at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have had a partial change of heart about nuclear power. Back in 2007, the UCS’ Global Warming and Nuclear Power report declared, “prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.”

In its new report, The Nuclear Power Dilemma, the UCS now recognizes that nuclear power plays an important role in addressing the problem of man-made global warming by helping to keep U.S. carbon dioxide emissions considerably lower than they would otherwise be. The UCS notes that there has been a 28 percent reduction in U.S. power-sector emissions of carbon dioxide below 2005 levels. This is largely due to the switch from coal to cheap fracked natural gas, to increased energy efficiency, and to the deployment of some solar and wind generation capacity.

The UCS fears that this trend toward lower carbon dioxide emissions will be derailed because many of the currently operating nuclear power plants will close because they are being outcompeted by generation facilities fueled by cheap natural gas and subsidized renewable power generation. “More than one-third of existing plants, representing 22 percent of total U.S. nuclear capacity, are unprofitable or scheduled to close,” notes the report. “The possibility that the nation will replace existing nuclear plants with natural gas and coal rather than low-carbon sources raises serious concerns about our ability to achieve the deep cuts in carbon emissions needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change.” The UCS has evidently come to realize that closing down nuclear power plants will perversely “lock-in” fossil fuels and thus make it harder and more expensive to “save the climate.”

In order to avoid this outcome the UCS advocates either raising the price of electricity generated from burning fossil fuels by putting a price of $25 per ton on carbon dioxide emissions (to be increased at 5 percent annually) or adopting a steadily rising national low-carbon electricity standard. The UCS favorably cites the subsidy schemes adopted by New York, New Jersey and Illinois to keep open nuclear power plants outcompeted by natural gas and subsidized renewable energy generators.

Of course, the UCS’s mild embrace of nuclear power has provoked criticism by some progressives. Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Obama administration, said to ThinkProgress that nuclear reactors “are a bad bet for a climate strategy.” Why? Because the costs of building nuclear power plants have risen steeply over the years.

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HT/Roger Knights

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62 thoughts on “Union of Concerned Scientists For Nukes!

      • It took the scientists about a half century to stumble upon the obvious given their premises. Given Brown is a politician, one needs to multiply by the UPSF (Universal Politician Stupid Factor) to arrive at the number of centuries when he catches up. Most Pols have a UPSF of around 1.9; Brown seems to be multiples of that.

  1. When a “Progressive” is suddenly on your side, run away….Promises in the dark are a trademark of the Liberal left, just ask President Reagan…

  2. Increasing the cost of CO2 emissions by 5% per year will increase the cost of “renewable” solutions to energy generation. It simply doesn’t seem to sink in that production of all these wind turbines and solar panels is coal-powered.

    Without cheap coal power, wind turbines and solar panels will increase dramatically in cost as the true expense of making them passes on to the end user (the owners of the generation facility).

    To make a wind turbine using power from wind turbines means accepting the enormous cost of providing a reliable supply – the back end that is not noticed when looking at the glamorous front end. Making wind energy reliable has a high cost that includes either a lot of soon-to-be-expensive CO2 emissions or already-expensive-storage. The wind turbine business has been getting a free ride: first by being supplied coal fired power at low cost to make all the raw materials and deliveries, and second by being subsidised by money generated by the coal-fired economy producing a profit. All those subsidies came from somewhere – especially the general fiscus produced by the real economy, not the fake renewable one.

    Taking away the subsidies generated by the economy that will be suffering from greatly increased power prices, and removing the support provided by cheap electricity from their erstwhile competitors, will make “renewable energy” far more expensive. At present they have been having their cake and eating it, and eating everyone else’s cake too.

    It was in the interests of the atomic energy companies to keep the price of fuel and processing and reclamation and storage as expensive as humanly possible. This was to increase the price of electricity and construction – after all, they were going to get the contracts no matter what. They chose the most income over the lowest cost. It would not surprise me in the least to discover that the groups demanding that nuclear power generation stations be stupendously “safe” and shielded are in part funded by the companies building them. If the costs are forced up, they get a larger profit. Even then, tare not being driven out of business on the basis of cost, it is on the basis of regulation.

    Perhaps the choice of technologies should be revisited with a view to actually doing what was originally envisaged: plentiful power at very low cost.

    • Crispin in Waterloo

      We bang on about renewables as the ‘competition’ when in reality, they provide a measly single digit percentage of global power.

      I entirely agree with, and get you point, but somehow I suspect the world is being misled to barking up the wrong tree. The climate faithful for believing in the technology and we sceptics for railing against it.

      When unsubsidised renewables reach 10% of our energy production then we have a question worth asking (the physics, economics and practicalities would suggest otherwise), or perhaps we don’t.

      To get to that 10% unsubsidised will likely take another generation (I it’s even possible) by which time they will either be proven to be a valuable resource or, as we suspect, a white elephant. As subsidies are rapidly being withdrawn I suspect they don’t have another generation left because they can’t compete commercially without them.

      My belief is that anyone into renewables in the next ten years is on a corporate death spiral.

      As it stands, renewables are simply a distraction from bigger issues.

  3. Nuclear is a no-brainer. Considering that wind produces power only 26-27% of the time and most often utilizes natural gas that is 15% less efficient due to the requirement to ramp up and down according to if and how hard the wind blows and requires this fossil fuel back-up to run 100% of the time even when wind power is being generated, the actual reduction in carbon dioxide is actually 16-17% from an economical, reliable modern natural gas power plant. Of course far higher construction costs and government subsidies make wind outrageously expensive to build as well. The cost of power generated is reportedly 3 times that of NG as well. Subsidizing and building of wind and solar is unaffordable and is just about the worst approach to reducing carbon emissions possible. If the world were in serious danger because of global warming due to carbon dioxide it seems ridiculous to demand the very worst and completely unaffordable approaches to solve the ‘problem’.

    • Renewables are profitable virtue signals.

      They do (almost) nothing to CO2 emissions or to electricity generation however

      Elsewhere in the political furore that marks our elected representatives trying to railroad us back into a political union we emphatically voted to lave, it was remarked that ‘ordinary people need experts to run the complicated world we live in;

      My riposte was that politicians were not experts, did not listen to or employ experts except if they were ‘on message and therefore this was no sound reason to support the EU.

      Both this article and the one about sustainability highlight this issue. The world is too complicated for people to understand, especially politicians whose skills lie in oratory deception and manipulation, not in cost benefit analysis, risk analysis or systems theory.

      Neither are bureaucrats ideal world leaders or governors.

      The great myth is that not only is central political control desirable but that it is possible.

      This is the assumptive close of neo Marxism. world government is assumed to be the real goal: the only question is which one?

      I challenge these assumptions. Just as I maintain climate is simply too complex for current research tools to have a cats chance in hell in coming up with an exact partial differential description let alone integrating it over time to order anything approaching a reliable prediction, I maintain that centrally planned government is just about the worst way to achieve optimal results.

      The high cost of nuclear and the allegedly low cost of renewables are both due to government intervention.

      Heavy handed regulatory ratcheting, dreamed up by bureaucrats at the behest of populist politicians paid for by gas interests virtue signalling to anti-nuclear scaremongers is not efficient governance.

      Neither is the same people paying money to their cronies to erect windmills and solar panels.

      What I suspect has happened is that the world is so complicated that they believe no one can understand it, and so they don’t even try. In the absence of any ability to do the job they are ostensibly paid to do, politicians and bureaucrats have simply given up and concentrate solely on preserving their positions.

      Is here a better way?

      I think there is.

      Reduce government to a bare minimum, set a few simple rules and let the market process dictate what is optimal. Devolve power away from the centre so that local efficient systems prosper.

      If California wants to be renewable and not cut any trees, let them live with blackouts and forest fires and be an example. Not to follow..

      People will soon note that things are better elsewhere and sack the idiots in government. If democracy is allowed to exist, which it seems is not the case in the UK at this time…

      World government big state and climate change all share one important feature.Someone somewhere has convinced a lot of people that centralized bureaucratic human structures are good enough to identify and solve global problems.

      Suppose they aren’t?

      Despite massively powerful computers and very sophisticated models we still use wind tunnels. Because the real word is more complicated than we can analyze accurately.

      So too is human society. The response of the neo Marxists is to make society and humanity simpler by imposing moral codes so that peoples behavior can be controlled and so their structures may work.

      The world does not need more centralization. It needs to suck and see on many levels and select what works and reject what does not. Big state intervention hides failure and it hides success as well.

      The cost of delivered energy is now a function almost solely of government intervention. Nuclear power is in principle extremely simple.Bang a lot of uranium together – moderately enriched uranium – and it gets hot, generates a fair bit of radioactivity and turns into some rather unpleasant elements that need to be isolated till they have finished fizzing. That’s all. various reactor technologies are simply different approaches to controlling the reaction, getting the heat out and containing the fizzy bits.

      You can build a reactor for relative peanuts. Someone did it in a shed. It is expensive simply because people who did not understand and do not understand it, have been put in charge of regulating it. Because other people who do not understand it are scared of it.

      In the end yes, the people do not know what is good for them. There I agree with the globalists Left. Neither can they run it . Yes we need experts.

      But the political structures we have are absolutely not those experts, They are meddling amateurs. At least Trump doesn’t hide that.

      And what happens if the world is too complex for even experts?

      Well, then we have to muddle through and try stuff out.

      The beauty of conservatism is that it is a grab bag of stuff that hasn’t let us down. Yet.

      It’s the REAL precautionary principle. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      Nuclear power works.Windmills don’t.

      Humble local conservatism works, global top down Big State does not.
      The global internet works because lots of local internet providers agree to abide by certain conventions, when they don’t, it breaks until they are closed off from it. THAT is how you build global systems.Lots of autonomous local systems that agree to play nice and get ostracised when they don’t. Their choice.

      This is relevant because currently you cannot separate nuclear power and politics.Politics dominates the cost of nuclear power. Politics dominates its value too.

      Nuclear power that s centrally subsidized by Big State is not the answer, Nuclear power that succeeds or fails under a minimal regulatory regime in the open market in direct competition with unbsubsidized oil coal gas and renewables is.

      We have to work to change politics first to achieve any of that.

      • A couple of days ago, one of our regulars proclaimed that since government subsidies and regulations had completely bollixed up agriculture in Britain, the only solution was to have government completely take over the agricultural sector.

        Some people not long can’t see the forest for the trees, they refuse to even try.

      • Indeed!

        There are so many possibilities, and I’ve been pondering in my head for decades the use of small reactors for districts/municipalities use. Puts more control of energy in the community , it will bring in businesses with a set rate price.
        Where I live now we are almost 100% hydro bought and paid for by all of us BC residence, generations of us, clean energy before clean energy was cool, just sensible and cheap. The lefties( my family being lefties) hated it and hated our leader for doing it, they just hated conservatives/social credit . They called him Wacky(WAC) Bennett( a dam was named after him.. still giving power today).
        When it all shook out we had the lowest power rates and the streets were electrified. Then skip forward and then a new gov got involved with enron and sold power at lower then market value and F-‘ed us over selling it off when that imploded. Now the prices are very high AND we had the first carbon tax in north America.

        Long story short, small(micro) energy plants are the answer, off the grid.

    • And, of course, uranium is renewable.

      According to a Forbes Magazine article by James Conca, a scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences, “it is impossible for humans to extract enough uranium to lower the overall seawater concentrations faster than it is replenished.”

  4. How does the UCS feel about our contracting atmosphere which seemingly blasts the “Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Are Warming Our Planet” theory”?

  5. The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems

    Really?

    Perhaps they could use some of that rigour and independence to look at the pre-determined conclusions and circular arguments behind the prophesies of doom and destruction made by climate science.

  6. helping to keep U.S. carbon dioxide emissions considerably lower….

    this really pisses me off……while China has tripled their emissions…and the rest of the 3rd world increases theirs

  7. Clearly the green blob’s hate of nuclear has from the very beginning exposed the massively obvious underbelly of their real goal; to cripple western governments and take control via the UN. Exponents of this green ideology have repeatedly stated that at all costs a cheap and plentiful source of power must not be found (or they will lose the fear of the masses and the control).

  8. Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Obama administration, said to ThinkProgress that nuclear reactors “are a bad bet for a climate strategy.”

    Ah yes, Obama obviously hired the fox to guard the hen house. The obvious simple solution to regulating nuclear power is to get rid of nuclear power. What a great example of the KISS principle.

    There is some reason to believe that nuclear power is over regulated. link If your goal is to get rid of nuclear power, one obvious way is to regulate it to death.

    • Chairman Jazko also defunded the licensing action of the Yucca Mt. waste storage facility by not providing funding in the NRC Budget. He then pushed for the unnecessary Fukushima changes to all US Nuclear power plants, adding millions to their costs.

  9. The actions of the UCS has been the largest contributor to increased cost of electricity from Nuclear Power. It is like a death of a thousand cuts. That combined with an ever-tightening ratchet wrench of the resulting regulations they pushed for. The UCS would petition the NRC during licensing hearings for new/renewing plants for changes. During this stage of the construction it was/is cheaper for the utility accept these changes because not only is the legal battle expensive the analysis needed to show the change is unnecessary is expensive and the delay in construction is even more expensive. Then the ratchet wrench tightens as the UCS forces plant after plant to make the same modification. All this for improvements in safety that are essentially unmeasurable and extremely improbable, like flood protection measure to plants well above the flood level based upon a prediction that the breach of one dam will cause the breach of two more, all of which are so far from the plan that the plant could be safely shut down even if this absurd scenario actually happened.

  10. The fact that these “suddenly nuclear” folks are assuming that future nuclear will be the same light water reactors demonstrates how really ignorant they are. Everyone with half a brain knows that molten salt reactors are the future, reactors that can operate in all modes, are inherently safe,
    and, most important of all, can outcompete any and all other power technologies. The U.S. no longer has the ability to produce the huge steel structures required for conventional light water reactors,
    but can easily manufacture the small modular molten salt reactors, which have modest site requirements (no cooling bodies of water required), and can be located virtually anywhere.

    • How about one for my home. Small reactor that meets my needs any extra electricity could go into the grid.

      • The smallest practical size is 100MW.
        Not sure about your home, but I can do with a few kW 🙂

  11. Dear Union of Concerned Scientists,

    How are you guys doing today. Hope all is going good for you and you are getting plenty of sleep. If not then this might help!

    Natural Gas with Zero Emissions is coming soon and even sooner if you guys would get out of the way.

    U.S. News & World Report (Nov 13, 2018) – New Technology Promises Natural Gas With No Emissions

    https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-11-13/new-technology-promises-natural-gas-with-no-emissions

    Best Regards

  12. Nuclear is the direction that you can lead your debate with an alarmist when it gets too angry. I don’t believe in CO2 demon but will happily apply precautionary principle and add more nuclear to our energy mix.

    Ask your alarmist friend if she is serious about dangers of hydrocarbons if she does not accept nuclear power as a solution to the alleged problem.

  13. This is dumb question time: If the major navies of the world have been safely operating nuclear reactors in warships for, what, the past 70 years, why can’t the same designs be used for land based power plants? The military reactors are designed to withstand battle damage, worst that any earthquake or forest fire can throw at one.

    • They are different designs. Navy submarines don’t refuel, and use far more highly enriched uranium. Power generating nukes use low enriched uranium and partly refuel, and swap around the other fuel about every 18 months. Laws and regulations relating to degree of enrichment are very definite. In practice no NPP uses more than 5% enrichment. Low enrichment is defined as < 20% enriched.

    • Rolls Royce already have developed Small Modular Reactors that have powered nuclear submarines, and are trying to get these off the ground for land based generation
      .
      http://www.rolls-royce.com/products-and-services/nuclear/small-modular-reactors.aspx#/

      It would seem to be more sensible to build a power station with a number of these units working together, and can be shut down for maintenance individually, instead of a huge plant that has to be shut down completely.
      Also they could be situated closer to the demand, but can imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Green community if this were to be suggested.

      On a separate topic, it seems to be time to get out the winter woolies, stock up with wood, coal and oil, and check that one has enough fuel for the generator. The European Court wants to bring the UK backup scheme to a standstill.
      “When the North wind do blow, and we shall have snow, what will the robin do then, poor thing”
      But what happens when we have a high pressure system, with no wind and the sun has gone down, inconveniently, just when there is peak demand for electricity between 6 and 7 pm?
      As well as needing to charge your electric car to get to work tomorrow, when you will need headlights and the heater going full blast.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/11/15/european-court-brings-uks-1bn-energy-back-up-scheme-standstill/

      • StephenP

        The EU ruling seems to me an important precedent from a number of perspectives. Not least the ability of the EU to determine our energy requirements, their influence on our political process, their influence on our laws and our energy policy.

        I laughed when someone told me some years ago that the next global war will be fought over energy.

        I’m not laughing now.

      • Check out Seaborg.co 20-foot 30-ton Molten Salt Reactor at 250 MWs Thermal, good for 200,000 people

  14. ” the costs of building nuclear power plants have risen steeply over the years.”

    Gee, I wonder why?

  15. The concerned scientists are no help. They are lost.
    The pressure water reactor, design choices, where made to maximize the amount of equipment the customer purchased, not to make the reactor safe by design choice.

    It is possible to build a fission engine. A fission device that cannot have a core meltdown, that does not have chemical reactions that cause explosions. It is possible to build a fission heat engine that is completely sealed.

    Water (at 150 atmospheres, 315C temperature) and fuel loaded in fuel rods is dangerous and unbelievable more difficult to control by the designer’s choice.

    There is a water less fission engine design that has no fuel rods to melt, the uranium is carried in a salt that melts at 400C and boils at 1400C, that was developed 50 years ago.

    The design is a fission engine as the there is no material flow into or out of the reactor.

    The ‘breakthrough’ is a no ‘failure’ mode fission engine. The fission engine naturally without operator intervention, load tracks. The fission engine will idle.

    The fission engine is a load tracking, water less, low pressure (30 psi), sealed fission engine, that can produce electricity cheaper than a coal fired plant (all in costs, no credit for CO2 reduction, or zero emissions).

    The fission engine in question burns 4% enriched uranium with fuel efficiency six times better than current pressure water reactors. The fission engine produces six times less nuclear waste.

    The basic design which was tested 50 years ago is engineeringly perfect (the modern version, is a sealed vessel, six heat exchangers, three small pumps, and a graphite core) and is not patentable.

    The perfect engineered fission heat engine was discovered and tested 50 years ago. That design test was stopped and covered up. That design was rediscovered roughly 10 years ago by a NASA engineer, Kirk Svensen who was looking for a moon project energy source.

    Svensen recognized this design as a breakthrough.

    Svensen meet with the old original design team and found the design team’s records which were stored in a local library. Svensen copied the records and sent them to every nuclear agency and company.

    This company has reached phase 2 regulatory approval in Canada for the fission engine design. This video explains how a no fuel rod, waterless fission engine is different than a pressure water reactor.

    Terrestrial Energy YouTube

  16. Don’t kid yourself! The UCS is a FRAUDULENT GROUP. Aside from a few “token” people with “titles” (mostly Hoiti-toit science types, with Phd’s in Particle Physics, or Bio-chemistry…never engineering or any applied field), they have NEVER, REPEAT, NEVER given any backing for their claim of representing “the scientific community”. They are purely a screaming, left wing, activist group. They know that NUCLEAR POWER is DEAD, and so now it’s OK…

  17. $25 per ton on carbon dioxide emissions (to be increased at 5 percent annually)

    Haha … love a politician to try it and see just how short there political career is 🙂

  18. It’s often overlooked by the molten salt naysayers that the UK’s nuclear fleet consists mainly of AGRs, not watercooled reactors. The AGR, using CO2 coolant and stainless steel fuel cladding in place of flammable zirconium, is a safer alternative to the PWR or BWR, although not as intrinsically safe as the MSR since it still operates under pressure. This shows that alternative designs can work and are financially viable.

  19. I don’t know how widespread this is among anti-nukers but it hasn’t gotten any media attention that I’m aware of and could be the silver lining arising from climatastrophy.

    This TED talk by Michael Shellenberger does a very convincing job of laying out the case for nuclear power and why he and other former anti-nukers are now advocating FOR rather than AGAINST it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak

  20. Do everything in your power to increase the cost of nuclear power.
    Then use the cost of nuclear power as an argument against it.

    The hubris is earth shattering.

    • The madness is almost all of the nuclear safety problems in the last 50 years were due to the designer’s choice of water at 150 atmospheres and fuel rods.

      The madness is also that the PWR problems are real problems which were covered up prior to three mile island.

      There are massive amounts of water flowing through the reactor which has water soluble radioactive products.

      The fission heat engine uses a salt that tightly binds the water soluble radioactive products.

      The fission heat engine’s connection to the steam plant is a NaCl heat exchanger. The NaCl to steam is connected to NaCl to Floride salt which in turn is connected to the reactors Floride to floride heat exchanger.

      After three mile island it was found that the fuel rods crack and leak.

      Every 18 months 1/3 of 118 fuel rods must be replaced and the other fuel rods rotated.

      The fuel rod in the center of the reactor was supposed to be run to just before failure. In practice to increase operating time the time before fuel rod replacement was pushed.

      The fuel rods all contain two radioactive noble gases. Those gases are released when the rods crack.

      The fuel rods when exposed to air release hydrogen gas in sufficient amounts to cause explosions.

      In the fission engine, the noble gases rise to the space at the top of the reactor where they are removed cryogenically.

  21. The “clock” is the silly stunt pulled by the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,” not the “Union of Concerned Scientists.”

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