Nuking the anti-nuke crowd

Experts agree the tide has turned in nuclear power’s favor, but obstacles remain

Duggan Flanakin

How has the Trump Administration fared in meeting the multiple challenges that have slowed the growth of nuclear energy in the U.S. to a near-halt? And what are the prospects for nuclear energy in a Biden-Harris Administration? It’s time to nuke the anti-nuke crowd, and it seems to be happening.

It is now seventy-five years since the U.S. ended the war against Japan by dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (both currently thriving). Eight years later, President Eisenhower, in his world-famous “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations, invited citizens to the debate over using nuclear science and technology for power generation.

President Kennedy switched the nation’s attention from nuclear to the space program but, beginning in the Nixon Administration and augmented following the 1973 oil embargo through the Three Mile Island incident in 1979, the U.S. authorized most of the 61 plants and 99 nuclear reactors still operating in 2017.  As President Trump took office, the Aspen Institute issued a report stating, “Nuclear power in the U.S. is at a moment of existential crisis. If the present challenges are not addressed, the future of nuclear energy may be far less promising and superior U.S. nuclear expertise diminished.”

President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan provided funding for nuclear energy, including creating the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). In 2012, despite objections by the chairman, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) authorized Southern Company to build and operate two new reactors at its Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, the first in the USA since 1979.

The Aspen report boldly asserted that the U.S. needs a strong domestic nuclear program to maintain its exceptional competence to address safety, threat reduction, and nonproliferation issues. They courted the environmental community by noting that nuclear is a necessary component in the war against climate change, if we are to also maintain an adequate supply of affordable electricity. “A world without nuclear power,” the authors concluded, “would require an incredible – and likely unrealistic – amount of renewables to meet climate targets.” 

The Aspen authors observed that Americans are generally supportive of nuclear power but concerned about nuclear waste. Worse, far too many nuclear power plants in development have broken budgets and fallen behind schedule. Given the lack of political will or a national energy crisis at the time, the authors placed their hopes on advanced reactors that use new types of coolants, operate at different pressures and temperatures, or are smaller and more modular.

Many now view nuclear waste as an overhyped, unscientific issue. In a 2019 paper, Aspen Institute trustee Bill Budinger argued that the fear of nuclear waste is largely unfounded – an issue “hugely exaggerated when we were trying to scare people away from nuclear.” The total amount of nuclear waste accumulated over the past 60 years from all U.S. nuclear power plants would fit inside a two-story building covering one city block. Unfounded fear applies to power plant radiation, as well.

Cost overruns and delays are largely the product of anti-nuclear attitudes that have driven regulation to extremes that are inappropriate for newer reactor designs. 

In April 2020 President Trump unveiled his Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership and competitive nuclear advantage. The first step outlined in the plan is to revive and strengthen America’s uranium mining industry, support uranium conversion services, end reliance on foreign uranium enrichment, and sustain the current fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines.

Other objectives include creating a Uranium Reserve, streamlining regulatory reform and land access for uranium extraction (cutting red tape), supporting the National Reactor Innovation Center and Versatile Test Reactor, demonstrating the use of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and micro-reactors to power federal facilities, and adding protections to prevent future uranium dumping into the U.S. market.

In November, the Associated Press reported that the Idaho National Laboratory was the Energy Department’s first choice for constructing and operating the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR). This first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades would give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette explained that the VTR “continues to be a high-priority project for DOE to ensure nuclear energy plays a role in our country’s energy portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Llewellyn King reports that an active community of entrepreneurs is promoting reactors of various designs (including molten salt modular reactors), using seed money for SMRs provided through the Obama-era GAIN program. The increase in private investment in nuclear technology and development is a strong sign that nuclear may have finally overcome the media-induced stigma resulting from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

In reality, the Chernobyl accident happened largely because a test procedure started going wrong when senior technicians were off duty and less experienced technicians made wrong decisions that rapidly compounded the disaster, nuclear physicist Kelvin Kemm explains. Environmentalist Michael Shellenberger notes that radiation from Chernobyl “will kill at most 200 people, while the radiation from Fukushima and Three Mile will kill zero people.” Moreover, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of women aborted their babies after the Chernobyl incident, UCLA researchers found that children born near Chernobyl had no detectable abnormalities.

Further advancing President Trump’s efforts to establish a U.S. national strategic uranium reserve, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently approved a bipartisan bill, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA). Uranium Energy Corp CEO Amir Adnani called it “broad-reaching legislation, important for supporting the U.S. nuclear fuel industry, national security, and clean energy.”

Under ANIA, the Department of Energy may only buy uranium recovered from facilities licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or equivalent agreement state agencies; uranium from companies owned by, controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction of Russia or China would be excluded.

According to several prognosticators, the presumed Biden Administration will carry on or even accelerate Obama and Trump efforts to revitalize and prioritize U.S. nuclear energy programs. The primary difference between Trump and Biden nuclear policies, says progressive policy analyst James Conca, is that Biden’s is part of a climate change agenda, while Trump’s focus was on national security concerns.

“Leading climate scientists” say we cannot address climate change without significant nuclear power, Conca contends. So supporting nuclear power – or not – is a clear signal about how serious candidates are about manmade climate change and “how serious they are about supporting science over mere activism.” He added, “if Democrats want any clean energy plan to succeed at all, it better include nuclear.”

Washington Examiner energy reporter Josh Siegel says “Biden’s support for nuclear power … promises to be one of the rare instances of energy policy continuity between the incoming and outgoing administrations.” Democrats, he believes, finally realize that wind and solar alone are insufficient to decarbonize the power grid and are starting to give up their longstanding opposition to nuclear energy.

Of course, all this will also require a new reality-based public attitude about the risks of radiation, be it from nuclear power plants, nuclear waste storage or other sources, says energy journalist Robert Bryce.

There is one more huge caveat. Should Kamala Harris for any reason replace Biden as Commander-in-Chief, her support for nuclear power is far less assured. Asked during the 2020 Presidential campaign whether she supported nuclear energy, she replied on multiple occasions:“Yes, temporarily, while we increase investment into cleaner renewable alternatives.”

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, nor even an acknowledgment of the growing bipartisan energy reality. And it certainly doesn’t explain how millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of battery modules – and massive increases in mining, metals processing and manufacturing, to build those technologies – are “clean, green, renewable or sustainable” alternatives to fossil fuels.

Duggan Flanakin is Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org)

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Hotscot
December 19, 2020 2:18 am

Can someone please force Boris Johnson and Princess Nut Nut to read this.

fretslider
Reply to  Hotscot
December 19, 2020 2:38 am

Doris agrees with the last person he spoke with…

griff
Reply to  Hotscot
December 19, 2020 2:57 am

UK power plans still include 17 GW of new nuclear plant (17GW is the summer off peak demand of the UK, for reference… approx 50 GW is winter peak).

The problem is financing the new plant… Hinkley now building was given a fixed 30 year price for its electricity way above any current cost, which each household will fork out a share of for 30 years, when/if/whenever it comes into operation.

funding for Wylfa and Moorside, which should already have started construction has proved impossible to agree… both are on hold and the construction company has pulled out completely from one of them (memory fails me as to which!).

Now the Sizewell nuke from EDF is under active discussion, with the Bradwell EDF plant to follow. financing still difficult and now they seem to have banned Chinese involvement in the build (China in theory has a 10% stake), allowing them only to finance. I’m not sure if these will get off the ground either

In short the UK still has nuclear power ambitions, but can’t find a way to finance them (and provide a return on investment).

There’s much talk/support for SMRs, but I regard them as ‘vapourware’ for now.

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 5:19 am

As usual a mixture of cherry picked facts and downright lies and complete avoidance of the real issues.

  1. Hinkley point contract for difference is well below the cost of wind and solar. Let alone battery power, when holistic levelised costs of not just the renewable sources, but also the co-operating infrastructure needed to enable them to function reliably, are taken into account. Hinkley point is about 9p a unit guaranteed. I already pay nearly 20p a unit for all the renewable crap.
  2. The government has repeatedly refused to underwrite the insurance costs of nuclear, requiring operators to take out massive insurance policies against events that simply cannot happen.
  3. The government has refused to give concrete guarantees against its own political actions in potentially shutting down nuclear if the Greens get any more say, as happened in Germany. Wiping a few tens of billions off the value of the power companies’ assets.
  4. No ‘green grants’ or zero interest long term loans are made to nuclear power.
  5. The nuclear regulator has been historically aligned with the EU via Euratom, and forced to take its massively over-engineered regulatory regime as a given. 70% of the cost of a nuclear plant is not building it, it is in demonstrating regulatory alignment, from the moment a planning application is made through to the final sign off that it is ‘safe to operate’. That is why small modular reactors that could be type approved are now in vogue – not because they are intrinsically cheaper or technically superior, but because they involve less red tape. Shorn of unnecessary red tape and insurance a nuclear plant is capable of delivering electricity at below 4p a unit, levelised lifetime cost, including 7.5% return on investment over that lifetime and subsequent decommissioning.

But all that is to no avail as long as the NutNutz of this world have political power and the ex CND hippies sponsored by a defunct Soviet Union still believe in all the lies they were told back then.

You have been sold a pipe dream or ‘free clean renewable energy’. The reality is that its inherent dirt and its cost are simply hidden from your view.

It’s not cheap and its not clean and it makes no overall difference to emissions either.

ghalfrunt
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 6:41 am

Leo Smith
 December 19, 2020 5:19 am

  1. Hinkley point contract for difference is well below the cost of wind and solar. Let alone battery power, when holistic levelised costs of not just the renewable sources, but also the co-operating infrastructure needed to enable them to function reliably, are taken into account. Hinkley point is about 9p a unit guaranteed. I already pay nearly 20p a unit for all the renewable crap.

—————-
gh
You pay 20p/kWh for someone’s profit. 9p per unit eats into that profit so the company has to raise consumer price.
You seem to pay excessive amounts – for “100% green” energy I pay

Flat Units 01/12/20 31/12/20 645.48 13.201 £85.21 [we did not use 645 units – must get that corrected!]

13.2p/kWh Symbio energy
———

  1. The government has repeatedly refused to underwrite the insurance costs of nuclear, requiring operators to take out massive insurance policies against events that simply cannot happen.

———————-
gh
Surely insurers charge a rate dependent on the risk?
———–

  1. No ‘green grants’ or zero interest long term loans are made to nuclear power.

———————
gh
Garbage!!! Hinkley C
December 2013, the European commission decided that the payments to EDF were so big that they could distort the electricity price across the whole of Europe, and launched an investigation into the deal. The resulting document, published in 2014, can be read as a 33,000-word attempt by the EU to save the UK from its own poor negotiating.
The commission raised several issues. First, it stated that the payout to EDF would give the company a huge and unjustifiable advantage over its competitors. The strike price agreement was designed “to entirely eliminate market risks from the commercial activity of electricity generation”.
Second, it noted that EDF has been meticulous in passing on as much risk as possible to the British government. The contract included a state guarantee for any debt that EDF required from the financial markets to fund construction of the plant. Separately, if a nuclear catastrophe hits Hinkley, EDF is also protected. “We’re insuring it, so if there is a disaster, it comes back to the public,” says Molly Scott Cato, the MEP. “Nuclear never has and cannot exist in a private market setting.”

Sounds like massive gov support whatever you call it
———-

  1. The nuclear regulator has been historically aligned with the EU via Euratom, and forced to take its massively over-engineered regulatory regime as a given. 70% of the cost of a nuclear plant is not building it, it i……

————-
gh
Regulation is good when you deal with dangerous stuff. no regulation = “what can we get away with to maximise profits” never mind the quality.

MarkW
Reply to  ghalfrunt
December 19, 2020 8:32 am

Whenever someone claims that there are too many regulations, you can always count on some left wing nut case to counter that no regulations is also bad.
It’s almost as if they know they can’t win an honest debate on regulations so they immediately seek to move the goal posts.

PS: You can always count on them going on a side rant about the evils of profit.

ghalfrunt
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 6:46 am

Offshore wind costs ‘drop 32%’ – reNews – Renewable Energy News
Offshore wind costs have fallen 32% from just a year ago and 12% compared with the first half of 2019, according to new research from BloombergNEF.
In its latest Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) Update, BloombergNEF said its current global benchmark LCOE estimate for offshore wind is $78 a megawatt-hour.

bonbon
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 6:56 am

I just could not believe Austria actually sued the U.K. over nuclear power, and lost.
Hannes Androsch, former Finance Minister of Austria, has published a book Was jetzt zu tun ist (What To Do Now), fully endorsing nuclear power. Austria still has not one reactor, while neighboring Germany wants full exit.

Austria tried to annul a 2014 finance decision for Hinckley C :
https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2020-09/cp200112en.pdf
and surprisingly the General Court of the European Union dismissed the case.

alex parkhurst
Reply to  bonbon
December 21, 2020 3:27 pm

I thought Germans were smart -guess not.

griff
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 10:07 am

‘Hinkley point contract for difference is well below the cost of wind and solar.’

It really isn’t… EDF has negotiated a guaranteed fixed price – a strike price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50/MWh (in 2012 prices),which will be adjusted (linked to inflation) during the construction period and over the subsequent 35 years tariff period.

Wind costs as an contrasting example: Price awarded was £39.65 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for three of the four Remote Island Wind projects as well as three of the offshore wind projects — the 1.2 GW Doggerbank Creyke Beck A, the 1.4 GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, and the 12 megawatt (MW) Forthwind offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland in 2019 round of CFD.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  griff
December 20, 2020 3:56 am

Your usual load of bollocks.
Let’s look at prices negotiated at the same time.
Hinckley Point C’s contract, was agreed in September 2016.
What wind subsidy farms’ contracts were agreed around that time?
It falls between Round 1 (Feb 2015) & Round 2 (September 2017)
So, Round 1, gave us prices for offshore wind, of £133-139/MWh.
Round 2, £67-87/MWh.
The latest, ultra cheap prices for offshore wind, aren’t remotely economical. The developers are gambling on one of two things happening. Wholesale electricity prices soaring, due to carbon pricing, at which time, they pay a small fee, exit their CfD prices & charge market rate, or 2, the UK government’s so desperate for electricity, having shut all the remaining coal plants & have a major shortfall, that they’ll come back for more subsidies & be given them.
They’re the equivalent of the spivs buying up land cheaply, hoping that planning permission will be granted for building houses & the value of their investment soars.

griff
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 10:08 am

and by the way I’m not against nuclear, just skeptical it can be delivered at a reasonable price.

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 3:23 pm

None of us are against wind and solar renewables either.
We’re just sceptical that they can be delivered at an acceptable cost, including to the environment.

Lrp
Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 10:16 am

Funny how UK has money to burn on useless wind turbines and not on reliable power supply such as coal and nuclear

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 3:20 pm

Griff
Are you pro or anti nuclear?
In a word.

beng135
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 20, 2020 8:34 am

He’s for/against whatever his marxist media/culture tells him to be. So, whatever the latest headline on the multi-national fake-news media/social media dictates.

Reply to  Hotscot
December 19, 2020 3:23 am

The UK government’s position is quite clear and totally hypocritical. Behind the scenes it knows it needs nuclear – but equally it knows that it’s a nation of nutNuts, and so grand statements about ‘zero carbon’ serve to keep the Greens in their urban squalor munching their imported diseased ‘organic’ German Beansprouts.

In short all action on nuclear is kept covert until it is a fait accompli.
Brexit at least should clear the way for financial support and freedom from the EUs ‘renewable obligations’.

If it has any sense Britain will hold back until it becomes clear to even the average Guardian reader that “renewable” energy is, in the vernacular, pants, at which point it will announce that by a cunning foresight it has at least three or four nuclear projects on the back burner ready for just such a public realisation.

Britain post EU, is taking its first few halting steps against the tide of Leftist nonsense. Laurence Fox has a political party that might as well be called ‘War on Woke’. Cambridge University dons – not the authority, the dons – voted absolutely to allow ‘perceived’ insults their place in academic discourse.

Liz Truss’ speech though heavily redacted on the governments own website, is available here for all to read..

https://order-order.com/2020/12/18/read-the-bits-of-liz-trusss-speech-removed-from-government-website/

Please read it, especially the bits that were redacted by the government. It goes way beyond mealy mouthed virtue signalling. I suspect it is the Tory party trying to capture the anti woke momentum of Laurence Fox et al, but who cares? You can always rely on the Tories to ultimately do what the public wants after they have spent years trying to persuade them otherwise. When they looked like losing seats to UKIP, we got a referendum. It was too soon to be a walkover for leave, but it was too late for remain to win it, either. Quelle dommage. We are now a nation of Brexiteers, and with luck and a following wind, will be out of the EU completely in a fortnight.

Thatcher dumped nuclear because the interest rates went sky high, and we discovered gas in the North Sea. Gas was the answer to a maidens prayer. It undermined politicised coal, reduced carbon emissions (Thatcher used climate change to help shut down the last of the mines) and created jobs in the North East and Scotland, and it avoided another confrontation with the brown rice and hiking boots Soviet backed anti-nuclear protesters.

Today, the USSR is no more, interest rates have never been lower, and the gas is running out. It’s an ideal time to build nuclear power plants for the next generation.

While society is generally healthy and wealthy it can afford to embrace wokeist nonsense — and climate change is just a facet of it — but when things start to go downhill you need well engineered cost effective (technical) solutions. Nuclear power. mRNA vaccines.

If you want nuclear power, write to your MP. Make it a hot topic online with wherever you blog. Discuss it with friends. If it becomes a hot political issue, politicians will embrace it because they want your vote.

The reality is that fossil fuel will not last forever — it’s already mostly run out in the UK, as the Greens have legislated against fracking, and even frackable gas is not a solution forever —, and so called ‘renewables’ are in fact unsustainable.

Nuclear is not an option. It is in the end the only option we have left…That is the message to be conveyed to the nutNuts and the general public.

Vuk
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 4:20 am

It’s princess ‘Nut-Nuts’
“A Development Consent Order application for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell was submitted by EDF in May 2020. 
Conversations with the local authorities, communities and residents have continued and improved proposals have been borne out of those discussions. As a result, there is an ongoing 30-day public consultation on these material changes – from Wednesday 18 November to Friday 18 December.”
Hopefully we shall hear soon what is outcome of the ‘consultation’
https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/sizewell-c

Reply to  Vuk
December 19, 2020 5:25 am

It was Princess Nut-nuts, now it’s a generic term for idealistic idiots with no practical grasp of reality.

As I said, behind the scenes nuclear is making slow progress, waiting on the time when government has the courage to admit ‘actually we need an enormous amount of it and we have to support it, and sadly GreenCrap doesn’t really work, and we can’t afford it anyway’…

Vuk
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 5:50 am

sorry, for some reason I thought I was replying to ‘Hotscot’, this new format doesn’t read as well as the old one did in my browser.

fretslider
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 6:17 am

Princess Nut Nut is Oceana’s representative in Downing Street.

She has her sweaty palms on our reality.

bonbon
Reply to  fretslider
December 19, 2020 7:03 am

Exactly, the Princess of Oceana, a Rockefeller “foundation”.
So it may indeed look like a D.C. based mega fund is deciding Downing Street policy. But what turned Rockefeller green?

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Vuk
December 20, 2020 3:58 am

No, it’s Princess Nuts, just that there’s no emoji for nuts (plural), so it was written Princess Nut Nut.

Ron Long
December 19, 2020 2:21 am

Good report by Duggan Flanakin. As the former President of a Uranium Exploration Company I saw all of these issues up close and personal. When I was in the IAEA Redbook meeting in Vienna, Austria I talked to many Professionals about the process of getting a nuclear power project started, and it was a sobering experience. I am pleased to see that Duggan is positive about the future, but I can assure you that any company considering a project anywhere along the uranium yellowcake, to fuel rods, to nuclear power plant, sequence will have a “Critical Paths and Fatal Flaws” review, and that will be a tense meeting. Go Nuclear! And please be cautious about it.

commieBob
December 19, 2020 2:39 am

Good news from Canada. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/small-modular-reactors-seamus-1.5847931 The federal government now supports the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Three provinces, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick rebelled against imposing carbon taxes and said their strategy for reducing greenhouse gases would be to develop SMRs. The dispute ended up in the Supreme Court. https://globalnews.ca/news/7353756/supreme-court-canada-carbon-tax/ Does this mean the feds have backed down?

Drake
Reply to  commieBob
December 19, 2020 9:20 am

This is a non-verbatim repeat of past rants regarding nuclear power. For those of you who have seen this before, just skip. For those of you who haven’t, it could be of interest.

The pressure vessels for US Navy reactors are made in Ontario. The US does not have the capacity to make our own. The same country that produced all of those tanks, trucks, planes, etc. and also sent to Russia most of the steel to make Russian tanks during WWII cannot even make the small reactor pressure vessels for our new aircraft carriers and subs.

Canada has what is needed to make small modular reactors. Of course the biggest problem with civilian reactors is the use of low enrichment fuel due to “proliferation” fears. (Regulatory extremism) The new naval reactors will go without refueling for 25 years or more. They use highly enriched fuel. Civilian reactors refueling every 2 years? Really stupid. If you only need to refuel after 25 years, security would be affordable to insure the “proliferation” of waste would not happen. The plants will be producing 24/7/365 for 20 years or more without need to shut down for other than routine maintenance. Also unlike civilian plants, Navy reactors are designed for variable output.

fretslider
December 19, 2020 2:42 am

Cue Extinction Rebellion

If it can work it has to be opposed

December 19, 2020 2:45 am

Typical virtue signalling from Kamala – ‘yes we will do what works while we attempt to find a source of pixie dust and a way to store unicorn farts’
Do they think we are that stupid?

Yes. And for about half the population they are right…

Carl Friis-Hansen
December 19, 2020 3:18 am

Of course, all this will also require a new reality-based public
attitude about the risks of radiation, be it from nuclear power plants,
nuclear waste storage or other sources, says energy journalist Robert Bryce.

Will the MSM be for or against?

Great overview, thanks.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 19, 2020 6:08 am

How did you get the link-text for your link ?
Thx

John Doran
December 19, 2020 3:20 am

Disappointing there’s no mention of thorium molten salt systems, which, if I understand things correctly, will be able to use existing nuclear “waste”, safely, as fuel.
Thorium cannot be enriched to make bombs, unlike uranium.
Great book, by nuclear PhD engineer, Robert Zubrin: Merchants Of Despair.
Grimly reveals some of the depopulation tactics of the Malthusian “enviroloons”.
JD.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  John Doran
December 19, 2020 4:16 am

Mentioning thorium and molten salt, you clearly do not understand things correctly.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
December 19, 2020 5:45 am

Sadly I have to agree with you. Yes, Thorium salt is a technology that works, no its nowhere near as ready for deployment as its aficionados think, nor is it as safe and un bombworthy as they think either. In fact is arguably even more nasty. Bombs were made and detonated from U233 – the bred part of the thorium decay chain. But its nowhere as safe and benign as plutonium, bred from Uranium. U232 is also a by-product that is exceptionally nasty. You can handle plutonium safely in a plastic bag. But U232 is lethal. This is why U233 is allegedly ‘not bombworthy’. But people who want to make bombs are already prepared to blow themselves up.And U232 is in itself a very very nastry medium life waste proiduct. 69 year half life, so it hangs around 500+ years and its highly radioactive.

And there is nothing wrong with conventional reactors anyway. They are well understood and developed and, ex of ‘regulatory ratcheting*’, extremely good value.

The key to nuclear development lies not in superior technology, but in understanding what regulatory ratcheting means, and the late Professor Cohen’s short online book is a must-read.

*From http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

Regulatory Ratcheting

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission Office of Regulation, as parts of the United States Government, must be responsive to public concern. Starting in the early 1970s, the public grew concerned about the safety of nuclear power plants: the NRC therefore responded in the only way it could, by tightening regulations and requirements for safety equipment.

Make no mistake about it, you can always improve safety by spending more money. Even with our personal automobiles, there is no end to what we can spend for safety — larger and heavier cars, blowout-proof tires, air bags, passive safety restraints, rear window wipers and defrosters, fog lights, more shock-absorbent bumpers, antilock brakes, and so on. In our homes we can spend large sums on fireproofing, sprinkler systems, and smoke alarms, to cite only the fire protection aspect of household safety. Nuclear power plants are much more complex than homes or automobiles, leaving innumerable options for spending money to improve safety. In response to escalating public concern, the NRC began implementing some of these options in the early 1970s, and quickened the pace after the Three Mile Island accident.

This process came to be known as “ratcheting.” Like a ratchet wrench which is moved back and forth but always tightens and never loosens a bolt, the regulatory requirements were constantly tightened, requiring additional equipment and construction labor and materials. According to one study,4 between the early and late 1970s, regulatory requirements increased the quantity of steel needed in a power plant of equivalent electrical output by 41%, the amount of concrete by 27%, the lineal footage of piping by 50%, and the length of electrical cable by 36%. The NRC did not withdraw requirements made in the early days on the basis of minimal experience when later experience demonstrated that they were unnecessarily stringent. Regulations were only tightened, never loosened. The ratcheting policy was consistently followed.

In its regulatory ratcheting activities, the NRC paid some attention to cost effectiveness, attempting to balance safety benefits against cost increases. However, NRC personnel privately concede that their cost estimates were very crude, and more often than not unrealistically low. Estimating costs of tasks never before undertaken is, at best, a difficult and inexact art.

In addition to increasing the quantity of materials and labor going into a plant, regulatory ratcheting increased costs by extending the time required for construction. According to the United Engineers estimates, the time from project initiation to ground breaking5 was 16 months in 1967, 32 months in 1972, and 54 months in 1980. These are the periods needed to do initial engineering and design; to develop a safety analysis and an environmental impact analysis supported by field data; to have these analyses reviewed by the NRC staff and its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and to work out conflicts with these groups; to subject the analyzed to criticism in public hearings and to respond to that criticism (sometimes with design changes); and finally, to receive a construction permit. The time from ground breaking to operation testing was increased from 42 months in 1967, to 54 months in 1972, to 70 months in 1980.

The increase in total construction time, indicated in Fig. 2, from 7 years in 1971 to 12 years in 1980 roughly doubled the final cost of plants. In addition, the EEDB, corrected for inflation, approximately doubled during that time period. Thus, regulatory ratcheting, quite aside from the effects of inflation, quadrupled the cost of a nuclear power plant. What has all this bought in the way of safety? One point of view often expressed privately by those involved in design and construction is that it has bought nothing. A nuclear power plant is a very complex system, and adding to its complexity involves a risk in its own right. If there are more pipes, there are more ways to have pipe breaks, which are one of the most dangerous failures in reactors. With more complexity in electrical wiring, the chance for a short circuit or for an error in hook-ups increases, and there is less chance for such an error to be discovered. On the other hand, each new safety measure is aimed at reducing a particular safety shortcoming and undoubtedly does achieve that limited objective. It is difficult to determine whether or not reducing a particular safety problem improves safety more than the added complexity reduces safety.

A more practical question is whether the escalation in regulatory requirements was necessary, justified, or cost-effective. The answer depends heavily on one’s definition of those words. The nuclear regulators of 1967 to 1973 were quite satisfied that plants completed and licensed at that time were adequately safe, and the great majority of knowledgeable scientists agreed with them. With the exception of improvements instigated by lessons learned in the Three Mile Island accident, which increased the cost by only a few percent, there were no new technical developments indicating that more expenditures for safety were needed. In fact, the more recent developments suggested the contrary (see Chapter 6). Perhaps the most significant result of safety research in the late 1970s was finding that the emergency core cooling system works better than expected and far better than indicated by the pessimistic estimates of nuclear power opponents. Another important result was finding that radioactive iodine and other elements in a water environment behave much more favorably than had been assumed.

Clearly, the regulatory ratcheting was driven not by new scientific or technological information, but by public concern and the political pressure it generated. Changing regulations as new information becomes available is a normal process, but it would normally work both ways. The ratcheting effect, only making changes in one direction, was an abnormal aspect of regulatory practice unjustified from a scientific point of view. It was a strictly political phenomenon that quadrupled the cost of nuclear power plants, and thereby caused no new plants to be ordered and dozens of partially constructed plants to be abandoned.

Regulatory Turbulence

We now return to the question of wildly escalating labor costs for construction of nuclear plants. They were not all directly the result of regulatory ratcheting, as may be seen from the fact that they did not occur in the “best experience” projects. Regulatory ratcheting applied to new plants about to be designed is one thing, but this ratcheting applied to plants under construction caused much more serious problems. As new regulations were issued, designs had to be modified to incorporate them. We refer to effects of these regulatory changes made during the course of construction as “regulatory turbulence,” and the reason for that name will soon become evident.

As anyone who has tried to make major alterations in the design of his house while it was under construction can testify, making these changes is a very time-consuming and expensive practice, much more expensive than if they had been incorporated in the original design. In nuclear power plant construction, there were situations where the walls of a building were already in place when new regulations appeared requiring substantial amounts of new equipment to be included inside them. In some cases this proved to be nearly impossible, and in most cases it required a great deal of extra expense for engineering and repositioning of equipment, piping, and cables that had already been installed. In some cases it even required chipping out concrete that had already been poured, which is an extremely expensive proposition.

Constructors, in attempting to avoid such situations, often included features that were not required in an effort to anticipate rule changes that never materialized. This also added to the cost. There has always been a time-honored tradition in the construction industry of on-the-spot innovation to solve unanticipated problems; the object is to get things done. The supercharged regulatory environment squelched this completely, seriously hurting the morale of construction crews. For example, in the course of many design changes, miscalculations might cause two pipes to interfere with one another, or a pipe might interfere with a valve. Normally a construction supervisor would move the pipe or valve a few inches, but that became a serious rule violation. He now had to check with the engineering group at the home office, and they must feed the change into their computer programs for analyzing vibrations and resistance to earthquakes. It might take many hours for approval, and in the meanwhile, pipefitters and welders had to stand around with nothing to do.

Requiring elaborate inspections and quality control checks on every operation frequently held up progress. If an inspector needed extra time on one job, he was delayed in getting to another. Again, craft labor was forced to stand around waiting. In such situations, it sometimes pays to hire extra inspectors, who then have nothing to do most of the time. I cannot judge whether all of these new safety procedures were justifiable as safety improvements, but there was a widespread feeling among those involved in implementing them that they were not. Cynicism became rampant and morale sagged.

Changing plans in the course of construction is a confusing process that can easily lead to costly mistakes. The Diablo Canyon plant in California was ready for operation when such a mistake was discovered, necessitating many months of delay. Delaying completion of a plant typically costs more than a million dollars per day.

Since delay was so expensive, plant constructors often chose to do things that appeared to be very wasteful. Construction labor strikes had to be avoided at almost any cost. Many situations arose that justified overtime work with its extra cost. There was a well-publicized situation on Long Island where a load of pipe delivered from a manufacturer did not meet size specifications. Instead of returning it and losing precious time, the pipe was machined to specifications on site, at greatly added expense.

A major source of cost escalation in some plants was delays caused by opposition from well-organized “intervenor” groups that took advantage of hearings and legal strategies to delay construction. The Shoreham plant on Long Island was delayed6 for 3 years by intervenors who turned the hearings for a construction permit into a circus. The intervenors included a total imposter claiming to be an expert with a Ph.D. and an M.D. There were endless days of reading aloud from newspaper and magazine articles, interminable “cross examination” with no relevance to the issuance of a construction permit, and an imaginative variety of other devices to delay the proceedings and attract media attention.

But the worst delay came after the Shoreham plant was completed. The NRC requires emergency planning exercises for evacuation of the nearby population in the event of certain types of accidents. The utility provides a system of warning horns and generally plans the logistics, but it is necessary to obtain cooperation from the local police and other civil authorities. Officials in Suffolk County, where Shoreham is located, refused to cooperate in these exercises, making it impossible to fulfill the NRC requirement. After years of delay, the NRC changed its position and ruled that in the event of an actual accident, the police and civil authorities would surely cooperate. It therefore finally issued an operating license. By this time the situation had become a political football, with the governor of New York deeply involved. He apparently decided that it was politically expedient to give in to the opponents of the plant. The state of New York therefore offered to “buy” the plant from the utility for $1 and dismantle it, with the utility receiving enough money from various tax savings to compensate for its construction expenditures. This means that the bill would effectively be footed by U.S. taxpayers. As of this writing, there are moves in Congress to prevent this. The ironic part of the story is that Long Island very badly needs the electricity the Shoreham plant can produce.

The Seabrook plant in New Hampshire suffered 2 years of delay7 due to intervenor activity based on the plant’s discharges of warm water (typically 80°F) into the Atlantic Ocean. Intervenors claimed it would do harm to a particular species of aquatic life which is not commercially harvested. There was nothing harmful about the water other than its warm temperatures. The utility eventually provided a large and very expensive system for piping this warm water 2 miles out from shore before releasing it.

But again with Seabrook, the most expensive delay came after the plant was completed and ready to operate. It is located in such a way that the 5-mile radius zone requiring emergency planning extends into the state of Massachusetts. Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts, in deference to those opposed to the plant, refused to cooperate in the planning exercises. After about 3 years of delay, which added a billion dollars to the cost, in early 1990 the NRC ruled that the plant could operate without that cooperation. Governor Dukakis is appealing that decision, but the plant is now operating.

A rather different source of cost escalation is cash flow problems for utilities. When they institute a project, utilities do financial as well as technical planning. If the financial requirements greatly exceed what had been planned for, the utility often has difficulty raising the large sums of extra money needed to maintain construction schedules. It may therefore slow down or temporarily discontinue construction, which greatly escalates the final cost of the plant. For plants completed in the 1980s, this source of cost escalation was to a large extent due to regulatory turbulence, which caused the original financial planning to be so inadequate.

In summary, there is a long list of reasons why the costs of these nuclear plants were higher than those estimated at the time the projects were initiated. Nearly all of these reasons, other than unexpectedly high-inflation rates, were closely linked to regulatory ratcheting and the turbulence it created.

But what about the “best experience” plants that avoided these horrendous cost escalations. For that matter there are many plants for which the costs were much higher than indicated by “median experience” data. Nuclear plant costs vary by large factors. Almost every nuclear power plant built in the United States has been custom designed. This is due to the fact that, when they were designed, nuclear power was a young and vibrant industry in which technical improvements were frequently made. Varied responses to regulatory ratcheting also caused big differences between plants. The variations in cost from one plant to another have many explanations in addition to difference in design. Labor costs and labor productivity vary from one part of the country to another. Some constructors adjusted better than others to regulatory ratcheting; some maintained very close contact with the NRC and were able to anticipate new regulations, while others tended to wait for public announcements. Several different designs were used for containment buildings, and reactors that happened to have small containments had much more difficulty fitting in extra equipment required by new regulations. Some plants were delayed by intervenors, while others were not. Some had construction delays due to cash flow problems of the utilities. Plants nearing completion at the time of the Three Mile Island accident were delayed up to 2 years while the NRC was busy absorbing the lessons learned from that accident and deciding how to react to them.

Perhaps the most important cause of cost variations was the human factor. Some supervisors and designers adapt better than others to a turbulent situation. Some, considering it to be a very interesting challenge, developed ingenious ways of handling it, while others were turned off by it and solved problems unimaginatively by lavish spending of money. Some made expensive mistakes, while others were careful enough to avoid them. Some were so overwhelmed by the innumerable regulations, codes, standards, quality control audits, formal procedures for making design changes, and general red tape that they became ineffective, while others kept these problems in proper perspective and used their energies in a productive way. In some cases, people were able to cope with turbulence, but in most cases the regulatory ratcheting and the turbulence it caused exacted a terrible toll.

As a result, the average cost of nuclear electricity in the United States is now somewhat higher than that of electricity from coal burning. This represents a reversal of the situation in the 1970s and early 1980s, when nuclear energy provided the cheapest electricity. It is also the opposite of the situation in most other countries where electricity from nuclear energy is the least costly available alternative.

bonbon
Reply to  John Doran
December 19, 2020 7:07 am

Bob Zubrin killed the NASA Constellation under Obama, with a fantasy Mars direct counter.
If he had insisted on nuclar fusion engines, he would be a true anti-Malthusian.

Peta of Newark
December 19, 2020 4:50 am

Quite refreshing and interesting that I found *this* on a renewable energy forum.
The contributors there are rabid eco-nutters to put it mildly, but it was still there and a reasonable debate ensued.
https://www.seaborg.co/the-reactor

I struggle to find any actual beef in there, its just a glossy puff-piece, but the fact I found where I did is pretty epic really

Something I learned aaaages ago and became ever so slightly relevant as its not very far from me now, was the Rolls-Royce aero-engine factory at Derby

Apparently it was (is still maybe) powered by a mini nuke

I’m guessing that ‘some considerable number’ of heads would explode if they found out.
A nuke powering a Planet-Wrecking jet-engine factory – which way would they turn first??!!
Maybe they already did and why it seems such a hard thing to find out about.

Roger, over and out. Shirley.

Meab
Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 19, 2020 9:51 am

There has never been a mini nuke that has powered a flying jet engine, ever. Anywhere. There were ground based experiments done in the US many decades ago – the nuclear reactors were too large to fly, would have required extremely heavy shielding to protect the crew and passengers, and were far too dangerous to fly as a crash could potentially spread radioactive materials. You often present fabricated falsehoods as fact. Why?

icisil
Reply to  Meab
December 19, 2020 2:04 pm

As I read what he wrote, the mini nuke powered the aero-factory, not aeroplanes. But on that note, the original MSR project at Oak Ridge was funded with the intent of developing a nuclear powered bomber. The project was abandoned when in-flight fueling was developed.

old engineer
Reply to  icisil
December 19, 2020 5:21 pm

I worked at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in the mid-1960’s, when the nuclear aircraft project was stopped. At the time, an engineer involved in the project told me it was mostly because the aircraft take off weight was calculated to be over a million pounds. Considered far too large to be practical.

The reactor was used to generate heat for a heat-transfer fluid that was piped to what was the combustor section of a convention jet engine.

Since the subject of this post is nuclear power, it occurs to me that some cost savings might be possible by using the reactor heat in a Brayton cycle (jet engine) system rather than a Rankine cycle (steam turbine) system.

meab
Reply to  Meab
December 19, 2020 7:36 pm

icisil,

Sorry, I should have read his post more closely. However, there never has been a mini nuke that powered a Rolls Royce factory either. Peta apparently read that Rolls is planning to build mini-nukes (but may back out) and somehow that turned into the Rolls Royce factory being powered by a mini nuke “aaages ago”.

https://futurism.com/the-byte/rolls-royce-tiny-nuclear-reactors

Adam Gallon
Reply to  meab
December 20, 2020 4:03 am

I bet that reactor’s produced more power, than those two windmills off the A52. I don’t believe they’ve ever operated.

Bruce Cobb
December 19, 2020 5:26 am

Nukes instead of grid-damaging unaffordable unreliables? Yes please.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bruce Cobb
ColMosby
December 19, 2020 5:42 am

Far and away the most valuable nuclear technology is molten salt nuclear reactors, which among their many advantages (speed of construction, low cost, complete safety) is their ability to burn spent fuel from conventional reactors, reducing its radioactivity levels to a small fraction of the fuel exiting conventional reactors – making it cheap to store.

MarkW
Reply to  ColMosby
December 19, 2020 8:49 am

It never ceases to amaze me how people can know so much about the operating costs of a plant that has never even been designed, much less built.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2020 10:15 am

It will, just you wait!

Bro. Steve
December 19, 2020 5:57 am

The problem with nuclear power is that western civilization no longer takes on major projects like Hoover Dam or major gas/oil pipelines. The kind of skills and expertise needed to succeed at projects like that have to be developed, and the only way to develop them is by doing it a lot. We do it so infrequently that projects like Vogtle nuclear units 3 and 4 end up with gigantic cost overruns.

This is not just a nuclear plant construction issue. Look at any new major project in the last few decades from Boston’s Big Dig to ports, bridges, transmission lines, and pipelines in your area of the United States or Great Britain. The West can’t do big anymore — at least not efficiently.

Drake
Reply to  Bro. Steve
December 19, 2020 10:13 am

Not so. The big dig was funded by federal dollars and was meant, by the Democrat politicians, to transfer wealth from the federal government to the Boston area. I flew into Logan several times over a roughly 10 year period during the big dig. I drove by a large pile of dirt on a freeway that was there, unmoved, for so long that a 15 foot tree grew on it. In Las Vegas, where MOST of the highway funds come from a sales tax % voted on by the citizens, roads get built reasonably quickly. The beltway there is called the Clark County 215, not I 215 because WE paid for it. Also note that a hotel casino that gets built in Las Vegas in 2 to 3 years may take 5 years or longer to build on the corrupt east coast in states such as Massachusetts and New Jersey. The Venetian took longer to complete than usual due to the control of a NY based construction management company, dictated to the casino owner by the banks loaning the money.

The only reason bridges, transmission lines and pipelines don’t get built is government and law suit interference. See Dakota Access Pipeline. Over 1000 miles and took a year or so to build even when dealing with activists obstruction. Longer to get completed due to Obama ignoring all necessary approvals by the bureaucracy. What about the gas line under the Appalachian trail blocked by lawfare which was finally overruled by a federal court.

And then you have a new natural gas pipeline and storage system being built in Utah and Nevada to Arizona and California. It is being built adjacent to the existing Kern River pipeline so was not held up in obtaining ROW, etc, and is progressing rapidly. You have not heard of it because NO ONE is suing to stop it. It is going through BLM and forest service areas with little NIMBY potential for interference.

Modern civilization has all the skills necessary to deliver the projects you mention. As a society, we have just given the takers too much power over the producers. The new US China 19 bill will not include protection of businesses, etc. from lawsuits because the Trial lawyers support of democrats would be harmed. The Republicans were willing to trade blue state and city bailouts for the protections, but not at a high enough level to satisfy Nancy and the trial lawyers.

Sara
December 19, 2020 6:29 am

I’m finding that the electric utility that I rely on for simple things like running the laundry equipment and running the furnace seems to have at least one power outage per year in my county. Don’t know if it’s happening in other counties adjacent to mine.
But I find now, on my electric bill, that they are embedded in so-called renewables. Switched without letting us vote on it.
I guess I’ll start keeping written records on how many times the power goes out from now on. There’s no excuse for this kind of thing. And yes, I think we are too reliant on electricity to make things work. Those rolling blackouts that have been going on since 1965 have been bad enough and always seem to happen at the worst times.
As I’ve said before, civilization was fun while it lasted….

Fred Hubler
Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 7:41 am

Call your state legislators. They’re the ones mandating wind and solar.

TonyG
Reply to  Fred Hubler
December 20, 2020 12:02 pm

If they’re anything like mine, they don’t pay any attention.

icisil
December 19, 2020 7:11 am

Many now view nuclear waste as an overhyped, unscientific issue. In a 2019 paper, Aspen Institute trustee Bill Budinger argued that the fear of nuclear waste is largely unfounded – an issue “hugely exaggerated when we were trying to scare people away from nuclear.” The total amount of nuclear waste accumulated over the past 60 years from all U.S. nuclear power plants would fit inside a two-story building covering one city block.”

Good gawd what an ignorant comment. Most of that “waste” is spent fuel rods sitting in hundreds of cooling pools scattered across the US. If one of those lost its cooling water, the rods would catch fire making everything downwind uninhabitable.

MarkW
Reply to  icisil
December 19, 2020 8:52 am

Your ignorance is world class.
1) Most nuclear waste is low level stuff.
2) fuel rods might catch fire if they were uncovered during the first few days after the plant is shut down. After that, no. After a couple of years, the radiation level of those rods is down dramatically, in some cases as much as 70 to 80%.

icisil
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 10:12 am

Your ignorance (or shilling) is world-class. The fuel rods’ Zircaloy cladding would burn in the presence of air, the fuel would melt and radioactive particles would be ejected into the atmosphere and contaminate a large area.

https://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-energy-education/can-spent-fuel-pools-catch-fire

Bro. Steve
Reply to  icisil
December 19, 2020 12:21 pm

Any substance in the universe will burn if you get it hot enough. A huge amount of America’s spent nuclear fuel has diminished in its radioactivity sufficiently to be placed in dry storage casks. These are not on fire. The amount of time it takes for spent fuel to reach the point that it can be stored outside of a pool is typically about four years.

A guy showing a video and saying scary things about it is so typical of the fear mongering propaganda of our time. It’s sad that people do this, and it;s equally sad that other people like you buy into it.

Show me an energy source free of risk and I’ll show you a fantasy painted in the glorious hues of unicorn spit. Nuclear has environmental risks just like solar panels, windmills, coal mines, or the newest environmental calamity being built, lithium mines. You’re going to have to pick your risks and live them. Stop pretending that risk can be eliminated by targeting one kind of technology and building a political movement around that. It’s equal parts stupid and deceitful.

Meab
Reply to  icisil
December 19, 2020 9:42 am

Ignorant comment. All nuclear waste can be moved to Dry Cask storage after a relatively short initial period of cooling under water. If the US would pull their heads out and abandon Yucca Mtn. as a viable long term nuclear waste repository ( highly active seismic area, corrosive ground water chemistry) the U S could have a permanent solution to underground storage at a better site in Canadian shield rock (in the US, not Canada) in two decades.

icisil
Reply to  Meab
December 19, 2020 10:18 am

But it’s not being moved to dry storage because it’s too expensive to do so. The author tried to make the “waste” look harmless because it’s total volume is only the size of a small building. That was ignorant.It’s not harmless sitting where it is. Either move it into underground storage, dry-casket store it, or use it as fuel in MSRs.

icisil
Reply to  icisil
December 19, 2020 10:46 am

The way nuclear industry shills present their arguments reminds me of the way the tobacco industry used to try to make tobacco look safe. It hurts their cause because intelligent, edicated people see through it and don’t trust what they say.

Fraizer
Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2020 4:04 am

Shark. Jump. Some assembly required.

Loren C. Wilson
December 19, 2020 7:11 am

I doubt Biden will support any nuclear development. His successor will be installed in two years and two months, allowing her to serve as President for ten years total. She will not support nuclear power or the development of better reactors. After the regime change in January of 2033, we will be able to buy modular reactors from companies based in India or South Korea.

Curious George
December 19, 2020 10:48 am

Strangely enough the article does not mention a recent development that allows nuclear fuel to be used much more efficiently:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2020/09/22/aneel-a-game-changing-nuclear-fuel/
A potential breakthrough: The United States Department of Energy (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Nuclear Engineering & Science Center at Texas A&M have partnered with Clean Core Thorium Energy (CCTE) to fabricate a new type of nuclear fuel, called “Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life”, or ANEEL.
With a proprietary combination of thorium (Th) and uranium (U), particularly “High Assay Low Enriched Uranium” (HALEU), ANEEL fuel can address several issues that have plagued nuclear power – cost, proliferation and waste.

markl
December 19, 2020 12:51 pm

I understand China has been going full steam ahead building nuclear power plants (don’t remember where I got that) and the plan is for them to be operational around 2030. Just in time for their CO2 repositioning via the Paris Disagreement. Of course they’ll jump on the CO2 bandwagon and become the world leader in non fossil fuel energy production and offer their manufacturing, free of that nasty CO2, to the world to solve the problem. This scenario has been called ‘conspiracy theory’ so it must have some validity.

Duncan MacKenzie
December 19, 2020 1:30 pm

I was surprised to read

following the 1973 oil embargo through the Three Mile Island incident in 1979, the U.S. authorized most of the 61 plants and 99 nuclear reactors still operating in 2017.

I checked https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_the_United_States#Start_of_commercial_nuclear_power

by my count of their nuclear power plants list, about 60 started construction before the oil embargo and only about 25 started after it.

Mark Pawelek
December 19, 2020 2:17 pm

There are valid 2 arguments against nuclear power: cost and time. They are related: the longer something takes to build the more expensive it is and the longer it ties up one’s capital in an unrewarding build phase.

Steps have been taken to lower the cost. These steps are (a) small modular reactors, SMRs which are like prefab nuclear power plants. The difficult part – the core reactor – is built in a factory. These reactors will be less expensive and much faster to make. It should be possible to fully assemble one in about 4 years. (b) another innovation which should reduce cost are radically different reactor designs to increase safety, waste management, and efficiency; for example molten-salt reactors.Finally: (c) simplification of existing types – exemplified in the AP1000, and ESBWR designs.

There also many, invalid, bad arguments against nuclear power. Nothing’s perfect – nuclear power advocates should accept the downsides: time and money. But should strongly criticise the bad pseudo arguments against nuclear power. There too many bad arguments to list: dozens of ’em. “Nuclear waste” is a really bad argument – given the amount of waste produced is tiny in relation to the amount of electricity made.

December 19, 2020 3:31 pm

There will never be another nuclear power plant in the USA. The anti-nuclear meme is too deeply embedded in the hard left deep state’s hymn book for that ever to happen.

Joe Biden is on the side of workers and engineers so he will give cautious ambivalent signals, but when empress Kamala sits on the throne nuclear will be killed off as it has been in Germany.

December 19, 2020 3:44 pm

uranium from companies owned by, controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction of Russia or China would be excluded.

It’s hard to imagine the nuclear ☢️ issue or any other in the USA being excluded from the endless rac1st jihad being waged against these unconditional rac1al enemies of the USA, these untermenschen.

December 19, 2020 3:59 pm

In the end no democratic countries will have nuclear ☢️ power, only dictatorships. This might be one of the issues that will cause democracy itself to become extinct sometime in the next century. As well as a terminal distrust of the election process.

In democracies superstitious idiocracy will eventually kill off nuclear. As it has in Germany where everyone still believes that millions died from Chernobyl (even though populations mysteriously stayed the same). There is a limitless supply of earnest narcissistic half-wits who will sway the democratic process through fanatical persistence.

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