Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sovietologist Wipes the Floor with Joe Room

Joe Romm recently launched a stunning attack on global warming standard barer Jim Hansen. Jim's crim in Romm's eyes was to advocate for a CO2 emission standard that would role back atmospheric CO2 levels to 350 PPM,

For Romm, Hansen is a heretic because he advocates rapid development of generation IV nuclear power technology including the LFTR. The Sovietologist puts his finger on the real issue:
With Romm's favored technologies, 350 ppm is impossible; with LFTRs and IFRs, 350 ppm becomes feasible and potentially not even that difficult.

Romm's fanatic opposition to nuclear power, inspired by soft path guru and pseudo-physicist Amory Lovins, far outweighs his commitment to fighting global warming. For Romm it is my way - the soft path - or the highway. Romm would far prefer to see global warming run away, than to see nuks in every back yard.

Romm uses the old bate and switch approach toargue against Generation IV technology asthe Sovietologist notes. Romm attacks Generation IV nuclear technology by a
critique of Gen III+ reactors . . .


Marcel F. Williams said...

As has been pointed out before, the world's oceans contain more than 4 billion tonnes of uranium in seawater. That's enough to power our entire planet for more than 3600 years or over 5000 years if spent fuel is also utilized. Even at three times current energy demand, marine uranium and the spent fuel from marine uranium could power civilization on Earth for more than 1500 years.

I strongly favor the commercial introduction of the next generation of reactors that fully utilize fertile uranium and thorium within the next 20 or 30 years. But I'm equally in favor of the full commercialization of marine uranium within the next 10 or 20 years which does not necessarily require new generation of reactors.

We shouldn't forget that the current-- new generation-- of reactors have lifetimes of at least 60 to 80 years. So when we talk about a major expansion in the use of nuclear power in the US, China, and Europe, we're talking about this current new generation of reactors which are mostly going to require fissile uranium 235 and reprocessed spent fuel probably until the end of the century.

Marcel F. Williams


David Walters said...

Charles, where does Sovietologist make his comments? I couldn't find them on Romms page. I saw YOURs but not his.


Charles Barton said...

David They are on his blog:

There is a link in my post but you may have missed it.

drbuzz0 said...

Much as I support nuclear energy and generation IV+ reactors, any standard so tight that it hopes to being CO2 levels down to 350 PPM in the near term might be a bit excessive. I'd love to see levels go down that much, but lets not get ahead of ourselves on this and start imposing limits we can't reasonable reach.

I hate coal power plants and I'd like to see them shut down. BUT NOT BEFORE we can build enough nuclear reactors to replace them. The only thing that's worse than coal power is having the lights go out and people freeze to death in the dark.

I also do not favor cap and trade or excessive taxation of CO2-based power sources. This will be economically destructive and completely useless as long as we continue to make nuclear power almost impossible as a replacement. You can't have a system where fossil fuel is extremely expensive and at the same time have the NRC which lead to ten years of legal hurdles and half a billion dollars of money invested in just the initial licensing process before a single shovelful of earth gets moved.

Cap and trade can also be regressive and if we don't make nuclear a more viable option (viable in the regulatory sense, not the physics sense. It's not an engineering issue - we've had that one in the bag for years, it's a beurocratic problem) then it will be a disaster.

My preferred method of decreasing CO2 levels and pollution in general would start by regulations that actually encourage building nuclear plants as opposed to discouraging it. Next would be moves to phase out coal and then other fossil fuels. Or, if not phase out, at least dramatically reduce their use.

David Walters said...

drbuzz0, we have discussed the *way* to a coal phase out incrementally. The short of it is this:

Basically, if we had a real energy plant, we can shutdown as much as 1.3 MW of coal produced power for ever 1 MW of nuclear (difference being in the greater REAL capacity of nuclear compared to that of coal plants).

We can build nuclear plants sited at the same locations as coal plants using the balance of plant, cooling water licenses, switch-yard access and...training of old coal plant operators into nuclear ones and shut the coal plant down when the nuke goes COD (Commercial Ontime Delivery).

But basically we can do start shutdown coal plant as we build new nuclear ones.


Rod Adams said...


Correct. Now do you see why I am so adamant that nuclear advocates recognize that they are a serious threat to the capitalists that own the coal, the traders that market the coal, the railroads that transport the coal, the people who mine the coal and the financial people that have provided the loans for the coal mines?

There are definitely some power plant operations jobs that would not disappear and there will be some significant levels of employment for engineers and construction workers, but the people that benefit will NOT be the same ones that pay the cost.

We have to recognize that and figure out how to deal with the issue or at least expose the opposition for what it really is. When we claim that our opposition is "the environmentalists" we shoot ourselves in the foot since the majority of Americans claim to be concerned about the environment.

Marcel F. Williams said...

There's enough area at existing nuclear sites in the US to easily triple current nuclear capacity. Unfortunately, only the federally owned TVA is able to build reactors right now.

But the US government invented this technology so I don't see any reason why the federal government shouldn't be at least minority investors in the construction of new power plants on existing sites.

A complete and fully functioning nuclear reactor is an extremely valuable asset that generates millions of dollars on a daily basis for at least 60 to 80 years.

Marcel F. Williams


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Dr. Joe Bonometti speaking on thorium/LFTR technology at Georgia Tech David LeBlanc on LFTR/MSR technology Robert Hargraves on AIM High