Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Most of What I Know Comes from Google, Why Do I Know More Than Eric Schmidt?

Eric Schmidt gets nuclear costs wrong
I am looking at a presentation that says Eric Schmidt is wrong about the relative costs of nuclear and renewables. Way, way, way wrong. This is not one of those phonied up, propaganda extravaganzas by Mark Cooper, or Amory Lovins. No this is an honest to God presentation by a utility company to some bankers. The Utility, the South Carolina based SCANA, tell the banker, Wells Fargo, hey we believe that over the next 40 years we can deliver nuclear generated electricity for less than electricity generated by any other source. Less than electricity produced by combined cycle gas. less than biogas, less than chicken shit (if you don't believe me, check out the presentation), less than coal, less than on shore wind, less than off shore wind less than photovoltaics.

According to SCANA, nuclear generated electricity will cost just 58% of the cost of wind generated electricity, 26% of offshore wind generated electricity, and just 12% of electricity generated by photovoltaics. In case you think that SCANA has some pro-nuclear prejudice against renewables, you should also know that SCANA is also in the natural gas business. SCANA distributes natural gas to much of South Carolina, as well as parts of North Carolina and Georgia. Renewables are good for the natural gas business, because renewables need natural gas backups. What SCANA tells Wells Fargo is not the sort of ideological driven green propaganda we hear from Eric Schmidt.

The SVANA cost estimates are consistent with the 2016 levelized cost estimates of of the Energy Information Agency. They are consistent with the findings of Berry Brooks and Peter Lang. And they are consistent with my own studies of renewable cost. Although renewable advocates continue to tell us how high the price of future nuclear will be, they never balance this argument with a serious assessment of the cost of renewables. When confronted with evidence of real world renewable costs, renewable advocates tell us that renewable costs are going down all of the time, or that if you just through enough money in the form of government subsidies at renewables, the renewable cost liability will go away. The argument that renewable costs are declining is not born out by my own studies of wind and solar project costs. And renewables advocates won't tell us when renewables will be capable of surviving without massive subsidies.

Dr. Schmidt mistakenly failed to Google renewables cost, when he looked at the cost of nuclear power. Or perhaps he believed that he did not need to do so, because the experts he consulted that the cost problems of renewables were rapidly disappearing.

The devil in me wants to make fun of Eric Schmidt for his wrong headed pronouncement about nuclear costs as I have in the past. But Dr. Schmidt is a smart man, and maybe some day he will stop listening to Amory Lovins and Google the worlds "nuclear cost", find SCANA's data, and discover his mistake. If you humiliate an enemy, you may make him an enemy for a long time. Hopefully, Dr. Schmidt is a mature human being who can acknowledge his mistakes, and alter his views accordingly.

A tip of the hat to Steve Dardan for the Graphic, and for a link to a related presentation by Stephen A. Byrne, SCE&G's Senior Vice President Generation, Nuclear and Fossil Hydro. SCE&G is a subsidiary of SCANA.


Bill Rodgers said...

It would be interesting to see Dr. Schmidt's views now about the cost of renewables. The video has a date of Oct 1 2008. A lot has happened in the past year relative to cost analysis and justifications for all power generatrion source. Reality is setting in on the true cost of renewables.

As in the true social costs of devoting thousands of acres of federal land to wind mills and solar farms. As in the true cost of rebuilding the grid to handle distributed power generations sources if we are truly serious about running US industry and commerce, not just someone's water pump for their well. As in the true cost to maintain grid reliability when the wind does not blow as it has not been in the Pacific Northwest over the past several weeks except for an hour or two here and there.


Anonymous said...

This is the time to making green revolution.For that we grow plant at our house and the land that is not usable.By this we can save our environment and our placate.

Free Matrimony

Frank Jablonski said...

The cost of something is a math problem.

You find the numbers and then you do the calculations.

You secure the numbers from credible academic and government sources.

If you are doing full cost analysis, the kind that makes sense when a society is making a choice, you don't leave things out (e.g., transmission and grid changes triggered by electing to source your electricity from resources that trigger the need for such changes).

You do the math with math. They taught math in school.

Am I missing something here? Did Dr. Schmidt miss something? If so, how?

Nathan2go said...

Don't forget that Schmidt is CEO of Google, and Google is an investor in eSolar, the solar thermal power startup which says that it's goal is solar power that is cheaper than coal. I have no doubt that everyone he talks to reinforces their common delusion.

Eventually they'll realize that the emperor has no clothes (the cost of solar won't have fallen as fast as "everybody" predicted) and somehow manage to blame the nuclear power industry for the high cost of solar.

bobcat said...


In your posts you often make make arguments stating that nuclear energy is preferable to either solar or wind energy for reasons too numerous to go into right now. You might also want to point out that nuclear energy could be the white knight that saves the world's forests. A recent article in the Huffington Post states that many of the world's forest are being denuded for the sake of biomass energy production. Much of the rain forest of Africa and Latin America are being chopped down to power biomass facilities in Europe. I believe biomass does have a place in energy production but it should be used in limited and localized situations where agriculture waste is being used or in cases where forests need to be thinned out. Like here in Southern California where the bark beetle is killing many trees setting them up for future raging infernos. But the whole scale destruction of the world's natural treasures to fill the gap left by wind and solar energy's shortfalls boarders on the criminal.

I wonder how many trees must be felled to equal the annual energy output of a Westinghouse AP 1000 or an Areva EPR? That would be a calculation that I and many people need to know so we can make informed decisions on what methods of energy production is best for our nation and the world.

The HuffPo article can be found using the link below.

Nathan2go said...

I suppose that I should not be so negative. eSolar may achieve their cost reduction goals for solar thermal (and Californians may decide to expedite the permit process for solar plant and their transmission lines).

And if they don't, perhaps Dr. Schmidt will be smart enough to realize that LFTR is the next best option, and Google may even be an investor in the first commercial LFTR company. said...

Charles - thanks heaps for the link to the SCANA presentation to Wells Fargo Bank. In case you've not yet seen it, SCANA now has on their site a much more complete presentation to Wall Street analysts by Stephen Byrne. The Wells Fargo slides are about 10% of the full presentation — which is a good reference for evaluating the plans of a serious, experienced electric utility.

Jason Ribeiro said...

Charles, you make a very good point about humiliating an enemy. Eric Schmidt is not our enemy but his philosophy or poor advisers might be.

I can see why this man is a CEO. He delivers his statements with such confidence and charisma that most people in the room would think twice about challenging him for fear of embarrassing themselves because this guy is such a cool cookie.

He reminds me of why I think politicians should not be in a position to develop energy policy in the first place - because energy development is the realm of scientists, engineers and economists, not politicians. It should not be a popularity contest for whatever is in vogue.

Anonymous said...

PV costs have fallen by 30-50% this year. SCANA is actually quoting them as going up year-on-year? That's some monkey business math there. Busbar costs over $600 you say? The costs are under $200 and falling fast. Very fast.

How can you post this junk and consider yourself credible? And all these people eat it up. You guys are humiliating yourselves. Study up on PV technologies and get your facts straight.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, These are long range power cost estimates. Remember that PVs perform poorly on cloudy days and during the winter. The capacity factor for PVs in South Carolina may be as low as 10%, The cost of PV panels is not the same thing as the cost ofPV installations. Also, your estimate of the fall of PV prices is considerably larger than what is being reported in solar buzz.

heavyweather said...

It is because he knows more than you know from Google ;)...

Google is funding win energy research and therefor knows that the cost of wind power is 2-5 cent with an EROIE of 375.

A small Kitegen Stem rated 3MW (5000-7000h/a) costs about 700k Euro.
A 1GW Plant is estimated to cost 80Mio.
Even from the Stem, which is built and proven, the cost is 5cent.
Making 2Mio€/a from a 3MW plant you can built another 9MW...

Google is the force behind Makani Power...
Now you see what he knows and why nukes suck compared to renewable sources ;)
3 Billion ....the are completly nuts.
How are they mining? with electrical powered tools or is there CO2 involved in reality?
Is the fuel transportet on sail ships or are they burning fossiles...
Where will all the energy needed for that concret/steel strucure come from?
What if they have to shut it down due to earthquakes...
Are they even insured?
Can that be built offshore?
Is it a good idea to spent all that money in Europe for the technologie and in Australia for the oars...

Get real...this Indian politicians are as stupid as US politicians...
They just don't care for the next 6000 generations.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather, I suggest you review this discussion of kits from The Oil Drum,
I would draw your attention to Black Dogs comment:
'Without making much effort to study the concept, I suspect that your comment is not likely to be correct. The drag force on an object also increases as the square of the speed and the area. Larger devices capable of producing MWs of wind poser would also be expected to result in large drag forces which would be transferred to the support structure. The typical kite string would be transformed into a rather heavy rope or cable. Also, the drag force on the tether itself would be rather large, as the drag coefficient on a circular cross section is large.

There's no free lunch in engineering."

OF course Google can spend their money anyway they want to, and Eric Schmidt can go fly a kite for that matter.

Your comments on nuclear power suggests that you know little about the reliability problems of renewables, and how expensive that is to fix. You also appear to know little beyond the usual set of greenpeace bumper sticker slogans about nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

My 30-50% estimate is correct. Do you understand why the Solarbuzz survey is a proxy survey only?

The BSW report tracks German end user system costs. Germany represents half the world demand so their survey represents real world conditions vs. on-line retailer conditions.

Q4 2008 4216
Q1 2009 3922
Q2 2009 3620
Q3 2009 3263

Pretty damn good trend. You wanna place any bets on the next 4 quarters.

Just for fun, try an ebay search.

Costs are still coming down. Silicon will come down another $30/kG. That's a no brainer which translates into another 20 cents/Watt or ~15% of over all costs.

Multi-crystalline efficiency just hit 16.5% a few months back and moved up to 17% this month. Apparently, there are a lot of smart dudes working on this stuff. The trick is to translate high efficiency into low production costs. These smart dudes are actually doing that. Ya know why? Bragging rights.

The move to ACPV over the next few years should bump overall system efficiency from 77% DC-to-AC up to 80% DC-to-AC. Lot of low hanging fruit in this area.

The new manufacturing machines all have higher throughput and higher yield. Makes sense right. But here's the exciting part. This industry wants to become the largest manufacturing industry on earth. The production machines we're looking at now are going to look like tinker toys in twenty five years. I doubt you imagine PV this way.

2010 forecast. As soon as Germany drops their FiT down you'll see another dive in PV prices. That's about six months away. The prices should be driven down low enough to kick in a lot more utility demand in the US.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous Your argument is if customers don't buy PV the price goes down, therefore customers should buy PVs. Maybe the real problem in Germany is not PV price but PV performance. The German Government invested billions of euros in its failed PV experiment. The German experience demonstrates that PVs are a colosal rip off.

The absurdly smal capacity factor of PV, makes it a non starter for electrical generation. Right now I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is far from the most cloudy American city. Yet Knoxville has on average 162 sunless days a year, and 97 cloud free days. PVs would never work here, and South Carolina is not much different. Charleston has an average of 155 cloudy days and 102 clear days a year. The price of PVs matters little when weak sunshine impaires their performance.

Finrod said...

2010 forecast. As soon as Germany drops their FiT down you'll see another dive in PV prices.

...Because without a feed-in tarrif, no-one will buy them at a price which is profitable for the producer.

LarryD said...

I've never seen a breakdown, but just looking at a solar PV farm you can tell that there is a lot of support infrastructure, including tracking the sun, etc., for each panel of cells.

I expect the price of the cells themselves are not a big fraction of the capital costs.

And operating costs include regular cleaning of every panel, to keep its efficiency at maximum. (Dust accumulates no matter the location.)

Jason Ribeiro said...

Makani Power, the high altitude wind turbine kite, is yet another idea that doesn't take a genius to figure out that even if it works, its application will be extremely limited. There is a basic rule of dilute energy sources such as the wind and sun that renewable fanatics just don't understand or refuse to understand. That is, dilute sources of energy require massive collection machines and lots of them to generate any significant power. Even if 2MW wind turbines had a 90% capacity factor, it would still require about 550 of them to equal a 1GW nuke. These kites will not likely be 2MW, probably in the KW range to start, thus it would take thousands upon thousands of them to equal 1GW. Multiple that times the cost of each plus the logistics of flying thousands of kites and pretty soon what do we idea that really sucks!

Anonymous said...

My argument is that PV costs are falling fast. The data indicates this is true.

Imagine if the nuclear industry had been required to finance the R&D and construction of enrichment facilities? Care to estimate how much that would have cost?

It took a huge investment to create the infrastructure that was needed to make PV a competitive energy resource. That infrastructure is starting to wake.

Over the last several years we've seen a build out of Si refining capacity. Now that the Si capacity is in we're seeing supply take off. Over the last several years we've also seen a large expansion of the PV workforce. All that training takes time and costs money. Germany's FiT has been the force behind all this movement. By this measure the FiT has been a grand success - A turning point in energy history that few yet realize. A Drake's well if you will.

If Germany lowers their FiT it will result in more competition and even lower PV prices. There's still room to cut fat in all stages of production and installation. PV costs should be able to trend down with the FiT all the way to sunset and still maintain healthy IRRs.

I support a steep reduction in the FiT. Lots of folks within community are calling for a steep reduction. This is a counterintuitive stance. When have you ever heard of an industry asking for less support? The PV community understands that the only way to take PV mainstream is to get rid of the FiT. The engineers know they can get the costs down to what they need to be for this to happen. If we accelerate the sunset schedule we'll get to liftoff sooner.

PV powers all sorts of things. It's very reliable. This has been demonstrated in the field by thousands of installations. Germany is getting 1% of their total annual electricity from PV. That's outstanding for an industry that is basically brand new. A few years back it was a big deal for the whole world to produce 1 GW of solar panels. Today 1 company can produce 1 GW and it's not a big deal.

Here's the vision. PV can scale and we're just getting started. Germany is going to ramp up to 10 GW a year before too long and PV will be picking up about 1% of electricity demand per year. Same thing will happen in the states and all over the world.

PV is amassing it's troops. And you guys still don't get it.

heavyweather said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
heavyweather said...

You have not understood the idea.
It is about powering the poorest. Those that drive fuel generators will be presented with a way cheaper alternative if makani does produce kw.
That a kite can power a ship in the MW range is clear to you? Once again you just have to go to Germany to get the idea.
The kitegen and the Laddermill from Uni Delft are not completly different to Makani Power and those have it down to prototypes working for over 1000h and are building a 27MW plant in Italy that is going to the grid in some month. The capacity factor beeing over 5000h. Wind energy also has a technical availability of 98%...try to match that with nuclear.

If you bother to read about the Kitegen you will see that this is a sound projekt with the first plants in the 3MW range (5000-7000h/a). They are dirt cheap and can be produced anywhere or transported anywhere for that matter. There is no other form of energy production wit an higher EROEI (375!!) which makes it great for fast reproduction and employment.
Jobs and power is what you need? Why let the chance go away to follow some dream goals that could only be archived with some technical, political and finanzial miracles?

If you go over to kitegen you can see the next logical step...driving down offshore wind prices with something you can put on a ship and pack in a yet smaller place than complicated wind turbines.
There is no transportation building problem...the capacity factor is 2x to 3x higher...
Yet they are working on the carusel which will be rated anywhere from 100MW to 7GW.
80Mio for 1Gw!!!
I`ve seen liquid Torium reactores (which don`t exist but would be possible with some billions invested in developement) taged with a 200Mio Pricetag for 100MW...1Mio initial fuel, 100k/a refueling and a guestimated 100Mio for deomissioning (not my guestimate but fomr "AIM HIGH". You got waste, transportation issues, political difficulties and any other possible problems you could imagine with nuclear technology. There is no way that enough of these can be built in 50-100years.
Not even talking about solar competition and aother comp. here...

Which logistic problems btw? They are fully automated. Just go over to to get some idea of how these are started and operated fully automaticly...saving up to 40% of fuel...

This is the genuality needed to erase coal plants from this planet. Why shouldn`t it be done with a technology that does not produce waste and is cheap to built and operate even for developing nations.

It is not that simple because there has been loads of brilliant engeneering by over 100 people but it has been worked out with a very limited budget (now they get some 15Mio € from the EU finally.)
Compare that to the nuclear camp where Billions are buttered into.

Give them some props for coming up with the first power source cheaper than fossile...

I understand that you are very fanatic about nuclear power...but you might want to consider a shift to really beatyfull engeneering. You could try to look at it from your childrens perspective. In 100years they would ask you why you left them waste when you could have not.
They will look at your legacy as stupid. We will look like complete idiots in history books.
Imagine what we would have called the Ägyptians if they left us millions of tons of nuclear waste to dig up...
This is a serious question charles...what do you want to leave behind?

heavyweather said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Ribeiro said...

@heavyweather - I take it that English is not your first language? Otherwise your spelling is horrible and it's too bad Charles let your same comment get posted 3 times.

You don't understand capacity factor. It is not a measure of hours running, it is a calculation of kilowatt hours produced over rated capacity times 8760 (hours in a year). There are many nuclear facilities that have run for periods of time over rated capacity and others that have run over a year with no hiccups. Submarine reactors have run for years as well with no interruptions, so yes, nuclear can match that and better.

I know of the skysails for cargo ships but I doubt they are saving these ships 40% of their fuel. KiteGen although in the prototype phase is still another form of wind power. Sure, it might be good for a small village in Africa as you imply, but it has zero chance of displacing king coal.

Kites might be pretty to look at but to the educated, a reactor is a thing of beauty as well. And by the way, had the Egyptians buried nuclear waste for us to find, it would have faded to radiation levels less than the original ore from where it was derived by now.

Soylent said...

"The BSW report tracks German end user system costs. Germany represents half the world demand so their survey represents real world conditions vs. on-line retailer conditions."

Germany is a laughable place to put a PV panel. The fact that Germany is half the world market for photovoltaics tells you that the price the german end user pays for PV panels has exactly no relation with the actual real-world cost of producing and installing photovoltaics, inverters or powerlines.

We're comming out of the largest bubble in world history; it occured mainly in housing but there was huge volatility and minor bubbles in commodities as well, including raw materials for nuclear reactors and photovoltaics. Quarter to quarter fluctuations are almost meaningless.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, How many square miles of South Carolina countryside would have to be covered with a PV array in order to produce the equivalent annual output to one AP-1000 reactor. Remember that you are probably dealing with with a capacity factor of no more than 10% . Secondly how much extra area would you have to add to the PV array in order to generate the an AP-1000 equivalent output on December 18-25. if all days were completely cloudy? Thirdly how much would the smaller array cost in 2016? Fourth how much would the larger array cost in 2016? Fifth, where in South Carolina would you build the two arrays? Sixth, what would be the indirect costs of building the arrays, for example the value of the agricultural produce from farm land removed from production in order to site the array? Seventh how much new grid construction would be required by the project and how much would that cost. Eight, how much electrical storage would be required to insure 24 hour a day, seven day a week generating capacity from a PV source in South Carolina, during prolonged periods of cloud cover, what form of storage do you plan to use, and how much would that cost? Calculate the total cost of duplicating an the output of an AP-1000 in South Carolina, with PV technology.

heavyweather said...

Sorry for the tripple post but you can not cancle it yourself.

The point is that it is so cheap that it can replace coal. Even if you have to install 3 times the GW.

There is no problem with the should really read more about it. It is just a natural developement in wind energy.
Unless you have a more data on skysails the 40% stand.

A reactor has a theoretical real life it is just a dirty steam turbine.
Are you trying to say that radioactive waste poses no problem after only 1600-5000 years? What about 226Ra, 14C, 239Pu, 235U, 232Th, 209Bi, 128Te?
But I guess they would have installed warnings and a guard to tell us...

If Cheops had run a Plant for 4 years 4550 years ago there would be 1000kg of plutonium burried...877kg would be still left over today...after 10 half-life cycles (241100years) there would still be 0.1% left.
You know the origin of the name Plutonium, right?
Thats because it is one of the most toxic sustances on earth...

Soylent said...

"You know the origin of the name Plutonium, right?"

Uranus -> Uranium
Neptune -> Neptunium
Pluto -> Plutonium

"Thats because it is one of the most toxic sustances on earth..."

Except that it isn't, not even close.

Anonymous said...

"Are you trying to say that radioactive waste poses no problem after only 1600-5000 years? What about 226Ra, 14C, 239Pu, 235U, 232Th, 209Bi, 128Te?"

226Ra is a naturally-occuring element that is part of the decay chain of U-238. Nothing we do will change the effect of 226Ra on the environment. Humanity's presence or action is irrelevant.

14C is also naturally-occuring, generated by high-energy particles striking N-14 in the atmosphere. Nothing we do will change this.

235U is also a naturally-occuring element, along with 232Th. Nothing we do will change this.

209Bi is extremely mildly radioactive, with a half-life of trillions of years. I drank some this morning in my Pepto-Bismol when my stomach didn't feel good. The 209Bi felt great.

You need to do some more research, pal. Long-half-life = less dangerous. You seem to have gotten that equation backwards.

Also, Pu-239 is not the most toxic substance on Earth, despite what your Greenpeace buddies tell you. That would probably be botulism toxin, which vain women have injected into their face.

Dr. Bernard Cohen famously challenges Ralph Nader to a chemical duel, where he agreed to ingest one gram of plutonium if Nader would agree to ingest one gram of caffeine. Guess which one would be dead an hour later?

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather Your list of products found in reactor waste includes Radon, which is a product of the radioactive decay of heavy metals but not of nuclear fission, and Carbon 14, which is present in nature, is not a fission product either, although it would be a byproduct of a few old graphite pile type reactors. Te-128 does not emit radiation, and is useful as a metal alloy and in simi-conductor manufacture. Thorium 232 is not present in spent nuclear fuel of conventional reactors, and has a half life so long that it is no more dangerous than the radioactive potassium-40 already present in the human body or in bananas. Bismuth 209 is not a fission product and is present in nature. It has a half life that is over one billion times longer than the age of the universe, and is hardly a danger. U-235 is present in nature, and present in nuclear fuel by design, not as a fission product. It is not a fission product. Finally, numerous chemical processes exist to remove Pu-239 from used nuclear fuel. Uranium and Plutonium found in the fission product stream of conventional reactors can be used to fuel fast reactors. Your list of radioactive waste problems is absurd and betrays an utter ignorance of the issues.

Jason Ribeiro said...

@heavyweather, I'm sorry but your education is sorely lacking and I'm afraid I have no more interest in banter with someone who cannot grasp the fundamentals of nuclear energy.

You list a few radio active isotopes, many of which are the least radioactive that you could commonly find. Thorium 232 has a half life of 7 billion years. I don't want to eat a large quantity of it but I'd certainly wear it as a piece of jewelery. Carbon 14 exists in my body at the same ratio as the rest of the biosphere. We all have a little uranium in our bodies and probably a little thorium too, so I'm not worried about it. People have ingested plutonium before, it passed through their system and they lived through it just fine and continued with normal lives. People have handled plutonium with their hands, it's a little warm, but no harm done. It would only be toxic as a heavy metal, far from being one of the most toxic substances on Earth. There are a whole family of nerve agent compounds that have first dibs on that claim.

Radioactive materials are some of the easiest haz-mats to deal with actually. With a flawless record in dealing with for over 50 years the evidence speaks for itself. And yes, after 5000 years, if all we do is put the "waste" in a salt cavern and forget about it, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

No land is required. I'd build the systems on residential, commercial and industrial rooftops. South Carolina has approximately 150 square kilometers of optimal roofspace for PV. This is enough room for the equivalent of 4 AP-1000s on an energy output basis. This is enough to provide around 40% of SC's current electricity consumption.

You ask for storage as if all the other power plants on the grid didn't exist. That is a very abstract way of thinking. It doesn't reflect reality. You guys have been bouncing this rigamarole off each other for so long you think it's reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Large government subsidies keep wind and solar competitive. The Energy Information Administration reports the 2007 federal subsidy for wind at $23.37/MWh and for solar at $24.34/MWh. In contrast the federal energy subsidy for nuclear was only $1.59/MWh.

Building comparable generating capacity from diffuse and intermittent energy sources takes a toll on our mineral resources. Wind needs 7 times more concrete and 90 times more steel than nuclear. Thermal solar requires 14 times more concrete and 140 times more steel than nuclear. Wind and solar are not “smart and sensible” energy solutions.

Our fleet of reactors, built in about a twenty year period, is making a big dent, producing 20% of our nation’s electricity and 70% of our emission-free power.
Nuclear power is the safest, most achievable, and economical energy solution.
John Tjostem

heavyweather said...

I wonder why you have to put away the waste for thousands of years...
What is it that you leave behind?
Why bother to dig it under if we could just eat the waste...

Pluto, the god of the underworld and and death.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that anti-nukes, when confronted with facts about half-lives and isotopes and radiotoxicity, devolve into meaningless babble?

Anonymous said...

heavy water said...I wonder why you have to put away the waste for thousands of years... So do I... Why not fission it in a generation IV reactor? We won't have to mine reactor fuel for hundreds of years.

John Tjostem

Anonymous said...

"Large government subsidies keep wind and solar competitive."

This is a true statement. I agree. Sure. You're right. Absolutely. And it's true for nuclear too buddy. You want to have a subsidy faceoff between solar and nuclear? Nuclear wins the subsidy crown easily. Clever nuclear statisticians use the subsidy per dollar trick to justify the expenditures but that's a phoney ploy. At the end of the day a huge amount of public money has been spent.

The point I'm making is that the cost of PV is trending down sharply. PV costs have fallen by 30 to 50% in 2009. That is a fact. PV costs will fall another 10 to 20% or more in 2010. The industry is trending quickly toward subsidy free markets. Transmission planning is already factoring this trend in (trying to actually).

The resource requirements of PV are large but manageable. i.e. It's a scalable technology from a resource logistics standpoint.

Finrod said...

No land is required. I'd build the systems on residential, commercial and industrial rooftops. South Carolina has approximately 150 square kilometers of optimal roofspace for PV. This is enough room for the equivalent of 4 AP-1000s on an energy output basis. This is enough to provide around 40% of SC's current electricity consumption.

I imagine that the residents of SC will be thrilled with all that construction and installation work to be carried out on their roofs. I take it you'll be installing the actuators necessary for tracking the sun?

You ask for storage as if all the other power plants on the grid didn't exist. That is a very abstract way of thinking. It doesn't reflect reality. You guys have been bouncing this rigamarole off each other for so long you think it's reasonable.

So you concede right there that renewables cannot power the grid by themselves. Why not use a power source which is self-sufficient in this regard?

Soylent said...

"No land is required. I'd build the systems on residential, commercial and industrial rooftops. South Carolina has approximately 150 square kilometers of optimal roofspace for PV.

This is enough room for the equivalent of 4 AP-1000s on an energy output basis. This is enough to provide around 40% of SC's current electricity consumption."

Some fraction of those 150 km^2 are unusable. Either because they are largely shaded by trees, hills or other structures or because the slope of the roof is at the wrong angle and the panels would partially occlude one another. I'm feeling charitable, lets say 75 km^2 are acceptable for PV.

With a 10% capacity factor and a 10% efficient solar panel you have an average power output on the order of ~10 W/m^2.

That gives you ~0.8 GW average power, ~8 GW peak power around noon on the sunniest of summer days.

2007 statistics for South Carolina indicate a grid energy mix of
By total energy generated South Carolina's grid mix consists 51.4% nuclear, 40.2% coal, 5.8% gas, 1.5% hydro, 1.9% other renewables(mostly biomass), 0.1% other(waste burning etc.), -1.2% pumped hydro(used to shift around baseload power from nuclear and coal).

Nuclear will not budge an inch to accomodate solar energy; coal might bend a little(but it's less efficient than operating at full power and causes wear and tear, so they don't want to unless they really have to). Solar will mostly cut into pumped hydro, gas and hydro; surplus will be mostly discarded. To get the full ~0.8 GW you need a lot more grid-energy storage.

Not 4 AP-1000's, not even 1 AP-1000. Unlike an AP-1000 it will not replace much if any coal which is by far the dirtiest fuel(from the perspective of GHG as well as direct health and environmental effects from particulates, NOx, SOx, mercury and other nasties).

"You ask for storage as if all the other power plants on the grid didn't exist. That is a very abstract way of thinking. It doesn't reflect reality."

Without building massive amounts of storage you're strictly limiting the amount of renewables the grid can hope to accomodate. Without storage renewables can only ever slightly reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burnt at the cost of making yourself even more dependent on the availability of fossil fuels.

Soylent said...

"Why is it that anti-nukes, when confronted with facts about half-lives and isotopes and radiotoxicity, devolve into meaningless babble?"

Selection bias. Anti-nukes exhibit this behaviour because people who don't exhibit this behaviour don't manage to stay anti-nuclear for long stretches of time.

heavyweather said...

I could say the same about your uneducated comments about high-altitude wind.

Jason Ribeiro said...

Kirk, in regards to your last question, I wish knew the answer myself because I see a lot of this type of nonsense going on and it is hurting our country. There seems to be a frightening trend of entitlement to customize one's own reality. It's the type of attitude that retorts back with "well that's your opinion" to someone who has just explained that 1+1=2. It goes beyond cherry picking to suite one's beliefs, it's ignorance with an attitude.

I feel like we're becoming this movie I rented awhile back, Idiocracy. For this to be happening to this country with such a rich science and technology history is just shameful.

heavyweather said...

If you look at the EROEI this is completly wrong.
Infact nuclear power is loosing big against wind and even solar...
4,5 nuclear
30 thinfilm
30 a modern windturbine
375 ...the kitegen is the winner.

With the power needed to enriche fuel you could power a whole country of about 9 Mio People.

In Germany renewables have surpassed nuclear energy already.
Nuclear power stations are a problem in new grids. They burn fuel while energy could be supplied by wind and solar.
Thats why turbines are sometimes not running when the wind is blowing.
Thats lost energy, stolen by nuclear.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting article.

Anonymous said...


The calculation accounts for shading, roof pitch etc. The available roof area number comes from an IEA study. I used 15% efficient panels with a system DC-to-AC derate factor of .77. I used the annual insolation in Charleston as a proxy for the state. I derated the AP-1000s output by .91 for capacity factor and another 7% for T&D losses. As far as I can tell the calculation is based on middle of the road assumptions.

PV doesn't need to solve the storage problem. There are much easier ways for the grid to evolve before we need to worry about storage. Demanding PV come up with a storage solution is a distraction.

Soylent said...

"If you look at the EROEI this is completly wrong."

EROI is a meaningless number. There is no material difference between an EROI of 10 and 1 000 000 000.

"Infact nuclear power is loosing big against wind and even solar...
4,5 nuclear
30 thinfilm
30 a modern windturbine
375 ...the kitegen is the winner."

4.5? Have you been reading Storm Van Leeuwens pack of thinly veiled lies?

You know the guy who got the energy requirement for the Rösing mine in Namibia wrong by almost two orders of magnitude; who assumed all enrichment is in the form of cold war era gaseous diffusion plants instead of centrifuges which are a factor of 50 times more efficient?

Here's the EPD for Forsmark nuclear plant:

There's no particularly sinister motive for choosing Forsmark, I just happen live close to it.

The plant consumes 0.011 kWh fossil fuels and 0.0014 kWh of hydropower to produce 1 kWh of electricity. That's an EROI of 90.

"In Germany renewables have surpassed nuclear energy already."


"Nuclear power stations are a problem in new grids. They burn fuel while energy could be supplied by wind and solar."

This is only a problem if you're trying to integrate near useless wind and solar energy into the grid or if you're a fossil fuel salesman who wants to sell monstrous amounts of natural gas to back up all those wind turbines and and solar panels.

Wasn't the entire point to NOT emit greenhouse gases? Why are you advocating more intensive use of fossil fuels?

"Thats why turbines are sometimes not running when the wind is blowing.
Thats lost energy, stolen by nuclear."

Gobsmacking insane.

If you produce energy when and where nobody needs it and you haven't arranged for any means to store it, that's nobody's fault but your own. Asking the entire electrical grid to bend over backwards to accommodate your near-useless source of energy is very very silly.

Soylent said...

"PV doesn't need to solve the storage problem."

If you don't solve the storage problem you can't produce more than single-digit percentages of all kilowatthours.

As long as you haven't solved the storage problem you will remain joined at the hip to natural gas like conjoined twins. As long as you don't credibly demonstrate that you CAN solve the storage problem you haven't shown that solar power will have a place in the post-carbon grid and isn't just a dead end.

As long as you haven't solved the storage problem solar will have no impact on phasing out coal. Where already past 350, we need to phase out coal *in the past* to avoid severe impact from climate change.

"There are much easier ways for the grid to evolve before we need to worry about storage."

Such as?

Anonymous said...

Saying that nuclear is "losing the race" in Germany is like describing a race where the star athlete is bound and gagged on the bench with his Achilles' tendons cut, while the other pitiful contenders run around haphazardly in no particular direction.

I've noticed "heavyweather" quickly dropped his complaints about naturally occurring radionuclides that have nothing at all to do with nuclear power.

Barry Brook said...

I just checked back on this post and the comments section has exploded. Not much more to add except to congratulate Soylent on this superb observation:

"Selection bias. Anti-nukes exhibit this behaviour because people who don't exhibit this behaviour don't manage to stay anti-nuclear for long stretches of time."

Nuclear Darwinism explains so much.

Charles Barton said...

Anomyous, you claim that South Carolina has about 58 square miles of roof space available. There are something like 1.7 million single unit residences in South Carolina. I calculate that perhaps 10 Square miles of South Carolina roof space is single unit residents, assuming that each roof is a little less than 2000 SQ FT, With a little more than 170,000 residences pre square mile of roof. If each residence has a 5000 watt PV installation, the total cost of the installation would run to about $7.65 billion per square mile, or 76.5 billion to cover every residential roof in the state with a 5000 Watt PV array.

The cost of PV panels is about 10% of the cost of rooftop installations. Assume solar panels are free. Our installation cost drops to $6.885 Billion per sq mi, about 68.85 billion to cover every rooftop in the state. Assuming a capacity factor of 10%, we get an average output of 500 watts per hour, or 85 million watts per sq mi. That would equal about 850 million watts using every residential roof in South Carolina. If we price the AP-1000 at $8 billion, and that it produces electricity at 90% of capacity, the cost of 85% of its output is $6.8 billion. Thus the cost of roof top solar in South Carolina would run 10 times higher than the cost of an AP-1000 even if free PVs included with each installation.

heavyweather said...

Such as load management.

Eventually the system has to get smarter.

A combination of different renewables solves the non existing storage problem.
That has been demonstrated in Germany with virtual combines powerplants (regenerative combined plant).
It does even work for a conventional usage without smart grids or load balancing/management.

Technology is that great that we can get rid of all dirty energy...coal and nuclear.

Storage problem gone...move on to the next level.

heavyweather said...

EROEI is the energy you put in vs the enrgy you get out...that includes the concret, steel, transportation, work, decomissioning...

4,5 is the average of all installed plants.
That might grow to 10 with a breeder. But is has failed to do so.

The ROI on Kitegens is also much higher.

Solar and wind are useless...LOL...thats the most stupid thing I have read in weeks.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather If you look at the studies in which nuclear EROEI is low, you will find that the nuclear fuel was enriched by the energy intensive gaseous diffusion method. The gaseous diffusion method is obsolete, and the last United States gaseous diffusion plant is being shut down in a couple of years. It will be replaced by the much more energy efficient centrifuge method. Centrifuges use something like 2% of the energy used by gaseous diffusion. The EROEI from nuclear plants that use centrifuge enriched uranium is similar to that of renewables. The EROEI of FBRs and LFTRs would of course far superior to that of renewables.

Anonymous said...


The standard cost thumbrule is that panels represent around 50% of total system costs. I can't follow your other cost numbers.

Also, you can't pull a capacity factor for PV out of a hat. Take the average daily or yearly insolation value and multiply it by the overall PV system efficiency if you want to ballpark the performance.

I double checked my math and it still looks good. I attached the paper below so you guys can math yourselves out. If you take the paper's gross US rooftop potential (1662 TWh/year) and scale it for South Carolina's population you come up with 24.5 TWh/year of generating potential. This compares to about 8.28 TWh/year for an AP-1000. This quick check tells me my original calculation was in the ballpark. I included an insolation factor to correct the average US estimates to the SC climate - this accounts for the higher number.

I also used an overall PV system efficiency of 11.55% vs. the 10% value used in the paper. I think technology improvements justify this. In any event, this BOTE calculation is for demonstration only.

heavyweather said...

Where is that EROEI over 10 on nuclear plants.
Saying it is far superior to wind or thinfilm (both around 30) sounds paradox.
We are still comparing energy output not wasted thermal energy?

I hope you don`t mind that I kind of kickstartet that discussion here.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, I based my calculations on the assumption that it crowding to many panels on a roof would make cleaning them very difficult. See the illustrations from this story on solar panel roof tiles, and ask yourself how easy they would be to clean.

Of course, the performance of dirty roof panels will quickly degrade. I checked on the installation cost of a 5000 Watt roof array in Charleston and cam up with a figure of $45,000. There are large costs to connect the solar panels to the grid, since DC has to be converted to AC, voltage has to be stepped up to be compatible with the grid, and of course power has to be purchased back from the grid at a premium over the sale price for day time solar generated power. Without storage, much of the day time time generated power will be wasted, and night time power will still be generated by coal fired generation facilities. Ironically the SCANA presentation shows renewables displacing natural gas, while nuclear power displaces coal in base load generation.

You appear to be correct about the proportionate cost of Pannals in the PV cost picture. If I accept the Solar Buzz report of PV prices, and everyone tells me I shouldn't because the real prices are much lower, I come up with about $22,000 for the cost of 5000 watts worth of solar panels. You may be right on that score. Subtract that from the local estimate of PV roof top costs, and we still get $23,000, which still yields a cost that is still several times that of the AP-1000.

Three further problems:
1. Hail storms. I had two roofs destroyed by hail storms in Texas, and South Carolina gets them too. PV arrays will be damaged by hail storms.
2. Hurricanes. Costal South Carolina does have its Hurricanes, and costal homes receive roof damage as a result. Your PV arrays will be quite literally blown away.
3 Trees. All over the South people plant trees to the South of their homes for shade. The same shade will lower PV performance. Environmentally friendly renewables advocates will, of course have a solution for that problem, chop the trees down.

Finally given what you claim about the effect of lowering the German and Spanish subsidies on PV costs, you should favor an immediate abolition of all subsidies on PV installations, on the grounds that subsidies pose an obstacle to PV success by keeping PV prices artificially high. If the prospects of PVs are as good as you claim, then they clearly do not need subsidies, and the demand for subsidies are nothing more than rip offs of the taxpayers.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather The WNA has a detailed report on nuclear EROEI. It shows that thermal energy output of reactors using centrifuge uranium enrichment has an EROEI ratio of 57. If you want to count the EROEI based on electrical output, the EROEI is 19. This story is not complete. First the used reactor fuel has enormous further energy value. In fact less than one percent of the potential energy has been captured by the conventional nuclear process. Reusing the fuel in more advanced reactors could lead to an EROEI in the range of 2000. Further, rejected heat from the reactor could be used for district heating or desalinization of brackish water.

Nuclear EROEIs of 5000 are not impossible.

Anonymous said...


You seem concerned about dirty panels. Did you know properly installed panels are cleaned by the rain? How easy are the panels to clean you ask me to ask myself. Extremely easy if the rain is doing it I say. Just so you know, my calculation derated the system performance by 5% to account for average soiling conditions. This factor is based on actual field observations.

The derate factor I applied also accounted for DC-to-AC inverter losses and a bunch of other real world factors.

I don't think you understand what the price situation is with PV and where it's headed. Check this link out. How do you resolve this retailer's prices with the Solarbuzz survey? The answer is you don't. The Solarbuzz survey is a good proxy for what's happening generally but it doesn't show you what prices are specifically. When you really think about how the survey is constructed you realize it's not even attempting to show what's really happening with system prices.

Hail and hurricanes? Did you know South Carolina homes and businesses have skylights. If skylights can be engineered to survive this type of severe weatehr so can solar panels.

Trees? The shading factor was taken into account in the estimation. Only sites with 80% of the available potential were considered. Trees are not unique to South Carolina.

" should favor an immediate abolition of all subsidies on PV installations..."

Not quite. I support the "idea" of immediately abolishing subsidies
but I recognize this would lead to an unnecessary dislocation in the market. I support an aggressive transition away from subsidies. If you want to get indignant over PV subsidies take a long hard look at nuclear power's past, present and future and be careful what you wish for. As the price of PV drops the need for a subsidy is going away. In the end the choice to go with PV will become a simple matter of economics. If PV becomes subsidy free I imagine it will put a whole lot of pressure on reducing subsidies to other energy technologies.

heavyweather said...

We are still comparing the existing reactor fleet with the existing renewables.
The thermal energy is not used and thus does not count.

I got that site where you also contributed.

There seems to be a wide range.

Anything is possible.
A free solar panel, say if you can grow the panel somewhere...or something like H2 or fuel producing algea would have even higher scores than 5000 (you don`t count the grow process right...only the energy that is invested.)

But so far there is nothing better than 375 which can be built right now.
When somebody comes up with LFTR or anything else useable, somehow gets the money needed to research and built it, we can discuss this further. Something tells me that this won`t happen anytime soon.

I guess we both won`t be inhabiting the earth anymore when this happens.

I conclude we should keep the research but also try to built as many kitegens as fast as possible.

The can even be installed around or ontop of existing reactors...the nonflight zone does come handy. Might even be used to protect the nuces from planes.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, If you google the words "dirty PVs" you might get the impression that there is a problem with dirty PV's. If rain does such a good job of cleaning PV's, how come it leaves my car's windshield with a dirty film? Why do I have to wash my windshield after a rain?

You argued that there are 150 Sq Miles of roofs in South carolina, But I still do not understand how you came up with that number. I have pointed out that residential roofs cannot account for more than 7% of that figure. That must mean that the buildings which house South Carolina offices, schools, factories, stores and warehouses must be huge, since 93% of South Carolina roof space would belong to them by your account. How did you arrive at the 150 Sq Mi number?

I have looked quite carefully at the so called nuclear subsidies, which in almost every case do not involve any payments from the government to the industry. The Nuclear Industry does not do anything like the trick of the texas wing industry, which pays Grid operators to take their electricity when there is no demand, in order to get their subsidy payment. With renewables we have is highly dishonest advocates who make double claims about how desperate the need subsidies yet they are about to sweep the market with incredibly cheap power. You fall into that category since you oppose termination of subsidies because it would disrupt the market. I take that to mean that folks would stop buying PVs if there are no subsidies. If that is the case, PVs are not really the wave of the future you claim them to be. I am also sure that skylights get blown out in hurricanes, and broken in hail storms. Shoot in Texas car windows get shattered in hail storm.

I also wonder how your are going to cover 150 hundred square miles of roofs for anywhere near a billion dollars a square mile.

You are a good debater, but I wonder why you choose to remain anonymous.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather, If you notice I gave you both the electrical EROEI, which does count even in your book, and is much higher than the 10 you claimed was impossible. The fact that the thermal EROEI was 57 points to efficiency gains.

heavyweather said...

So I linked some other source where the EROEI is anything between negativ to 60 (thermal).

Most sources setting the average of all working plants somewhere between 4 and 7.
You say a modern plant is in the range of 28-29. Fine.
There is no Thorium Breeder. But there is the Kitegen.
Why would you not built it?
It is done anyways...I am just curious. (All nuclear debate aside)

Anonymous said...

I didn't find anything interesting under dirty PV. The technical term is soiling. The 5% average soiling factor I used is reasonable. Can soiling be worse? Sure. People have studied the subject extensively so you can dig into it if you wish. Here's a source that discusses soiling and how rain acts to clean panels.

The source I listed a few posts back quotes an available roof space of 10,096 square kilometers for the entire US. South Carolina has 1.4733% of the US population so it should have about 1.4733% of the roofs in the US. That works out to about 150 square kilometers. I multiplied this value by the average insolation in Charleston, an assumed efficiency of 15% and added a derate factor of 77%. There are technically justifiable assumptions that would push the value I estimated up much higher. Point is, there's plenty of Sun.

I have looked at the nuclear subsidy situation myself. There's a nuclear PTC on the table. There are loan guarantees. There's been cost-sharing. There's a long history of R&D support. There's well documented history of egregious cost overruns (both regulator and contractor induced) that have been passed on to ratepayers. There's a history of accelerated payback rate schedules. Now we're seening pre-loaded rate schedules. All of these extra costs are passed on to the public who rarely have any choice in the matter. All of these perks have used public funds to provide special monetary support to the nuclear industry. i.e. subsidize

I oppose sudden termination of PV subsidies at this point because it would jeaprodize billions of private investment. Silicon refineries aren't cheap. Wafer, cell and module fabs aren't cheap.
Promises should be kept. Your buddy Cohen accurately described the unstable regulatory environment as the primary obstacles to contrlling nuclear construction costs. Same goes here. Everyone involved in PV industry understands how subsidies should sunset over the next 5 to 10 years. This assumption is built into the investment strategy. Fortunately, the industry has come to the realization that the subsidy degression rate can be sped up without undue damage to business. So I see Germany doing that and it being a good thing for the industry. There's nothing like a fire under your ass to get you going.

Protecting PV from hail and wind damage is a matter of good engineering and quality installation. An acrylic film or some extra structural support and your problem is solved. PV installations are in the arctic, at sea, in deserts, on windswept mountain peaks and of course, in space. PV has a celebrated history in extreme environments.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, you have still failed to offer any cost projections for your plan to deploy PV on every roof in South Carolina. Nor have you offered any plan for supplying electricity to South Carolina when the sun is down. Thus you have not demonstrated that PVs could be a part of any successful scheme to decarbonize society.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, you have still failed to offer any cost projections for your plan to deploy PV on every roof in South Carolina. Nor have you offered any plan for supplying electricity to South Carolina when the sun is down. Thus you have not demonstrated that PVs could be a part of any successful scheme to decarbonize society.

Anonymous said...

I demonstrated how much electricity rooftops can turn into electricity using reasonable assumptions. If I tweaked the panel efficiency, DC-to-AC conversion spec and used ACPV panels to capture marginal roofspace I could get the number well over 100% of demand. Point being, the resource is technically capable of providing much more electricity than we use.

Widespread adoption of PV in South Carolina won't occur until PV electrons cost less than grid electrons. Once the transition starts to occur it will last for decades - on par with the interstate system which took 35 years. On balance, customers won't see any extra costs compared to alternative approaches. My whole argument is that end-users will choose PV because it's cheaper.

An interesting point to make here is that once people recognize PV as the low cost end-user technology there is going to be a unification of spirit. People will stop talking about nuclear power, wind or whatever else. The gruff guy at the end of the bar will say stuff like, "Why pay fuel fees when the sun's free?" Politically, PV will have huge leverage because it will be affordable to the middle class. Voters are going to demand fair access to grid they've already paid for.

I see the utilities transforming from a generation model to a ESCO/distribution (ESCOD) model. I figure we'll see a utility lead movement towards conservation and efficiency. Why? Eventually, I figure there will be competition among several ESCODs for the rights to sell excess end user generation. These ESCODs will have to differentiate themselves and one way they could do this is by offering to streamline your home or business. This would be in their best interest because they'd then get more power to sell during the day and theoretically be under less obligation to deliver electricity at night.

This self-interest driven conservation scheme should lead to better building codes, more demanding efficiency requirements in manufacturing, load shifting etc. Basically, the opposite of the way it's been.

That's the low hanging fruit. This bounty will reduce storage requirements significantly.

On top of this go a shrinking mix of traditional electricity providers. Assuming there's a preference for carbon neutral sources you'd have things like trash, LFG, hydro, wind and nuclear.

On top of this go bulk storage schemes like pumped hydro and compressed air and micro storage like batteries. Where the economics make sense they'll be used.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, you are expressing what i would classify as a pious hope.

Anonymous said...

It's trend analysis and some imagination. If you spent enough time looking into the state of manufacturing in the PV industry you'd see the critical mass forming too.

Pious hope you say? I've got zeal but I'm no zealot. I'm into profiteering over propheteering man. You dig?

heavyweather said...

Talking about pious hopes...

Charles, do you see anything else than a bridge technolgy in a Thorium reactor?
Do yu have any hopes that it will ever be built?

Apart from everything else...just some thoughts. I guess you are not going to answer that.

Why nuclear when you can have power without even producing any waste?
Don`t you think something more scaleable would be better for developing nations. Nuclear capital cost even for your proposed LFTB (gesstimated 200Mio upfront+1mio initial fuel) are way to high for small communitys.
This is not my understanding of freedom.
It is also not very stimulating for local industries around power. The thing is manufactured somewhere localized and sold to those who should rather have their own means of manufacturing things like powerplants.
Wouldn`t open source wind/PV/solar technology get you way further?

I don`t believe that you have any commercial interest in LFTBs...what is driving you?

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather, I favor the LFTR because it will eliminate all or virtually all nuclear waste, and because it is simple, will be easily built in massive numbers, is extremely scaleable, and will produce electricity 24 hours a day, not just when the sun shines.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, is what you are telling me that you are in the business, and that you will prophet by promoting ir. Is that why you choose to remain anonymous?

heavyweather said...

I have not been talking about the sun and you know that there are solutions and so many other options.

Anyways...say a very small community...there is no way they could handle such an investment.
They could built micro hydro, some wind energy, PV, use biomass.
Wouldn`t that be much more reasonable. They would not rely on fuel supply and would not have to worry about anything (there would still be people not very confortable with nuclear things in their backyard).

We got communitys here that produce 150% of their power from renewables. A huge success for them. It keeps the money and the people in the region and even creates work and solved loads of problems. People are comming from all over the world to learn from here.
Even production companys like a woodfloor maker moved there...they supply woodchips and process heat is recovered, get power in return. Nothing is wasted.
Just cheap power would not do the trick. And they do have cheap power available 24h a day.
It is working and I can`t see why it would not work anywhere else. It is not a special geothermal, hydro or any outstanding wind spots...they do it anyways.

Scaleability is a very relativ term with nuclear reactors, don`t you agree?

Charles Barton said...

There are numerous designs emerging all over the world, for small reactors to service small isolated communities. Electricity produced by such reactors would be cheaper than current generation technology.

heavyweather said...

This sounds like Scifi or rather like some fantasy SimCity.
You mean I can have a 1000$ reactor in my backyard much like some people use gasoline generators right now?
Will it work for 100.000$ or are we talking some millions, hundreds of millions maybe?

I have shown you the cheapest way to produce power that is available now.
There is no other non renewable, renewable or nuclear technolgy working right now that is more polution free and cheaper.
We can wait another 10-20 years from now or we can have cheap energy right now.
If you wait too long even the non existing storage problem will be solved and even this line of denial will disapear...

You still have not answered any of my other questions? Whats the drive behind this? Do you need to prove something? Is there any commercial gain in this for you?
I just want to understand, all technical stuff aside.

Charles Barton said...

Not quite that small, but amazingly small for a nuk:

heavyweather said...

ok...and where are these 2008 installations and the reactors sold to the US and Europe in 2009?

a sodium cooled reactor in the basement...
The 5 cent/kwh are without the insurance I conclude.


Charles Barton said...

Not my idea, but tosheba probably decided that they needed to build a little bit bigger reactor for a bigger customer, and they have found one.
Note however that the NRC is a major block to progress,

Anonymous said...


I truly empathize with your point of view, but I think you fall into the same traps that pretty much every single renewables supporter falls into: that of arrogance. That, and the vast underestimate of the engineering - versus the scientific - challenges of things.

True, they don't have the complete monopoly on these issues (and there is a share of them on the pro-nuclear side of the fence) but on the whole, I've found that nuclear folks are much more likely to consider both renewables AND nukes in their energy approach, and have a much deeper realization of the difficulties and inertia in systems to integrating new forms of energy.

We live in a primarily top-down world, ie: one where high density sources of power feed to consumers with a smaller power density. To try to invert that system, developed over the course of a century, and flow from diverse sources to concentrated, in any timeframe that will realistically effect climate change is HIGHLY problematic, and I sure don't want to bet my future on it.

Yet that in essesnce is what renewable supporters do when they turn their backs on nuclear energy. They have NO PLAN B. What happens when MEMS solar arrays have unforseen difficulties in the lab, or in practice cause high power fluctuations on the grid, or prove difficult to clean or ineffective in inclement weather? What happens if storage technologies don't scale or the materials costs become too high?

etc. etc. etc. There are good, technical reasons that the Danes for example have stalled in their quest for renewable energy - at 20% it hasn't grown for three years in a row. That is because they are running into what seems to be a practical limit on how much variable electricity can be pumped into the grid.

We may solve these issues, we may not. But I certainly wouldn't be protesting nuclear power, which seems as logical as protesting that the firetruck that arrives to put out your house's fire is blue and not red.

Charles Barton said...

Excellent observations, Anonymous. May I quote you?

heavyweather said...


Naturally it is dangerous for any nuclear advocat to admit that all problems for a 100% renewable solution have been solved.

Now the industry is heading in the right direktion too.
Thats why we are developing smart grids. We also installed the biggest floating wind turbine.
Thats for real and nothing to go away.
Thats a threat to those people.

20%? Maybe the US is a little lagging behind but in my country we have 65% renewable, no nukes, and even citys that produce more power than they need...150% renewable, no black outs...just money from which they build more capacity, sportarenas, schools and kindergarten.
Of course there is no energy supplier needed there. They even bought back the grid (which was leased to foreign investors via cross boarder l.)

You can see the terrible consequences of renewable energy there. Energy prices are falling and the region has become wealthy and healthy again.

It`s all about small units substituting centralized production, getting jobs to the people, getting rid of emissions and waste. Thats the solution to go for. There is no space for nuclear energy (waste). How should the poor afford it if the power does not come with jobs?

Maybe this is not possible in the US because they have a history of wasting energy.
But what if you convertet village after village, city after city...
Dangerous for monolithic power companys, for sure, but very good for the consumer.
Everything done before (some years ago), everything with renewable energy. Proven stable grid and power supply.
In your scenario that sounds impossible.

Strange you say nuclear people consider both when they try to knock renewables anywhere they can, searching for flaws in technologies they have not even studied properly. Thats no science but just opposition to something they have made their mind up about.
You will tell the same about those that support a non nuclear option...yet again not considering the waste problem (which does exist till this date.)
If ther is a breeder developed that can handle some of the waste this would be an option for the existing waste...but todays technology is no option.
There is no fuel needed, you can combine power and heat production for communitys, sell both together because every custommer needs both.

Big centralized companys are not sustainable and won`t have a future in the long run as more and more communitys and individuals get independent. As long as they don`t work together with communitys and offer sustainable solutions.
You can only built a nuke where it would be attractive to run it for at least 20 years...
If the transition to renewable is done in that time frame or if they are just undercutting your prices (eventually grids will get smarter and people can choose wheather th consume at peak time or consume at wind/solar peak when prices are low...) you are in trouble.
Thats exactly the reason why there will be no more nukes built in Germany, even if the would allow it. That the owner wants to run these old plants as long as possible is also understood.

The best informed European polititions, like Dr. Hermann Scheer, support a 100% renewable non nuclear strategie.
Thats why Germany is leading solar technology and a mayor player in windtechnology.

Thats everything without kitegen, future integrated pv and biogas from biomass yet to be developed (like massive algea biomass production which can be used for desalination, aquaculture, fuel, building material,...)

Its your option to look into the nuclear direction. But please don`t call others arrogant.

Anonymous said...


Sure, you can quote me..

heavyweather -

which country are you referring to when you say you have 65% of your total primary energy supply (or even total electricity supply) coming from renewable sources? Sources would be helpful. (and note - I don't consider hydro relevant here because it is incredibly damaging environmentally and in any case doesn't scale). Ditto for geothermal in places like iceland, which basically lies on top of a volcano.

And yes, I consider ANYBODY arrogant who doesn't support a full exploration of every possible technology available to solve this problem. Which means that Germany and Denmark's greens ARE arrogant, and dangerous to us all - because they are working off an ideology and have shut themselves off to very practical solutions.

My best guess is that something approaching a LFTR - or hyperion's uranium hydride reactor - would be the closest thing to a silver bullet (because they are dead simple and hence easy to manufacture and distribute, and could integrate into our current system very easily) but we will not know until we try to scale out the technology without hamstringing it.

It is squarely the fault of the fossil fuel industry (with their unwitting partners, the green movement) that we HAVEN'T explored this option. And yes, this poses a grave danger to us all, if the rosy dreams of the alternative energy movement don't come to pass.

heavyweather said...

Its Austria.
The 150% Power is Güssing with no hydro.

You prefere a solution that is anything but near to a solution that is available?

Germany is the country to look for in renewable energy. Calling this dangerous is more than disrespectfull.

Which danger? I have shown you examples of RE solutions with no hydro and geothermal (surface heat pump does not count right.) that work today.
These solutions are scaleable and a highly distributed energy production adds to grid stability.
I am working for Siemens, developing smart grid component.
When people can choose if the want to use peak power at high prices or cheap power when there is much available they will always go for the cheaper option.
You can sell daytime quantities to corporations.
Its like with passwords...the hard way is brute force, the soft way sozial engeneering.
First step is to make people realize that they don`t need that much power, then help them shape their personal power curve.
Your talk...why not try everything that is available.

You should be thankfull for the developement of real sustainable solutions.
What if you stop changing the system and your reactor never becomes reality? You have lost precious time. If you succed you still have a centralized system based on some kind of fuel that somebody needs to are again depending on some source.

Don`t you think the russions would not have looked into Thorium? They obviously failed in their energy stategy, including nuclear.
Would they have developed some highly distributed renewable source of energy the whole country would still be going strong.
Obviously their political system could not have handeled such freedoms.

A reactor for 200Mill+100Mill for decom. is nowhere to affordable to any poor village. A windturbine or a kitegen is.
A highly scaleable network of renewable sources can be started for small money (like micro credits).

Geothermal could also become available all over the just have to drill deep enough.
The main problem are the drilling costs which should come down using (thermal) spalation drilling.

Again...with todays nuclear energy there is nothing to win. Only problems created. You also don`t have the billions to try to develope fast breeders. Don`t forget the technical problems involved...not that simple like wind and solar which is researched and evolving in hundreds of laboratories.

Which danger are you talking about? The only danger is NOT developing RE asap.

Anonymous said...

Austria -

"more than half" hydropower, 62.89% from renewable energy.

62.89% - 50% == 12.89% by wind, the rest by oil and gas.

As I said, the danger is going down only the renewable road, and finding out that it ain't going to get us 100% of the way there.

Here's a clue: I used to work for a utility, and they LOVE natural gas plants, as much as any addict loves crack cocaine. They love them because they can build them out fast, and charge for peak power rates.

As it stands right now, they are planning a massive gas buildout with renewables as an accomplice. Because renewables are intermittent, any build of transmission towers are going to be idle 75% of the time.

This void will be backfilled by natural gas.

Hence, if for various systematic reasons renewables *can't* provide baseload power, as it stands they will be the cause for a massive fossil-fuel buildout masked by the fact that it is 'green' because people can see windmills turning every once in a while.

Now *this* is dangerous. You can see it in germany. Germany came THIS CLOSE to closing its perfectly usable nuclear plants, and the plans were on the drawing board to replace all of this clean electricity with coal.

So, once again: arrogance in viewpoint (suppress nuclear research, go renewables alone) leads to dangerous outcomes. As someone who likes, well, being well fed and healthy, I resent anyone who wants to pour their ideology down my throat to the detriment of both.

And I find it very interesting that the nuclear advocates don't mind the competition, that they are perfectly fine with wind and solar research, whereas most 'greens' I talk to want to suppress and eliminate nuclear energy. IMO this just shows that they are worried - worried that the promise of nuclear energy will come true and will outcompete wind and/or solar.

Well, stop it. We'll need all the approaches we can get, to get out of the mess that the 'environmentalists' put us in by opposing nuclear power in the first place.

Anonymous said...

ps -

wrt nuclear, the russians, the chinese AND the indians are going fullbore on it..

Even with current technology, the south koreans are getting down to 36 months construction time. all their plants are on schedule.

Anyways, here's a site that goes through this. I'm not sure if it's willing on your part, but you seem to deliberately want to use old data to prove your point:

In short I follow both the nuclear and renewable world. I sincerely hope that the obstacles that are inherent in renewable projects can be overcome, but I sure as hell don't want to bet my future on it.

heavyweather said...

You still ignore that 100% renewable ist done already (even without hydro).
It is proven.

No enviromentalists...just people who see the unsolved wasteproblem.

When nuclear is as stupid as coal...whats the point of using it in the current developement state.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather, You are making a mountain out of a molehill. The so called nuclear waste problem is a chimera of the anti-nuclear, wacked out, pseudo liberal left. Even if not placed in long term storage post reactor nuclear fuel is not hurting anyone. What is done with it now in the United States is a solution, In Europe it is disposed of long term. The Indians plan to use it as nuclear fuel. All of these are solutions. You have an non-problem to which several resolutions are possible.

heavyweather said...

It is not only a waste problem (No one will care about it if the US fails, which is not unlikely given the timeframe of a nuclear storage). but an economical problem too.

Capital costs are prohibitiv (RZA has stopped their program for finanzial reasons).
They are facing more and more competition from renewables. This is not going away anytime soon.

The costs in nuclear energy are sozalised to a big part. In Germany the people pay for the storage...not via their energy bill but with taxes.
It is not unlikely that the fonds for decomissioning are too little. This money has been invested on the free market. If only one power company has lost in this process guess who is paying the bill.
We are talking billions.
Thats completly unlike renewable energy you can go and recycle things. There are companys that buy your 40year old solar panels and others that will take your wind mill generators.

For even more intelligent plants, like the kitegen, there will be little to no decomissioning cost.

Germany has based their strategie on reasonable data. They have calculated that it would need about 1500 nuclear plants to have any impact on C02 output.
Building 1500nukes all over the world is not possible in that timeframe nor socially reconcilable.

Thats not my ideas but the findings of independent economists and institutions.
You really have to consider social acceptance with such a topic like nuklear energy.

The French are right in their post nuclear energy debate. Time is running for them.
Even now they have to buy substantial amounts of energy in hot summers...
I have that feeling that hot summers are getting even more frequent these days.
Thats the problems they have for now...their technological losses dring nuclear winter sleep not even acounted for.

For all that reasons renewable energy is cheaper for a society.

For a company it is even better to invest in renewable energy...
The ROI of a kitegen is 20 times faster than of a wind turbine. If it is only 10 times thats also only month not years.

You and me...we can make money by building wind parks. Why give that money to the nuclear industry? There is no gain in it for it?

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather Typical bombast from a member of the same ignorant closed minded tribe that brought us Adolph Hitler. heavyweather you appear to be incapable of understanding any viewpoint but your own. You do not bother to read the discussions of nuclear cost, or of accelerated nuclear deployment on this blog. You appear to believe yourself to be infallibility, and thus do not need to pay attention to any view but your own.

heavyweather said...

I live in a globalized post tribe world...
Where are you from...the US? Go figure...

You seem to have missed the part where I talked about sozial acceptance.
Accelerated nuclear deployment sounds like a bad the prognoses of the IAE..10.000 nukes...LOL.

Charles Barton said...

heavyweather, you are not interested in any views but your own. You repeatedly attack straw men, and believe that you have demonstrated that other views are wrong. The ignorant, the self centered and the bigoted form a universal tribe, which you appear to have joined.

heavyweather said...

Better attacking straw men than attacking posters.
Your AH line was really below stupid.

My last post clearly was just data that you can find everywhere.

The existing nuclear fleet is rather old. If you take an average runtime of 40 years 130 reactors will retire the next 10 years...340 the next 20.
I would really surprised if the percentage of nuclear energy would climb in the near future.
There is no rapid deployment going on and the competition is too much.
I told you before that even here at Siemens the focus is shifting away from nuclear.

There are different opinions and no answers.

I rather have small dislocated and available energy sources that need no fuel.
They will also power the really poor people nobody would ever ship a reactor to.

Finrod said...

The existing nuclear fleet is rather old. If you take an average runtime of 40 years 130 reactors will retire the next 10 years...340 the next 20.

The new standard operational lifetime is 60 years, as the successful license extensions over the last few years demonstrates.

I would really surprised if the percentage of nuclear energy would climb in the near future.
There is no rapid deployment going on and the competition is too much.

The nuclear industry is starting to accellerate the production of new nuclear plants. As with all great undertakings (virtually restarting the NPP production industry globally), there is substantial preperation time involved, but we are starting to see things move in China, India, the middle east, Europe, and who knows, perhaps even the US.

I told you before that even here at Siemens the focus is shifting away from nuclear.

Who's likely to believe you on that?


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