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Unforced variations: Apr 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2011

This months open thread. There are some Items of potential interest::

or whatever you like.


525 Responses to “Unforced variations: Apr 2011”

  1. 301
    Edward Greisch says:

    1. Coal fired power plants should be regulated the same as nuclear power plants. If they were, coal fired power plants would have been shut down long ago, and we would not be at 390 ppm CO2 yet. We would be back where we were a few decades ago. Same for liability. Coal causes 26000 deaths every year in the USA and 1 Million deaths every year in China. Why isn’t the coal industry paying for those deaths? So far in the USA, nuclear civilian power has killed ZERO people.

    2. Coal fired power plants put 100 to 400 times as much radiation into the air and environment as nuclear power plants are allowed to. NO American nuclear power plant has Ever exceeded the local natural background radiation. Even the hundreds of nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere never made even a 1% difference in the natural background radiation.

    3. Why has nobody ever sued Nature for causing cancer by natural background radiation? Why has nobody sued or regulated oil refineries for putting millions of gallons of the true cancer causer, BENZENE, into the air? Cancer rates are highest near oil refineries and lower in Denver. Denver is far from refineries but gets more cosmic rays due to its altitude. In Denver, Colorado, the natural dose is over 1000 millirem/year. Denver gets more than 2.56 times as much radiation as Chernobyl! Calculate your annual radiation dose:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm

    http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/around-us/doses-daily-lives.html
    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/bio-effects-radiation.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9753369

    4 Fukushima: 28000 people were killed by the tsunami. Who is suing the dead for having built their houses below the stone marker that says: “Do not build houses below this point.”? Why are you worried about reactor liability when the area was cleared of people by the tsunami? The trigger level for radiation warning is a small percentage of the background level. So far, the radiation injuries have been limited to sunburns of the ankle on workers who had been told to get out of that area if their radiation badges buzzed. Their radiation badges buzzed and they kept working.

    Reference:
    OUR NUCLEAR FUTURE:
    THE PATH OF SELECTIVE IGNORANCE
    by Alex Gabbard
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    Oak Ridge, TN
    Selections from the 19th Annual Conference
    SOUTHERN FUTURE SOCIETY
    March 14,15,16, 1996
    Nashville, Tennessee

    Published by the
    SOUTHERN FUTURE SOCIETY
    1996
    Edited by Jack D. Arters, Ed.D.
    Conference Director
    The truth is, all natural rocks contain most natural elements. Coal is a rock. The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. Coal also contains the radioactive decay products of uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Most of that is U238. About .7% is U235. 4 tons = 8000 pounds. 8000 pounds times .7% = 56 pounds of U235. An average 1 billion watt coal fired power plant puts out 56 to 112 pounds of U235 every year. There are only 2 places the uranium can go: Up the stack or into the cinders.
    Since a reactor full fuel load is around 11 tons of 2% U235 and 98% U238, and one load lasts about 10 years, what one coal fired power plant puts into the air and cinders could fully fuel a nuclear power plant.
    Compare 4 Million tons per year with 1.1 tons per year. 1.1 divided by 4 Million = 2.75 E -7 = .000000275 =.0000275%. Remember that only 2% of that is U235. The nuclear power plant needs ~44 pounds of U235 per year. The coal fired power plant burns coal by the trainload. The nuclear power plant consumes U235 in such small quantities yearly that you could carry that much weight in a briefcase.

    See the rest of Alex Gabbard’s article. U238 can be bred into Plutonium and Thorium can be bred into Uranium. We can fuel our nuclear power plants for CENTURIES just by extracting uranium and thorium from coal cinders and smoke.

  2. 302
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 278 Septic Matthew The experience to date, however, has been fewer deaths per TWH from nuclear than from gas, wind, solar, coal, or hydro. So to me they should continue to build new nuclear plants until nothing in wind, solar or hydro requires an external source for its manufacture.

    Why can’t energy sources be interdependent for a while? (I recently visited a website on Th power (a link from Brave New Climate) suggesting Nd byproduct of nuclear power could be used for wind turbines. What if mining for some PV materials produced something used in the nuclear industry? We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition why not use some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use?

    Re 290 Edward Greisch The federal way to regulate is to put a legal limit on the CO2 into the air per kilowatt hour and allow the electric companies figure out how to do it. That is what I propose doing. The problem is that coal companies and people who think that they can get rich building wind or solar do not want to allow the electric utilities to have that freedom.

    Or a tax on CO2eq emissions? (For fossil fuels, tax assessed preferably at the mine or well, to reduce paperwork and make enforcement efficient (as opposed to the exhaust pipe) – but then a compensating credit for fossil C used in materials unlikely to be oxidized, etc, with compensating tariff/subsidy for trade between nations with differing policies; attempt at least approximate CO2eq tax for other sources so as to not distort the market (don’t encourage too much deforestation for biofuels, don’t forget about cement production, don’t forget about cows, etc.)).

    It would surprise me to find out that pro-solar/wind/etc people (like me) would be generally against such a thing. Then again it’s possible the industry leaders and their consumers are of different mindsets, but … (PS McCain is pro-nuclear and he might not be for cap-and-trade now – or is he? I guess it depends on the season.)

    PS U3O8 is an oxide of uranium. PS maybe solar PV could benifit from coal ash, too. PS I’d be curious to find out what you think of Thorium-based nuclear power. If the moderators don’t intervene before that happens. (It sounds like a good idea, though I’ve only read about it from one source which could have been biased. And maybe it’s just the ‘new car smell’? I would support government R&D in new nuclear technologies – for that matter I wouldn’t want to stop R&D on fusion – but I would like more R&D in solar PV, etc, and I would also support public investment in actual deployment of fledgling energy technologies, which still includes solar and wind as of now, among others. If Th-power proves itself (relatively) safe and (potentially) economical, then go ahead with that too. (Logical basis – mass market advantage, experience, overcoming habitual practices – costs could come down as industry grows and matures and becomes an integral part of the economy and society) Etc.)

  3. 303
    Patrick 027 says:

    PS about getting off fossil fuels – I said something earlier about the increased economical benifit if renewables of some mix of solar+wind+etc replaces some mix including petroleum (such as via (PH)EV’s). But that brings up the question – how will we get our vaseline and WD-40 and plastics and asphalt? What about jet fuel (if algae biofuel doesn’t suffice)?

    Eventually we could (I would think) make hydrocarbons from renewable sources,

    …but in the meantime, how flexible is petroleum refining, in terms of the relative proportions of gasoline, jet fuel, and non-fuels? If use of (PH)EV’s caused a drop in gasoline price than perhaps all other petroleum products would rise in cost with no net economic benifit. Once upon a time gasoline was a waste product dumped into rivers.

    On the other hand, mixing just enough biofuels into jet fuel and maybe some new chemical processes applied to petroleum refining (hope it doesn’t need HF)… Or maybe would could try to strip the H from the C in the ‘waste’ products (might be economical if gasoline, being waste, only costs a penny(?) per gallon?)

    So this may be OT here but if anyone knows a good source of information on that…?

  4. 304
    Septic Matthew says:

    302, Patrick 027: We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition, [ use] some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use [.]

    I hope that is a fair translation of your question into a statement. As a statement, I agree with it. And I am glad that you explicitly addressed the “transition”. There is no reasonable expectation for a transition away from coal and eventually to 100% renewables, that is quick, effortless, painless or cost-free. The transition will be labor and capital intensive, and therefore slow. But it is possible: the US already is reducing its reliance on coal, and is reducing its total CO2 emissions. The full panoply of what is already being done is hard to comprehend: there are coal-fired plants that are being supplemented with solar collectors to help boil the water during daylight hours; that extends the life of the plant, and reduces coal consumption, and does so at a lower cost than shutting down the plant and building something new in its place. The transition to a coal-free electricity supply will be full of half-measures like that.

  5. 305
    sidd says:

    I would like to ask the realclimate team a question:
    If the world cut all fossil CO2 emissions to zero today, would west antarctica still destabilize, a la Pollard, DiConto ?
    sidd

  6. 306
    David B. Benson says:

    Ok.alternatives to fossil fuels for generating electrity.

    I have tried to find actual contract prices, and failing that, estimated build prices, for four alternatives in the lower 48 states of the USA. These do not include any of the various forms of subsidies or tax incentives. The result is the busbar (generation) cost (LCOE) in US cents/kWh

    Solar PV: 23.4 @ CF=25%
    Solar thermal: 21.7 (Mohave desert with 4? hour thermal storage; without storage CF=25%)
    Nuclear: 11.8 for Vogtle 3&4 Gen III+ Westinghouse AP-1000 @ CF=90%
    Wind: 9.15 @ CF=30%+

    so on cost alone to the retail utility company, just now wind [in windy locations] seems best. But alas, to provide on-demand power requires backup for the wind turbines; around here combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) are being increasingly used for that purpose — not fossil fuel free.

    Of course, there is nothing which requires society to prefer the least costly solution. Using newly constructed pumped hydro as backup for the wind resource results in an estimated levelized cost of 14.572 cents/kWh to the retail utility.

  7. 307
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 304 Septic Matthew Patrick 027: We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition, [ use] some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use [.]

    I hope that is a fair translation of your question into a statement.

    Yes. I was not suggesting leniency in use of fossil fuels but rather that there isn’t a reason to avoid using fossil fuels and fossil fuel-produced electricity in the production of solar, wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, etc, efficiency, etc, infrastructure and products, except and when it becomes more economical to use alternative inputs, assuming good pollution policies are in place (such as a CO2eq tax, and also Hg emissions, addressing mountaintop removal mining, spills, etc.).

    If we ramp up new industries without reducing other things, we could see a short term increase in fossil fuel consumption and consequent CO2 emissions (relative to BAU), but if that is the start of a larger and permanent reduction of CO2eq emissions, then it’s worth it (or in other words, much better to get 100 kWh per kg coal than 3 (or whatever much smaller number it actually is) kWh per kg coal).

    Re 301 Edward Greisch

    Re 1. Coal fired power plants should be regulated the same as nuclear power plants.Re Why has nobody ever sued Nature for causing cancer by natural background radiation?

    Not knowing the numbers, I think part of the danger-perception issue is large event vs continuing accumulation of injury. It may be psychologically easier to accept a population-wide increase in asthma and some early deaths from continual pollution output than some similarly-valued injury amount packed into a smaller population in a single event. (Of course this framing of the issue sets aside oil spills, ash spills, and pipeline explosions, and the potential danger of HF (?) etc., and maybe some issues with nuclear that I haven’t realized.) But – although misunderstandings and false perceptions of reality should not simply be accepted – human nature is what it is and if something truly hurts more than something else (even once all the facts are understood in context), perhaps we have to recognize that. Aside from which, it should tend to be more economically efficient to deal with a continuous rate of injury than to deal with the same total amount packed into small unpredictable clusters, since the later requires episodic adaptation to temporary changes.

    Maybe this isn’t a significant part of the danger of Fukushima and Chernobyl(?), but some radiation sources also have chemical toxicity. Cosmic rays and solar UV don’t have that. Radon is a noble gas (maybe that doesn’t clear it of chemical toxicity – I’m not sure). I’ve heard that U is chemically toxic – that wouldn’t be an issue if it is locked in rock with only the radiation escaping.

    You can (at least in principle) find out if a house has a radon issue; you can avoid buying the orange Fiesta-ware (they’ve got a lot of other nice colors! I like blue); you can to some extent choose whether or not to live in Denver, fly in a plane, or spend time in the sun (good example of how hormesis actually works (as I understand it) – a small amount of sun exposure may make you feel good and give you vitamin D, to an extent that is worth the increased skin cancer risk). You can’t know that there’s going to be a nuclear accident (or an HF release from a petroleum refinery, or an ash spill, or, to cover all the bases (with no intended implication of equivalence of probabilities and magnitudes!) a silane explosion at a particular type of solar PV factory, or an ice-chunk throwing event at a wind-power farmn) near a house when you buy it, you can only know that it could happen, or might not (okay, so it becomes a risk management issue, which isn’t entirely different from the sun-tan example since, for some range of exposures, you don’t know it’s going to or not going to give you cancer, so the point of this paragraph isn’t as strong as I thought it would be, but I’ll leave it in).

    I support regulating coal and coal power more stringently then it is (ash, mountaintop removal, and GHGs – I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is; haven’t kept up with the acid rain issue as much). I don’t know enough about nuclear power to say whether regulations regarding new power plant construction should be stronger or more lenient (but is that what’s been holding back nuclear power? **), but from what I’ve heard about existing power plants, regulations need to be more stringent than they are – or enforced more stringently (and maybe the same at chemical plants, etc., not to mention Wall Street :) ).

    ** To repeat an earlier point in different form, I could support some public funding of new nuclear technology, not just R&D but also in deployment – as with wind, solar, etc. – to the extent that it is justified by the technology’s potential and safety (and in the case of nuclear, to the extent it is different from the existing mature industry***). I had earlier thought that what McCain and the like wanted was (more) public funding, and my reaction to that was – okay, sure, but ramp up public funding of solar PV and wind, etc, too. But if it’s simply a matter of clearing roadblocks – well, okay, let’s cut some red tape and make it efficient, but let’s still make justified regulations effectively enforced. And the same for solar and wind, etc – let’s not put solar power plants in the middle of wildlife sanctuaries, let’s protect birds and bats, but maybe we devote resources to identifying places where solar and wind can go that have the energy resource and are not too ecologically sensitive, and give the industry a roadmap sooner rather than later so that it can make plans.

    ***- or maybe this isn’t justified. When the solar PV industry is mature, would it’s experience and technology not transfer to the development and scaling up new technologies within the PV field? Would multicrystalling Si expand into thin c-Si utilitizing TIR? Would CIGs manufacturing companies expand into CZTS and zinc phosphide (I’m guessing they might be similar in manufacturing processes etc, – maybe not, though, I’m not sure)? (but maybe dye-sensitized TiO2 and semiconducting polymers and luminescent concentrators and CPV gallium aluminum indium arsenide (?) would be somewhat seperate industries, although with overlaps)? And wouldn’t the existing nuclear industry have some existing ability to make Th-based liquid-fuel power plants? Which isn’t to say that public R&D should then be cut-off and publically-funded deployment be avoided, but perhaps it needn’t be as great in those cases, in proportion to the technology’s potential and safey?

  8. 308
    Ron R. says:

    News
    http://enenews.com/

    Here’s what we are getting.
    http://transport.nilu.no/products/browser/fpv_fuku?fpp=conccol_I-131_;region=Pacific

    I believe that it is completely useless arguing with pro-nuclear cultists, one might as well be arguing with a brick wall. I say cultists because like cult members they will simply never be able to see your point (though in reality nobody can be that stupid). They will forever split hairs and dig up lies, damned lies and statistics in an attempt to confuse and gleefully toss deaths around as if it were all a big numbers game. I’ll see your 10 deaths and raise you 20 more. Or war. 50,000 to take that hill.

    They utterly refuse to acknowledge the slightest negative point about their religion. It’s like arguing with CEI, Heritage Foundation or the Marshall Institute spinmeisters about climate change. No matter what you say, they will continue to assert that there is no issue here, it’s all a hoax, that in fact the extra carbon is actually good for earth (echoes of radiation hormesis), but not acknowledge the overwhelming bad news about climate change.

    Nukees will completely fail to see the distinction between 6 people falling off a roof installing solar panels and land that is too contaminated to live in for the next 10,000 or 10,000,000 years. They will continue to assert that one banana peel will give you more radiation than standing inside of the Fukushima meltdowns for next 1000 years ever could. They will willfully fail to understand science’s judgement that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, the less the better (And By God never reveal that nuke plants emit routinely release radiation into the unsuspecting surrounding communities). So some people will die horrible deaths. It’s worth it.

    They will continue to show absolutely no empathy whatsoever for the victims of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the coming Fukushima cancers by low balling deaths or acting like those people, men, women and children, families that lived and loved together, people who had no choice in their early demise, like they never existed. Who cares?

    In the face of Fukushima they have the gall to stand on top of a mountain and sing nuclear’s praises.

    There is something about that kind of hard, soulless calculation that leaves me cold.

    “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” J. Robert Oppenheimer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f94j9WIWPQQ

  9. 309
    JiminMpls says:

    Want reliable cost estimates for new nuclear power plants in the United States? How about the license application filed with the NRC? See page 13

    http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/DocContent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^pbntad01&LogonID=731e7ac683dfa12e5464524480ed18ee&id=110060365

    Turkey Point Nuclear Units 6 & 7 Cost Estimate Range (2010 Dollars)
    Total Estimated Project Cost
    Total Dollars $12,854,294,106 – $18,746,643,845
    Cost per kW $5,843 – $8,521

    Keep in mind that the average cost overun for all nuclear plants build in the USA is over 200%. For those plants completed after 1978, the average cost overun is 600%. It is reasonable, therefore, to double or triple the above estimates to arrive at a believable estimate.

  10. 310
    JiminMpls says:

    Perhaps you’d like to know the projected costs of the Volgte 3&4 plants that are getting more than $12 billion in federal subsidies. Sorry. That’s proprietary information.

    Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 & 4
    COL Application
    Part 1 ⎯ General and Administrative Information
    1A-1 Revision 3
    APPENDIX 1A
    ESTIMATED TOTAL CONSTRUCTION COST FOR VEGP UNITS 3 AND 4
    The estimated total construction cost for VEGP Units 3 and 4 is considered proprietary
    information and was provided with Revision 0 of the COL application under separate
    cover (Reference SNC letter AR-08-0436, dated March 28, 2008).

    http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/DocContent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^pbntad01&LogonID=e67440849285fbd910709e24a1248701&id=110420163

  11. 311
    David B. Benson says:

    JiminMpls @310 — Starting from
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/
    it took only a few minutes to find corroborating articles regarding the estimated cost of Vogtle 3&4, which includes the actual build cost and the finance charge.

    As for over-runs, every large construction project is subject to those but in recent years better methods of construction management have been imposed and the overall record has considerably improved.

    I stand by my estimates in comment #306.

  12. 312
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ron R., it’s a nice animation.
    Note from the caption it appears it’s a hypothetical worst case.
    Purple to blue looks like 2 to 6 Bq/m-2
    (2 to 6 Becquerels per square meter, as I read it)

    How much would that add to fallout from other events?
    Look around and you can find many records.
    Here’s the first Google hit for what’s described as “the most comprehensive record of yearly fallout (column 1 of the following table) and cumulative fallout (column 2) for radiocesium available in the public domain….”

    Compare that 2 to 6 Bq/m-2 to these historical levels: http://www.davistownmuseum.org/cbm/Rad5a.html

    It gets harder if you try to compare that to the output of coal plants in normal operation, but it’s worth looking into.

  13. 313
    Edward Greisch says:

    302 Patrick: 1. Please actually read and understand before replying.
    Thorium and plutonium are fine fuels, and necessary to stretch the fuel supply. Both require breeding. Thorium has to be bred into U233 before it will fission.

    307 Patrick: Radon decays into Polonium, a super-poison. Do you want the whole decay chain?

    \large event vs continuing accumulation\ Wrong. Chernobyl was a minor event compared to the chemical spill at Bhopal, India. It is just that it is easy to drive most people into a frenzy over nuclear because most people don’t understand it. Journalists get a lot of mileage out of nuclear because of irrational fears.

    \It may be psychologically easier to accept a population-wide increase in asthma and some early deaths from continual pollution output than some similarly-valued injury amount packed into a smaller population’

    Nonsense. It isn’t a similarly-valued injury. The injury from coal is infinitely greater because there have been zero deaths from civilian nuclear power in the US. But many people don’t believe in asthma. People are still driving cars in spite of the huge death toll from cars. Are you still driving a car? The average human is innumerate and therefore irrational.

    \small unpredictable clusters\ What small unpredictable clusters?

    \HF\ Hydrogen Fluoride? \HF release from a petroleum refinery\ Are you talking about benzene? Benzene is C6H6 in a ring.

    \I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is\ You also keep avoiding the issue that mercury is a minor concern compared to the uranium and arsenic released from coal fired power plants.

    \I don’t know enough about nuclear power to say whether regulations regarding new power plant construction should be stronger or more lenient\

    A nuclear power plant is allowed to give its neighbors a dose of 15 millirem/year, similar to a dental X-ray. Any more requires the plant to shut down. Living near a coal fired power plant gives you 150 to 400 millirem/year. If coal fired power plants were limited to 15 millirem/year, they would be forced to shut down. Coal fired power plants cannot meet the radiation limit.

    Please Calculate your annual radiation dose of radiation at:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    The Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm

    \but is that what’s been holding back nuclear power?\ NO! Coal industry propaganda has been holding back nuclear power.

    \but from what I’ve heard \ Yes, that is the problem. Quit hearing and get a degree in a hard science or nuclear engineering. Journalists get a lot of mileage out of nuclear because of irrational fears. Do not believe them. The fossil fuel industry does likewise because most people don’t know enough science to know that they are lying.

    \When the solar PV industry is mature\ We will be EXTINCT by then. As Bart Levenson said, under BAU, agriculture will collapse some time between 2050 and 2055. We must act now with technology we have now. There is no point in doing anything in 2049.

  14. 314
    Edward Greisch says:

    David B. Benson: Thank you.

    Hank Roberts: The important thing is to compare with natural background radiation and any radiation you may be getting from medical X-rays. One CT scan gives you 600 millirem. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_background_radiation and the links at the bottom of the page. The United Nations web site should be reliable. In addition, it is book length. Remember that we date ancient egyptian mummies with the radioactive carbon they ate 3000 years ago.

    Beware what you find on the web. Reference: “Web Dragons” by Witten, Gori and Numerico 2007.

    The search engines do not understand the web pages they find for you. They are just machines. They have no idea of whether or not the web pages they find tell the truth. In the US, we have “freedom of speech,” which means that nobody has to prove that anything is true before publishing it.

    We also have a coal industry that has a gross income of $100 BILLION per year. That $100 BILLION per year could be easily sunk by the nuclear industry unless you can be persuaded that nuclear power is dangerous. [The truth is that a coal fired power plant puts 100 to 400 times as much radiation into your environment as the nuclear power plant. The truth is also that natural background radiation is 10 times what you get from a coal fired power plant.]

    Do the coal companies have an incentive to lead you astray? Yes. Is $100 BILLION per year enough incentive? Yes. Can the coal industry afford to hire doctors, economists, environmentalists, website designers, computer scientists, psychologists, advertising agencies, and lots of other people on $100 BILLION per year? Of course. Can the coal industry afford to set up hundreds of web pages on hundreds of computers in hundreds of locations and “game” the search engines on $100 BILLION per year? Yes. And they do.

    How hard is it to find the truth on the web? Very hard. Most web sites have a monetary reason for existing. People who know the truth and are willing to tell you the truth don’t have much economic reason to do so. It is hard to make money by telling the truth.

    Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence or overestimating the gullibility of the average person. So how are you going to find out the truth for sure? There is only one way. You have to become a scientist. You will have to spend a minimum of 4 years in college to get the minimum degree, the B.S. You should really spend more like 15 years and get a post doctoral degree.

    THERE ARE ZERO HUMAN AUTHORITIES.
    Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person’s head isn’t public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]

    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else. Do not trust any human, not even yourself. Trust only the experiments that you personally perform. Otherwise, you will be misled. Of course you can’t do all of the experiments personally, but your degree program will lead you through the important experiments in your field.

  15. 315
    Ron R. says:

    Hank. Point taken about coal. Yes it’s awful. Coal is worst of the comparisons however which makes it an easy target. I don’t like comparing one bad with another in an attempt to make one bad look better (Presidents anyone?)

    Thanks for that link. This is the only real time map that is also current that I could see. It’s from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU). Every other one I saw strangely stopped on the day radiation entered the US. What’s going on?

    As we all know the thing with radiation is it’s cumulative. What’s coming out of Fukushima is not a one off. They are talking months, maybe years. So that supposedly small amount (and it’s not all small either) will add up to a lot of exposure. If you happen to ingest or breathe in a particle of that then it doesn’t matter if the levels outside your body go down.

    I suspect that many of the lung cancer deaths of the past half century are attributable to fallout from the 900 or so atmospheric nuke weapons tests the US endured. That plus proximity to nuke plants which release radiation. Even if you release it a little at a time, to those continually breathing it in, the surrounding community, it adds up. Besides thyroid I expect there will be a big upsurge in lung and perhaps stomach cancers as well.

    If I were anyone smoking right now I’d stop immediately then wear a dust mask until those cilia grow back (six months I hear).

  16. 316
    JiminMpls says:

    David,

    I’d like to see the documenation you say is on the World Nuclear site. I can’t find it. I’ve seen quotes in various press releases of $6 billion and up, but no indication of whether they are true “all-in” estimates or just “overnight” cost projections.

    In any case, the Vogtle plants are being built in Georgia, which ranks among the bottom five states in energy efficiency. $1 billion invested in weatherization and other energy efficiency improvements would save far more electricity tham these power plants will produce. Consumers are also being gouged. They will be paying out $1.5 billion in construction costs before the plants go online. This reduces financing costs (or transfers financing costs to consumers) but many of the people paying for the construction will move or die before the plants are complete.

  17. 317
    JiminMpls says:

    I’d just like to clarify that I am NOT anti-nuclear power, but I am a realist. China’s nuclear program is part of a balanced energy strategy, as is India’s. It probably makes sense in Austrialia, too, given Australias huge reserve of high quality uranium ore.

    There *might* be justification for a handful of new nuke plants in the USA, but I’m not convinced. The costs are too high, they take too long to deploy, and I am VERY concerned that we are FAR more dependent on foreign sources of uranium fuel than we are for oil. Becoming more dependent on nuclear power will dramatically reduce our energy security.

    The US has abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources and we should subsidze the development of these resources. IF private investors want to build multi-billion dollar nuke plants, fine, but the nuclear lobby has been feeding at the trough for far too long.

  18. 318
    CM says:

    Hunt (#293), re: national sea-level adaptation plans in developed countries,

    My loose impression is you’ll find more local and regional planning than national, and that sort of makes sense. (When developing countries are churning out NAPAs, it’s probably partly because that’s what’s eligible for GEF funding.) As a last resort, if you can’t find an overview, you might comb through the national communications of Annex I countries to the UN FCCC; they are also supposed to report on adaptation policies (and if those sections are no help, you might find things of interest in the sections on vulnerabilities, anyway).

    http://unfccc.int/national_reports/annex_i_natcom_/items/1095.php

  19. 319
    jiminmpls says:

    #311 David,

    According to the World Nuclear Association propaganda wing, the projected cost for Vogtle 3&4 is $14 billion, not $11 billion as you claim.

    “The total cost of the new 2234 MWe plant, including financing, is expected to be $14 billion, with secure cost recovery in a state-regulated market.”

    It is not clear if this figure includes required upgrades to the transmission grid or decommissioning costs. For Turkey Point, the transmission upgrades will cost $1.5 billion.

    BTW, citing the World Nuclear Assocation as a reliable and unbiased source is absurd.

    “The World Nuclear Association is the international organization that promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.

    WNA arose on the foundations of the Uranium Institute, established in London in 1975 as a forum on the market for nuclear fuel. In 2001, spurred by the expanding prospects for nuclear power, the UI changed its name and mandated itself to build a wider membership and a greater diversity of activities. The goal was to develop a truly global organization geared to perform a full range of international roles to support the nuclear industry in fulfilling its enormous growth potential in the 21st Century.

    Since WNA’s creation in 2001, the effort to build and diversify has born fruit. WNA membership has expanded three-fold to encompass (i) virtually all world uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication; (ii) all reactor vendors; (iii) major nuclear engineering, construction, and waste management companies; and (iv) nearly 90% of world nuclear generation. Other WNA members provide international services in nuclear transport, law, insurance, brokerage, industry analysis and finance. “

  20. 320
    Ron R. says:

    Any of this sound familiar?

    “Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato has expressed anger at the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying both ‘betrayed’ the people of Fukushima Prefecture with repeated assurances about the safety of nuclear power plants. ‘We feel we were betrayed [by the central government and TEPCO],’ Sato said during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday, nearly a month after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the outbreak of a series of accidents at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. ‘The central government and TEPCO repeatedly told us, ‘Nuclear power plants are safe because they’ve got multiple protection systems,’ and, ‘Earthquake-proof measures have been taken,‘ Sato said. ‘TEPCO used the term ‘beyond our expectations’ [to describe the natural disaster], but they can’t establish effective policies for nuclear energy safety unless they take into account things that are beyond their expectations,‘ Sato said.”
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110408005027.htm

    “‘They told us over and over again that it was safe, safe, safe,’ 70-year-old evacuee Fumiko Watanabe told The Daily Mail last month.
    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/568925/201104121859/Faster-Japan.htm

    “‘You never know what is going to happen,‘ said the slight 31-year-old. ‘Everyone told us we would be okay—that the plant was safe. I want Americans to think whether they really want to risk the dangers of nuclear power plants.‘”
    http://yorktown.patch.com/articles/indian-point-opponents-how-many-lives-is-the-plants-energy-worth

    TEPCO claimed that the nuclear reactors would safely stop, then automatically cool down and tightly contain the radiation in the event of an earthquake, and that there would therefore be no danger that earthquakes would cause any serious nuclear accident…. The anti-nuclear movement has been warning of the dangers of a devastating nuclear accident for years, but those efforts have always been met with dismissive assurances both by electric power companies and the government about the safety of the reactors. The Fukushima accident has brought to fruition all the fears and predictions previously expressed. And just as the atomic bomb indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of civilians, this nuclear reactor accident, albeit on a smaller scale, will be responsible for indiscriminate suffering and lives cut short; the consequences are likely to play out over the next several decades due to radiation pollution and the resulting economic costs.
    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/23/134788478/foreign-policy-japans-unlikely-nuclear-affair

    Articles about conditions in Japan right now.

    A Month After the Shock, a Different Japan
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/opinion/14iht-edmakihara14.html

    Detour to disaster: A reporter’s firsthand account of the crisis in Japan
    http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/top/2011/03/20-46/Detour-to-disaster-A-reporters-firsthand-account-of-the-crisis-in-Japan.html?ne=1

  21. 321
    John E. Pearson says:

    Ron R wrote: They will willfully fail to understand science’s judgement that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, the less the better

    I hadn’t realized that science recommends keeping it so chilly.

  22. 322
    Walter Pearce says:

    Jim@315. I went through the same process you did with David Benson’s sources. As in this thread, lots of cheerleading, little dispassionate analysis and even fewer hard numbers.

    Those interested in an independent look at where to get the most energy and climate bang for the buck might want to download the following from RMI: Forget Nuclear.

    The report contains plenty of cost figures to dig into and either verify or dispute.

    The summary:

    “This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies aren’t attracting investors. Capitalists instead favor climate-protecting competitors with less cost, construction time, and financial risk. The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors—which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster.”

  23. 323
    Ron R. says:

    John E. Pearson — @ 9:23 AM said “I hadn’t realized that science recommends keeping it so chilly.”

    Of course there is a certain amount that is unavoidable and which we have evolved to such as sunlight (manufacture of melanin). But even here we have to be careful due to the posibility of skin cancers. The idea is to avoid extra ionizing radiation, especially the kinds coming from nuke plants and nuke weapons and medical xrays, when possible because there is always the chance that they can cause DNA damage.

    Ionizing radiation:

    Radiation of sufficient energy to displace electrons from the atoms of cells and produce ions. Ionized cells are damaged and must repair themselves to remain alive. Generally, normal cells are better able to repair themselves than cancer cells.
    http://www.protons.com/glossary.html

    Radiation of such high energy that it can remove electrons from a struck atom, leaving positively charged particles behind. High doses of IR can cause cellular damage.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/etc/terms.html

    No safe level.
    http://www.nas.edu/gateway/foundations/jul05.html#2560

  24. 324
  25. 325
    Rod B says:

    David B. Benson (306), contract construction or build estimates usually refer to capital expenditures and relate to power (kW, MW, etc) capacity, not usage (kWhr); Would you clarify how you treated this?

  26. 326
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron R.,
    If you want to limit ionizing radiation, then might I suggest:
    1)Don’t fly anywhere.
    2)Move to a deep, low valley as close to the equator as possible.
    3)Avoid any medical diagnostic procedures such as Cat-scans, chest x-rays, and mammograms (yes, in some cases, guys get them, too)
    4)Ensure that the above which you live is not granite, pegmatite, etc.

    And then, you will still get a significant dose of radiation from the food you eat, for cosmic radiation, etc., and this will be more than you would get living right outside the fence of a nuke plant. It does not make sense to speak of a “safe” level of radiation exposure. Any exposure at the wrong time in the wrong place, could carry risks. It also doesn’t make sense of discussing zero exposure as that doesn’t exist. We must speak in terms of increased risk–and for small enough exposures, increased risk is negligible.

    Ron, there are risks to any radiation source. The key to minimizing the risks is to understand them. Fearmongering won’t help you do that.

  27. 327
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 313 Edward Greisch
    302 Patrick: 1. Please actually read and understand before replying.
    Thorium and plutonium are fine fuels, and necessary to stretch the fuel supply. Both require breeding. Thorium has to be bred into U233 before it will fission.

    Well, about the Th, I had already read as much. But that’s not a real big impediment, is it?

    307 Patrick: Radon decays into Polonium, a super-poison. Do you want the whole decay chain?

    No need, and yes, rather dumb* of me to forget the decay products (*or perhaps just evidence of lack of time on my part), although the broader point I made still stands, which is that some sources of radiation are otherwise chemically benign and others are not, though I admit much ignorance on the relative importance of chemical toxicity and wouldn’t be surprised to find out it is generally quite small in such incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl – but I don’t actually know it; I thought perhaps it deserved clarification (and maybe – note that I’m not justifying this – that’s why some people may see radiation from a pollutant as worse than radiation from natural source?). Whereas depleted U is chemically toxic to an important extent (not an issue with nuclear power per se), right?

    \large event vs continuing accumulation\ Wrong. Chernobyl was a minor event compared to the chemical spill at Bhopal, India.
    I never said Bhopal was small.

    Nonsense. It isn’t a similarly-valued injury.
    I didn’t say it was, I was making a general point.

    The injury from coal is infinitely greater because there have been zero deaths from civilian nuclear power in the US.

    The U.S. is only one country, but it is a good point that not all countries have equal risk (from what I’ve read, Chernobyl was a poor design with political pressure leading to poor management, while Fukushima had design issues that the U.S. ordered fixed (?) on the corresponding plants here.

    What small[I meant concentrated] unpredictable clusters?
    I was making a general point – not just about direct physical injury but societal and economic disruption in general. I was thinking that it may be easier to deal with the same total spread out over space and time than in concentrated packets, such as when a tornado rips apart a whole town, for example (even if nobody dies) verses a building here or there being damaged in every town. (Consider for example that when a single building is damaged in a town, economic and social infrastructure in the same town may be available to help rebuild and provide temporary shelter, etc.)

    In addition to that there may be some irrational amplification of concentrated disasters relative to same total-valued dispersed troubles; I was suggesting that there could be some rational basis in addition to that irrational part.

    \HF\ Hydrogen Fluoride? \HF release from a petroleum refinery\ Are you talking about benzene? Benzene is C6H6 in a ring.
    No I’m talking about HF. There hasn’t been an accidental release that I know of but it is a potential danger.

    \I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is\ You also keep avoiding the issue that mercury is a minor concern compared to the uranium and arsenic released from coal fired power plants.

    I keep avoiding? Well others brought it up, I figured I’d let others deal with that one. And my bringing up Hg is hardly a point against nuclear power or pro-coal.

    But many people don’t believe in asthma. People are still driving cars in spite of the huge death toll from cars. Are you still driving a car? The average human is innumerate and therefore irrational.

    I believe in asthma, etc, and am willing to look at numbers.

    A nuclear power plant is allowed to give its neighbors a dose of 15 millirem/year, similar to a dental X-ray. Any more requires the plant to shut down. Living near a coal fired power plant gives you 150 to 400 millirem/year. If coal fired power plants were limited to 15 millirem/year, they would be forced to shut down. Coal fired power plants cannot meet the radiation limit.

    Well that is very interesting, thank you. (PS I could imagine that an increase in radiation from a nuclear power plant that itself would still be safe could be a justification for action if it is taking as a warning sign that a problem has developed which could worse. Or is that completely different than what’s going on here?)

    Please Calculate your annual radiation dose of radiation at:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    Thanks but I’m already familiar with that.

    NO! Coal industry propaganda has been holding back nuclear power.

    So the regulatory hurdles in place are not too stringent? Would nuclear power grow as desired if only a proper CO2eq tax and other pollution controls were in place and enforced? (If so, why would McCain only support such policy only if given expansion of nuclear power? – not to suggest McCain is the go-to-guy for these issues.) I realize I skipped over NIMBYism, which I’d guess would be more severe for nuclear than for wind turbines and coal power plants.

    \but from what I’ve heard \ Yes, that is the problem. Quit hearing and get a degree in a hard science or nuclear engineering. Journalists irrational fears.The fossil fuel industry does likewise because most people don’t know enough science to know that they are lying.

    I should clarify, I was not refering to a rumor, I was refering to an episode of NOW on PBS – maybe you would think it was an unfair piece but it’s hardly FOX news or (insert left-leaning equivalent here). I think the case was a power plant in Ohio. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if nuclear power plants were not being sufficiently regulated, as it may be a general problem with all industry, including coal, oil, and also Wall Street. It can be either an issue with insufficient law, or lack of enforcement, or both. (And I’m not necessarily being anti-nuclear for suggesting it should be regulated better.)

    \When the solar PV industry is mature\ We will be EXTINCT by then. As Bart Levenson said, under BAU, agriculture will collapse some time between 2050 and 2055. We must act now with technology we have now. There is no point in doing anything in 2049.

    Well I’m not going to ask you to get a degree in science because it’s not necessary. We have commerical solar PV technology now. By mature I mean having realized most of the potential for mass-market advantage and gains in experience, NOT the time at which we can start to deploy on a larger scale.

  28. 328
    Ron R. says:

    Ray, I agree with your comments. They can be applied to other things toxic as well. Arsenic in drinking water for example.

    “Most arsenic enters water supplies either from natural deposits in the earth or from industrial and agricultural pollution. Arsenic is a natural element of the earth’s crust. It is used in industry and agriculture, and for other purposes. It also is a byproduct of copper smelting, mining and coal burning. U.S. industries release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year.”
    http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/qarsenic.asp#getin

    But just because it may be naturally found there does not mean we should just throw up our hands and pretend that no hazard exists right? Just claim that it’s unavoidable so get over it and start drinking. In this case we do our utmost to get it out of the water if we intend to drink it. If we want to stay healthy that is.

    About radiation and nuke plants, here’s some major recent studies that indicate a relationship between proximity to nuke plants and cancer.
    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/07/20/27840.aspx
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082395
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757021/

    The problem is that cancers can be hard to attribute due to the fact that they tend to occur years after exposure. The industry takes advantage of that fact by pointing to every other possibility while downplaying their own role. That’s just not honest. If there is a threat we do ourselves no favors by denying them.

    The key to minimizing the risks is to understand them. Fearmongering won’t help you do that

    That pretty close to what I tell my 10 year old. I tell her that if you have knowledge you do not need to fear (whatever it is) because you can then either find a way to defang the threat or adjust your response to it so as to minimize its effect on you. Knowledge is better than blind fear. That’s true most (but not all) of the time I think.

  29. 329
    David B. Benson says:

    JiminMpls @319 — I never wrote what the estimate for Vogtle #7$ was. As I mentioned I also went to other sites besides WNN to check their accuracy. (on this and many another matter, WNN has consistently demonstrated the reliablity of their reporting, although there are very occasional unclarities.) Finally, I only used Vogtle 3&4 because it was fairly easy to obtain the cost estimate and the finance charge. I’m not promoting Vogtle 3&4 in any sense, just attempting to find cost estimates that seem (approximately) applicable in the USA.

    Rod B @325 — The (estimated) payments to the contractor are only part of the costs which have to be known to determine the Levelized Cost of Electricty (LCOE), which is what I gave in comment #306. Working this out, especially for nuclear, is a non-trivial exercise, even when one has
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html
    as a computational aid.

    Edward Greisch @314 — You are welcome, although I’m puzzled about what the thank you is for.

  30. 330
    David B. Benson says:

    jiminmpls @319 — The Vogtle 3&4 costs do not include transmission upgrades; I don’t know if that is necessary since it is never mentioned in connection with that project. In any case, new transmission also requires (separately) doing an LCOE calculation. Since it doesn’t matter what form the generation takes the cost of new transmission lines is the same for all power sources. (I should had that the cost of collectors for a wind turbine farm are included in the contracted busbar price.)

    All nuclear power plants (NPPs) include in the LCOE calculation the payments into a fund to be used to decommission the NPP at the end of its useful life; an NRC licensing requirement in the USA.

  31. 331
    Ron R. says:

    My apologies for getting carried away with this topic on RC. I realize that it’s better suited to other venues. But Fukushima and this open thread conspired to tempt mention.

    About the “fearmonger” moniker, that’s something I think that most people in the pro-‘warming is happening’ camp are used to. I hope I’m not just an unthinking fearmonger.

    As I’ve said before, I am not absolutely and forever opposed to nuclear power. Perhaps in the future, as a last resort where other alternatives are not viable. Mini nukes buried deep underground. Right now though we need to think clean alternatives. There is so much untapped potential there. After we’ve done all that we can clean energy-wise, then, maybe. This “incident” and the Gulf spill underline that in my mind. I just think that now, at this point in our evolution, we are not ready for it. With few exceptions nuclear has been a curse to us. Oppenheimer and Einstein regretted it. We are too unstable a species to handle something this potentially devastating, and that requires so much long term care. A lot of waste for a relative moments worth of energy.

    To close I’d like to quote Edward Teller, inventor of the hydrogen bomb c. 1965: “In principle, nuclear reactors are dangerous. . . In my mind, nuclear reactors do not belong on the surface of the Earth. Nuclear reactors belong underground.”

    I will now endeavor to get off of the subject.

  32. 332
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re my 327 By mature I mean having realized most of the potential for mass-market advantage and gains in experience, NOT the time at which we can start to deploy on a larger scale.

    Actually I think I had originally meant reaching a significant fraction of whatever size it would eventually achieve, though there’s an element of both ideas in what I was thinking.

  33. 333
    John E. Pearson says:

    Ron R: On page 46 of the NAS document you cited as No safe level.
    http://www.nas.edu/gateway/foundations/jul05.html#2560

    it says:

    Below that dose, the statistical power of the data was not sufficient to exclude the theoretical possibility of a dose threshold for radiation effects.

  34. 334
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 313 Edward Greisch – I was surprised when the serious problems began at Fukushima, because I figured, well, it’s Japan, they’re prepared for earthquakes and Tsunamis (granted this was near the top of the scale), and well, it’s not the U.S.S.R., etc, so they know what they’re doing at the power plant – I just figured there was a(nother?) backup system in place and everything would run smoothly enough.

    A problem with nuclear power (by problem I mean something which might potentially be solved or worked-around or be a cost that might be acceptable if other things are done well; this is not an argument about fatal flaws) is that the ‘fire’, once started, just doesn’t want to stop, it seems. Solar and wind don’t have that issue (the energy isn’t stored there – well, except CSP – eventually we’ll want to be able to store it, but that would appear to be an issue with energy across the board); even a coal-powered furnace will run out if left on it’s own; except at the well, a gas or oil pipeline fire can have it’s fuel supply cut (right?). Hydroelectric dams can burst and cause flooding, but that’s not quite the same thing, although a potential danger nonetheless (one that hasn’t happened for some time so far as I know, but you need to inspect dams, you need to take safety precautions, right?). Earlier I had suggested using a sort of ‘fuse box/fire sprinkler’ method to prevent meltdowns – a temperature-sensitive sacrificial component designed to fail before everything else does, and stop the chain reaction. But those spent fuel rods pose a meltdown danger too (I didn’t realize that before). Since the original U fuel doesn’t just meltdown until it’s packed with other U to achieve a chain reaction, I presume this tendency to meltdown comes in part from a build up of other isotopes. So I was wondering if this can be avoided with the Th-type power plant, or perhaps more generally, the concept of fuel used in a liquid state as suggested in the link from the Brave New Climate site (I think it’s under Blogroll – just look for Thorium) – which allows easier processing of fuel and removal of some isotopes. Alternatively, couldn’t there be a way of just allowing the meltdown to occur if necessary and contain it? Like just have a really thick plate of lead down there, designed to conduct heat (without need of water) to the rock at a sufficient rate such that it can’t totally melt with the rate of heat supplied to it? (Oops, low melting point. Well try some other high density stuff then, or am I focussing too much on the density…)

    And before the moderators catch us, that’s the last I’ll speak of it here. Maybe next Unforced variations (or the one after that) I’ll post an attempted summary of the fluid mechanical aspects of the atmosphere (or of planets and stars in general with a focus on Earth’s atmosphere and also maybe the ocean) – because there have been summaries of how the greenhouse effect works but not so many of fluid-mechanical aspects of climate and weather. I think it would be really cool to have a summary that is some balance of easy to read and yet has enough depth that it could be used as a review sheet at the college level.

  35. 335
    Patrick 027 says:

    Since the original U fuel doesn’t just meltdown – oops, I don’t actually know that. Maybe the enrichment …? I’m out.

  36. 336
    Edward Greisch says:

    329 David B. Benson: The thank you is for working out the levelized costs.

    327 Patrick 027: Breeding Thorium into U233 is not a big impediment to me, but it could be another psychological impediment since the word “breeding” is involved, and that reminds people of how the US and the USSR used to make Plutonium 239 to make bombs. To make U233 out of thorium, You have to have a reactor that runs on uranium and/or plutonium and is designed to breed thorium into uranium. You can’t start with just thorium. A “thorium” reactor is a uranium233 reactor because thorium isn’t fissionable.

    “Whereas depleted U is chemically toxic to an important extent”
    I wouldn’t eat uranium, but I don’t have a toxicology reference that I am sure of handy. The important distinction is that depleted uranium is not the same as spent fuel. Depleted uranium is the leftover from the enrichment process. Depleted uranium is pure U238, the non-fissionable uranium. “Depleted” is as opposed to “enriched.” Enriched uranium has more than 0.7% U235, the fissionable portion of uranium. Natural uranium has 0.7% U235 and the remainder is U238.

    Spent fuel has both U235 and U238 plus plutonium240 plus the fission products such as iodine131, cesium137, strontiom90 and other elements and isotopes that are in the neighborhood of half as heavy as uranium, etc. Spent fuel is something you definitely don’t want to handle, but it is OK to handle depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is called DU. DU used to be available by mail order. I almost bought some, just for the fun of it. People get upset about DU because they confuse it with spent fuel.

    When will nuclear power grow? As soon as people try to run some town on wind power only or solar power only and find out that wind and solar are intermittent. So please do go for wind and solar power if you must learn from your own mistakes. Americans always do the right thing, but only after they have tried every possible wrong thing. As David B. Benson told you: Once you get it all added up, you will find out that nuclear is the cheapest way to make electricity without making CO2. As I have said many times, it is better to let the engineers do the engineering and it is better to let the scientists do the science. The electric generating industry has plenty of engineers and the other people required to figure out how to make the cheapest electricity. So let them do it. As the story goes: Some people understand it when they read about it. Some people understand it when they see it happen to somebody else, and some people have to piss on the electric fence for themselves.

    334 Patrick 027: Those problems are solved by the FOURTH generation high temperature gas cooled reactor. It eats so-called nuclear “waste” and it can’t melt. Do not assume that all reactors are alike. Remember that Israel used pirated fissionables and spent fuel to fuel their breeder reactor to make Pu239 to make bombs. Spent fuel is recyclable in more than one way. Pu240 from spent fuel is not for making good bombs. You have to put the spent fuel back into another reactor to make Pu239.

  37. 337
    John E. Pearson says:

    Patrick, google around for the integral fast reactor which was developed at ANL over a period of about a decade. The same month that Chernobyl happened they did experiments in which they shut off the coolant to their 50 MW reactor. Reaction stopped. Nothing happened. They turned it back on later that day. As I recall they ran several loss-of-coolant experiments all without incident.

  38. 338
  39. 339
    JiminMpls says:

    #330 David Benson
    Transmission upgrades are ALWAYS required for large power plants. The switching systems required to handle such enormous loads is extremely expensive – much more so than for widely distributed wind power.

    I know the transmission upgrade costs for two large power plants, because both are publich infomration: $1.5 billion for the Turkey Point project and $450 million for the 600MW Big Stone II coal plant that has now been cancelled.

    The Vogtle project is roughly the same scale as the Turkey Point project, so it is reasonable to assume that required transmission upgrades will be comparable. It is irrational to make any other assumption.

    This is a prime example of how we can’t debate nuclear power openly and honestly when cost projections are declared proprietary and not disclosed to the public.

    I can think of no better example of corruption than the financing of the Vogtle 3&4 project. Georgia Power is assuming NO RISK. If there are cost overruns, consumers and taxpayers will pick up the tab. This is particularly alarming since the Vogtle 2 came in 1238% over budget.

  40. 340
    Hunt Janin says:

    For CM (re # 318)

    Thanks for your useful advice, CM.

    I have the impression that the Netherlands is far out in front of the pack when it comes to planning for sea level rise.

    What do you (or any other reader) think?

    Best,

    Hunt

  41. 341
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ron R.,
    There are no risk-free energy options, just as there are no risk-free decisions in life. Take a cross-country flight–you’ll get nearly a chest-x-ray’s worth of radiation.

    Unfortunately, the fact that people have been in denial for 2 decades about elementary science has left us with few good options. It is likely that in order to meet our minimum requirements, we will have to include some risky energy sources into the mix.

  42. 342
    J. Bob says:

    #339 jim in mpls
    seems I’ve felt safer in the Prairie Island nuclear plant, then on 494 at rush hour. Maybe you could petition Washington to send the “waste products” to Yucca, for which it was build & mostly paid for, in part by Ecel.

  43. 343
    JiminMpls says:

    #322 Walter

    Yes, I’m very familiar with Amory Lovins. He had an earlier paper titled “The Nuclear Illusion” that was extremely enlightening. Unlike some others, I actually checked on his sources and figures and found that he was right on the mark every time.

    The nuclear denialists are no different from the climate denialist zombies that pop up on this blog time after time. No amount of data will change their minds. They’ve been brainwashed by the nuclear lobby and rendered uncapable of rational analysis.

  44. 344
    JiminMpls says:

    #306 David

    What is your cost basis for uranium fuel? Uranium fuel prices have been kept artificially low by an enormous supply from the Russion reprocessing of decommissioned nuclear weapons that is sold at far below market prices. This operation will be finished sometime between 2015 and 2017 – right when several new plants will be coming online. Pricing will increase at least 3-fold and probably 5-10 fold. For every doubling of fuel costs, the cost to generate nuclear power goes up by 5%.

  45. 345
  46. 346
    Edward Greisch says:

    344 JiminMpls: The price for uranium is irrelevant because so little of it is needed. And you forgot about 4th generation reactors and recycling. The price of coal is relevant because coal is burned by the trainload. See: In-situ leach from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-situ_leach

    In-situ leaching (ISL), also called in-situ recovery (ISR) or solution mining, is a process of recovering minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into the deposit. Uranium can be dissolved with a water and baking soda solution. The fracking part needs to be avoided.

  47. 347
    David B. Benson says:

    JiminMpls @339 — Transmission upgrades are required if the needed capacity is not already in place; for the Vogtle site it might be. Transmission certainly is required for wind power. In the Columbia Basin there is currently ~3.3 nameplate GW of wind; that is about the same as 3 NPPs at peak generation. Since the wind farms are in windy locations, not usually near the existing infrastructure, transmission lines are needed to bring the power to the main trunks, although the power lines are usually called collectors, I think.

    It is certainly possible to learn the basics of civil nuclear power generation. One only needs keep at it and I’ve found the TCASE threads linked on the sidebar of
    http://bravenewclimate.com/
    quite helpful; other threads as well. The experts who comment there are willing to be helpful for those who ask polite questions but have little tolerance for uninformed opinion in my experience.

  48. 348
    David B. Benson says:

    Edward Greisch @336 — Actually, right now wind is the least expensive way to deliver raw kilowatt-hours and the next round of construction nearby here will be even less expensive; I’m anticipating contracted LCOE of around 7.5—8 cents/kWh. Moreover it is widely anticipated that solar PV prices will decline to about the same. So planners (economists, engineers and others) are trying to figure out how to integrate as much as possible and still maintain that which nuclear is quite good at,

    reliability.

    One can build a reliable power grid with essentially no coal burners and about 75–80% nuclear; the French have demonstrated this. By the way, the French retail cost of electricity is comperable with most other European countries. In contrast, both Denmark and Germaqny have lots of wind power backed by coal burners; their electric rates are quite high, ~30 UScents/kWh for Germany and more in Denmark. The Germans are going to attempt to aim for 100% wind and solar PV it seems. Perhaps so with enough pumped hydro as backup.

    More realistic is California paln for 1/3 wind+solar+hydro. That still means a considerable amount of natgas burning.

    I suspect that 20–30% penitration by wind+solar and the rest NPPs is feasible for the USA although more storage via pumped hydro will be required.

  49. 349
    Walter Pearce says:

    Jim@343: LOL both denialist camps continue working hard to prove your point.

    Why so little appetite among the pro-nukes crowd for picking the cost-effective fruit first?

    For example, Gavin referenced Lovins and the concept of negawatts back in December. Faster, cheaper, less risky: Negawatts align much better with economic growth and CO2 abatement than gigantic nuclear projects, with their open-ended financial and environmental risks.

    Chris Harries at post 18 in the fracking thread puts it this way:

    “And that brings us to an obvious conclusion, virtually any technology or behaviour changes that reduces energy consumption has much clearer signals as to its effectiveness. To save a kwh is almost invariably worthwhile doing. To produce a kwh of energy, by whatever means, invariably is a less worthwhile enterprise, because there are always significant hidden costs associated with energy production – whether that be bird strike on wind turbines or fugitive emissions from coal seam gas.

    Motto: Always look to abatement measures as first priority, and only then look to alternative means of production.”

  50. 350
    David B. Benson says:

    Walter Pearce @349 — Around energy eneergy efficiency is certainly being pushed. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s sixth power plan places the cost of avoidance, that is, efficiency, at about 1/3rd that of the least costly power generation alternative.

    Fine, but a TNYT article awhile back stated that such schemes typically save but 1–2% although Kansas managed an impressive 5%. In at least northern California and around here so-called smart meters are being installed; mine was put in just this past week. The idea is to move towards variable pricing for demand management. We’ll have to see how much that removes peak load, when generation is most costly.

    In the nonce, the population keeps growing and old equipment has to be replaced. So new generation is still required.


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