Open thread for AETV #879: Russell and Don on Failing the Environment


This is Don.  I hijacked this post so that I could share some of the links that I used for the show today, in case anyone else wants to follow some of the details.

The show idea came from David Swanson, “Why We Allow the Destruction of our Planet” in The Humanist magazine.  Another good article is How the Religious Right is Fueling Climate Change Denial.  Another prominent point came from this disturbing Newsweek poll on end-times belief.

Some of the Christian climate crazy is tracked at Right Wing Watch.

John Shimkus is a powerful Congressman who has had some nutty things to say about whether climate change is real.

James Inhofe is pretty sure climate change is a hoax, though he seems to be in the pocket of those with vested interests.

Some ministries have done multimedia presentations calling scientists idolaters and communists.

John Hagee, who peddles end-time snuff porn as part of his ministry is pretty convinced that bad weather is just all part of the plan.

Comments

  1. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Because I have like 3 pet causes, let me remind everyone that the left is also being incredibly obstructionist in solving global warming. We could have had it solved a while ago if not for the left’s irrational paranoia concerning nuclear power.

  2. Tawn says

    Agree completely. Nuclear is our only real saviour atm (until fusion power anyway, but that’s still technically nuclear). Energy saving devices, insulating homes and renewable energy etc.. are great but they cannot deliver the large scale on-demand energy modern society craves that coal/gas/nuclear do.

  3. pete says

    Yeah, but…

    How many and how much will it cost to build reactors?
    How much uranium is required?

  4. says

    Nuclear is one option among many. There is simply no silver bullet when addressing climate change, and I agree nuclear shouldn’t be taken off the table as a possible energy solution. But to blame some of the left’s stance on this one option as “the” reason for our not solving global warming is simply pointing the finger into space when there’s an elephant standing behind you. We haven’t solved global warming because far too many countries, governments, and corporations have a vested interest in continuing to sell and burn their already abundant stocks of fossil fuels. Second, the fossil fuel lobby, economic libertarians, and their ilk have funded and pushed several decades of bullshit downplaying the reality and threat of anthropogenic climate change. Third, the public’s scientific illiteracy and the media’s motivation to sustain false controversies has helped bog down change and anchor the status quo. So even if the left can be blamed for not acknowledging some viable options, how does that even remotely compare to decades of effort by the right to convince the world that climate change isn’t real, isn’t us, or isn’t a worry?

  5. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    How many and how much will it cost to build reactors?

    Good questions. Depends on the reactor design. Most are close to the cost of a coal plant. Several especially promising designs need prototypes to be built to find out.

    Also note that many current commercial reactors in the west were build horribly overpriced through a combination of insane over-regulation and purposeful legal delaying tactics from anti-nuclear people.

    How much uranium is required?

    With a newer reactor design like IFR or LFTR, we could mine literal granite rock – the most common constituent of the continental crust of this planet – for fuel. A volume of granite rock contains enough useful uranium and thorium to produce as much energy as the same volume of coal. Times 50 (approx). We’re never going to run out of rock. We are never going to run out of nuclear fuel. Also sea water extraction looks promising, and that is constantly replenished by tectonic action.

    Of course, that’s far into the future. With something like IFR, we have enough fuel already mined (some in the form of current nuclear waste) to last a thousand years if the entire world moved to all nuclear. Even after that, conventional ores would last a very long time before we got to the point of mining literal granite rock for nuclear fuel. But we could. We can literally mine literal rock and (metaphorically) burn it, and get out energy out of it than if it was coal.

    There is simply no silver bullet

    How do you know that?

    I think there can be a silver bullet. It’s called nuclear. Then throw on something for transportation. Such as synthetic gasoline produced by nuclear power from atmospheric CO2 (or CO2 dissolved in ocean water) and hydrogen from water electrolysis. There’s a couple other promising options as well. Problem solved.

    So even if the left can be blamed for not acknowledging some viable options, how does that even remotely compare to decades of effort by the right to convince the world that climate change isn’t real, isn’t us, or isn’t a worry?

    I agree there’s a lot of blame to go around.

    However, you have an error in there. It’s not “acknowledging some viable options”. The correct phrasing is “not acknowledging the only viable option” (assuming you reduce “nuclear” as one option when there is a plethora of different reactor designs). Nuclear with current tech can work. Experts can tell you what to build right now, at cost. No one can do that for solar, wind, tidal, or fusion. Those need fundamental breakthroughs before they become viable.

  6. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Jasper
    Look into IFR too. It seems to be about as good.

    Also, you should say molten salt reactor (MSR) or liquid fueled thorium reactor (LFTR) instead of “thorium reactor”. The key value is not using thorium as fuel. The key value is using liquid fuel. For example, India has a big program for using solid thorium fuel in conventional pressurized light water reactors, and that will have none of the benefits of a MSR.

    There might be some confusion because some people, like India, are currently doing work with solid fueled thorium in conventional light water reactors, and that carries little to no benefit of a MSR over a conventional reactor. The key is not so much the fuel, but the way it’s “burned”. It could work for uranium 238 too, but there’s a quirk of chemistry with thorium in fluorine that does not apply to uranium which would make the reprocessing very easy. That leads to the very large fuel burnups, which is impossible in a conventional reactor. And that leads to massive increases in fuel efficiency, and to much safer nuclear waste.

  7. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Errr, mistype. IIRC, generally LFTR stands for liquid fluoride thorium reactor. The salt is generally a fluoride salt, although there are some fast spectrum liquid salt reactor designs that use chlorine. MSR is a term that encompasses the various options here, and LFTR is a subset. Even there, there are several different design considerations, especially one liquid, so called 1.5 liquid, and 2 liquid solutions.

  8. says

    Well, let’s not equivocate. The “blame that goes” around isn’t remotely even distributed across the political divide. Nothing the left has done compares with tryng to convince the world that climate change isn’t real, isn’t us, or isn’t a worry.

    Likewise, nuclear is one option, but it isn’t a silver bullet. To suggest it is, is to indicate that solar, wind, efficiency gains, geothermal, bioenergy, hydroelectric, etc don’t also have substantial roles to play in addressing climate change, when they already are playing a substantial role in some parts of the world. If you don’t believe me, feel free to argue with the leaders in the field. No one single approach is viable as “the” strategy.

    http://cmi.princeton.edu/wedges/articles.php

  9. corwyn says

    ‘The left’ isn’t what is preventing nuclear power in this country. The cost is. Even with the offer of large government subsidies (including underwriting insurance), no one wants to build a plant.

  10. corwyn says

    On the subject of conservation, At least in my region of the country, the average amount that each household can save by doing simple things with fast payback (or a positive cash flow loan) is over 50%. Quite frankly, if you haven’t reduced your consumption by 10% THIS YEAR, you have no moral high ground to be casting blame on either ‘the left’ or ‘the right’.

  11. Monocle Smile says

    EL,

    I’m with you all the way here. Nuclear is the way to go. My roommate during grad school was a nuclear engineer, and he eventually just went “It’s really fucking stupid how this stuff isn’t used.”

    I’m on board with the concept of using a by-product of energy production as fuel itself, though I’m a big fan of developing battery technology (or supercapacitors) to render it unnecessary.

  12. Oz 3 says

    Podcast download was only 43:16, or 15 minutes earlier than normal. Anyone else experience this?

  13. Narf says

    I have 58:08, 16.6 MB. I pulled it from the site and opened it in WinAmp, on my computer. My phone shows the same numbers, on the copy I have on it, which I downloaded separately from the copy on my computer.

    Where did you get your copy from?

  14. Narf says

    Bummer about the phones, by the way. It would be interesting to see what Andrew has to say, under the new instructions. I think that’s a good way to deal with him.

    “Okay, you have 5 minutes to sum up your point. Give us the abstract. Get to the freaking point; justify it later.”

    I mean, I’m still expecting an absolute train wreck of nonsense, but I’d like to see what he thinks he’s talking about. People like him dance around so much that you can never figure out what the hell they’re actually talking about, through all of the deepities.

  15. Monocle Smile says

    Narf, have you seen the videos featuring Andrew’s past calls from years ago? Nothing he says is all that interesting. He spins off into pseudo-philosophical bullshit of a few flavors, but on one call, he tells the story of what converted him to Christianity…and it’s perhaps the worst reason I’ve ever heard.

  16. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Monocle Smile:

    on one call, he tells the story of what converted him to Christianity…and it’s perhaps the worst reason I’ve ever heard.

    Sweettastybabyjesus, this guy…
     
    Video: YouTube – Andrew with DUMBEST strawman EVER!

    Matt: So, you weren’t feeling very well, and somebody had you open the bible at random, and the bible didn’t say anything about, “Go to the hospital ’cause you’re about to die.” But it irked you, and you decided to take that action. And based on that, you are accepting that the bible is true and Jesus is lord?
     
    Andrew: Yes. That’s true, yes.

  17. Narf says

    I’ve seen the whole archive, MS, although I think I was watching live by the time he started calling in.

    I didn’t say it would be intellectually interesting or stimulating. :D Sometimes something the intellectual level of a Three Stooges movie can keep me entertained for 5 or 10 minutes.
    Anyway, sitting there trying to figure out why someone is so wrongheaded can be a form of entertainment.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    Eh, I don’t find it that entertaining anymore. The thought that the person in question is likely to breed typically pops in my head early on, and then I weep for humanity.

  19. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Nuclear is a silver bullet in the following sense. No solution works without it, and nothing can replace it, and a solution based on nuclear alone would work (well, nuclear plus something for transportation – and that something would be based off nuclear electricity).

    Efficiency gains just mean we have to build at best 1/2 to 1/3 of the number of plants in the end. Still doesn’t get rid of the need for nuclear.

    Solar. At high latitudes like Germany, in Winter, solar photovoltaic produces about 1% of nameplate capacity daily average. Energy storage on the scale of seasons is impossible, and thus solar has no place in solving the problem in Germany. Even at latitudes like California southern deserts, IIRC it’s like 1/2 to 1/3 as much in winter compared to summer. Then there’s nights, and clouds. Energy storage on the scale of weeks needed to cover weather patterns is also basically impossible.

    Wind. Contrary to propaganda, there are weather patterns across whole continents which make it windless for weeks. We don’t have energy storage that can cope for weeks.

    Bioenergy? You mean burning wood and farm byproducts? Cannot possibly scale. We don’t have enough land. Also, it’s a severe crime what this is doing to the third world – driving up food prices, and making people starve.

    Hydroelectric dams. They’re great stuff. All for it. Unfortunately all of the good dam sites are taken, and it cannot really scale more.

    Etc.? Let’s talk about some. Conventional geothermal is cool too, but all of the good spots are taken. Unconventional geothermal is a lot more expensive, and non-renewable – it leaches out all nearby heat in less than a century. Wave energy and/or tidal would be cool, except it’s 10x too expensive (or worse). What else is there… Fusion is a pipedream that’s always 40 years away. I’m not going to hold my breath.

    And energy storage? One of the better options we have are sodium-sulphur batteries (bet you never heard of those), but they’re also too expensive by about 10x. Just in case you don’t fully appreciate how hard this problem is, please read:
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Err, about experts in the field, I do argue with them, or at least about what they wrote, and I have other experts in the field who disagree with your experts.

    At best, I’ve read reports going thousands of pages, claiming to have modeled the problem, modeled energy demand hour by hour, and showing that some bastard mix of stuff can solve. Their bastard mix solution – oftentimes they don’t quote the numbers being used. Oftentimes, they use ridiculously optimization numbers for improvements as well, especially in energy storage, when such optimism is entirely unjustified and IMHO quite unreasonable.

    Even then, they still have 30% fossil fuels. If we’re serious about fixing global warming, we need to get to 0% fossil fuels, and quickly. 30% is not good enough. Only with full nuclear can we get to 0% fossil fuels.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Collective action issue. No matter what I do, it won’t affect my neighbor, and it won’t affect other countries. In this case, only massive government action can fit the problem. I politely disagree in the strongest possible terms that only people who have “green-ed” their house can speak up here. Hell – I don’t even own my dwelling (apartment), so what then?

  22. Monocle Smile says

    After nuclear, the next big scale is solar…but secondhand. Right now there are programs working on laser-based communication from space (NASA has a cool one mounted on the ISS), and the next evolution is transmitting power through an EM beam. Once that happens, we can move towards a Dyson bubble.

    That’s likely far, far away, however, and the planet doesn’t have that long.

  23. Narf says

    Let the free-market solve the problem? :D

    Yeah, good luck finding a green apartment complex …

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Yea, not to downplay that too much, but I have to emphasize for everyone else. The sheer cost of putting something into orbit is so obscenely expensive, that we can rule this out like right off the bat. Maybe in our Star Trek future this is what we’ll do, but not anytime soon. As MS says, it will have no place in solving our current problems.

  25. corwyn says

    Who said anything about not being able to speak here?

    Plenty you can do to improve an apartment. If you are planning on being there over the winter, and pay for your own heat, I can make some suggestions.

  26. corwyn says

    We don’t have energy storage that can cope for weeks.

    Nuclear plants require multiple months of down time to refuel. We don’t have energy storage that can cope with months.

  27. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn
    California. My heater is currently broken. It’s an electric heater. I’ve been meaning to get them to fix it, even though I would rarely or never use it.

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn

    Nuclear plants require multiple months of down time to refuel. We don’t have energy storage that can cope with months.

    Impressive degree of mistruth and ignorance in just two simple sentences. It’s going to take me entire pages to correct this. Sorry. Here I go.

    There is a term I am going to introduce called “common mode failure”. When you design a system that you want to never fail, often you design in redundancy to accomplish that goal. Then, you can examine the failure of each individual redundant component, and multiply together the odds to achieve the odds that they all fail together. Simple highschool probability here.

    That analysis assumes that the rate of failure of one component is a simple random variable and entirely independent of the failure of the other component. In the real world, often redundant components can be properly modeled in this way as individual simple random variables with complete independence.

    However, sometimes that’s not good enough or accurate enough. For example, consider something like Fukushima. IIRC each reactor had like 3(?) backup diesel generators. You can measure the odds that a single diesel generator is going to fail individually, such as from a broken internal part. Then, if you multiply that together 3 times, you get an exceedingly small rate of failure for the entire system. By that analysis, Fukushima should have been foolproof.

    However, there was a common mode failure – the tsunami. In that case, it is inappropriate to calculate the chance of failure of the whole system by looking only at the chance of internal failure. In this case, there is an external cause that can cause all of the diesel generators to fail together. In that case, you cannot take an individual probability and multiply it by itself for every redundant part.

    Hopefully you see where I’m going.

    For nuclear power plant refueling, you do need to go offline for extended periods of time. However, the need to refuel a nuclear plant is independent of refueling another nuclear plant. When one plant goes down to refuel, we can keep other plants up. There is no common mode failure here. Thus, we can design the whole system, the electric grid, to have a stupidly high odds of uptime because of the redundancy and independence of the individual generators.

    For wind, this is not true. There is a common mode failure to wind. It’s called the weather. As I said before, often enough there are weather patterns across entire continents where the wind does not blow for weeks.

    PS:
    Even then, uptime of conventional nuclear plants is like 90%, and that is the highest of any kind of electricity production plant (or close to it).

    Also, newer designs may be able to do much better. Like LFTR which does not have fuel rods, and so there’s good reason to think that the online reprocessing of fuel and online loading of fuel will allow LFTR to have an absurdity high uptime. The question is how many ‘9’s do you want? 99%? 99.99%? It’s just a matter of cost at that point, so we’ll probably compromise on cost (like all other design considerations), and come out with something like 99% uptime.

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Missed this earlier.

    @corwyn
    In one sense, correct. Why is this? Ludicrous overregulation. A big one is groups like Green Peace filing frivilous lawsuits as a delaying tactic, which massively increases costs. When you look at China and Russia, they can build theirs for super cheap, and it’s not just because they’re skimping on oversight and quality.

    Another big problem is the relatively short time horizons of many players in the market. When you add that with the recent finds of lots of cheap natural gas in the US, and the obvious plays for short term profits is obvious. A nuclear plant represents an investment over 60 years, and not that many people want to wait that long.

    Plus public perception. Who wants to risk an investment over 60 years when the public might turn against you and you lose all of your money. Investing in nuclear is very risky business. People with lots of money tend to be very risk averse with their money.

    Even with all of that, nuclear is still quite close to coal and nat gas.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

    PS: Don’t be misled by the numbers for wind and solar. They do not include costs for storage. Nor do they account for limited solar in winter and high latitudes. Multiply those by about 10, and that’s close to the real cost of solar and wind.

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Monocle Smile
    For there, whatever works. I don’t know enough about synthetic gasoline such as the Green Freedom method. I know the US Navy is looking into something similar by using nuclear at sea to extract CO2 from sea water to make jet fuel. Maybe those won’t pan out. My understanding is that it’s all relatively simple chemistry, so it should, but maybe chemical batteries will take over for cars. Still, for trucks and planes, especially planes, we seem to have no option but hydrocarbons.

  31. says

    With respect to solar, wind and bioenergy, I suggest you check out what’s happening with respect to electricity production in Spain, Denmark, and Sweden. They provide relevant examples of countries using a mixture of approaches to successfully start tackling their GHG emissions. I also suggest you re-read what you wrote about efficiency gains. You’re dismissing efficiency gains, while concurrently pointing out that they could reduce the number of power plants needed by 1/3 to 1/2. Exactly. But if you don’t see this as making my point for me, I simply can’t get through to you.

    Likewise, you also shifted the goal posts when you said “Still doesn’t get rid of the need for nuclear.” I never suggested that nuclear wouldn’t be needed, only that the solution to climate change was made up of many contributing parts. Each country will need to employ a distinctive suite of solutions, depending on the context, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

    Best wishes

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Adam Felton

    Each country will need to employ a distinctive suite of solutions, depending on the context, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

    Why this magical thinking that it must be a “distinctive suite”? What has led you to that conclusion? How do you know that? People keep repeating this like some mantra, and can never explain it to me. It’s insane, and has no basis in reality, except as a mantra to distract us from an actual solution.

    Give me an example of a country which can plausibly get to 0% fossil fuel usage without overwhelmingly relying on nuclear.

    I am not going to get sidetracked on efficiency gains. Do it all you want. I’m all for it. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether nuclear is nuclear, and whether there are alternatives or substitutes to nuclear.

    They provide relevant examples of countries using a mixture of approaches to successfully start tackling their GHG emissions.

    Irrelevant. I don’t care about “tracking”. I don’t care about 30% reductions. I care about 100% reductions. Do you have a plan that will do that? That’s basically what we need to do, now. I can do that with nuclear in 50 years by spending of 1% GDP every year. Can you do that with your “distinctive suite” while maintaining our western standard of living, and while lifting the rest of the world out of poverty to gain the western standard of living?

  33. corwyn says

    Uranium reserves: 6 Million Tonnes
    Uranium Energy Density (refined, breeder): 0.19 TeraWatt-hours / Tonne
    World energy use: 144,000 TeraWatt-hours
    Energy Growth rate: 2.8%
    Time to empty: 8 years.

    Thorium (If I recall correctly last time I did a similar calculation) was time to empty about 60 years.

    Quite simply, if we can’t figure out how to live on renewables, the question isn’t which fuel to use, it is are we going to doom our grandchildren, or our great grandchildren.

  34. corwyn says

    As I said before, often enough there are weather patterns across entire continents where the wind does not blow for weeks.

    Cite? Certainly not true of the U.S. Certainly not true at sufficient heights. Certainly not true of off-shore wind.

    Also not true of Solar. At all.

    Or tidal…

  35. Monocle Smile says

    Nuclear does indeed have a massive PR problem. My area had a bit of a freakout after the Japan crisis, although the real lesson there was “don’t build a questionable nuclear reactor right over a volatile fault line.”

  36. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Nope. No air conditioning either. I’m actually rather Spartan. I suspect most of m electricity usage is either the fridge or computer. Not sure offhand what those actually consume typically. Hot showers too … not sure if it’s electric water heater or gas heater. It’s a shared water heater.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn
    Corwyn, the numbers you cite apply only to conventional high grade ores. Even with conventional nuclear, we can afford to go to lower ores. For example, IIRC, it was in the 90s when 20% of uranium supplies in the US came from phosphate mined in Florida. Citation:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Uranium-Resources/Supply-of-Uranium/
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Uranium-Resources/Uranium-from-Phosphates/
    From that, we go from about 5 million tonnes U to about 14 to 27 million tonnes U. Just from adding known supplies of one kind of lower grade ore.

    Remember that the cost of raw uranium is a very small fraction in the total levelized cost of electricity from conventional nuclear. The great majority is simply building the plant. Capital costs dominate.

    The numbers you are citing are coming from bald-faced liars, or people who should really know better. It’s brazen dishonest propaganda.

    Also, come on man. Come on man. Please try to keep up. I addressed this already.
    Quoting me:

    With a newer reactor design like IFR or LFTR, we could mine literal granite rock – the most common constituent of the continental crust of this planet – for fuel. A volume of granite rock contains enough useful uranium and thorium to produce as much energy as the same volume of coal. Times 50 (approx). We’re never going to run out of rock. We are never going to run out of nuclear fuel. Also sea water extraction looks promising, and that is constantly replenished by tectonic action.

    Of course, that’s far into the future. With something like IFR, we have enough fuel already mined (some in the form of current nuclear waste) to last a thousand years if the entire world moved to all nuclear. Even after that, conventional ores would last a very long time before we got to the point of mining literal granite rock for nuclear fuel. But we could. We can literally mine literal rock and (metaphorically) burn it, and get out energy out of it than if it was coal.

    We are never going to run out of nuclear fuel because we are never going to run out of rock. Also sea water extraction (if that works).

  38. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Really man? You’re just making me repeat myself. I’ve answered most of those questions already.

    As for the new question. There’s this paper by Lenzen 2009 that everyone is citing. I can’t find it quickly. Let me post this summary from another paper.

    http://economicreformaustralia.yolasite.com/resources/IPCC%20REP%20%20CRIT.doc

    Lenzen’s review (2009) includes impressive graphs from Oswald et al, (2008) and Soder et al., (2007). The first shows wind energy availability over the whole of Ireland, UK and Germany for the first 300 hours of 2006, i,.e., in mid winter, the best time of the year for wind energy. For half this time there was almost no wind input in any of these countries, with capacity factors averaging around 6%. For about 120 continuous hours UK capacity averaged about 3%. During this period UK electricity demand reached its peak high for the year, at a point in time when wind input was zero. Throughout this period the solar input would also have been negligible.
    Soder et al. provide a similar plot for West Denmark in mid winter, again one of the best wind regions in the inhabited world. For two periods, one of 2 and one of about 2.5 days, there was no wind input at all, and in all there were about 8 days with almost no contribution from wind energy.
    Lenzen’s third plot is for the whole of Germany, again showing hardly any wind input for several days in a row. (See also E.On Netz, 2004.)
    Coppin and Davey (2003) make the same point for Australia with its much more favourable wind resources than Germany, for instance indicating that for 20% of the time a wind system integrated across 1500 km from Adelaide to Brisbane would be operating at under 8% of peak capacity.
    Mackay (2008, p. 189) reports data from Ireland between Oct. 2006 and Feb. 2007, showing a 15 day lull over the whole country. For 5 days output from wind turbines was 5% of capacity and fell to 2% on one day.
    Similar documentation on lengthy gaps is given by Coelingh, 1999, Fig. 7, and Sharman 2005. At times the Danish wind system contributes almost no electricity.

    (It appears the paper does a rather good for taking down many other “green” energy myths.)

    Also see here:
    http://euanmearns.com/correlated-wind-and-incoherent-energy-policy/
    Not quit a scientific paper, but they have some graphs.

    Offshore wind? Please. Onshore wind is expensive enough. Offshore wind is silly. The water and salt environment is not a nice environment. Installation costs go through the roof. Maintenance costs are similarly insanely high. I don’t know offhand how offshore wind patterns compare to online shore. I don’t expect them to be much better. Constant wind is up in the sky, not out to sea.

    Certainly not true at sufficient heights.

    And IIRC the heights were talking about is completely impossible for us to actually harvest. Maybe if you had a space elevator.

    Common mode failure not true of solar? Have you not heard of night, clouds, rain, snow, winter, and high latitudes?

    Tidal and wave have similar problems to offshore wind. The water and salt environment increases corrosion or expensive. Being out to sea massively increases installation costs and maintenance costs. These technologies would be great if they weren’t so expensive, by at least a factor of 10.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, and of course my car if we want to include everything. I pay out the ass to live close to my job, which means I use relatively little gas. My car’s mileage is amazingly low. Also no reasonable public transportation in the area. So, meh there.

  40. corwyn says

    Multiply those by about 10, and that’s close to the real cost of solar and wind.

    From the PFA school of cost accounting?

    So despite the fact that solar is cheaper than nuclear, and is a rough fit to demand curve, has short down times, and is easily shutdown in an overproduction situation, you advocate using none, so that you can use 100% Nuclear which is more expensive, doesn’t fit the demand curve, has long down times, and can’t be shutdown in an over production situation?

  41. corwyn says

    The numbers you are citing are coming from bald-faced liars, or people who should really know better. It’s brazen dishonest propaganda. … We are never going to run out of nuclear fuel

    Anyone who says something so dumb as that we can use something and never run out, is beyond dishonest.

    we go from about 5 million tonnes U to about 14 to 27 million tonnes U. Just from adding known supplies of one kind of lower grade ore.

    Yippee! from 8 years to 16 or 30 years… Grandchildren or Great Grandchildren.

  42. corwyn says

    Probably Hot water. Making things warm is energy intensive. Then dryer if you use one.

    So reduce your shower times by 5%, and use a clothes line, and you have probably reached your 10% reduction. Sorry, I can’t be more help, warm climates aren’t my forte.

    Got a bike? Next year’s 10% could come from that.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn
    Solar is not cheaper than nuclear, even if you look only at levelized cost per watt-hour. I don’t know what sources you’re using.

    Solar does not fit demand curves. Oftentimes, demand is highest in the afternoon when people get home from work, around 4-6 PM IIRC, and solar has already started falling down quite fast at that point.

    You also make it sound like solar fits the demand curve pretty well. Even if we ignore the above point, there’s still night. You get 0% at night, and IIRC night still has about 50% consumption of daytime peak.

    Then there’s this thing called high latitudes and winter, where daily average solar production is 1% of nameplate capacity in Germany in winter. You want to run those cost numbers again of solar vs nuclear for Germany in winter? I’ll be waiting.

    so that you can use 100% Nuclear which is more expensive

    False.

    has long down times

    Again, this is false on so many levels. I have already explained this to you. Why do you repeat things I have shown to be false? You could at least make a counterargument instead of blithely asserting something I just showed to be false. See me here:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2014/08/17/open-thread-for-aetv-879-russell-and-don-on-failing-the-environment/#comment-286076

    [Nuclear] can’t be shutdown in an over production situation

    Corwyn, meet France. France, meet Corwyn. France gets about 80% of its electricity from nuclear. Nuclear can load follow. This is another pernicious myth out there which has no basis in reality, and which refuses to die.

    Of course, the nuclear plant must be designed to accommodate load following, and that does increase the price of the plant. The increase is because throttling the plant can introduce additional wear and tear from thermal stresses if you don’t design for that, and that is expensive. Also, throttling the plant kills your thermal efficiency, which adds effective cost. Of the top of my head, still nothing worse than a gross approx 2x, and that’s just for the load following nuclear.

    You did nothing to address my central point. All you did was make false statements about nuclear, most already disproved in this thread.

    Again: My central point was that solar requires backup because sometimes solar does not work, such as with clouds. In that case, you need full backup to cover the whole demand, which means solar does not help us not build plants. It helps us save fuel. And fuel costs are generally much cheaper than plant costs (except gas, which is why its used for peaking, where nat gas is about 2/3 cost gas, 1/3 cost plant). 5x multiplier is honestly pretty fair. Or you could use energy storage, which comes with its own cost multiplier, which is probably going to be worse.

  44. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn
    Does that make you also dumb for saying that solar and wind can never run out? Technically speaking, the sun is going to stop eventually in a few billion years.

    Did you not read how phosphate deposits was just an example of how dishonest your sources are? Did you read how that was just one example of many different kinds of ore?

    Did you not read how LFTR and IFR will extend our supplies by 100x or 1000x ?

    Did you need read where I talked about rock? It can be shown that current high grade granite supplies will last at least a million years when used in LFTR and IFR. I say we should go with the solution that we have now to fix global warming and to save ourselves. Then, by a extremely conservative estimate, we have a million years to figure out something better. Honestly, I think our supplies of rock will last much longer than that. Hopefully we can get the population under control, and with realistic estimates of how much rock we actually have, we’ll be fine.

    Again, I need to emphasize that nuclear fuel is literal, everyday, common rock. The everyday rock on which you stand is average 2 to 3 ppm uranium or thorium. That gives every rock more useful energy than the same volume of coal times 50. The entire crust might as well be coal, except CO2 free, pollution free, etc. I think it’s pretty fair to say that we’ll never run out of rock in the same sense that we’ll never run out of sun.

  45. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    Depending on design, it might also be cheaper to overbuild nuclear with a resistor dump bank when the demand is low. Still cheaper than solar + reliable backup or solar + storage.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Again, I need to emphasize that nuclear fuel is literal, everyday, common rock. The everyday rock on which you stand is average 2 to 3 ppm uranium or thorium. That gives every rock more useful energy than the same volume of coal times 50. The entire crust might as well be coal, except CO2 free, pollution free, etc. I think it’s pretty fair to say that we’ll never run out of rock in the same sense that we’ll never run out of sun.

    Clarification / disclaimer: This is true when the rock is “burned” in a fuel-efficient breeder reactor, such as IFR or LFTR. This is not true for conventional nuclear.

  47. adamah says

    Great job on a well-researched topic, Don. Two thumbs up!

    I also was curious to see how Andrew would respond to the request for a condensed abstract: if he hung up (and wasn’t accidentally disconnected), he probably heard the requirement and got cold feet, since he had to think about it!

    I don’t see a downside, since if Andrew is sincere about his position he’ll benefit from the exercise of outlining his thoughts. And if he’s calling in to waste time time (i.e. a believer who thinks he’s serving God by jamming Satan’s broadcast, running down the clock by filling the show with his gibberish), then he’s going to have to go through the pretenses of organizing some type of message.

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