Why the withering nuclear power industry threatens US national security

August 11, 2017 by Michael E. Webber, The Conversation
After spending $9 billion on a nuclear power plant construction in South Carolina, project developers have pulled the plug. Credit: SCE&G, CC BY

These are tough times for nuclear power in the U.S. Power plants under construction are facing serious delays, halts and cost overruns. Utilities in South Carolina abandoned a project to complete construction of two power plants in August, while the cost of the only nuclear plant now under construction has ballooned to US$25 billion.

And it's no secret that several existing nuclear are at risk of shutting down. In fact, that specter is one of the key motivations behind Energy Secretary Rick Perry's recent request to the Department of Energy for an analysis of the challenges facing conventional power .

While the environmental and reliability impacts of the closures are well-understood, what many don't realize is that these closures also pose long-term risks to our national security. As the industry declines, it discourages the development of our most important anti-proliferation asset: a bunch of smart nuclear scientists and engineers.

Weapons inspectors

The challenges facing our aging nuclear fleet are numerous. Cheap natural gas and the rapid growth of low-cost renewables like wind and solar, which have helped drive electricity prices downward for the first time in decades, make it hard for nuclear power plants to operate profitably. At the same time, the variability of renewables pushes conventional thermal power plants fueled by natural gas, coal and nuclear sources to operate more flexibly to fill gaps when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.

This is a problem for U.S. nuclear plants, as ramping their output up and down causes wear and tear, increasing costs. And lingering safety concerns in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011 don't help either.

All of these factors are converging at once, creating significant financial losses for nuclear plant owners. At least 20 nuclear plants are at risk of closure, if natural gas prices remain low and other market fundamentals don't change.

This scenario creates headaches for power grid operators and planners who like the reliability of . It also creates philosophical conundrums for environmentalists who rightly fret about the challenges of long-term radioactive waste storage but also decry the replacement of zero-carbon nuclear power with carbon-emitting plants.

But there is a third reason why a declining U.S. nuclear power industry will have long-term consequences: the national security risks associated with .

Inspectors from the IAEA survey the ruins of Iraq’s facility to produce highly enriched uranium in the 1990s. Credit: International Atomic Energy Agency, CC BY-SA

It is the irony of nuclear power. While many worry that the prominence of nuclear materials for power production increases the risks of weapons proliferation, the opposite is also a problem. The loss of expertise from a declining domestic nuclear workforce makes it hard for Americans to conduct the inspections that help keep the world safe from nuclear weapons. And with the recent news about North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the need for inspections feels like a pressing priority.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the U.S. agency responsible for addressing these risks directly, employs 2,000 people to tackle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. Hundreds work on the nuclear mission alone. Another 2,500 people, including 200 Americans, work at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a multi-national organization created for the sole purpose of ensuring peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The IAEA is tasked with conducting regular inspections of civil nuclear facilities and auditing the flow of nuclear materials and experts.

Many of our nuclear inspectors come from the military and national labs – whose missions are more weapons-related – and from the power sector. The demise of the power sector cuts off a flow of civilian talent that can use its background to help distinguish illegal weapons projects from peaceful programs to generate electricity.

Quite simply, it is in our national interest to maintain the expertise needed to staff the DTRA, while also contributing to the international agencies committed to keeping the world safe from nuclear weapons.

In the U.S. more than 50,000 people are currently employed making nuclear fuels or at the power plants that use them. If the nuclear industry is allowed to wither, we might not have the homegrown talent to help manage the risks.

Next-generation nuclear

Bailing out decades-old power plants with government handouts or subsidies seems like a step backwards. So how to proceed? The simplest approach is to issue zero-emissions credits (ZECs) or to put a price on carbon. Doing so harnesses the efficiency of markets while allowing nuclear power to compete because of its low-carbon footprint.

A carbon price or ZEC – which admittedly faces formidable political challenges – would be an immediate lifeline for existing plants. That buys us time, but doesn't take us all the way there. We also need to aggressively invest in research and development for modern nuclear fuel cycles that are smaller, flexible, less water-intensive, passively safe, proliferation-resistant and can be replicated in a factory to reduce costs. Reinvigorating the industry would create the need for a steady stream of people trained in nuclear physics and engineering. As a result, the world would be safer and cleaner.

There are already strong economic, reliability and environmental reasons to keep nuclear a part of the national fuel mix. Enhancing our makes the argument even more compelling.

Explore further: Nuclear generation in April at lowest monthly level since April 2014, says EIA

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unrealone1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2017
"Cheap natural gas and the rapid growth of low-cost renewables like wind and solar, which have helped drive electricity prices downward for the first time in decades, make it hard for nuclear power plants to operate profitably."
Not in South Australia.
South Australia power prices to rise to highest in the world on Saturday, energy expert warns.
http://www.abc.ne.../8658434
USA renewable's, Solar = 0.9%,Wind = 5.6%
How exactly do these numbers drive energy prices down?
https://www.eia.g...&t=3
greenonions1
3.7 / 5 (7) Aug 11, 2017
South Australia is a unique situation - and the increased cost of natural gas is the main reason for their price spike - http://www.news.c...56194843
Dr Saddler predicted that South Australia's "abundant wind and solar resources" would eliminate, and potentially reverse its status as the state with the highest energy costs "as the electricity system transitions to renewable generation
unrealone1
2.7 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
Lack of wind blows out South Australia power costs
http://www.theaus...cbe09ab4
The slowest wind conditions on record in some places of South Australia have slashed east coast wind generation in the June quarter, pushing up electricity prices, cutting wind farm profits and spurring concerns about future energy market planning
greenonions1
3.9 / 5 (7) Aug 11, 2017
Your article is behind a pay wall unrealone. Typical. But if you have been paying attention to the unfolding situation in S.A. - and around the world - you will know that wind and solar are coming in as the cheapest sources of power. The legacy industries are of course threatened by this reality. Gas prices are going up - and making wind and solar even more competitive. It is false to blame renewables for the current situation in S.A. The reasons are complex. Expensive gas is a big part of the problem. Wind and solar are going to bring down the cost of electricity around the world - their price just keeps falling. Sorry you don't keep up with the subject. If you want to trade links all day - that can be done - https://www.ecoge...e-rises/ But like I keep telling Willie liar - you can tell the tide not to come in - but that wont change reality - the transition is now picking up steam.
WillieWard
2 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
Gas prices are going up - and making wind and solar even more competitive.
Wind and solar have strong dependence on gas/fracking to compensate intermittencies, so if gas prices go up, wind and solar prices should go up but thanks to generous governmental subsidies(taxpayers' hard-earned money) maybe not.
"If all subsidies and regulations were axed, nuclear power would reign supreme as an unlimited, clean, cheap energy provider. And climate change would be solved."
greenonions1
3.5 / 5 (6) Aug 11, 2017
If all subsidies and regulation were axed
Yeah Willie - we don't want regulations on the nuclear industry. Let's have a thousand Chernobyls around the world - see how humanity does without safety regs on the nuclear industry. When we point to preblems like Chernobyl as a reason to not have nukes - you scream that this could never happen in other countries such as the U.S. - cuz we have such strict safety regs. Now you argue for the removal of these regs. Could you be any more stupid?
Ensign_nemo
5 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
The main problem with the US nuclear industry is that the designs for most plants are minor variations on the reactors used for military purposes. The US nuclear industry began when the Navy designs for submarines were used for civilian power plants. The designs made sense for ships. If the reactor melted down, it would sink the ship and the ocean would provide plenty of seawater for emergency coolant. This didn't work so well at Fukushima, where the tsunami destroyed the backup generators used for pumping coolant and there were uncontrolled meltdowns.

It is possible to build much safer designs, but the inertia of corporate costcutting and government regulation makes it unfeasible to try. Our real problems aren't inherent in the nuclear technology, but rather in the way that our society is trying to use the wrong tools for the job by shoehorning military tech into a commercial role without much thought.
greenonions1
3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Ensign - you are probably right - but how do you explain that there is a global industry - with some really rich players (Mitsubishi for example) involved. If there is a cheaper/better way of building nukes - that would generate electricity cheaper - why has no one been able to produce an example? The U.S. is not the only country playing. Surely China, S. Korea, Japan, - someone would see the potential to lead the world - and put a prototype out there.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
but how do you explain that there is a global industry - with some really rich players (Mitsubishi for example) involved. If there is a cheaper/better way of building nukes - that would generate electricity cheaper - why has no one been able to produce an example?


Try getting permits to build a nuclear powerplant with an exotic design. The problems are in the permitting and auditing processes, because the authorities don't understand anything else than what they're already experienced with.

They understand the nuclear submarine type of reactor, because they were built before there were any regulations, so they have a point of reference, a working prototype of a sort. When faced with a totally new design, they have no point of reference, and there's a great political pressure against nuclear power anyhow which in practice prevents objective assesment of new reactor technologies, so clearing the red tape may take decades to forever.

Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
The U.S. is not the only country playing. Surely China, S. Korea, Japan, - someone would see the potential to lead the world - and put a prototype out there.


They are. For example:

https://en.wikipe...i/HTR-10
In 2005, China announced its intention to scale up HTR-10 for commercial power generation. The first two 250-MWt High-Temperature Reactor-Pebble-bed Modules (HTR-PM) will be installed at the Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Rongcheng in Shandong Province, and together drive a steam turbine generating 200 MWe.

Originally to be started in 2011, the project was postponed after the incident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in March 2011. In 2009, it was planned to be finished in 2013.[5] Construction finally began at the end of 2012,[6] with the pouring of concrete basemat occurring in April 2014.[7] The vessel was installed in 2016. It is expected to begin operating around 2017
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Or:

https://en.wikipe...iki/HTTR
The high-temperature test reactor (HTTR) is a graphite-moderated gas-cooled research reactor in Oarai, Ibaraki, Japan operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. It uses long hexagonal fuel assemblies, unlike the competing pebble bed reactor designs.

HTTR first reached its full design power of 30 MW (thermal) in 1999. Other tests have shown that the core can reach temperatures sufficient for hydrogen production via the sulfur-iodine cycle.


The demos for new reactor types have been around for decades, but the commercial applications are facing stiff public resistance thanks to anti-nuclear groups and politicians looking to secure their votes.

If someone does build and operate a new generation reactor successfully, it opens up the market for the rest, so the anti-nuclear groups are working hard to stop that. For example, Eskom tried to build a pebble bed reactor in South Africa, but got sued to hell and back in 2009.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
So let's put all of this together. Ensign and many others say that the
real problems aren't inherent in the nuclear technology, but rather in the way that our society is trying to use the wrong tools for the job by shoehorning military tech into a commercial role without much thought
Eikka says that this problem has now been overcome - and the Chinese are going to be building these new reactors - that are not hobbled with the problems of the legacy issue. So we should start seeing dirt cheap power coming off this new generation of reactors. Let's see how the picture really unfolds. My money is still on cheap - and getting cheaper renewables - but I hope that small scale - modular - new design nuclear is in our future.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
The actual designs for advanced reactors such as the pebble bed go back to 1940's because most of these ideas were discovered at the initial push for atomic power. They were tested up until the Chernobyl accident, after which nuclear power got so much backlash from the hysterics that most projects lost funding.

https://en.wikipe..._reactor

A pebble-bed reactor thus can have all of its supporting machinery fail, and the reactor will not crack, melt, explode or spew hazardous wastes. It simply goes up to a designed "idle" temperature, and stays there. In that state, the reactor vessel radiates heat, but the vessel and fuel spheres remain intact and undamaged. The machinery can be repaired or the fuel can be removed. These safety features were tested (and filmed) with the German AVR reactor.[6] All the control rods were removed, and the coolant flow was halted. Afterward, the fuel balls were sampled and examined for damage and there was none.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
So we should start seeing dirt cheap power coming off this new generation of reactors


I wouldn't say dirt cheap, as it's still a great financial risk to build a new nuclear powerplant, just to get through all the regulatory hurdles and inspection after inspection and delay after delay if the regulatory bodies find the construction workers are using the wrong kind of tissue paper to wipe their noses.

The reason why Gen III nuclear powerplants are such massive mammoths instead of small modular ones is exactly because of the lenghty and arduous bureaucracy over the permitting. It takes about the same time and effort to build a small safe powerplant as it is to build a big one thanks to the politics, so the financial case is for making it as big as possible.

With the current hostility to new nuclear power, it will take decades to get new permits anyhow, so the new technologies won't propagate out of China any time soon.
greenonions1
3.5 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
so the new technologies won't propagate out of China any time soon
But you are saying that the new technologies are now being deployed in China - correct? In which case we should get to see the economics of these new technologies - and how the cost of power stacks up against other sources - correct?
India also appears to be moving forward with some innovation - http://www.theene...ty-u-233 My knowledge of nuclear plant design is almost non existent. I don't know if any of these designs match what ensign is talking about regarding 'non military' plant design. I am just interested in seeing how the picture unfolds - as my impression is that the main problem is the innate complexity of the overall system - leading to expensive end product power.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
An example of the political issues facing nuclear power in the west is the double standards regarding radiation.

It's perfectly permissible to build houses out of materials that expose you to 0.5 mSv/year radiation. If such a hunk of concrete came out of an old nuclear powerplant, it would need to be immediately quarantined.

http://www.world-...orm.aspx

Decommissioning experts are increasingly concerned about double standards developing in Europe which allow 30 times the dose rate from non-nuclear recycled materials than from those out of the nuclear industry. In respect to actual dose limits, 0.3 to 1.0 mSv/yr individual dose constraint is applied to oil and gas recyclables, and 0.01 mSv/yr for release of materials with the same kind of radiation from the nuclear industry.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
But you are saying that the new technologies are now being deployed in China - correct? In which case we should get to see the economics of these new technologies - and how the cost of power stacks up against other sources - correct?


I suppose that depends on how well the Chinese manage to manage these technologies, considering they're a command economy and not a free market. India would be a much better case study.

It's hard to talk about economics where there is only politics. See for example the ghost cities of China, which are built simply to profit the owners of the construction companies (the communist elite themselves), or the large wind farms that are built but not connected to the grid, because the grid can't handle the output. A lot of stuff in communism is done simply because you're told to, so you can keep your position- not because it makes sense.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
as my impression is that the main problem is the innate complexity of the overall system - leading to expensive end product power.


You might do well to search for the construction history of the EPR in Finland. Watch the fight between the authorities, greenpeace, other opponents, and AREVA at the construction site.

The standards for construction are really really high, and all the opponents are pulling every trick to raise the bar even higher. Even the reinforced concrete in the auxillary buildings has to be top notch, every weld done perfectly, or else someone will complain and demand an extra inspection, evaluation and assesment that this crack on the floor will not compromize the security of the plant - and subsequently will delay the construction for another month.

It's one thing to demand high quality, and another thing to make up troubles to incur extra cost, to then argue that you're too expensive.
greenonions1
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
It's one thing to demand high quality, and another thing to make up troubles to incur extra cost, to then argue that you're too expensive
Who are these 'opponents' who are so powerful - that they can control every country in the world - and prevent new designs from being developed - in any country in the world? The Russians are building a new plant in Turkey. Are they also controlled by these 'opponents?' It would seem to me that the Russians would have some major incentive to develop a better design - that could supply the world with cheap power - and perhaps restore Russia to it's former glory. If Finland is hobbled by these onerous regs - is every other country in the world also hobbled by these forces - so opposed to progress?
Eikka
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
Who are these 'opponents' who are so powerful - that they can control every country in the world


It's not a single entity. Every country has their own "green" party or faction. In my observation it's a phenomenon that stems from left-leaning politics because nuclear power is seen as corporate power. Energy policy is also social policy, because it's part of the means of production, so such concentration of social power is seen as an enemy that must be resisted.

The Russians are building a new plant in Turkey. Are they also controlled by these 'opponents?' It would seem to me that the Russians would have some major incentive to develop a better design - that could supply the world with cheap power - and perhaps restore Russia to it's former glory.


The question is, are they competent and able? Russia is a country of 140+ million yet the economy is the size of Italy, and the wealth disparity is just ridiculous with about 100 people owning a third of it all.
Eikka
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
If Finland is hobbled by these onerous regs - is every other country in the world also hobbled by these forces - so opposed to progress?


Broadly speaking, yes. After Chernobyl (and Fukushima), everyone started putting up regulations and laws specifically designed to hobble nuclear power. All except the Soviet Union whose fault it was. Germany for example fixed the price of nuclear power by an explicit quota on how much energy a reactor is allowed to produce before it has to be decommissioned - with the explicit intent that no more nuclear power is to be built.

However, half the blame on the EPR case is on AREVA itself because they started building the plant with half the plans still undone, and tried to skip on cost by importing underpaid employees etc. etc.
Eikka
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
A more cynical me would say that the main reason to oppose nuclear power, conscious or not, is a sort of crab mentality that would sacrifice progress in pretense of social justice.

After all, some people derive their income from managing things for others, and the more things there are to manage the better off this group of people are. They're the bureaucrats, who in this case oppose nuclear power because it would remove a fundamental problem of energy scarcity. No scarcity, no need for rationing, no need for bureaucrats to sit in the middle eating off the cart telling everyone what to do.

It's that type of person that gravitates towards social control, captiously applying the left ideologies, and towards anti-progress because they rather like to have problems they can "solve" with some very complex and overarching nirvana solution, rather than doing the best thing now.

I.e. "I can't let you have their cheap clean energy because it would make you more independent of me."
greenonions1
3.7 / 5 (7) Aug 12, 2017
Well - it seems you have an excuse for every situation. Obviously Fukushima, Chernobyl, TMI and others - tell us that this is a technology with serious safety concerns, and that regulation is important. Willie is arguing on another thread that all regs should be taken off. So it seems that based on your view point - there is no solution - as the forces of the left are so all powerful, that we will never get to see what the economics of these 'non military' designs shake out to be. I will stick with my position - that nuclear is an inherently expensive technology - and that wind and solar are going to win out based on economics. There are some new designs being played with - example - https://www.forbe...3e245456 and I wish them luck.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
If Finland is hobbled by these onerous regs


Although, it's not entirely correct to call the regulations onerous, rather than their application.

The regulations may be well-meaning and apt, but it's always possible to abuse them to make trouble where there was none. Jaywalking is illegal and rightly so, but imagine the trouble and cost if we were to start policing and punishing it to the point that absolutely no jaywalking would happen?

Imagine then, if someone came along to argue that nobody should be allowed to walk because of this terrible cost of policing pedestrians. You'd think them mad, but at the same time you can see their point: zero tolerance of pedestrian accidents. It saves so many lives.

Now apply the thought back on nuclear power: zero tolerance of nuclear accidents, of any shape or severity, justifies exceedingly ridiculous demands in the minds of people who have been influenced by propaganda of an inevitable nuclear holocaust since 1986.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
So it seems that based on your view point - there is no solution - as the forces of the left are so all powerful


That is your second hand take on the argument. Be careful about how seriously you take yourself, lest you end up arguing against it. The point is that the technologies are being applied and it seems they can work, but probably not in the west because of an established culture and paradigm that is against nuclear power.

That is to say, you're demanding too much of it, and so when it fails to surmount these opposing issues, you declare that it was no good anyhow.

Obviously Fukushima, Chernobyl, TMI and others - tell us that this is a technology with serious safety concerns, and that regulation is important.


See the post above about onerous regulations.

. I will stick with my position - that nuclear is an inherently expensive technology - and that wind and solar are going to win out based on economics.


Non-sequitur. See above.
unrealone1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
Lack of wind a big blow for Infigen and power prices.
Wind generation is down 40pc on this time last year and 30pc on the December quarter of 2016

http://www.abc.ne.../8646894
https://www.wind-...r-costs/
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
There are some new designs being played with - example - https://www.forbe...3e245456 and I wish them luck.


As you can read from the article, after 40,000 man hours of pre-discussions, the licensing process will still take 3½ years if not more, and that's just the beginning. Then you have to start fighting all the NIMBYs who don't want your nuclear reactor -anywhere- no matter how safe or cheap it is. Finding the site, applying for permits, making the environmental audits etc. can easily take a decade, and at all times you can expect for someone to sue you or to block or delay you otherwise.

So you're looking at an optimistic 10-15 years from concept to completion, and all that time the company needs money to operate, which means the end result won't be cheap. It has to pay for the trouble, otherwise what's the point?

It could be cheap if the regulatory environment was more permissive, but it won't because it isn't.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
Non-sequitur. See above.
It is not a non-sequitur - it is totally related to my whole point - which is that nuclear is an expensive technology - and therefore wind and solar will win - based on cost.
It could be cheap if the regulatory environment was more permissive, but it won't because it isn't.
Could is an interesting word. And according to you - there is no place in the world where we can actually test your assertion - so we will never know. On the other hand - wind and solar are proving themselves to be very cost competitive - and the costs are going to keep falling. Once again - I hope that small scale modular nukes are a part of our future energy mix. As an environmentalist - I am all for decarbonizing our world as fast/safe/cheap as we can. You'll just have to say the serenity prayer Eikka.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
Americans to conduct the inspections that help keep the world safe from nuclear weapons.

...Ooookay. The irony in this is so thick I'm not gonna even spell it out.
RealityCheck
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
@Eikka.

Mate, your excuses/rationalizations are blatantly 'wanting it both ways' when it comes to dismissing the perfectly relevant cogent argument that "if it was so easy and cheap' to design/implement these 'new' nuke power plants, then why hasn't (especially) China done it already?

FIRST you claim "onerous regulations in USA/other western nations/economies" make 'new' nuke plants too expensive to even contemplate let alone build there.

But THEN you admit that (especially) China is a "command economy" which has few if any "regulations of the kind/effect that those in Western nations have (witness industrial pollution)!

So which way DO you 'want it'? You can't have it both ways.

Either China CAN build these 'new' nuke plants and produce cheap, safe power. Or they can NOT because costs/risks are much greater than going 'renewables' (recall that China 'plans decades ahead' whilst USA/most western nations planning is captive to short-term 'election cycle').

Choose. :)
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
unrealone - nice link. From your link
With wind power operating well below its capacity, more expensive open cycle gas has been setting the prices
longer term, a lot of new renewable energy capacity would come on line, with futures pricing pointing to easing of prices in coming years.


Wind is contributing a great deal to the decarbonization of our global power system - and the future looks bright - https://cleantech...e-facts/
WillieWard
2.5 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2017

Wind is contributing a great deal to the decarbonization of our global power system
Wind is contributing almost nothing in the decarbonization even after trillions of dollars spent. Wind is just contributing to make the gas/fracking industry ever stronger.
"The Renewables Reality: Clean Energy Hasn't Risen for 25 yrs"
https://www.newsc...5-years/
https://pbs.twimg...WMoA.jpg

CleanTechnica is all that you have, they are sociopaths compulsive liars, in almost every article they wrote there is a smell of scam in the air, they have selectively blocked any commenters that have exposed their lies.
RealityCheck
2.8 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2017
Hi Willie. :)

I address the graphic in your second link.

Firstly, if it wasn't for the OBSTRUCTION, SABOTAGE and DELAYS which fossil fuel/nuclear LOBBYISTS and GOP 'conservative/religious/crooked politicians' in US (and our own versions of GOP 'conservatives etc' here in OZ), the renewables development, implementation and investment would BY NOW HAVE reached 'critical mass' stage; where renewables and their fossil-replacement and integration into national grids would be far more advanced.

So you can blame yourself/other such obstructionists/lobbyists for renewables proportion not being farther along by now, Willie.

As for the 'flatlining' of 'fossil replacement' after 25yrs, it is obvious from your linked graphic that replacement of NUCLEAR plants/power has been the most practical/economic path so far; and this DESPITE your/other political/lobbyists obstructionism, sabotage etc, Willie!

Despite your/others' efforts, Willie, renewables approaching 'critical mass'. :)
greenonions1
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
CleanTechnica is all that you have,
No - I have reality. Here is a newscientist article for you. Cleantechnica does not lie - they just report. You must be thinking about your own pathological need to lie, and projecting it on to others who are just interested in showing us what is going on in the world. Funny how you will criticize other people's link selection - and then use the Daily Mail to support your lies about wind turbines killing whales.

https://www.newsc...in-2016/
EmceeSquared
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
With all the taxpaid subsidies to the nukes industry, revoking them to accelerate the transition from nukes to sustainables would leave lots of money to pay for nukes experts for national security work. Indeed that's a much higher priority for taxpayer money.

Besides, cleaning up the nukes we're winding down will take decades and hundreds of $billions. A few hundred $million for paying nukes experts for national security needs is a rounding error.

Michael Webber, the author of this "Conversation", is having a nukes apologist conversation. As always, the shell game of "nuke power corps mask weapons needs, while weapons needs mask nuke power corps".
WillieWard
2 / 5 (5) Aug 14, 2017
Enormous amounts of renewable energy added to the mix and there's no meaningful CO2 reduction, a huge waste of taxpayers' hard-earned money.
Every cent invested in carbon-free nuclear power has resulted in considerable CO2 reduction, a thing that intermittent renewables are unable to do.
...OBSTRUCTION, SABOTAGE and DELAYS...
There is no laws or occult forces obstructing/sabotaging people from using wind/solar placebos in their everyday life, neither forcing Greenpeace and other faux-green organizations to use marine diesel and other fossil fuels instead of wind/solar/wave/tidal/algae to generate electricity to power their vehicles.
"fossil-replacement"? You're kidding! You believe in your own lies.

"sustainables"? If wind/solar are sustainable it's thanks to cheap fossil fuels used to mine/manufacture/transport/recycle their components and to compensate intermittencies.
I'd like to see wind/solar being produced without fossil fuels, i.e. 100% fossil-free LOL
greenonions1
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2017
I'd like to see wind/solar being produced without fossil fuels, i.e. 100% fossil-free LOL
Why is that an important metric for you? Could it be that you want the perfect - to be the enemy of the good? We are in a transition. There is compelling reason for that transition - including pollution, climate change, cost, and the finite nature of fossil fuels. Do you want to see nuclear power built without the use of fossil fuels? Or are you content to say that using nukes is a better option than burning coal - so even if coal is used in the production of the steel to make nuke power plants - it is still a better option to generate with nukes.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2017
Do you want to see nuclear power built without the use of fossil fuels?
Yes, of course!
Components can already be transported by carbon-free nuclear ships.
https://s3.amazon...nnah.jpg
http://www.oldmod...Germ.JPG
https://cdn2.img....8298.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...w7uD.jpg

Eco-nuts claim that there are several gigawatts of wind/solar energy installed and that energy storage and batteries are ever cheaper.
Then it's time to create laws to enforce that all subsequent wind and solar components be manufactured and transported without fossil fuels, i.e. 100% fossil-free, just with wind/solar-powered machines, to prove definitively that intermittent renewables cannot survive without fossil fuels.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2017
WillieWard:
it's time to create laws to enforce that all subsequent wind and solar components be manufactured and transported without fossil fuels, i.e. 100% fossil-free, just with wind/solar-powered machines, to prove definitively that intermittent renewables cannot survive without fossil fuels.


The hallmark of the nuke fetishist is the absolutist, all or nothing obsession. In this case, since renewables exist, the nuke fetishist insists that renewables must operate completely independent of the vast majority of civilization's tightly integrated energy, manufacturing and transport systems. For no practical reason whatsoever.

Because there are no practical reasons for the nuke fetishist. There is only psychological obsession with nukes, and elimination of anything else.

That's what makes them a troll: incapable of interest in actual discussion, they post only to disrupt. And for the ego-wank of seeing *someone* who agrees with them - themself.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2017
Willie
Yes, of course!
Then you completely miss the point. You are asserting that minerals cannot be smelted without the use of fossil fuels. Therefore - renewable energy must use fossil fuels. So I am countering - by saying that the same can be said for nuclear power. Nuclear power - by the same reasoning - is dependent of fossil fuels. So by your reasoning - there should be laws that all nuclear components be manufactured and transported without fossil fuels - to prove that nuclear cannot survive without fossil fuels.

Like Emcee - I fail to see the problem - if fossil fuels are in fact used in the manufacture of renewable components. Our current energy system is predominantly fossil fuel based - so of course we will use the existing infrastructure - as we shoe horn ourselves forward into the next generation of energy systems.
EmceeSquared
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2017
greenonions1:
Then you completely miss the point.


You've got a lot of patience with Willie's refusal to acknowledge any facts other than their own assertions, even when their assertions are debunked. At least other readers can see who's reasonable, and who's just pushing talking points without thinking.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2017
Nuclear-powered ships is a proof that nuclear can survive without fossil fuels, decades without refueling.
Unlike eco-nuts, gas/fracking barons seem to understand energy physics.
"Renewable wind and solar energy can't live without natural gas because it's a reliable, on-demand resource that's available when it isn't windy and the sun isn't shining."
https://pbs.twimg...rJRJ.jpg
http://www.seattl...00741615
"Wind turbines have a real-world capacity of ZERO as they can't produce on demand."
EmceeSquared
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2017
WillieWard:
"Wind turbines have a real-world capacity of ZERO as they can't produce on demand."


Of course wind turbines in the real world generate a lot of energy.

At some point you realize that the troll's problem isn't their nukes fetish. You realize that they're simply insane. Their nukes fetish is just the subject they've latched onto for spewing insanity.

It could be flying saucers inside the hollow Earth instead - their broken brains need something to pretend they're the sane ones, shouting at the "nuts".

Either way, they're sick. They're not getting any help, informally from these discussions or - what they really need - medication and expert therapy. They're hopeless.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2017
Of course wind turbines in the real world generate a lot of energy.
Intermittent renewables generate a lot of energy when it's not needed, but when it's most needed(at night, on cloudy/snowy/not-windy days, in the winter; i.e. in the real world) the unicorn energy is on vacation, so it is fossil fuels that keep lights on.
Zzzzzzzz
not rated yet Aug 16, 2017
The Chinese nuclear plants underway aren't different designs - they are the Westinghouse & Areva & GE new generation designs.
EmceeSquared
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2017
WillieWard:
renewables generate a lot of energy when it's not needed


See the cognitive dissonance of the nukes fetishist troll: In one post wind turbines have "ZERO capacity", in another they generate a lot of energy. In the latter post the energy is "not needed", which is a lie. But at least the troll confesses they have more than ZERO capacity. Their nukes fetish just insists they excuse that away, though they really can't.

Just because they're a troll doesn't mean they're good at trolling. Because, as I said, they're really primarily insane - the nukes fetish is just their outlet for insanity.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2017
Renewable energy generates a lot of toxic waste.
"Solar panel waste will become a major issue in the coming decades as old solar panels reach the ends of their useful lifespans and require disposal."
"Solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials, such as sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, which make them difficult to recycle. They cannot be stored in landfills without protections against contamination. They contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens that can leak out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies."
"The hazardous materials used in their construction are not easy to recycle and can contaminate drinking water if solely discarded with other electronic waste."
http://institutef...-crisis/
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 17, 2017
Willie
Renewable energy generates a lot of toxic waste
So do coal/oil/gas/nukes. I will take recyclable solar and wind over fossil fuels, or nukes - any day of the week. https://www.pecva...-uranium
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2017
Carbon-free nuclear power requires fewer mining per gigawatt generated and produces tiny amounts of waste; all waste produced by France are fitted in a small room, and no one has been killed by stored nuclear waste, and most of waste is uraniun-238 that was extracted from nature, and rivers flows thousand tons of naturally-occurring uranium into oceans every year; and equivalently to plutonium in terms radioactivity and chemical toxicity, protactinium is relatively abundant in nature. Unlike arsenide and other chemical carcinogens found in solar panels that never lose their toxicity with time, in the nuclear waste, the more radioactive element is, the more fast it decays, becoming all waste almost inert in relation to natural background after 300 years.
https://uploads.d...2bbf.jpg

greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 19, 2017
Carbon-free nuclear power requires fewer mining per gigawatt generated and produces tiny amounts of waste
You wouldn't have a link for that assertion would you? Notice it does not say what kind of mining you are talking about - vs what other kind of mining you are talking about. I find it hard to believe that a nuke - that needs refueling every 12 to 24 - months http://www.nuclea...er-plant - from a fuel that is mined from a very low concentration - and then processed to a very high concentration - requires less mining that a solar panel or wind turbing - that is built once. Give us your data Willie.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2017
Coal and gas plants need to be refueled continuously to keep lights on when wind is not blowing or sun is not shining.
Uranium is a byproduct from copper mining, and renewables take a lot of copper to generate their intermittent energy backed up by fossil fuels.
Nuclear fuel, it doesn't even come close to the quantity of mining activities and the energy required to extract iron, copper, aluminum, silica, rare-earth metals, etc. and coal for coking steel and other metals for renewables.
"Energy density strongly determines environmental impact. High-density fuels require less mining, materials & land — & generate less waste."
https://pbs.twimg...4xNw.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...QyiJ.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...59fQ.jpg
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2017
WillieWard:
Coal and gas plants


The nuke fetishist troll can be counted on to lie and post strawman irrelevancies. There's nothing in that post answering the amount of mining required for 30 years of nukes vs solar or wind generation.

They'll pump the lie that solar and wind = coal and gas. Lunacy, but they also insist that wind turbines have ZERO capacity for energy generation, even when they admit they generate energy.

Image 1: (no text, so hard to search for critical analysis) they post is titled "Fuels Excluded". So totally irrelevant. Except it's from an insane Israeli denier blog that simply hates "green".

Image 2: (search inhibiting) image is some picture of coal vs nukes waste. Not solar or wind, an irrelevancy derived from denial lunacy.

Image 3: is the acreage of a nukes vs a solar vs a wind plant. Irrelevant, so why bother finding the other lies baked into it. It's from a company selling equipment to the petrochemicals industry.

Crazy troll lies.
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 19, 2017
Thanks Emcee - good breakdown of Willie's non answer (as usual).
Also Willie
Uranium is a byproduct from copper mining
That kind of statement shows just how little you understand of the issue of energy production.
Uranium mines operate in some 20 countries, though in 2014 some 54% of world production came from just ten mines in six countries (see Table 1), these six countries providing 85% of the world's mined uranium.
Some uranium is obtained by co-production with other minerals - but the vast majority comes from dedicated mines. http://www.world-...iew.aspx As Emcee pointed out - nothing that you said above supports your fake news about uranium mining for nukes, vs mining (unspecified) for renewables.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2017
Wind and solar should include batteries as well gas/fracking for backup.
"Lithium-ion batteries subjected to grid storage conditions last five years. For comparison: typical nuclear plants last around 60 years. Low energy density, high expense, and limited lifetime makes grid storage highly impractical for the foreseeable future."
Moreover, batteries represent a serious mining and environmental problems.

"'Renewable Energy Is a Corrupt Scam, Go Nuclear!' Says Green Guru James Lovelock"
"The green movement is a religion rife with corruption, bad science and hysteria, and nuclear – not renewables – is the best solution to our energy needs."
http://www.breitb...ovelock/
"Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can"
http://www.enviro...lear-can
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 19, 2017
Willie - In response to being asked for a link to support your assertion that
Carbon-free nuclear power requires fewer mining per gigawatt generated and produces tiny amounts of waste


You respond by moving the goal posts - and making another fake news assertion.
Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can


You support this with the opinion of one individual - that is of course in conflict with much other published information. http://energy.mit...-energy/
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 20, 2017
In practice, only nuclear power is both: proven technology and scaleable in terms of CO2 reduction, because hydro has geographical limitations and emits methane(worse than CO2) and wind and solar are a multi-trillion-dollar fiasco, most of CO2 reduction is due to replacement of coal by natural gas/fracking (natural gas – the polite term for methane) so eventually there is just a small CO2 reduction with no overall greenhouse gas diminution.

greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 20, 2017
Wind and solar are proven technologies - and also scaleable. You get some added benefits with renewables - cheaper/cleaner/distributed.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2017
Wind and solar are proven addicted to fossil fuels to keep lights on when isn't windy/sunny.
Intermittent renewables are helping to scale up gas/fracking.
https://pbs.twimg...rJRJ.jpg
http://www.seattl...00741615
https://www.bloom...backyard
"An oil leak from a clean, green wind turbine"
https://uploads.d...4a36.jpg
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 21, 2017
Wind and solar are replacing fossil fuels. We have facts on our side, and Willie just keep repeating himself - despite the presentation of evidence.
But numbers don't lie. The entire global economic system is set up to seek out the lowest price for goods and services. Renewables are already cheaper than coal, natural gas, or any other source of power and getting cheaper all the time.
From https://cleantech...unities/
if prices continue to drop and that pace increases to 6 gigawatts annually from about 3 gigawatts today, the nation could reach 100% by as early as 2033
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2017
How it is possible that "wind and solar are replacing fossil fuels" if you can barely spot them on the global energy production chart even after 4 trillion dollars spent. CleanTechnica is not a reliable source, they are antinuclear/pro-fracking.
https://uploads.d...eac3.jpg
Look who's increasing the fastest: oil & gas, thanks to faux-greens and eco-nuts.
https://pbs.twimg...jhVG.jpg
"Worldwide investment in renewable energy reaches US$ 4 trillion – with little to show for it"
http://euanmearns...-for-it/

greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 21, 2017
How it is possible that "wind and solar are replacing fossil fuels
Very simple - they are cheaper and better. If you look at your graphic - you see the precipitous decline in coal, and the steady march forward of wind/solar/hydro/bio fuels. When you start from a base of almost 0, it takes a long time to build capacity. Don't worry - most understand that we have never been at a point when renewables were the cheapest option - so the past is not a model for the future. But the transition is going to take many years - you just have to be patient Willie.
In 2015, renewables accounted for almost one-fourth of the global electric generating capacity, despite the fact that fossil fuels received nearly four times as much money in government subsidies
From - http://www.engine...015.aspx
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2017
"cheaper" is relative: "4 trillion dollars" for almost no CO2 reduction is cheap according to faux-greens and eco-nuts in their wonderland subsidized with taxpayers' hard-earned money. Hydro(limited growth) may even received less subsidies than fossils, but wind/solar surely not.
https://pbs.twimg...gqJT.jpg
https://uploads.d...3489.jpg

In the real world, "the cheapest option" to deeply decarbonize modern grids is carbon-free nuclear power, e.g. France and Sweden.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2017
"In REAL life it is hard to demonstrate renewables reduce CO2 emissions. Here is Germany:"
https://pbs.twimg...SnSm.jpg
"Increasing solar penetration on a grid can actually cause emissions to go up"
"Less "baseload" means more load following by peakers."
https://pbs.twimg...BcOY.jpg
"Save the bird & bats the wind turbines have to go"
https://pbs.twimg...4ltf.jpg
Coal cannot be replaced with wind or solar, it is being replaced by gas/fracking.
Only carbon-free nuclear power can replace coal and gas/fracking, save birds and bats, and save us from Climate Change.
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 22, 2017
Willie
cheaper" is relative: "4 trillion dollars" for almost no CO2 reduction
Well - by your logic - we have spent a lot more than that on nukes - and almost no C02 reduction. Except of course that you are wrong - and every wind turbine saves several thousand tons of C02 annually - http://www.pfr.co...Dioxide/

Never one to let facts spoil your spreading of fake news Willie.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2017
Real-time data don't lie:
https://www.elect...map.org/
Carbon-free nuclear power indeed curbs CO2 emissions, while wind/solar are an expensive make-believe:
https://pics.onsi...3622.png
Intermittent renewables have low energy density, and hardly pay back the energy used from fossil fuels to manufacture/mine/transport/install/recycle their components and to keep lights on when wind is not blowing or sun is not shining.
"German emissions intensity remains an order of magnitude higher than those of the nuclear/hydro countries such as Switzerland and France."
https://theconver...ed-61285

Solar/wind cultists have no option except to lie miserably, while calling others liars.

greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 23, 2017
Carbon-free nuclear power indeed curbs CO2 emissions, while wind/solar are an expensive make-believe
But you just said that C02 emissions have not been reduced - so who is the liar?
http://www.telegr...r-surge/
Real-time data don' lie Willie.
https://www.thegu...dy-finds
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2017
"UK coal demand is falling rapidly because of cheaper gas"
It's the replacement of coal by gas/fracking that is mostly reducing CO2 emissions.
"While emissions from coal fell in 2016, carbon output from gas rose 12.5% because of increased use of the fuel to generate electricity"
There is no practical/proven correlation between increase of intermittent renewables' capacity installed and CO2 reduction as wind/solar have strong dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels to keep lights on as well in all their manufacturing processes.
greenonions1
not rated yet Aug 24, 2017
It's the replacement of coal by gas/fracking that is mostly reducing CO2 emissions.
But you keep saying that there is no reduction in C02 emissions. Would you please make up your mind. This is just a snapshot - http://www.telegr...r-surge/ - but what it tells us is that renewables are gaining ground. Long term numbers tell the same story - https://www.carbo...oal-2016
The UK generated more electricity from wind than from coal in the full calendar year of 2016
Oh shock Willie - you are wrong again....
WillieWard
1 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2017
Coal is losing space to natural gas and intermittent renewables are "winning" by W.O., not indeed replacing coal, Eco-nuts claim the victory but the winner is gas/fracking. Wind/solar = Trojan horses for gas/fracking.
Wind/solar cannot compete in a honest way with coal without their best friend(gas/fracking) and heavy subsidies.
Wind/solar is helping almost nothing to curb CO2 emissions, compare UK with France:
https://www.elect...map.org/
Gas/fracking and coal are dominant in UK energy mix, thanks to anti-carbon-free antinuclear Eco-nuts.
http://transition...2016.png
There isn't a slight sign that wind/solar are helping to decarbonize the grids after trillions of dollars spent worldwide, if there is, then it is the most expensive way and carbon-free nuclear power is the cheapest.

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