Nuclear Power

Saving the Planet Requires Nuclear Power

Climate change activists can be deniers, too.

|

For years, climate-change activists have been ripping into skeptics for having closed minds. And for good reason. Generally speaking, the typical global-warming doubter takes the view that the convergence of evidence<http://www.vox.com/2015/12/11/9898098/climate-skeptics-consilience> from decades of peer-reviewed research by the world's best scientific minds is a bunch of politically driven horse-puckey—but any random blog post or talk-radio factoid challenging that scientific consensus is so plainly true it's not even worth checking. This is not what anyone would call an intellectually rigorous stance.

This does not mean that any given statement about climate change is irrefutable. Or that skeptics do not raise some good points. Or that scientists can never be wrong. It simply means that many climate-change skeptics don't like to confront facts that contradict their cherished beliefs. (Who does?) So they seize on evidence that might confirm their beliefs instead.

But climate-change activists fall prey to this confirmation bias, too. And a lot of them seem to be suffering from it with regard to nuclear power.

If you truly believe global warming is the greatest threat facing human civilization, then you ought to consider nuclear power a godsend. Restricting carbon-dioxide emissions to levels that can keep global warming within two degrees Celsius is immensely easier with nuclear power, and perhaps impossible without it.

Some climate activists are quick to say so. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report noted that global-warming mitigation scenarios anticipate at least a doubling, and perhaps a tripling, of nuclear power by 2050. The "stabilization of (greenhouse-gas concentrations) at a level consistent with (earlier agreements) requires a fundamental transformation of the energy supply system," the IPCC says. It cites research suggesting the need for "the construction of 29 to 107 new nuclear plants per year," depending on targets. The upper figure is "historically unprecedented."

During the Paris climate talks last month, James Hansen—one of the godfathers of the climate-change movement—joined with three other prominent climate scientists to issue a statement explaining why "nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change." The "voluntary measures put on the table at Paris" are a "welcome step," they wrote, but far from sufficient. "The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking. Throwing tools such as nuclear out of the box constrains humanity's options and makes climate mitigation more likely to fail." In fact, they conclude, "nuclear will make the difference between the world missing crucial climate targets or achieving them."

This provokes a fair amount of pushback. One piece in The Guardian went so far as to term such views "a new, strange form of denial." The author of that piece, Naomi Oreskes, is a history professor at Harvard. (Apparently history profs now know more about the subject than the IPCC, too.) Oreskes never even attempts to refute the conclusion about the need for more nuclear power. She simply disparages it.

It's easy to understand why. Many environmentalists consider nuclear power—pardon the technical jargon—really yucky. So they will argue that the world can ratchet back greenhouse-gas emissions without any nuclear power at all. There are entire campaigns built around selling the idea. You can visit their websites, which claim we can power the world with nothing but renewable-energy sources such as wind, water, and solar.

And on that point they are correct—in the same sense that it is correct to say you can run a mile in under four minutes. All you have to do is run four quarter-miles in under 60 seconds each, without stopping. Mission accomplished! And just as nothing in the laws of biology prevents you from running a four-minute mile, nothing in the laws of physics prevents powering the planet with renewables alone.

In the real world, there is a little more to it than that.

Acreage, for instance. Consider Dominion Virginia Power's new gas-fired generation plant in Warren County, which can generate 1,329 megawatts of electricity—on a slab of land measuring only 39 acres. To generate that much electricity from sunlight, you would need 36,000 acres of solar panels. That's 56 square miles. For comparison's sake, the entire city of Richmond is 60 square miles.

Dominion's North Anna nuclear-power station can produce up to 1,892 megawatts. To get that much energy from sunlight would require 65,000 acres of solar panels, or 101 square miles. That's slightly bigger than the area of Charleston, South Carolina or Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dominion can generate slightly more than 24,000 megawatts of power all together. To get that from solar power alone would require more than 1,000 square miles of solar panels. That's the equivalent of putting the District of Columbia (68.3 square miles) inside the commonwealth—15 times over. And while Dominion is Virginia's biggest electricity supplier, it is not the only one.

Granted, rooftop solar arrays and other forms of distributed generation would chip away at the need for dedicated real estate somewhat, but they can't offer the economies of scale that industrial-scale solar plants can, and that would be necessary under any realistic transition scenario. And the issues with solar power don't end there. In Virginia, solar facilities can provide reliable energy only about 25 percent of the time, because the sun isn't shining strongly enough the rest of the time. For all practical purposes, this means that every megawatt of solar energy needs a megawatt of backup power from some other source, such as a natural gas-fired plant that can be switched on quickly when the clouds roll in. A quantum leap in battery technology might change that, of course. (Fingers crossed!) But hoping technological revolution will magically make a problem go away is not a sober strategy for dealing with climate change.

Wind energy can help, but wind confronts similar challenges. It's an intermittent source of energy that takes up a gawdawful lot of space: anywhere from 30 to 141 acres per megawatt, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, citing research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. And, as with solar generation, power companies can't simply turn the wind on and off when demand for power spikes or dips. So wind also needs backup generation—which raises the question as to just how carbon-free wind energy backed up by, say, natural gas generation really is.

Keep in mind that the challenges outlined above pertain to current electricity demand. But only about 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation. Transportation accounts for another 34 percent. So switching from gasoline-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles will drive total electricity consumption much higher.

How much higher? Well, one gallon of gasoline equates to about 34 kilowatt-hours. Average American gasoline consumption is roughly 392 gallons per person and 1,000 gallons per houshold.

This means switching one household's gas-powered cars for electric ones would require about 34,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Right now, the average residential utility customer uses less than 11,000 kilowatt-hours a year. In other words, dispensing with the internal-combustion engine would quadruple the typical household's electricity consumption. If solar energy provided all that new juice, then Virginia alone might need something like 4,000 square miles of solar arrays—taking up an area almost three-fourths the size of Connecticut. (And that's for Dominion customers only.)

Note that so far, we haven't even touched on issues such as environmental permitting—or cost. Environmentalists often point out that nuclear power plants are hugely expensive, and they are right about that. But the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that a quarter-century from now, the levelized cost of solar energy—that is, the total cost of all inputs over time—will remain roughly twice that of nuclear energy. Offshore wind will be another 50 percent more expensive on top of that.

For years, global-warming skeptics have accused global-warming activists of acting in bad faith. The activists don't really want to save humanity from catastrophic climate change, the skeptics argue—they really just want to expand government's reach and impose their own quasi-religious vision on the rest of society. Activists retort that this is nonsense: The fate of the planet hangs in the balance, and if mankind does not take radical steps soon, then we are all in extremely serious trouble. How those activists confront the need for more nuclear power could offer a good indication of who is telling the truth.

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: Swedish police accused of covering up 'widespread sexual assaults against teenage girls at a music festival last summer'

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This is 100% true. The, so-called, environmentalists that have marketed lies and deception about nuclear power have done more to destroy the planet than anyone else.

    1. You mean people like Reagan and Milton Friedman and the Cato and heritage people who killed off the PUC rate setting for electric utilities so your local utility could build a nuclear power plant? The only nuclear power plants ever built were government built, or approved investments by PUC regulators who promised investors they would profit from building nuclear power plants by charging higher rates to electric utilities. With the exception of the rebel southern States that refused to deregulated as conservatives demanded for the rest of the US, all nuclear power plants were approved by government central planners before Reagan, and it was Reagan that broke the promise of profit, forcing utilities into bankruptcy by the hundreds due to investing in nuclear power, making nuclear a really bad high risk investment.

      At any time, a conservative president and Congress will force any contracts for nuclear power to be broken before the 40 years needed to pay for the investment is up, making you lose money.

      That means only power generation that is small dollar investments that pay off in less than a decade are low enough in risk for the private sector. That means natural gas cogen. That means wind farms. That means rooftop solar and solar farms. Those reach breakeven in a decade or less so conservatives can’t force them into bankruptcy like they did with nuclear power.

      1. In general, the authoritarian political structures that are required to build and maintain nuclear power are an important cost implicit in every nuclear project, whether it is nominally private or public (that is, governmental). This will especially be the case in an era when terrorism is fashionable. I don’t know why this isn’t more generally recognized; I guess people are so used to the police state they don’t notice.

  2. “Climate change activists can be deniers, too.”

    Hardly needs stating.

      1. The greenhouse gas (including CO2, CH4, NO2, and water vapor) produced by ocean waves simply breaking on shore globally each day is estimated to be equivalent to all that produced by man since the beginning of the industrial revolution. You can’t fool mother nature. It’s time to find something else to fear. Or not, if you’re so inclined.

  3. Yeessssssss. The fear-mongering, decades-long, anti-science, anti-nuclear campaign led by Greenpeace is one of the most environmentally damaging events in the past century. You know how many people have died from radiation from Fukushima, a terrible designed plant that got hit with the strongest earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s recorded history? ZERO. Compare that to the 16,000 people that died from the tsunami and earthquake. More people have died from the fear of radiation from commercial nuclear power than from the radiation itself.

    1. More people have died from radiation released by burning coal than from nuclear power plants. Far more have died from all the toxins released by coal power plants. And far far far more will die from continued green intransigence, not to mention the even farrer (a new word!) more people who will suffer from green intransigence in opposing nuclear power, GMO food, and every other aspect of progress.

  4. “A quantum leap in battery technology might change that, of course.”

    For all the effort put into this with minimal result, I’m beginning to think there is some as yet unknown physical limit to the amount of energy that can be stored in this form, and we’ll figure that out instead of getting much improved batteries.

    1. I’ve found large-scale battery technology has almost the opposite of Moore’s Law. Every new technology or development, other than some promising experiments on tiny scales that are many decades away from being possible on a large scale, results in smaller and smaller gains. Tesla’s battery is fundamentally just a very large ordinary battery that looks cool and sits on your wall. Nuclear really is the only means of producing reliable and constant energy at large scales.

    2. “A quantum leap in battery technology”
      The link leads to an error message

    3. It’s not really unknown. How many electrons can you get out of an atom? What potential can you get them at? How can you do this reversibly? There’s a very good reason battery energy density is so much lower than full redox reactions.

  5. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.buzznews99.com

  6. From the Guardian piece: “As one of my scientific colleagues once put it, nuclear power is an extraordinarily elaborate and expensive way to boil water.”

    Hmm, using this fact as an argument against nuclear is why you’re a history professor.

    1. “wind power is an extraordinarily elaborate and expensive way to move magnets around!”

    2. Read the comments…full of derp. One person argued that batteries should be good to use for storing electricity cause their iphone can currently do it (as if the iphone isn’t using electricity?) and the batteries can just be scaled! In order for this to work the wind and solar would have to gather and store energy in batteries that otherwise wouldnt be used at the current time for the grid when the wind is blowing or sun is shining. That would mean there needs to be extra gathering just for when they aren’t working

      1. Read the comments…full of derp.

        Most of these people have about as much knowledge and appreciation for technology as your average Cro-Magnon.

        That would mean there needs to be extra gathering just for when they aren’t working

        Not to mention the massive amounts of toxic materials that would go into batteries of this scale just for a single household. Plus the fact that they become virtually useless in a couple of years, necessitating safely transporting and recycling them ever so often.

        Hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic metals being constantly driven around the country by gas guzzling trucks, vs. a few hundred pounds of nuclear fuel that practically never leave the site where it’s used. I wonder what’s safer..

    3. The atom bomb is extraordinarily elaborate firecracker.

  7. Smog Warning Days have been rare or decades in almost all of North America and we are living longer now than at any time in Human history and now fracking is ending the oil wars with possible world peace and giving us all affordable long term energy for generations to come. W

    And it’s been 35 yrs. of climate action delay to SAVE THE PLANET & science still can’t agree a CO2 ARMAGEDDON is as real as they agree smoking causes cancer, just “99% sure”?

    Is this how you merchants of fear want your children and all of history remembering you, like omen worshiping witch burners?

  8. How many nuclear power plants are under construction in Virginia at the moment? I’d be surprised if there were any. Yet some 40 plants will be required at who knows what cost, and that’s for Virginia alone, a fairly small corner of the world.

    1. Yea so what energy type would you propose instead? This should be interesting.

      1. I’m not convinced any source of energy is capable of meeting the demand the author is talking about. Virginia has a population of less than 10 million. Forty nuclear power plants are required to meet the demand the author foresees. The world’s population is over 7 billion. Yea so what energy type would you propose instead?

        1. There are some clearly better than others. And if you want reduced CO2 nuclear and natural gas is the way to go. Wind and solar aren’t going to cut it since they require massive amounts of space, maintenance and need back ups available since they dont work reliably. So you might as well just omit those in the first place.

          1. “So you might as well just omit those in the first place.”

            I never considered them a feasible alternative.

            1. Ok but we are dealing with reality here…not unicorn land. Saying burning of fossil fuels is a major problem but nuclear is too expensive so let’s throw hands up in the air and go home.

              If you got a magic energy source that is better than nuclear for CO2 emissions and meeting demand at the same time, please name it.

              1. The problem with the construction of 40 plants for Virginia and tens of thousands more for the world as a whole is not CO2 emissions but cost, especially considering that I doubt in the history of nuclear power, no plant has ever been constructed within its budget.

                1. That’s nice. But if one stipulates it is a major problem, destruction of humanity etc…would it not be prudent to eat that cost? Hand waving well it costs too much doesn’t seem like a sound strategy if it really is the problem you think it is.

                  4000 square miles of unreliable solar arrays that need cleaned and maintained often is not really going to cut it.

                  1. “would it not be prudent to eat that cost?”

                    What would be prudent would be to determine just what kind of costs we are going to be eating. 20,000 nuclear plants world wide. How much is that going to cost?

                    1. If the world is really on a dire path to destruction yet needs energy, then costs of the best option to satisfy both CTQs shouldn’t be really in question. Unless you have a better solution.

                    2. The Palo Verde nuclear plant serves 4 million people. And if you multiply by 4 to account for electric cars, the US would need only 320 Palo Verdes…the entire world at 7000 Palo Verdes.

                      So the number of nuclear plants is based on what types you choose to use.

                      What’s your plan?

                2. As a nuclear engineer, with 15 years experience in the field, the main impediment to nuclear plants is, as with all things, government, in this case both federal and state. The Idaho National Laboratory was the main testing ground for new reactor technologies, but was shut down by a combination of Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic Congress back in 93, along with a suit filed in federal court against the DOE by the state of Idaho about the storage of waste inside Idaho (all of which is still there, just some of it has been shifted from liquid to solid, at the cost of hundreds of billions, mostly due to inefficient DOE planning and contracting, of which I was unfortunately a participant ). So INL shut down, eliminating the IBR, which stands for integrated breeder reactor, which would have allowed us to use an original core of enriched u-235, to “breed” U-238, removed during the enrichment process and 96% of naturally occurring uranium, into fission able Pu-239 and -242, which would be fed back into the core, breeding more plutonium and becoming a highly efficient reactor, with all fuel and waste never leaving the containment for the 10-20 year run life between overhaul shutdowns (refuel shutdowns are semi-annual for many) It also eliminated INTEC, which recovered usable fuel from spent cells. Now, yes, this was a DOE facility, and i would have preferred it be privatized, but the legislation and court judgement prevented any private energy companies from taking over.

                  1. At the same time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refused to even begin reviews on new plant designs and permits for over 20 years, from three mile island up until the Dubya admin. Even then, of the 3 new designs submitted, only one has been approved,the Westinghouse AP1000, covering replacement and expansion in the southeast territory, and that took a 12 year review process before they were able to break ground on the first one in Georgia (at a cost of hundreds of millions in taxpayer and private dollars in the process). It doesn’t matter where you come down on the subject of AGW ( I am a lukewarmer, believing we have an effect, but nowhere near as dire as the catastrophic predictions, and nothing we can’t adapt to. If you don’t believe me, ask someone from Doggerland about it 😉 ), as always, the government and bueraucrats are the problem, not the solution.

                    1. “as always, the government and bueraucrats are the problem”

                      You’ve only scratched the surface. Look at what the government has been doing over the past few years to stymie the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea.

                    2. What, giving them money for promises of “we won’the be naughty, honest injun!”?

                    3. “What, giving them money for promises of “we won’the be naughty, honest injun!”?”

                      Sounds like a government to me.

                    4. The biggest problem facing a new nuclear build is a lack of experienced people to do the work. Engineers, welders, electricians, and the companies who can build equipment to nuclear standards. The Finns and the French have had problems getting people who are able to pour nuclear-grade concrete. There are only 1 or 2 places in the world that can make nuclear-grade pressure vessels. The Chinese are working hard to build up their expertise, and I think that we will eventually have to buy it from them.

                      And don’t get me started on Molten Salt Thorium reactor experiments. That was a good experiment back when we could do things like that, but it is hiddeously impractical and will require an enormous amount of money, time, and experience to develop the technology. Gas reactors are much more mature, while water reactors are fully mature.

                      It is the environmentalists who have to be dealt with – they need to have an epiphany and fully embrace nuclear, or else it will never get large enough to become self-sustaining.

                    5. Gas reactors are more practical than MSR?! Yeah no. And the problem with lwr/pwr/bwr is that they all require expensive containment vessels. The all have terrible burn ratios. They all require years of cooling for “spent” rods, and they all have massive amounts of transuranic waste requiring multi-millenia geological squestration. Meanwhile oak ridge’s msr was running within a couple of years on a shoestring budget and dven shutdown on the weekends!

                      I find it entirely sadly plausible you were on the nrc.

                    6. Bettis has one nascent MSN that looks plausible, given development

                    7. Fat finger ed MSR

                    8. “given development” is the very non-trivial part of this. No one wants to fund it.

                    9. Well, your comments about “burn ratios” and the ability of the MSRE to shutdown on the weekends, while operating on a shoestring budget reveal that you have no idea what you are talking about. All reactors require years of cooling for the fission products. You can cool discreet fuel elements (either LWR fuel elements or gas reactor blocks or balls), or you can cool large tanks filled with mixtures of chemicals that change their chemical properties continuously, so that you are never sure which combination will eat thru the tanks walls. I used to do this sort of work, so I can tell you which one is easier. It is all about the fission products.

                      You should go back to school and get an engineering degree and then enlist in the Navy to get a practical education, and then work for a nuclear utility before you start to talk about this stuff.

                    10. As one of those NRC people who did the review of the AP600 (and the AP1000), I can say that it was not really the government that took so long – rather, it was problems with the AP600 design and difficulties getting all the detailed design work done, because there was no actual buyer to pay for all that design work. DOE paid for some of it, but new designs like the AP1000 had all sorts of real issues that could not be worked out without detailed designs.

                      There has been one certified design available for a long time, for utilities to build beside AP1000 (the ABWR), which has actually been built and was operating in Japan until Fukishima shut down the entire Japanese industry. No one in the US wants to build nuclear while the price of gas looks like it is going to stay low for the forseeable future. The executives do not want the hassle, when they can build gas plants quickly and easily, pass along any increases in fuel costs to the consumer, and avoid a 20 year building program.

                    11. Agreed over the no buyers, few of the energy companies are willing to put up the up front costs. At the same time, tell me I am wrong about the utter, purposeful destruction of the industry for 25 years after TMI

                  2. Let’s not do another fast breeder please.

                  3. So, pauljc3, you were picketing in 1993 and ever since for tax hikes to increase government spending by DOE on new nuclear reactor technology and for bringing back strong PUC regulation to set electric rates higher to pay for building thousands of new nuclear reactors?

                    Since Obama has been president, the investments in nuclear have gone up and exceed the investments in alternatives. Under Democrats, a government power utility built two new reactors that were put on hold by Reagan, Bush, and Bush administrations. And the first new nuclear reactors to begin construction were under Obama using huge government subsidies, plus PUC central planning that promises rate hikes to pay for the investments. The Tea Party has opposed these four nuclear power reactors as too costly in rate hikes.

                    And under Obama, priority has been placed on approval of new reactor technologies, but conservatives in Congress oppose increasing the Federal spending to fund building pilot projects or paying for regulatory staff. Given conservatives want the private sector to pat for everything, from paying for research, paying for pilot plants, paying for insurance of all kinds, paying for all damages done by accidents, Obama has done as much to subsidize nuclear power as the voters demanding tax cuts and less government and high profits at no risk from private investment will allow.

                    Who in the Republican field are promising to do more?

                3. 1900 MW sounds a little small. I got a chance to tour a plant in S. Korea when I was stationed there about 10 years ago (Wolseong IIRC – wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolsong_Nuclear_Power_Plant ) – but I guess it depends on the scale of use for your customers.

                  I think one of the biggest barriers is that we shut down our reprocessing plant. A well run plant would let us recycle the vast majority of the initial byproducts for repeated reactor use (based on our current designs – not necessarily an issue with a pebble bed or molten salt reactor – much less Thorium).

                  1. Why, other than producing plutonium bombs, does the US use the current reactor designs?

                    The obvious solution is switching to new reactor designs that burn everything, all the uranium, all the plutonium, all the thorium, all the other radioactive products like cesium, strontium, etc.

                    If that was done, no more uranium would ever need to be mined because once all the already mined uranium plus spent fuel, stockpiled plutonium, and other radioactive waste was burned, thorium could be used to keep them going.

                    Of course, the private sector refuses to pay for building the pilot plants and working out all the bugs, so tax hikes areally needed to pay for government funded R&D.

                    1. This is how I interpreted your last sentence… feel free to correct me if I got it wrong.

                      Of course, the private sector refuses to pay for doing what I think is necessary so we need to get the government to force people to pay for what I want. After all, If the citizens with money who could invest in this technology were smarter, they would do what I want without needing to be forced.

      2. Hamsters.

    2. 40 plants for Virginia alone? Where are you getting this number? They currently only have 4 and you are telling me they need 10X more?

      1. “Where are you getting this number?”

        Read the article again and tell me the number you come up with.

        1. Says nothing about 40 nuclear plants for virginia alone. Please detail how you arrived at this conclusion. Thanks in advance. Would like to see the calculation

          1. Dominion’s North Anna nuclear-power station can produce up to 1,892 megawatts. To get that much energy from sunlight would require 65,000 acres of solar panels, or 101 square miles…..

            “Virginia alone might need something like 4,000 square miles of solar arrays”

            I’ve read the article, I’ll leave the calculations to you.

            1. Fair enough. Though note this is assuming all gas vehicles will now be electric. Why was that so hard in the first place? What’s your solution?

              1. “Why was that so hard in the first place?”

                I didn’t find it hard at all. Middle school English and Algebra is all I needed.

                “What’s your solution?”

                My instinct tells me to look at the unspoken assumptions with which the problem is framed. Question them and maybe we can make some progress one way or another. That’s not a solution but it doesn’t cost that much either.

                1. Ok so let’s hear it chief. This doesn’t tell me anything

                  1. “Ok so let’s hear it chief.”

                    I’ve already told you I suspect the costs of this massive construction binge may be prohibitively expensive. I can’t understand what else you want from me. A solution to fill the demand the author foresees? I don’t see one.

                2. What are the unspoken assumptions you are looking at here? What questions are you posing?

                  1. “What are the unspoken assumptions you are looking at here? What questions are you posing?”

                    Unspoken assumptions are a tricky matter. Let’s start with what’s out in the open, right at the beginning. “Saving the Planet Requires Nuclear Power” is the title of the article. Do you believe the Planet needs saving? I don’t. I don’t think that constructing tens of thousands of any power generating plants will rescue the planet, or that the planet needs saving. This sounds to me more like a huckster’s sales pitch than anything else. What about the article convinced you of the need? Concern over rescuing the planet?

                    1. No i don’t think it needs saving or is in for dire straights. good we are on the same page now.

                3. Well you and hinkle also need a science/engineering refresher. Hinkle makes the foolish mistake of assuming that the amount of electric energy needed to move a car is equivalent to the amount of thermal energy produced by burning a gallon of gas. It isn’t.

                  1. It is, if you start from the point where the electricity is generated and transmitted, whence there are lots of losses, and not at the point where it is consumed. Doing the latter is an apples to oranges comparison.

    3. According to this there are 100 licensed to operate in the entire United States….yet 40 more for Virginia alone?

      http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactors/

    4. 5 reactors are under construction in the USA. 5 more are planned (including 1 at Anna, the plant discussed here).

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/i…..worldwide/

      Where do you get 40 for VA? Is that plants, or number of reactors?

      1. “Where do you get 40 for VA? Is that plants, or number of reactors?”

        Plants. Read the article again and see what number of new plants Virginia will need. Either me or more likely the author may be mistaken. I’d like to see the number you arrive at.

        1. You are the one that said it so you should be able to show it. Put up or shut up.

          1. I urge you to read the article. Again if necessary.

        2. Plants come in different sizes. They can have 1 reactor, they can have eleventy-five reactors. Where do you get 40 plants? I realize you’re a well-known troll here, but FJ is right, show the math.

          1. “I realize you’re a well-known troll here”

            I’ve shown the math. No need to resort to gratuitous insults.

            1. Took you a while. I guess i don’t understand if you are going to make claims why you are so shy about providing the substance for it.

              1. “Took you a while. I guess i don’t understand if you are going to make claims why you are so shy about providing the substance for it.”

                I wasn’t shy about providing you with the information. I provided it in my first post here when I stated “Yet some 40 plants will be required at who knows what cost.” I thought you might be able to read the same article that I read and come up with a different take. It wasn’t out of shyness I wasn’t more forthcoming, but I simply didn’t want to prejudice the issue by giving you the way I arrived at the figure. After you asked me twice, I realized that the calculations I’d made might be beyond your abilities and I provided you with a clearer account. That makes me a troll here apparently.

                1. How would being more forth coming prejudice the issue here?

                  1. “How would being more forth coming prejudice the issue here?”

                    I mean giving you the way I arrived at the figure might hamper your ability to come up with you own, independently arrived at figure that could well be both different from mine and more accurate. This is an old trick teachers sometimes employ when they want to encourage students to think for themselves rather than have answers handed to them on a platter.

                    1. I don’t know what that has to do with prejudice of the issue. Typically those who make claims at least offer some substantiation up front.

                    2. “I don’t know what that has to do with prejudice of the issue.”

                      I’m using prejudice as a verb meaning to unfairly influence someone’s opinion in advance of their own independent assessment. Maybe high school English is necessary here.

                    3. How would that unfairly influence my opinion? the numbers were stated in article, you could have said that upfront as there is really only one way you could go. i understand the point of sentence you wrote silly goose.

                    4. “as there is really only one way you could go”

                      Probably right about that. I was just trying leave things open to see if there was something that I missed and you could catch. Honestly, my motives stemmed from a lack of confidence in my own interpretation, and I have no desire to trick you or hide anything from you.

                    5. “I don’t know what that has to do with prejudice of the issue.”

                      I’m using prejudice as a verb meaning to unfairly influence someone’s opinion in advance of their own independent assessment. Maybe high school English is necessary here.

                    6. This is also a trick people employ when they don’t want their reasoning scrutinized.

                2. The Palo Verde Nuclear Facility has 3 reactors at 3.3 GW which serves about 4 million people according to its page. Now with VA at 10 million people and if adding cars goes to 40 million people essentially.

                  This would mean only 10 of those 3.3 GW are needed. I guess it depends really on the assumptions and what the specific make-up is.

                  1. “I guess it depends really on the assumptions and what the specific make-up is.”

                    I took all the info I’ve presented here from the article. I’m not trying to hide anything or trick you.

                    1. I didnt say you were. i was just offering more.

  9. There are actually 2 other possible energy sources that belong in the conversation here.

    1) OTEC (Ocean thermal energy conversion), won’t work on a global scale but could easily be a major producer for locales near the ocean. There is still quite a bit of engineering to be done to bring this into industrial scale use but it solves most of the problems posed by solar and wind for base load generation

    2) Solar Power Satelittes. These could in theory easily be the sole global source of electricity generation replacing all other forms but we’re still probably 20 years away from launch costs falling to the point where we could even start building the first SPS plants.

    In the mean time Nukes are the only realistic way to go

    1. Rasillo,I agree that solar powered satellites are an excellent idea (and probably the best idea) but the amount of material to launch into orbit would cost an astronomical (pardon the pun) amount of money. The only way to do it economically would be with reusable nuclear booster rockets with much higher impulse power than currently attainable with conventional chemical rockets. Such technology exists but is politically controversial (suggested reading “The Nuclear Rocket” by James Dewar) and already is part of the program to go to Mars. This book is a very interesting read, by the way.

      1. Launching a nuclear rocket from the ground is a nonstarter unless you want to seriously irradiate the launch site. The only practical way to build spss would be to use materials already in space such as asteroids or possibly from the moon, but both still have big issues.

        You also need a way to ride out large cme’s.

    2. You know, we can do more than one thing. Climb the Kardashev scale for fun and profit.

  10. Generally speaking, the typical global-warming doubter takes the view that the convergence of evidence from decades of peer-reviewed research by the world’s best scientific minds is a bunch of politically driven horse-puckey – but any random blog post or talk-radio factoid challenging that scientific consensus is so plainly true it’s not even worth checking. This is not what anyone would call an intellectually rigorous stance.

    Riiiight. So, from Vox, that intellectually rigorous publication, we have an appeal to authority and an outright rejection of of the scientific method.

    Those “institutions” aren’t the scientists, they are institutions where policy is set by a handful of appointed administrators. A better way to ask would be something like “Why do so many scientists reject the theory of CO2 causing catastrophic global warming in the face of their institutions supporting it?” There are several signature petitions online you can track down and see the names of researchers, engineers, and so forth that think catastrophe isn’t around the corner.

    1. The second one, the rejection of the scientific method, where Vox says that climate skeptics need to come up with another theory? There already is one: natural climate change, which is referred to as the ‘null hypothesis’ in this situation.

      Science advances by the skill of predictions, which CAGW theory has failed reliably since the theory became a political bed fellow in the 1980s. None of the predictions cast since the 1980s about global warming (including those cast for 2000-2015 from the earliest days up to the early and mid-2000s) have come to fruition.

      On top of that basic failure, the actual theory itself is that CO2 will cause water to warm, which will increase the temperature of water in the upper troposphere. For those of you that have hung on a long time, that’s called the “hot spot” and was called the “thumbprint” of the global warming being human-caused. That thumbprint still hasn’t appeared. Thus, the theory is invalidated. Thus, the standing hypothesis (natural climate change) still holds.

      How far out of whack is the theory? Even if you accept the most recent adjustment of temperatures as fact, we are at still less than half of the warming predicted by the theory and advanced by the IPCC reports. Every other temperature series not dependent on that source show even less warming.

      1. So, why is it still around? Politicians need us to be afraid of a crisis to help their re-election efforts (tried and true, and something that will “Affect our grandchidlren” is ripe for political abuse) and crony corporations that get handouts if this is something that is real need us to continue to believe it.

        Had we not been handing money out to everyone that uttered the words “Climate Change” in their funding drafts for the last 30 years, the science would be markedly different – as it is now turning out to be if you stop to read the scientific literature about climate change coming out in the last five to seven years.

        At some point, you need to segregate the science from the politics. An appeal to authority is political, not scientific. There have been multiple times, just in the last 100 years, where the scientific established dogma was wrong. It happens, and keeps happening, because people want to believe in authority instead of evidence.

        1. “At some point, you need to segregate the science from the politics.”

          At some point you can’t. CERN is an outfit that has given us the world wide web and the higgs boson. Not too shabby a record you might agree. It relies entirely on government funding. That’s where the politics comes in. A similar facility was once under construction in Texas. It was cancelled due to concerns over cost. Politics, again.

          1. You can. It only requires that you don’t fund all scientific endeavor by government and that you use evidence or evidence-tested models in your research.

          2. And bell labs gave us the transistor. So far CERN has been little more than a vanity jobs program. The www could have been developed anywhere and there were already hints of it decades before it officially came to be. And we’ll see just what the higgs really does for us. BTW I’m still waiting for a practical application of high Tc. I’ve got a few decades to go but it’s unlikely in my lifetime.

            1. I dunno. I can sorta see the argument that a lot of our advances have come from government programs with a mission that creates sidelines that help the world …..problem is that research is no longer mission-centric. It’s not “Get to the moon!” or similar for NASA anymore, it’s “Hey, they are still here. I guess we should give them money, or something?”

              On top of that, governments no longer give away the patents after they are done with them. People are allowed to use government money to research and then found their own corporation to reap the patent-protected profits.

              Both of those policies should change significantly.

          3. So CERN = DARPA?

            1. “CERN = DARPA”

              CERN is theoretical physics. DARPA is defence related, however obliquely. Thanks to DARPA funded research we have things like touch screens and GPS, applications too risky and fraught with the unknown to attract much in the way of private investment.

  11. Isn’t it interesting how quickly we jump from “the planet will be warmer” to “ARMAGEDDON!!!!1”? That the planet is warming and will continue to do so is a good bet, supported by a lot of evidence. That this has had negative effects and will be catastrophic is not.

    One interesting thing to think about: the enzyme that binds CO2 in plants for photosynthesis, rubisco, developed long ago, when the CO2/O2 ratio was much higher. Since then, this enzyme has been so tightly integrated into plant biochemical pathways that mutations are never advantageous; it is highly conserved. The result is that this enzyme’s affinity for CO2 versus O2 is not high enough for current conditions. The enzyme binds O2 most of the time, and this substantially limits how well plants can grow. The success of weeds relative to crops is due to strategies weeds have to increase CO2/O2 ratio inside the plant. Therefore, an increase in atmospheric CO2 should not only increase the success of crops, but increase their success relative to weeds. Indeed, crop yields are up already.

    Now think about all that land in Siberia and Canada that will be opened for farming as the Earth warms. Global warming might just solve world hunger.

    1. ” That the planet is warming and will continue to do so is a good bet, supported by a lot of evidence. That this has had negative effects and will be catastrophic is not.”

      This has been my thought for a long time. Yes, there will be changes, some good, some bad. We should manage our environment responsibly (looking at cost / benefits – i.e. free market way).

      Who’s to say that earth’s warming will not do more good than bad. Change is constant, what I get from most GW zealots is that they do not want any change. No matter what we do, there will be change in our environment that we cannot control.

      1. “We should manage our environment responsibly (looking at cost / benefits – i.e. free market way).”

        Exactly! Hysterical doomsdayism rears its ugly head not as we observe change, but as we automatically assume change to be catastrophic.

        “Yes, there will be changes, some good, some bad.”

        I’d take this a step further. There’s currently no good evidence for negatives (all that hurricane stuff was BS, and currently hot areas won’t experience much warming), and strong evidence for positives (“greening” of the planet, warming and increased growth in previously inhospitably cold areas). You could say that we’ve been living on a dying world, its carbon depleted due to loss to underground reservoirs of oil and gas, and that we’re restoring the planet to its natural state, how it’s been for most of the existence of multicellular life, by returning lost carbon to the cycle.

        1. Also, note that crop yields are currently up in poor, hot areas like Africa as well.

          1. Something you failed to note, contrarian, is that plants use less water when they have more CO2. The Sahel is getting greener, and the outskirts of the Sahara have plant life beginning to encroach on it.

            In a couple of centuries, we might be able to party like it’s 5999 BC.

  12. Nuclear power is impossible without huge government subsidies. Maybe climate is warming. It is supposed to be warming, because earth is emerging from an ice age. Which begs the question why some scientists and government agencies would pad the record by “adjusting” prior-period temperature data.

    Our present climate is pleasant and productive. Spending $44 trillion (as estimated by the IEA) to limit fossil fuels is madness. That is nearly 30% of the cumulative savings of mankind, and $7,000 for every human.

    Carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuels use are beneficial, and climate change is a false premise for regulating them. See Patrick Moore’s recently released lecture http://www.thegwpf.com/28155/.

    There is no empirical evidence that CO2 from fossil fuels affects climate. Human activities cause only about 3% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere. The rest are the result of decomposing plant material.

    Mineral carbonates are the ultimate repository of atmospheric CO2. Anyone who passed 10th grade chemistry can know this using public information. CO2 is an essential component of mineral carbonate (CaCO3, for calcium). For more detail see the paper http://bit.ly/1NziTF4 by Danish researcher Tom Segalstad.

    Carbonates form in seawater and soils through biological and chemical processes. The formula is CO2 + CaO = CaCO3. Anyone can make magnesium carbonate in a kitchen by mixing carbonated water with milk of magnesia.

    1. “Nuclear power is impossible without huge government subsidies.”

      But it was apparently cost-effective for the nations where it was widely installed, such as Germany, Japan, and France. China apparently doesn’t think it’s too costly, all things considered; ditto India.

    2. Nuclear power is impossible without huge government subsidies.

      That’s only because of massive and, frankly, ridiculous government over-regulation of nuclear power. When your nuclear power plant installations are operating on government good-will grants to bypass regulations because some of those regulations can’t be met, it’s time to re-think your regulation.

      Not that the bureaucracy would ever admit to being a farce.

  13. Has anyone looked into coal? For all practical purposes nature seems to have solved the storage issue already.

    Just sayin’.

  14. Nonsense. Molecular energy has even been tapped at all, and here we have this author dumping coal, oil, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc for nuclear. And he hasn’t even distinguished between fission and fusion, or the use of thorium in place of uranium.

    We have plenty of alternatives to what Mr Hinkle is proposing.

  15. The author writes, “The author of that piece, Naomi Oreskes, is a history professor at Harvard. (Apparently history profs now know more about the subject than the IPCC, too.)” But the Guardian’s profile page for her describes her as “a professor of the history of science.”

  16. Author Hinkle writes, “the typical global-warming doubter takes the view that the convergence of evidence from decades of peer-reviewed research by the world’s best scientific minds is a bunch of politically driven horse-puckey”

    Here’s WUWT’s response to the Vox article by David Roberts: http://wattsupwiththat.com/201…..silliness/

    “the world’s best scientific minds”, huh? Care to name a couple?

  17. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    ? ? ? ? http://www.WorkPost30.com

  18. “This means switching one household’s gas-powered cars for electric ones would require about 34,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.”

    No, not even remotely true. Burning gas is horribly inefficient compared to using electricity for moving a vehicle. A Tesla with a 60kwh battery can go over 200 miles while offering decent performance…that is under two gallons of gas. Those two gallons of gas contain around 68 kwh of energy.

  19. “This means switching one household’s gas-powered cars for electric ones would require about 34,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.”

    No, not even remotely true. Burning gas is horribly inefficient compared to using electricity for moving a vehicle. A Tesla with a 60kwh battery can go over 200 miles while offering decent performance…that is under two gallons of gas. Those two gallons of gas contain around 68 kwh of energy.

  20. “This means switching one household’s gas-powered cars for electric ones would require about 34,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.”

    No, not even remotely true. Burning gas is horribly inefficient compared to using electricity for moving a vehicle. A Tesla with a 60kwh battery can go over 200 miles while offering decent performance…that is under two gallons of gas. Those two gallons of gas contain around 68 kwh of energy.

  21. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

    Clik This Link inYour Browser….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.WorkPost30.com

  22. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

    Clik This Link inYour Browser….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.WorkPost30.com

  23. Beyond the “yucky” factor, an awful lot of environmentalists are completely CLUELESS about how nuclear power actually works and how it differs from a nuclear weapon. In their minds, the technologies are 100% interchangeable. I’ve actually spoken to people who think that, if an atomic power plant were to blow up for any reason (including a terrorist attack) — it would of course produce an atomic blast, mushroom cloud — basically another Hiroshima.

    They also worry that power plant fuel, whether from inside the reactor or as stored waste, could be stolen and packed into missiles or suitcases. As if the extreme difficulty of converting U235 to U238 did not exist, not to mention the feasibility of actually stealing anything like this without the thieves exposing themselves and getting ill on the spot. And never mind the new gen technologies related to atomic power…that’s far beyond their ken.

  24. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.buzznews99.com

  25. My first job out of High School was at St Paul and over the next 5 years Iearned so very much. Seeing the hospital torn down tears a small piece of my heart out. The Daughters of Charity and the doctors and staff of St Paul Hospital will always be with me.
    ??????????? http://www.Jobstribune.com

  26. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

    Open This Link For more Information………

    ??????? http://www.Wage90.Com

  27. As a nuclear engineer, I can tell you Obama’s utopian energy policies (in conjunction with fracking) are having two effects. First, nuclear is being replaced by gas-fired units. Zero emissions to significant (if not as nasty as coal) emissions. Second, the Niagara Falls of crony capitalism subsidies showered by both parties on wind and solar ensures that peak load (at best) sources are replacing base load sources of electricity (something the grid cannot handle, and will eventually lead to brown- or blackouts). Wind and solar are utterly uneconomical sources of power generation – they rely on gigantic subsidies, and have for decades.

    Obama and the younger Democrats may actually be neutral or ambivalent on nuclear power, but the geriatric Democrats infesting the EPA and the party are stuck in the 1970s “No Nukes” mindset, and work as hard to sabotage nuclear power as they do push wind and solar.

    If we want to be serious about power plant emissions (which is reasonable), then slap a carbon tax, a mercury tax, and other taxes on dangerous emissions, zero out the subsidies for all forms of power, and let the market do its work.

  28. Nuclear reactors themselves aren’t the problem so much as the people placing them and running them. The million monkeys maxim says with a million monkeys hammering the keys on a million keyboards, given enough time, one of them will eventually type out one of Shakespeare’s complete works. The same is true in reverse. Given enough time nuclear workers will eventually make that one sequence of mistakes which leads to total meltdown.

    Additionally, presume there’s some sort of disaster, a volcanic explosion, an epidemic, a famine, a war, etc. which causes human operators to abandon their posts. It would only be a matter of time before they all overheated and blew up with regional and global consequences.

    None of these consequences exist with coal steam plants, solar panels, or any other energy technology. Nuclear is just stupid because people are inherently stupid and given enough time will do all stupid things possible.

    1. Because those people in Japan all ran away and left the reactors to melt down without a fight. All those people in Ukraine just let it happen without paying down their own lives. Fuckin hate it when a rhetorical narrative goes down in flames with the bravery and sacrifice of INDIVIDUALS.

  29. California is going to do the same thing it always does. Blame someone else, stick head in sand and wait for the market in AZ & NV to solve their problem for them. Which, will inevitably happen since we can double or triple charge Californians for their power.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.