Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power Subsidies Adopted by Illinois State Government

Subsidies for Everybody! Nukes evidently need subsidies to compete with renewable subsidies.

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NuclearPowerHerberKehrerNewscom
Herbert Kehrer/Newscom

What source of power provides no-carbon on-demand electricity? Well, yes, hydropower dams do, but the vast majority of no-carbon power in the United States is generated by nuclear power plants. So for folks worried about man-made global warming caused by the increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as a result of burning fossil fuels, wouldn't it be a good idea to build more nuclear power plants? For such folks, it would also seem to be a no-brainer that they should at least want those that are currently producing copious no-carbon power to keep operating, right? However, a perhaps unintended consequence of subsidizing intermittent renewable power sources has arisen; their subsidized electricity outcompetes unsubsidized and over-regulated nuclear power. As a result, nuclear power operators can't make a profit, so many are threatening to close down their plants.

Since renewable sources of power cannot (yet) supply baseload electrity, this means that new natural gas and even coal power plants would have to open to replace the lost nuclear generation capacity. Of course, this means boosting, not reducing, carbon dioxide emissions. So what to do? The answer appears to be: Subsidies for Everybody! This solution to the problem of competing subsidies was adopted in August by New York State when it kept open several nuclear power plants by offering their operators subsidies amounting to about $500 million per year.

Illinois yesterday enacted similar legislation aiming to keep three of the state's nuclear power plants open as they compete with subsidized renewable energy. The so-called Future Energy Jobs Act would provide nuclear plant operator Exelon with around $235 million a year for up to 13 years. Nevertheless, this is another victory for Michael Shellenberger and his eco-modernist Environmental Progress group that is spearheading the campaign to keep U.S. nuclear power plants open as a way to address whatever problems man-made climate change may cause.

In its report on the adoption of the Future Energy Jobs Act, World Nuclear News cogently noted:

Agneta Rising, director-general of the World Nuclear Association, said the bill would ensure continued operation of the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants, providing clean and reliable electricity as part of a package of measures designed to boost a range of low-carbon energy technologies. "In the longer term we need markets to deliver the electricity mix that we need, without intervention. Markets should recognise the value of secure and reliable electricity supplies, as well as the environmental benefits of different forms of electricity generation," she said.

Without intervention? What a novel idea!

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  1. Jesus, why don’t they just burn dollar bills for energy?

    1. If they burn them, what are the going to dump into the holes?

      1. More dollars of course. The Fed can always print some more, right?

    2. Because in the longrun its cheaper to burn rocks.

  2. How about we just give no one a subsidy and level the playing field like that? Nothing left to cut, huh?

    1. There’s no fundraising potential in that. Now, all of the energy people have to come and pretend they like the Illinois State Assembly or Congress or whatever. Shake hands, give money, attend cocktail parties where they pray that one of those pricks chokes on a martini olive.

      1. How about we eliminate politicians and lobbyists?

        1. As long as we don’t replace them with royalty and favored supplicants.

    2. Nobody who asks for a ‘level playing field’ ever means that their end be raised up even with the other – its always that the other’s gets lowered to their level.

  3. Let’s pass some subsidies to offset our crushing regulations!

  4. “Since renewable sources of power cannot (yet) supply caseload”

    By “yet”, you mean “ever”?

    1. Not to worry, I saw an article where they are finally about to finish building the ITER in 2025, and it will be able to immediately generate “hundreds of megawatts” of fusion power in excess of the power required to start it. So, about as much as any of the dozens of LNG plants that have been built in the last 10 years. So, you know, fusion is only 15-20 years away. Just like it has been since 1944.

      1. Huh. So barely enough to bring me water.

        I don’t need water at night, I guess.

        1. When the revolution comes, we’re going to drain your pool and distribute it to the people as drinking water.

      2. Oh, you fusion fans only want to get this to work so that you can rape Luna for the fuel, since raping Gaia is not enough for you rapey rape mongers! *runs sobbing from room*

      3. The question, as always, is not ‘can it generate more power than it consumes’ but ‘can it generate more money than it costs to operate’?

      4. it will be able to immediately generate “hundreds of megawatts” of fusion power in excess of the power required to start it. So, about as much as any of the dozens of LNG plants that have been built in the last 10 years.

        A commercial plant would be scaled up, presumably.

    2. You’re being unfair. When the Zombie apocalypse comes, you’ll be able to run your small darkened campsite on renewable power.

    3. By “yet”, you mean “ever”?

      My first thought exactly. At some point it passes from being a fib or fairytale about sustainability to an outright lie about the laws of thermodynamics.

    4. While solar doesn’t supply base load, it does at least do a decent job of tracking the overall trend of load (which tends to rise in the morning and drop off at night). The problem is that if you have a lot of solar in one area, a few big clouds can trigger the equivalent of a plant trip. It won’t work without some sort of cost-effective storage or very low density.

      1. And it won’t work with low density as then the costs of connecting each of the little areas to the grid increases significantly.

        1. Unless maybe it was just done on the distribution side, in areas that already have lines? I’m not too familiar with distribution, though.

      2. While solar doesn’t supply base load, it does at least do a decent job of tracking the overall trend of load (which tends to rise in the morning and drop off at night).

        Solar peaks at noon, demand peaks between 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM depending on location. In California the peak demand is between 6:00 and 7:00. I wouldn’t consider that a “decent job of tracking”.

  5. You get a subsidy! And you get a subsidy! And you get a subsidy!

    1. Stedman approves.

    1. Isn’t that the title of John Scalzi’s latest book?

      1. I wouldn’t know. He started mailing it in about 2010 and I haven’t given him any money since 2012.

        1. Does that mean no more zombie movies or games? In that case, I welcome our new zombie overlords.

        2. You gave him money? I bought a few of his books, but he started mailing it in about 2010.

          1. His publishers, whatever. The redshirts book. The only books I’ve ever felt I wasted more money on was the last three books of the Dark Tower.

            1. “The redshirts book.”

              That was the last book of his I got. It was terrible.

              And when it won the 2013 Hugo, I knew the awards were to the let’s give Obama a Nobel Peace prize before he’s done anything phase. This was all about being in the cool kids club and nothing to do with the quality of the work.

  6. “What source of power provides no-carbon on-demand electricity? Well, yes, hydropower dams do”

    And so do geothermal power plants.

    1. Here’s the problem: Green assholes are trying to tear down damns too.

      On the chopping block now: Glen Canyon Damn.

          1. Was I supposed to say /no homo?

    2. “And so do geothermal power plants.”

      That’s very much a niche source of power currently.

    3. What source of power provides no-carbon on-demand electricity? Well, yes, hydropower dams do,

      And only as long as droughts don’t kill the water supply

  7. many are threatening to close down their plants.

    And many aren’t stopping at threatening. New England will be losing quite a lot over the next couple years.

    1. And to make up for it, a great many morons are against bringing in nat gas.

    1. Thank you for your contribution.

      1. You beat me by one minute, but timestamps can lie.

        1. “I control the timestamps, knave.” /FistofEtiquette

          1. Who controls the timestamps controls the past. Who controls the past controls the future.

            1. Time must flow.

  8. What source of power provides no-carbon on-demand electricity? Well, yes, hydropower dams do, but the vast majority of no-carbon power in the United States is generated by nuclear power plants.

    Full life-cycle analysis!

      1. I suppose windmills offset their carbon emissions from manufacturing, (and, *snicker* while operating their ‘backup’ plants) by removing carbon compounds from the air.

        All those birds are serious contributors to atmospheric carbon and global warming after all.

  9. Instead of subsidizing existing nuclear power plants, just get out of the way of building new, standardized/modular design power plants. And allow thorium fueled molten salt reactor plants to be built. And cut the massive regulatory burden on nuclear power and quit allowing all the NIMBY types and the no-nuke type to effectively kill projects by holding them up in court for years on end.

    And also hope that Lockheed Martin succeeds in perfecting their fusion reactor.

    1. The problem with thorium is that most working nuclear engineers and scientists have very little knowledge of thorium. The US government had (has?) a policy preferring plutonium and uranium over thorium in order to build reactors that could fuel the US nuclear weapons arsenal.

      We’d need a massive crash course in thorium technology to bring our nuclear industry up to speed to deploy thorium reactors.

  10. And by the way, Ron, since you’re a big proponent of future tech, what is your stance on building additional pylons?

    1. Once you hit the resource cap you’re better off with a mix of turrets and pylons – use the extra pylons to shield and funnel.

    2. For that, Sparky, I love you.

      1. I’m also running low on vespene.

    3. You evil person? now I have to play Starcraft.

      And there’s Free Starcraft II Starter Edition? Now I have to try Starcraft II!

      22 GB remaining? *sigh*

  11. Ah Illinois, my home State. *breaks down sobbing

    1. The so-called Future Energy Jobs Act would provide nuclear plant operator Exelon with around $235 million a year for up to 13 years.

      Not to be upstaged by Indiana’s nickel-and-dime level cronyism…

  12. subsidies amounting to about $500 per year.

    Wow, those nuclear power plant operators must have low self-esteem! (I think there are six zeros missing.)

    1. This reminded of the scene in Austin Powers where he demands One Million Dollars

    2. PSF: Grrr. Proofing: Sometimes it’s in one eye and out of the other. Fixed now. Thanks. Enjoy your weekends folks!

      1. Happy to help, and thanks for the acknowledgement.

  13. Throughout the world the only ‘no carbon’ power plants (Read: don’t release more carbon compounds while producing electricity) are nuclear, geothermal, and hydro.

    Nuclear and geo are not ‘renewable’, geothermal power generation is almost non-existent in the US (.4%), and hydro power counts for approximately 6% of power generation in the US.

    So if you want ‘no-carbon’, the nuclear option is the only option available.

    1. I would have thought geothermal was about as renewable as hydro. Seems likely that the Earth will stay hot inside for at least as long as water is flowing on the surface.

      1. Huh. So you’re advocating that we use the entire Yellowstone caldera as an energy source?

        1. As long as there are no followup questions, yes.

      2. But we could end up cooling the earth off!

      3. And all that heat comes from gravitational collapse and nuclear decay – the planet ain’t getting smaller and there’s a finite amount of nuclear material in the earth’s crust.

        Sure, its a mind-boggling huge amount of energy, but if you want to get *technical*, there is no such thing as ‘renewable’ energy at all – ALL sources of energy are finite. To call it ‘renewable’ is to draw an arbitrary line on a graph.

        1. But in current usage, ‘renewable’ denotes ‘powered by the sun’ – which hydro is.

          Its heat causing water to evaporate, heat causing winds to take that water vapor over mountains, heat causing rain *above a reservoir* to deposit water (with its accumulated gravitational potential energy) in the reservoir, ready to be run downhill through a turbine.

          The sun is what supplies the energy to raise the water above the dam.

  14. Think of the money to be saved if we quit subsidizing wind and solar and go beyond dangerous uranium/plutonium based nuclear plants to thorium-based molten salt reactors which eventually consume any radioactive waste. Add to that the fact that American engineers are building thorium plants for China – but we can’t get past our own bureaucracy.

    1. g-f: I’m with you. One innovative approach to using nuclear energy to produce electricity safely is to develop thorium reactors. Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) have a lot to recommend them with regard to safety. Fueled by a molten mixture of thorium and uranium dissolved in fluoride salts of lithium and beryllium at atmospheric pressure….

      Because LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure, they are less likely than conventional pressurized reactors to spew radioactive elements if an accident occurs. In addition, an increase in operating temperature slows down the nuclear chain reaction, inherently stabilizing the reactor. And LFTRs are designed with a salt plug at the bottom that melts if reactor temperatures somehow do rise too high, draining reactor fluid into a containment vessel where it essentially freezes.

      It is estimated that 83 percent of LFTR waste products are safe within 10 years, while the remainder needs to be stored for 300 years. Another advantage is that LFTRs can use plutonium and nuclear waste as fuel, transmuting them into much less radioactive and harmful elements, thus eliminating the need for waste storage lasting up to 10,000 years. No commercial thorium reactors currently exist, although China announced a project earlier this year that aims to develop such reactors.

      1. Look, Ron, if I don’t allow fluoride in my water, you can be damned sure I’m not allowing it in my reactors.

        1. Stop drinking out of your reactors.

  15. As a resident of the Quad Cities, I’d just like to note that the plant simply could not compete with the subsidised wind and solar prices. They’d spent years lobbying against those subsidies, and then realized that they couldn’t win that battle, so they chose to join it instead. A bad outcome, but better than if the plant had closed, i think.

  16. “…their subsidized electricity outcompetes unsubsidized and over-regulated nuclear power.”

    Geez, Ron, don’t you realize all those regulations are essential? If we got rid of a single one of them, there would be a Chernobyl in every state, and the whole planet would literally melt into a radioactive soup.

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