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  • When All Else Fails, There’s Always Nuclear Energy

    Flash back to the mid 1990s. You’re the coach of the Chicago Bulls and your team is down by one with seven seconds to go. It’s crunch time. Who do you get the ball to, Michael Jordan or bring in the 12th guy off the bench. This isn’t a trick question; it’s just a no brainer. You get the ball to MJ.

    Energy policy is no different. When facing an energy crisis and countries face a disruption for one reason or another and they need a lot of energy, are they going to choose windmills or nuclear power? This one’s also a no brainer and many countries are making these decisions today.

    As a result of Russian-Ukraine natural gas disputes, Ukraine and much or Europe has been forced to make critical and immediate decisions concerning their energy supply. Unsurprisingly, these nations did not attempt to solve their energy crisis with wind or solar. Also unsurprisingly, they turned to nuclear. The WSJ reports:

    Eastern countries like Slovakia and Bulgaria have been among the hardest hit by the crisis, because they are nearly totally dependent on Russian gas. Both have restarted Soviet-era nuclear reactors they mothballed as a condition to join the European economic bloc. Slovakia’s president openly said that, faced with a “cold and dark” winter or a wrist slap from Brussels, he’s prepared to power up the nuclear reactors and deal with the consequences later. Poland, which isn’t in the EU, just said that nuclear power will be a cornerstone of its new energy policy.

    Even Western European countries long leery of nuclear power are rethinking it. Italy’s large gas reserves kept it insulated from the latest crisis, but it still sparked government officials into a call for more nuclear power to boost Italy’s energy security.

    Even in Germany, where Green Party politicians hold a nuclear moratorium sacred, the debate is getting fresh legs. Power sector executives said today they are pretty confident that the double whammy of climate change and the need for more energy security will force Germany to reconsider its current nuclear policy.

    A similar argument can be made here in the United States. No, we do not have a natural gas crisis, but if we are serious about meeting increasing energy demands, nuclear energy must play a large part in the mix. That doesn’t mean picking nuclear as a winner and other sources such as coal, wind and solar as losers. It means letting the market determine how we meet our energy demands, and just as the Ukraine and many countries in the EU have, I’m confident nuclear will emerge as a frontrunner.

    But instead, the government is subsidizing this massive flavor-of-the-month energy source, that’s just not very reliable A Wall Street Journal article yesterday said that the turbines made by Suzlon Energy Ltd., the world’s fifth-largest wind- turbine maker by sales, cannot handle the wind and are cracking. This is not a new phenomenon. As this study shows, wind power reliability is a top concern for industry. And in Northern Ireland, a blade from a turbine fell off and cut through a family’s farmhouse while they were sleeping. (Fortunately, no one was hurt.)

    Then there’s the problem that wind is intermittent, producing electricity only about a third of the time. Can you imagine having a 1 in 3 shot that your TV or light switch turns on? This means that power plants are needed to provide electricity when the wind is not blowing. Also, the life expectancy of windmills is projected to be 20 years, which is about one fourth of the life a nuclear power plant.

    Speaking of nuclear, nuclear is that staple source of energy that will always be there when wind isn’t. 435 nuclear power plants currently operate worldwide providing 16% of the world’s electricity, with many more plants on the way. The reality is, they just don’t fail you. They’re constantly running at a high capacity factor. They’re not subject to the wind blowing or the sun shining or if there’s Russia-Ukraine natural-gas disputes.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to When All Else Fails, There’s Always Nuclear Energy

    1. Bruce McClintic says:

      I wonder if you have done economic analyses on current nuclear costs. Id appreciate an update, including constrution cost, operating, licensing, oversight, waste disposal, insurance.

      How will insurance for the unlikely but possible costs and damages caused by nuclear accidents be handled?

      It seems like a nuclear renaissance in America will require unity of purpose, and the kind of leadership Adm Rickover provided. Where will that leadership come from.

      Thanks, Id appreciate any information you can refer me to on questions such as these.

    2. Rod Adams says:

      Jack – Most people who are knowledgeable about energy blanche when I say this, but the political problem we are facing is that allowing nuclear to participate on a reasonably level playing field means that coal, oil and gas are going to lose.

      No, that does not mean that I am saying that any of the establishment three are going away any time soon, but energy is a strange market where effect of only minor imbalances between supply and demand have a huge impact on commodity pricing. (Just look at what has happened to prices in the past 6 months due to a few percentage drop in energy use as the economy slowed.) Fission has the demonstrated potential to enable a larger, rapidly growing supply to be available to a slowly growing market demand.

      I strongly suspect that a major reason that we have been taught to fear nuclear is because a small minority of some very powerful people recognized that fission is threat to the prosperity of the suppliers of all other heat sources. That was especially true in the 1970s when nuclear was growing rapidly, but the potential for rapid growth has never disappeared despite decades worth of actions. The potential is natural, not man-made.

      Fortunately, the Russians overplayed their hand in Europe and awakened a barely restrained Gulliver. The little people from Lilliput known collectively as the anti-nuclear movement have effectively lost control.

    3. Dave Hiltbrand says:

      I work in the nuclear power field and hope that America does not turn its back on this great power source. However, I also don't want to see all of our eggs placed in the nuclear basket. Like anything else, we need a diversity of energy supplies for stability and security.

      Nuclear power has proven itself to be safe (always a relative term, never absolute) over the last 40 – 50 years of nuclear power plant operations, but I worry that if the U.S. does not participate in the nuclear renaissance, we will not have any influence over the safety of new nuclear plants being built throughout the rest of the world. I can tell you one thing as a fact, the rest of the world has learned to model their nuclear safety programs after ours. If we aren't there for the future, who will assume that leadership role and can we trust them to do it right?

    4. Rmoen, Reno, NV says:

      Thanks for the positive comments re nuclear energy. Nuclear power is the only large-scale, environmentally-benign, time-tested technology currently available to provide clean electricity. Wind and solar power can't provide baseload, and they always require some form of backup – usually from burning fossil fuels. See non-commercial website Energy Plan USA (www.energyplanusa.com). It educates Americans in energy issues.

    5. Kent beuchert Tampa says:

      I always have observed that wind proponents are incredibly inaccurate in their arguments. Aside from the fact that nuclear plants last many times longer than windmills, the price of uranium is almost trivial – a Texas nuclear plant last year paid on average .39 cents per kilowatthour to produce electricity. Wind power is often cheaper than it could ever be produced at without the nearly 4 cents per kilowatthour Fed subsidies (not counting state subsidies), yet is worth practically nothing. Texas reported wind power

      capacity at less than 1 percent during peak demand. Wind is negatively correlated with demand – when people get up and start using electricity, any wind dies down. Thus wind can never replace any reliable capacity, now or ever.

      I see that a texas nuclear plant produced at over 100% of capacity on average for the entire past 12 months and produced power at a cost of 1.95 cents per kilowatthour. California power average cost is over 15 cents and they still produce 650 pound of carbon dioxide for every megawatthour, while nuclear heavy Vermont produces just 5 pounds per megawatthour. No matter how you slice it, unreliable alternative energies like wind, wave and solar (especially solar PV) is not competitive with nuclear. And now nuclear plants

      are gaining the ability to quickly ramp power output up and down, meaning they can provide more than just baseload power, replacing gas and coal plants.

    6. Barb -mn says:

      The energy crisis is government, environmentalists, Al Gore induced. There is absolutely no reason NOT TO USE NATURAL RESOURCES and without the inefficiency of wind and solar.

      Couldn't the lack of usage of natural resources pose problems? Does oil accumulate in it's natural state of existence? What about nuclear and coal?

      Work on alternatives for now. But keep what is available NOW, fossil fuels going until they no longer exist and alternatives can replace efficiently and effectively.

    7. Nate, Forestville MD says:

      Pebble bed nuclear reactors are the way to go they are modular the design is failsafe and the byproduct is hydrogen gas what's not to like.

      China will corner the world market with these reactors while we just sit.

    8. Chuck, Sunny South F says:

      I, for one, support narrowly focused infrastructure spending. The least supported infrastructure updates over the last three decades has been our nuclear power plants and electric grid. I am proposing we spend most of $400 billion set-aside on infrastructure to increasing the number of nuclear power plants throughout the United States by 120. The benefit to cost will be enormous. Thousands of high paying jobs in each location as well as clean, reliable power for generations to come. This is truly a win-win. Let's stop frivolous spending and really invest in infrastructure. http://www.thevirtualcongress.com

    9. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Stop politicizing energy generation. Wind and solar can not be alternative since there is no electrical energy storage mechanism and there is no control over their inputs.

      We need to get rid of extreme environmental movements holding hostage of the energy production in this country. They are responsible for shutting down the coal fired plants (least expensive), nuclear power and now natural gas and oil. Nuclear power in this country was demonized with the Three-mile island. In spite of the controls working to contain the operator errors, nuclear power was doomed by the Concerned Scientists-neither scientists nor concerned. Just look at France. They are generating over 75% of their power through nuclear power. They also reprocess fuel minimizing the waste. President Carter banned reprocessing in the US citing terrorism concerns.

      Under the pretext of private utilities not servicing rural customers, FDR poured millions of government tax dollars in creating the TVA and essentially introduced monopolies.

      Get the government out. Stop subsidizing any form of energy production. Stop believing in the man-mad global warming hoax.

    10. Hozro1, Oregon says:

      Forty-five years ago, I was involved with a group whose purpose was to justify or not continuing the use of Nuclear Electrical power manufacturing as it was done at that time.

      After months of input, review and re-review, the conclusion was that the ultimate hazards, far outweighed the potential benefits.

      The nuclear grid at that time accounted for approximately seven to ten percent of the electrical out put of the United States, depending upon the seasons.

      The constant figure was that the nuclear plants directly took back three percent of their output, just to generate. At this time America already had vast surplus of weapons grade Plutonium.

      The storage scenario of used materials became more of a question of transportation that confinement/containment. There were at that time mass areas of storage underground, Federally Controlled, naturally dry and naturally temperature controlled and naturally corrosive resistant.

      The final and biggest threat, of which we could find no feasible way of one hundred prevention, was a small air vehicle dropping the equivalent of three hundred pounds of TNT down the throat of the Cooling Tower! This resulting in the commonly called, "Chia Syndrome," where enough heat is generated to melt the 'Mass' way pass all aquifers, causing radioactive clouds of steam to rise.

      Steam being naturally expansive and pressured would reach ground levels at an explosive rate shooting several thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

      This radioactive cloud would be constant, meaning decades of time, until the aquifers drained, and would move in accordance to the prevailing winds.

      Our Group's unanimous conclusion, was to begin the gradual shutting down of all this Nation's Nuclear Facilities, over a period of time, without, explanation, without exception.

      Hozro

    11. Mike, Hickory, NC says:

      The facts in the above article are true, but millions of (U.S.) Americans know that the Leftists/government elitists will never admit the facts and will instead act in spite of them, including the fact that a perennial favorite nation of theirs, France, gets most of their electricity from nuclear power!

      True, at this time neither we nor the French know what to do with “nuclear waste”, other than "store" it. However, as with "gasoline" and other things which at one time nobody knew what to do with other than discard as "useless” or “harmful waste", that doesn't mean that nobody in the private sector, independent of government, could imagine and develop any better ways of dealing with what is at this time called "nuclear waste", as have already been imagined and developed with other "waste" or "harmful waste" such as "gasoline", "recycled" petroleum products, "recycled" vegetable oil (a.k.a. "bio-fuel"), and others.

      Alas, the Leftists/government elitists will do anything and everything in their power to let it be "a cold day in hell" (and of course blame it on anybody else) instead of their admitting the facts submitting to the documented will of the majority of "the American people" who want to "drill here, and drill now", and “mine here, mine now” our own petroleum, natural gas, and geological sources (which are already documented and known to be enough to replace a number of major yet troublesome foreign sources), simultaneously engage in both the use and development of alternative sources (including Nuclear), and so make America become truly "energy independent" both now and in the future.

      Why would the Leftists/government elitists let it be "a cold day in hell" before they would admit the facts and submit to the will of the majority? Because of course we would then expose and disprove their demagoguing and pandering to get and preserve their Leftist/government elitist power through such as (but not limited to) their "energy policies", no matter how harmful, especially to "the poor", such policies are and will be. Examples: "President" Obama's plan for "punitive penalties for environmental damage against coal companies”, which even he practically admits endangers both coal mining companies (and jobs), in spite of the reliance of legions of employees on such companies and jobs, and in spite of the fact that we get most all of our electricity from mining. Plus, there is Obama's warning us that "Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” which is harmful, especially to "the poor", too many of whom will no longer be able to afford their energy and transportation costs, and will be found choosing between "food and sweating/suffocating to death during summers and/or freezing to death" during winters.

      And for what? So Leftist/government elitists can demagogue and pander to prevent our “drilling here, drilling now”, “mining here, mining now”, and our simultaneous use and development of alternative sources (including nuclear) to make America truly “energy independent” both now and in the future, (and protect and create all those businesses and jobs), all for the sake of their Leftist/government elitist agenda and power.

    12. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      Now I don’t see my response to this issue, so perhaps this site somehow lost or eliminated it, and so now I am re-entering it here again.

      The facts in the above article are true, but millions of (U.S.) Americans know that the Leftists/government elitists will never admit the facts and will instead act in spite of them, including the fact that a perennial favorite nation of theirs, France, gets most of their electricity from nuclear power!

      True, at this time neither we nor the French know what to do with “nuclear waste”, other than "store" it. However, as with "gasoline" and other things which at one time nobody knew what to do with other than discard as "useless” or “harmful waste", that doesn't mean that nobody in the private sector, independent of government, could imagine and develop any better ways of dealing with what is at this time called "nuclear waste", as have already been imagined and developed with other "waste" or "harmful waste" such as "gasoline", "recycled" petroleum products, "recycled" vegetable oil (a.k.a. "bio-fuel"), and others.

      Alas, the Leftists/government elitists will do anything and everything in their power to let it be "a cold day in hell" (and of course blame it on anybody else) instead of their admitting the facts submitting to the documented will of the majority of "the American people" who want to "drill here, and drill now", and “mine here, mine now” our own petroleum, natural gas, and geological sources (which are already documented and known to be enough to replace a number of major yet troublesome foreign sources), simultaneously engage in both the use and development of alternative sources (including Nuclear), and so make America become truly "energy independent" both now and in the future.

      Why would the Leftists/government elitists let it be "a cold day in hell" before they would admit the facts and submit to the will of the majority? Because of course we would then expose and disprove their demagoguing and pandering to get and preserve their Leftist/government elitist power through such as (but not limited to) their "energy policies", no matter how harmful, especially to "the poor", such policies are and will be. Examples: "President" Obama's plan for "punitive penalties for environmental damage against coal companies”, which even he practically admits endangers both coal mining companies (and jobs), in spite of the reliance of legions of employees on such companies and jobs, and in spite of the fact that we get most all of our electricity from mining. Plus, there is Obama's warning us that "Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” which is harmful, especially to "the poor", too many of whom will no longer be able to afford their energy and transportation costs, and will be found choosing between "food and sweating/suffocating to death during summers and/or freezing to death" during winters.

      And for what? So Leftist/government elitists can demagogue and pander to prevent our “drilling here, drilling now”, “mining here, mining now”, and our simultaneous use and development of alternative sources (including nuclear) to make America truly “energy independent” both now and in the future, (and protect and create all those businesses and jobs), all for the sake of their Leftist/government elitist agenda and power

    13. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      Now I don’t see my response to this issue, so perhaps this site somehow lost or eliminated it, and so now I am re-entering it here again (and I’ll keep re-entering it until I do see it here).

      The facts in the above article are true, but millions of (U.S.) Americans know that the Leftists/government elitists will never admit the facts and will instead act in spite of them, including the fact that a perennial favorite nation of theirs, France, gets most of their electricity from nuclear power!

      True, at this time neither we nor the French know what to do with “nuclear waste”, other than "store" it. However, as with "gasoline" and other things which at one time nobody knew what to do with other than discard as "useless” or “harmful waste", that doesn't mean that nobody in the private sector, independent of government, could imagine and develop any better ways of dealing with what is at this time called "nuclear waste", as have already been imagined and developed with other "waste" or "harmful waste" such as "gasoline", "recycled" petroleum products, "recycled" vegetable oil (a.k.a. "bio-fuel"), and others.

      Alas, the Leftists/government elitists will do anything and everything in their power to let it be "a cold day in hell" (and of course blame it on anybody else) instead of their admitting the facts submitting to the documented will of the majority of "the American people" who want to "drill here, and drill now", and “mine here, mine now” our own petroleum, natural gas, and geological sources (which are already documented and known to be enough to replace a number of major yet troublesome foreign sources), simultaneously engage in both the use and development of alternative sources (including Nuclear), and so make America become truly "energy independent" both now and in the future.

      Why would the Leftists/government elitists let it be "a cold day in hell" before they would admit the facts and submit to the will of the majority? Because of course we would then expose and disprove their demagoguing and pandering to get and preserve their Leftist/government elitist power through such as (but not limited to) their "energy policies", no matter how harmful, especially to "the poor", such policies are and will be. Examples: "President" Obama's plan for "punitive penalties for environmental damage against coal companies”, which even he practically admits endangers both coal mining companies (and jobs), in spite of the reliance of legions of employees on such companies and jobs, and in spite of the fact that we get most all of our electricity from mining. Plus, there is Obama's warning us that "Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” which is harmful, especially to "the poor", too many of whom will no longer be able to afford their energy and transportation costs, and will be found choosing between "food and sweating/suffocating to death during summers and/or freezing to death" during winters.

      And for what? So Leftist/government elitists can demagogue and pander to prevent our “drilling here, drilling now”, “mining here, mining now”, and our simultaneous use and development of alternative sources (including nuclear) to make America truly “energy independent” both now and in the future, (and protect and create all those businesses and jobs), all for the sake of their Leftist/government elitist agenda and power.

    14. Thomas Gray South Ca says:

      Hozzo,1,

      I don,t think you are telling the truth, In new England we used the ocean as a cooling system for our nuclear powered electric generation for many years.

    15. Thomas Gray South Ca says:

      Hozro 1,

      I hope no terrorist drops anything down the cooling towers of a nuclear powered submarine.

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