July 28, 2009
Demo Leader Chopp says nuclear power will rise again

When Washington House leader Frank Chopp is in the Tri-Cities he likes nuclear power. How about with Seattle audiences?

Seattle P-I:

Speaking in the Tri-Cities, where two partially built nuclear plants sit abandoned nearby at Hanford, state House Speaker Frank Chopp has raised the possibility that nuclear energy will again have a glowing future.

Chopp predicted that nuclear power will be part of the solution to America's dependence on foreign oil, according to a report by the Tri-City Herald.

But first, he said, public attitudes must change.

"We have to be patient," said Chopp. "Most politicians are a little leery of the issue because some people are very emotional about it."

People are emotional about it because they have had the "worse than worst case" scenario drilled into their minds and emotions for 30 years. When people know the situation we can discuss nuclear on its true merits and side effects.

Safety. Only two incidents in decades of operation of hundreds of plants have released radiation. At Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania no one was killed and very little radiation was released. At Chernobyl firefighters were killed and radiation was released that has resulted in increased cancer deaths. But the Soviet Union had a track record of having no concern for the environment and for the health and safety of its people and built its reactors without containment shields that were used in the US. The interest of the state always came first. There are no other cases of radiation being released.

Environment. Nuclear power emits no solid particles (air pollution) nor green-house gases.

Disposal. The waste is solid and can be stored for a long time. The US has built an underground repository in Nevada for long-term storage.

I think Chopp is right. Nuclear power does have a place. Say the same thing in Seattle, Mr. Speaker. Better yet, start the process of educating people on how nuclear power emits very few greenhouse gases, is economical to operate and its disposal problems have been conquered.

Posted by Ron Hebron at July 28, 2009 08:11 AM | Email This
1. Having operated a naval nuclear reactor for 20 years, I concur. Reactors can be operated cleanly and safely.

Posted by: Mike336 on July 28, 2009 08:30 AM
2. This is all great, but this is a Blue State, and Democrats oppose any sources of energy that actually work. They're all for the kinds that don't work, as long as you don't actually build them.

I know, it's hard to understand.

Posted by: Gary on July 28, 2009 08:35 AM
3. Chopp is taking care of Chopp

America is not going to tolerate the current trends for much longer.
Too many vulnerabilities and too little real leadership will result in unexpected changes that no one can contain or control . . . just react to (like 911).

It is startling how easily most people have accepted the loss of the twin towers and the people associated with it and act as if it only the act of a little group of disgruntled victims of American capitalism/culture/liberalism/chrictianity/whatever. The complacency has spread to everything as we watch a surreal experiment in republican/democracy at the top levels of government. And the states are following suit with almost child-like abandon about crucial issues that demand positive attention.

Chopp is taking care of Chopp, and ever thus (until it is no longer possible). In the mean time, (so long as Chopp has his) to hell with us.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 28, 2009 08:51 AM
4. This is just so obvious to engineers. The only baseload technology, that is also clean, efficient, cheap, etc. is nuclear. Even some greens are waking up. Nuclear is the future. But there are the recalcitrant Reds who will be dragged in to the future, kicking and screaming about Global Warming, bathing in carbon credit profits, all the while clinging to their windmills and solar panels.

Not a single US death due to nuclear reactors for power generation. There have been way more in Hydro plant construction, daily breathing of coal dust from coal miners, oil rig accidents and fires, etc.

It's safe, cheap, efficient, and capable. And with 3G and 4G plants of even greater self limiting reactions for safety and efficiency, and without the need for water cooled loops, the time for nuclear is now.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 28, 2009 09:08 AM
5. "I think Chopp is right." Perhaps, although I suspect in a broken clock sort of way. He raises suspicions further when he panders, but doesn't even have the courage of convictions to actually propose anything.

It's just another display of duplicitous say one thing, do another that liberals - and their useful idiots - employ. Sorta like bozos who say, "But there should be no pretense that one is still engaging in logical argument when ad hominem is used." when he clearly doesn't know what an ad hominem is and does it himself.

So, does anyone think that Chopp is doing anything other than naked political posturing?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 28, 2009 09:16 AM
6. Considering those in power do not consider large-scale hydro to be renewable (all those dams on the Columbia, powering all our fans and AC units today), does it surprise anyone about their irrational fear of nuclear power?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 28, 2009 09:34 AM
7. A great book to help understand the need for nuclear power is William Tucker's "Terrestrial Energy". This is a book that explains the scientific need for nuclear power in clear understandable way. Thumbs up for Chopp for looking out for our planets future.

Via the Nuclear Renisance,


Posted by: jfarmer9 on July 28, 2009 09:37 AM
8. A great book to help understand the need for nuclear power is William Tucker's "Terrestrial Energy". This is a book that explains the scientific need for nuclear power in clear understandable way. Thumbs up to Chopp for looking out for our planets future.

Via the Nuclear Renaissance,


Posted by: jfarmer9 on July 28, 2009 09:39 AM
9. Where is demo kid to rush in here and tell us why nucUlar is so bad, but wind/solar/geo-thermal can suit our energy needs for the next 300 years!

Posted by: Crusader on July 28, 2009 12:00 PM
10. #9. "wind/solar/geo-thermal can suit our energy needs for the next 300 years!" but only until we actually start to build any of that, then they will oppose those forms also. Dianne Feinstein has blocked the the use of the desert for solar power of all things.

Posted by: Gary on July 28, 2009 12:10 PM
11. I know that Nuclear Energy can be safe. I also know that you cannot trust the managament of them. It's the human element that is the problem. Management tends to push limits to meet profit demands. Maintenance, training, and safety drills are postpond to meet earnings demands. Example Alaska Airlines killed a plane load of people because of a Jackscrew that should have been replaced. When things like this happen it is not an accident because it was preventable. We also need to solve the waste problem that we are passing on to our grandchildren, if we care about them.

Posted by: Bob on July 28, 2009 12:30 PM
12. Bob, how many people have the nuclear management killed over the past many decades?

As for the waste problem... we *had* it figured out and spent a *ton* money on Yucca Mountain, and then Obama came along and killed the entire project.

Just like that. Talk about management problems... now we have delayed the storage issue even more.

Posted by: Gary on July 28, 2009 12:46 PM
13. There are no other cases of radiation being released.

Windscale (Sellafield)?

@9: Where is demo kid to rush in here and tell us why nucUlar is so bad, but wind/solar/geo-thermal can suit our energy needs for the next 300 years!

We have had problems managing our nuclear waste NOW, and these waste products are around for millenia... but you're convinced that we should make MORE of it? And regardless of the safety procedures deployed, the effects of a one in a million or one in a billion event would stick around for far longer than a similar event at a coal-fired power plant or a wind farm.

Likewise, the net life-cycle environmental benefits depend strongly on the economic and environmental costs of processing, transport and disposal of the nuclear material.

I'm not against nuclear power per se, but you just seem to like it because some environmentalists don't, without actually thinking realistically about the logistics.

And hey, given that this fellow wanted to build "The Great Wall of Chopp" as a replacement for the viaduct... you'll forgive me if I tune him out.

Posted by: demo kid on July 28, 2009 02:08 PM
14. I usually stay far away from this forum for good reason but I'm compelled to chime in:

I've been a life long opponent of conventional nuclear power. I think it's too capital intensive, too hard to get right in terms of siting, construction and other factors. I don't like these new fangled pebble bed reactors either which promise to be cheaper and safer but have hard waste problems of their own.

The latest hearing on nukes that Lamar Alexander organized was fun. He wants 100 reactors built and all the witnesses from nuke industry said they can't do it without Uncle Sam ponying up big bucks - many billions of dollars.

However I believe widespread adoption of one nuclear technology is probably the best chance we have to solve both the energy and climate crises - the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor or LFTR - conceptually cheap to build on the order of gas burners, can burn any nasty radiotoxic waste out there and leaves behind fission products that only have to be managed for at most 500 years not thousands as with the current situation. The reactors are not pressurized so there's no chance of them blowing up - for all intents and purposes they can be considered inherently safe. Lastly they are highly proliferation resistant. The U233 they breed can be used for atom bombs (not H bombs) but no country has ever built a weapons program around U233 and with a combination of technology, proper international monitoring and other safeguards, this too is easily managed.

Chance of adoption - very low. Why? It's a disruptive technology that substitutes the uranium fuel cycle for the thorium fuel cycle. Thorium is not a good substance for building a weapons program around and thorium is cheap and plentiful so the status quo conventional nuclear industry will no longer be able to profit from making uranium fuel assemblies.

If you really like nuclear power you should be all for this technology. It really seems to fulfill the promise of making power that's too cheap to meter. The high temp heat these guys produce has a multitude of uses beyond electricity - industrial process heat, water desalinization, even synthesis of liquid fuels like DME and ammonia fertilizer.

This technology was heavily researched in the 60's, early 70's at Oak Ridge Labs but it lost out politically to proponents of uranium fuel cycle technologies.

We've reduced the price of transistors to almost nothing. Here's the way with energy. Hop on board:


Posted by: YLB on July 28, 2009 02:59 PM
15. #13. No, I have always been for nuclear power. In fact, the Right in general has always been for nuclear power. We are not for nuclear power because environmentalists aren't. Seems to me if we're "boiling the planet" (or whatever Inslee said) then AGW'ers should be for this, like you are.

Posted by: Gary on July 28, 2009 03:03 PM
16. @15: It's part of the GHG emissions reductions plans of a number of countries: Japan, for example, wanted to reduce emissions by relying more on nuclear power. If anything, though, GHG emissions are going up due to problems and safety concerns with these reactors and a need to rely on fossil fuel backups (including Tokaimura).

What YLB is talking about is actually pretty cool, though, and thorium cycle reactors have some interesting applications for really remote communities.

I'm not against "nuclear power" as a general concept. I'm just against the idea that the risks and costs should be downplayed simply for financial gain, and I haven't seen any evidence that conservatives think clearly or seriously about these things. As Jim would put it, you're not quite looking at the cost-benefit analysis over the entire life-cycle.

Posted by: demo kid on July 28, 2009 05:40 PM
17. I also think that nuclear should have a role -- even a big role -- in our energy portfolio. So does the Democratic state speaker, apparently.

This is sort of dispelling the outrage expressed repeatedly in this thread of Democratic opposition to nuclear power...

Posted by: John Jensen on July 28, 2009 05:51 PM
18. Well hey, if Frank Chopp, DemoKid and Rizzo (John Jensen who advertises that he wants to murder conservatives) are for Nukes, we have a program.
Lets start tomorrow.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 28, 2009 07:42 PM
19. the risks of nuclear energy aren't worth the "rewards"

it takes a sh*t ton of mining for uranium. not only is the mining really awful for the environment, the mined ore releases radon and increases cancer rates for miners.

decomissioning of reactors has a huge footprint as well.

then there is the cost of all the waste. tens of millions of gallons of waste leaked from storage tanks @ hanford military reservation, water from the columbia river was used to cool the plant. safe, right? yeah, the native population and fisherman were probably not affected in anyway. contamination from nuke plants is rampant aroud the globe, not just here in the u.s.

in 2003, the gov't secured over 300,000 acres in nevada for rail access to the yucca storage facility. almost 11,000,000 acres of land around yucca are owned by the goverment. is this because waste is safe? looks like a minimal footprint to me.

biomass co-generation and biodigesters have been successfully used in a number of european communities, specifically in scandinavia. also very benficial for farms and rural applications. vauban (a green district of freiburg, DE) is also a model in that sense, utilizing wind, solar and cogeneration, w/ a number of houses built to passivhaus + plusenergie standards.

there is no need for additional "nukuler" power here in the NW.

Posted by: mike on July 28, 2009 09:02 PM
20. Mike,

Nuclear is used successfully in a number of European communities, including being the dominant source for France and Germany (the most populous nations in Europe).

Why not use what hundreds of millions of people in Europe (not to mention Japan) rely on for their primary source of electricity?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 28, 2009 09:55 PM
21. It's factually incorrect for Bob, mike, etc. to worry about the Chernobyl boogieman. Modern 3G and 4G reactor designs are built around newer concepts where it is impossible for the reactor to go supercritical because the reaction contains a self modulating negative feedback loop. In other words, if the reactor starts to go out of control, then the reaction is thwarted by the very design such that it comes back in to control. Pebble bed reactor designs are also interesting and innovative.

Further, the modern designs don't need water cooling, and so they don't need to be placed near rivers. And, many of the designs center around lower temperature, less efficient reactor cores. While this is less desirable for operating efficiency, it drastically improves safety and the need for a super secure facility, thus allowing for smaller more regional reactors that can be located as needed to supply the grid. We are seeing the same regional placement with super efficient Natural Gas fired plants now, and this is good for energy distribution.

Nuclear is the future. It's time for everyone to get over the emotionally charged propaganda of the China Syndrome, the non event that was Three Mile Island, and the completely and ridiculously unsafe operation of Chernobyl where there was not even a containment building. Reactors like that have never been, nor ever will be built in the US.

If Obama actually wanted to be an effective President, he could solve many of our problems with the single fell swoop of igniting a space-race like path towards safe and ubiquitous nuclear in the US. This would have many, many benefits:

1) Cheap abundant and easily placed power.
2) A reprocessing industry that would spring up helping to alleviate nuke waste, and lower prices.
3) A path out of dependence on foreign oil.
4) A path away from fossil fuel based energy, particularly coal.
5) A way to realistically supplant hydro and throw the Greens a bone so they could sit and stare wistfully at the restored waterfalls, etc.
6) A huge new technology that we could become #1 with, and make a big part of GNP by exporting to many other countries once we have excellent repeatable and standardized designs based on 3G and 4G reactors.

The waste issue is minimal. We have hundreds of thousands of square miles almost as desolate as the moon in Nevada, Wyoming, Eastern Oregon, Utah, etc. If it's not Yucca Mountain, then Obama or someone similar who started the nuclear growth path could propose a new location and be done with it once and for all. One small, properly cited facility would easily be able to hold all of the US nuclear waste for thousands of years, without danger.

The time for nuclear is now. All that is needed is the political leader who will see this as a huge opportunity at one of the greatest legacies ever.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 28, 2009 10:10 PM
22. Even the usually reactionary and stunting lefties seem to be waking up to nuclear. There's nothing not to like. It solves many problems, and we live in a modern technological world where radiation can easily be properly managed as it is on hundreds of our military ships and reactors throughout the US, every single day.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 28, 2009 10:16 PM
23. Mike,

I was big booster of all things renewable at one time and still am to a degree. But I think biomass energy is best suited to Aggie localities as you seem to imply. Look what's happened with bio-diesel - millions of acres of rain forest destroyed for palm oil plantations. That's no way forward.

I agree with you on uranium mining. It can be very destructive. There are large thorium reserves in the Lemhi pass in Idaho plus a lot buried in the Nevada desert left over from bomb making days. Coal ash contains thorium as well. All of this is enough to supply hundreds if not thousands of years of American energy demand. And don't forget the developing world. They'd like to have a shot at the prosperity we've bought for ourselves with cheap fossil fuels. Thorium reactors can work for them because they can be very cheap to build - on the order of gas fired power plants.

Yes nuke waste is a problem but there's a solution - burn it in thorium reactors. You will be left with fission products that take 300-500 years to decay to background radiation, a much more manageable problem. The waste product produced by a liquid flouride thorium reactor is very small compared to conventional reactors and much easier to manage.

100 grams of Thorium contains enough energy to supply an American for his lifetime. This is just too great an opportunity to let go by the wayside.

We're blessed with abundant hydro power here in the Northwest but at what cost to ecosystems? Some have dreamed of taking down some of those dams to restore those places. Thorium power can make that dream a reality. I'd especially like to see that at Glen Canyon (not in the Northwest I know).

Read up on Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) at the link I gave above. This technology addresses just about all the concerns that opponents of nuclear power have had over the years. It emits no greenhouse gases. That's why I support it.

Posted by: YLB on July 28, 2009 10:25 PM
24. I am a lifelong proponent of atomic energy. I was so enthusiastic by the time I finished high school that I declared in my yearbook that I planned to be a nuclear engineer.

Things changed slightly, so I cannot claim the title of nuclear engineer, but I can claim to have been allowed to serve as the engineer officer of a nuclear powered submarine for about 40 months and to have founded a company whose mission is to build relatively small, economical atomic engines. (http://www.atomicengines.com)

One of the main obstacles that I have found to rapid atomic development is the entrenched fossil fuel industry and its banking and transportation associates. When you have a technology where $50 worth of fuel that fits in the palm of your hand contains as much potential energy as 30 tanker trucks full of oil worth about half a million dollars, you have a technology that scares the crap out of some very rich and powerful people. Some of those people are liberals, some are conservatives. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans, others are Tories, some are ex-Communists (Russia makes about half of its income selling oil and gas), some are Libertarians, some are Islamic, some are Jewish, and I could go on.

Of course, there have been some problems from within the "nuclear industry" but when you pull the string, you find out that the petroleum industry has always had a big role in nuclear developments - Phillips Petroleum was the contractor at the Idaho Reactor Testing Station, Gulf Oil and Shell invested in General Atomics, Kerr-McGee ran the reprocessing facility where Karen Silkwood worked, Exxon had fuel cycle investments, and both Westinghouse and GE make more money selling fossil power plants than nuclear plants.

Learn that this is not a right-left or red-blue issue. It is one where a disruptive technology threatens to upset some long time power structures and those that might lose wealth in this discussion will take all actions they can to maintain their position. That is true even if the actions are sneaky and require making friends with strange bedfellows.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.

Posted by: Rod Adams on July 28, 2009 11:12 PM
25. The most carefully engineered facility on earth is Yucca Mountain.

The Mayor of Las Vegas, the Governor of Nevada and Larry Reid were all for it when it meant payroll for Nevada.

Now, I suppose it's not politically expedient to enjoy it, but rather to give it the vampire finger cross.

All the previous comments about how all sources of energy are more dangerous than nuclear are completely true.

I've explored the Lemhi Pass thorium deposits for mining companies. We always dropped it.

But now it's interesting to learn there are some new and useful technologies based around thorium.

There is enough thorium and uranium in monazite and zircon on the beaches of Coos Bay, Oregon to keep our country humming along for centuries.

Add to that the zircon and monazite beaches in Florida, and we will never hurt for clean power until the year 3535. (zager and evans)

Gotta go. Heading to Lemhi pass with my corner posts.

Posted by: Bart Cannon on July 28, 2009 11:43 PM
26. wow, jeff:
i didn't even bring up 'the chernobyl boogieman', even though we were in germany during the event.

i'm aware of how much safer nuclear power is since then, but my reasons against nuclear are mostly from the environmental devestation that occurs before and after plant ops.

if obama wanted to be an effective president
he would implement single payer.

nuclear power won't wean us off foreign oil.

and you really think coal will let nuclear take its share of profits?

and the waste issue is far from minimal. that you're willing to sacrifice "desolate landscape" (and it wouldn't be a small facility, as realised w/ yucca) just because it looks like the moon is all the more reason we should preserve it and not destroy it.

if it's so safe and minimal, why not just offer up your own property for the waste?

YLB - the biomass/cogeneration plants i've visted in the EU have been very successful, work very well for decentralized urban areas. and yes, they work extremely well in agricultural scenarios.

biodiesel is mostly a scam, though the french-fry thing is pretty ingenious.

isn't thorium deadly if inhaled?

Posted by: mike on July 29, 2009 12:17 AM
27. Mike,

May I suggest that you find a more memorable moniker? "Nukuler Mike" would be excellent.

Most useful materials have toxic or other lethal properties.

Even wooden 2x4s. VERY dangerous. How many people die in house fires?

Thorium is about as toxic as lead which is about as toxic as uranium. Toxicity depends upon the chemical composition, and biological availability once in the body. And dose, of course.

The dose of radioactivity or uranium which will escape from Yucca and routing there will be immeasurably small.

Acceptable "Green" energy sources include toxic battery and solar cell materials such as lead, cadmium, nickel, silver, tellurium and mercury.

Imagine all the respirable SiO2 that goes into the manufacture of silicon based photo-voltaics.

Each wind generator leaves a 300' x 300 x 100' foot resource extraction crater on the earth's surface. It does nicely provide some mining jobs, though.

Next to reactor grade uranium, the highest energy density fuel is gasoline. Huff some of that. Mmmmm, benzene. And the 43,000 annual highway deaths. Can't blame the gasoline for that, though.

Tell us what you consider an acceptable source of energy would be.

I'm all for a tidal energy supplement, but I still want the beauty of gasoline for that little extra safety ooomph on the highway.

I like hydro too, but I've noticed that isn't considered renewable anymore. How about burning salmon carcasses for fuel? Domestic oil for automobiles and healthy brains !!

Posted by: Bart Cannon on July 29, 2009 02:22 AM
28. There are dangers everywhere! Just look at what they're doing to cause so many low-altitude rainbows!


It's gotta be because of nuclear power!

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 06:50 AM
29. WRT comments by Jeff B. at 4, 21, and 22:
What he said; and then some.

Also some other good comments on the obvious desireability, advantages, and necessity of a major push to expand nuclear power.
Senator McCain had it exactly right during the last Presidential campaign:

We should push to build 45 new 3G (and, as Jeff B. perceptively noted, eventually 4G) nuclear plants by 2045..... or; we SHOULD have done that; until the current administration took power, and killed (or at least seriously froze) Yucca Mtn; in accordance with their deal with that turkey Harry Reid of NV.

But there indeed still are some encouraging signs. Just one example:
Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore is now co-chair with former NJ Gov Christine Todd Whitman of Clean and Safe Energy (CASE). See:

If you are into detailed technical info, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is still one of the best .gov websites to go for comprehensive nuclear techie info. U can go direct to their nuclear energy page at:
The ''Papers/Presentations'' and ''Fact Sheets'' links on above page have a HUGE amount of info, if you really want to get educated (too bad so many political leaders are clueless).

The INL info on the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) is especially good, IMO:

No source that generates high power densities is or ever can be 100 percent safe. But unless and until the super-techies solve the fusion power problems (maybe; in 40-50 years (or maybe not) ), 3G and (as soon as we can) 4G nuclear plants are as close to an ideal solution to our energy problems as we are going to get.

Posted by: Methow Ken on July 29, 2009 07:44 AM
30. Mike,

Indeed we should build all the renewables that the nuclear status quo allows us. A conventional greenfield nuke project is prohibitively expensive and difficult to finance without massive governnment subsidy. You can build a lot of renewables for that or even better insulate a lot of buildings.

However, biomass is just not that energy dense. The rule of thumb for biomass is that the materials should be processed within a 50 square mile radius of their origin. The materials are bulky and costly to handle for the energy you get out of them. That's why I think such projects are best left for the benefit of those localities like the livestock farmer who runs a methane digester to make electricity for his operation and then sells any surplus to the local electricity coop.

Of course I'm not for the nuclear status quo. I'm for an innovative alternative that is much less costly and will easily fuel prosperity for the entire world at rock-bottom cost - the LFTR.

Posted by: YLB on July 29, 2009 07:46 AM
31. We should not confuse the military legacy of Hanford with civilian nuclear power. Spent civilian nuclear fuel is in solid form, well contained, and well managed. It is the only energy source tracking its waste stream literally by serial number, and can be safety stored in containers for hundreds of years.

And I agree with YLB, LFTR reactors will be the mechanism that will allow us to burn down the TRU waste contained in spent nuclear fuel. This is solve the spent fuel issue of light water reactors, as well as usher in the generation of reactors that have enhanced safety, low proliferation potential, and a more easily managed waste form.

Posted by: Arcs_n_Sparks on July 29, 2009 07:58 AM
32. @29: For someone belonging to a party that enjoys crowing about states' rights and the Constitution, I don't exactly see you coming to the defense of Nevada here against the actions of the federal government.

@30: It is interesting how all the folks dripping scorn on green power seem to be supporting nuclear power that could not have been successful (and will not be successful) without massive government investment...

It is the only energy source tracking its waste stream literally by serial number, and can be safety stored in containers for hundreds of years.

But the issue is that nuclear fuel is a risk for millions of years. Discussing risks that far in the future may be more academic than practical, but it still needs to be discussed.

Posted by: demo kid on July 29, 2009 09:07 AM
33. @32. Wind and Solar can only even by considered with massive government subsidy. They don't generate baseload, and they have massive real estate and infrastructure costs, all those power lines and service roads spread out over massive acreage.

By contrast, nuclear is much more like conventional coal, natural gas, and hydro where there is a relatively small contained footprint that can easily be acquired and secured. And, as France and Germany have proven, in addition to many US sites, once the infrastructure is setup, there is plenty of market room and profitability to make industry jump at the chance. Government should setup storage, secure transportation and standards bodies such that we can replicate designs and avoid one off reinventing of the wheel for each plant, and then let industry build to those standards, much like with the standards bodies and investment we see for Internet technology.

Wind and Solar will never pencil out. Just look at the subsidy dollar to megawatt ratio. Wind and Solar are hopeless compared to nuclear.

And, there is simply no reason for concern about nuclear fuel. Much of it will be reprocessed and stored on site at each plant. What does not make it to reprocessing and is truly waste is by contrast a tiny volume. There would be more than enough space in a one mile square site located in whatever barren spot we can find, if not Yucca, to safely store thousands of years of spent fuel which s beyond reprocess. With a nice tax incentive package, one of the Western states, with a nice barren expanse, and some government land should be more than willing to sign up. It would be great to see Harry Reid and NV get screwed out of a great deal, only to have it go to a more rational state that is adult enough to know that nuclear material can be handled and stored safely using today's technology. Perhaps Utah. Either way, fretting about waste is ridiculous given the pollution and byproducts of fossil fuels. There's far more aggregate byproduct from all of that that makes its way in to our environment and that we have to deal with. My uncle is a Nuclear Engineer. He says routinely when he visits a nuke facility, his dosimeter badge will register less background radiation when he is on the other side of the containment wall, then when he walks outside after his visit. We have the materials technology now to safely encase nuclear material in a non-corrosive double walled container. These are then stored deep underground. And sites are chosen to be plenty far away from populations, and groundwater.

Yucca is a fine site, were it not for the meddling of Harry Reid. That's why we should see some state step up to the plate. It's like Boeing here in WA. I'd love to see them leave with a major assembly line, so that WA can wake up and become more favorable to business. There are plenty of other states that have figured out that government is for service of its people, and not a revenue and career employment scheme for its bureaucrats, lawyers and politicians.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 29, 2009 10:08 AM
34. And Adams is right above. A good role for government would be to level the playing field by downplaying the fossil fuel lobby to make way for nuclear. And many, many of those lobbyists and corrupt politicians are Democrats. Of course, many are Republican too. But the point is that government's role should be one of fostering the competition so that the rise of the newer, more efficient, much denser fuel can win, instead of protecting the entrenched interests of a few big corporations.

It's coming down to where we are going to need to severely limit lobbying and impose term limits to rid the government of the continual corruption that bogs everything down. If some of these career bums like Kennedy, Stevens, Reid, Boxer, Pelosi, etc. knew that there stint would only be short, we'd instead see many more people stepping up to do service, and less stepping up to get into an elite club with lots of power, and excellent lifetime benefits.

Get the hell out of the way, and let engineers and businessmen innovate.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 29, 2009 10:17 AM
35. None of this will happen. The President's science czar wants to "de-develop" the United States.

He wrote:

"They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided to every human being."

And :

"As we see it, de-development of the ODCs should be given top priority."

And ODC is an "over-developed country".

The President has already chucked Yucca. None of this is going to happen, a least any time soon.

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 10:36 AM
36. Exactly. Lefties here love to cluck about "dependence on foreign oil" and obsessed over the Middle East ad nauseum during the Bush years. But precisely when the single greatest opportunity for a fuel density that can rival fossils presents itself, the Obama administration is only interested in shutting down Yucca where we have already poured billions, and setting the US up for energy shortage at the expense of propping up China, where there will an abundance of soot spewing coal, more hydro, and even some nuclear.

The fundamental message of this administration is that the US has been too successful and that she needs to be knocked down several rungs on the ladder.

Fortunately, the American people are waking up. New polls show continuing decline of Obama's popularity, while showing severe disapproval with his racist, chip on the shoulder, grievance mindset.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 29, 2009 12:16 PM
37. this administration thinks the u.s. has been too successful?!? holy cow!

cos nothing screams too successful like an administration that misadministered for almost a decade? nothing screams too successful like bankrupting a generation of americans?

obama's a racist? that's a good one. you mean like that pat robertson a**hat? or just that ben stein a**hat? maybe you mean that john boehner a**hat? believe me, even if obama were a racist (which isn't the case and to claim so shows complete ignorance on your part), it's obviously never been a problem for conservatives in the past (in fact, they tacitly endorsed it) so why is it now? ooooh, i see. it's cos it's not a racist whitey. i'm utterly appalled by hypocritical conservative dbags.

Posted by: mike on July 29, 2009 12:33 PM
38. mike, do you agree with the opinion of the President's science czar?

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 12:49 PM
39. you mean from the book he co-authored w/ paul ehrlich in 1973? in which his central thesis was to "design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided to every human being"

so do i think we need a low-consumption economy? definitely. americans have too much crap, of which you've written plenty lately.

Posted by: mike on July 29, 2009 01:05 PM
40. #39. Yes, that's I mean. From that book.

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 01:24 PM
41. So the science czar probably isn't very keen on increasing energy supply, as that goes against de-developing the United States. No wonder the President said that our energy prices will "necessarily skyrocket".

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 01:46 PM
42. Dear Just Plain Mike,

Do I understand correctly? Paul Ehrlich is your hero?

That explains a great deal about you.

Ehrlich's book "Population Bomb" became nonsense about 20 years ago.

How long is your gray pony-tail?

Posted by: Bart Cannon on July 29, 2009 01:49 PM
43. Actually, Bart... it became nonsense where it was written, and proved to be nonsense after we all didn't die 20 years ago.

The same people who believed Erlich, et al, back then, are the same people who believe global warming is gonna kill us all this time.

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 02:12 PM
44. GM... owned by the United States... is going to spend $1 billion to build cars, and employ people, in Brazil. Not here, but in Brazil.

This is part of de-developing our country. We're not gonna need nuclear power if our industries move to other parts of the world.

Posted by: Gary on July 29, 2009 02:36 PM
45. Taking Mr. Chopp's remarks at face value, the first task in any ramping up of US nuclear power generating capacity is making the case for it's viability (e.g. incomparable safety record, zero carbon or particulate emissions, etc). A case most effectively made by neutral third-parties, such as ultra-green, enviro-friendly France, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. All paragons of green and above reproach environmentally; and ALL quite notably, utilizing a higher, ever-increasing percentage of clean, safe (21st century technology) nuclear power and co-generation to meet their respective energy needs -- than is the US.

Mr. Chopp only need brush up on some of the surprising position changes on the nuclear power issue by founders and standard bearers of established enviro/green organizations to embolden and parlay his seeming (Hanford) lipservice into legislative advocacy on the issue. Then take a pro-active leadership role in brokering critically needed reforms and agreements to avoid any potential failure of the NW or West Coast regional electrical grids -- and "Gray-out Davis"-like conditions (if only politically).

Posted by: adaxiom on July 29, 2009 02:47 PM
46. Jeff B. at 33, 34, and 36:
Again: What he said; all the way.

Posted by: Methow Ken on July 29, 2009 02:57 PM
47. Gary, what works did you write in 1973 that we can reference?


Posted by: John Jensen on July 29, 2009 07:03 PM
48. Ron Adams,

Thanks for the information. I looked at your website and find myself very intrigued.

What of the newest technologies do you believe are the most promising for immediate development for mass power generation and how soon could they be brought on line?
Are you involved in any studies concerning this potential?


Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 29, 2009 07:41 PM
49. Ron, I too enjoyed your site. You are a man of integrity and ingenuity. We need more of you, and less of the manipulative political types. You are motivated by creating something new and useful for your fellow man, whereas they are motivated by control of their fellow man.

For everyone who wants to learn about the future, and about exactly the opposite of what alarmist progressives are peddling, read Ron's site, and read up on 3G and 4G reactors. Also read up on the subsidy dollar to megawatt ratio to see why wind and solar will never hold a candle to nuclear power. And spread the word. The sooner we get on with technology and the former great spirit of US innovation, the sooner we will solve many of our problems.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 29, 2009 10:20 PM
50. no pony tail, no gray hair (yet) but still sporting the regulation crew cut.

also, just because i read ehrlich's book a decade or so ago doesn't mean i subscribe to it's thesis.

you can read position papers and books on subjects you disagree with, it's a really good way to expand your mental capacity, instead of reading the same re-affirming banal lies conservatives seem to be drawn toward.

anyway, several of ehrlich's predictions may not have entirely come true, but it was meant as a guide to what could happen. the central thesis of his book did in fact come true (the earth's population nearly doubled)

jeff, if you are so pro-innovation, how is it you can be so anti-solar, wind and cogeneration?

with adequate research and innovation the price per watt can come down significantly for these, and decentralizing the power grid is probably a more effective way to power the u.s. between my solar panels, cistern and solar water heater, my utility bills are extremely low compared to my neighbors. when i've got time, the full gut remodel will include several passive systems to move utility bills even closer to zero.

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 12:18 AM
51. #47. I wrote none in 1973, why?

Do you agree with Holdren's wanting to de-develop the United States, and then spread what's left (he is a scientist) around equally to everyone?

Do you think this is a man who would advise the President to build nuclear power plants?

Posted by: Gary on July 30, 2009 06:19 AM
52. Mike wrote:

between my solar panels, cistern and solar water heater, my utility bills are extremely low compared to my neighbors. when i've got time, the full gut remodel will include several passive systems to move utility bills even closer to zero.

How much did you spend for those systems? What was the initial cost, and what is the monthly savings?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 30, 2009 07:03 AM
53. less than 20k all in for grid-tied 1.5kw PV, evac tubes SWH and the cistern was free (2100L)

we're saving about $50 a month average over the last 12 months, and after rebates/incentives the systems will pay for themselves in under 10 years. we can expand on the PV system if we find the cost of electricity goes up substantially, but we aren't energy hogs and need to be connected to the grid for 6 months out of the year anyway.

we're the only ones w/ a flourishing garden that aren't tapping into potable water on our block (thank you xeriscaping!)

would love to be off grid, but it's not really feasible in the NW. we'd really be interested in some zero energy development in the near future.

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 07:51 AM
54. #53,

Have you charted the life cycle cost of these (2yr, 5yr, 10yr, and replacement) and analyzed any sort of comparative breakeven point?

Where can I get one of those free cisterns?

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 30, 2009 08:42 AM
55. The average family uses about 30 kWh per day. In Seattle, we often have a week or more without enough sunlight to deeply charge batteries in a solar system. To get even three days of power without using the grid, 125 new batteries would be needed to contain the 90 kWh. And new Lead Acid batteries don't stay new long when deep cycled as they would be in a solar usage pattern where they generate during the day when people don't need lights and are not home. 125 new batteries would cost about $6000. You might find a few nuts willing to live with 12V camp lights, no dishwasher, wearing sweaters more often, but the majority realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of in a modern life that uses electricity.

And then there's the massive initial cost of the panels, inverters, electronic control package, etc. The way that people fund that now, is in large part through government subsidy, which is where rebates and incentives come from. But even still, few can afford that luxury, and when amortized out over many, many years, it's not nearly as cost effective as simply insulating one's home and using more efficient appliances. For most the choice is more like, do I remodel the kitchen or put in solar? Which provides me more comfort, a cheaper utility bill, or a nice living environment? Or more likely, do I put on a new roof and paint my house, or do I have luxury of solar. Or even more likely in today's Progressive economy, do I make my house payment, or put in solar.

Don't forget too that solar panels only have about a 20 year lifespan. So just about the time it might be starting to pay for itself, it becomes useless, and as noted above, that's after several expensive battery replacements if one truly wants to live more off grid.

The reason more people don't jump on solar, is that they have economic sense.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 09:24 AM
56. nope, it was more for personal research/feasibility. i had clients asking about it, and had used on other projects before, but wanted some more insight to functionality, operations, etc.

breakeven is a little fuzzy due to the net metering fluctuation, we can't predict how much sun we'll have in the next decade, but based on historical models, breakeven from initial costs should be a little over 11 years.

i'm in the A/E/C business, so i get some discounts and installation costs were exchanged for consulting services.

the cistern is a gift from a german aquaintance who wants to sell his product here in the NW.

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 09:26 AM
57. here in the nw, it's not rec'd to get batteries for PVs unless you live east of the cascades. grid tied is the way to go. in the winter it's fairly spotty, in summer it turns the needle back like crazy. unfortunately, WA has a really small cap for net metering ($2,000 i think, whereas oregon's is $7,000)

however, even on cloudy days, solar water heaters are still efficient. i would highly recommend swh's to anyone who's interesting in seeing immediate reductions in their utility bills.

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 09:36 AM
58. A recent article from the Denver Daily about solar for Nestle Purina's plant. This is in light of other high profile solar installations with rebates from XCel energy, particularly the Denver Museum of Nature and Science building visited by Obama during the campaign.

Note that even in Sunny Denver, which gets more sun that California average per year, the 467 panels generate only about 1% of the plant's needs. And at a cost they won't say. Clearly, in today's politically correct environment, with a President making emotional appeals to solar, there is some nice marketing value for a large company to put in a solar installation even when there is the following.

The money quote:
Basically under no circumstances does solar power make economic sense, said Cary Hayes, REC Solar's regional sales manager. Rebates and tax credits are what drives the solar market right now.

So if it were not for government subsidy, the system would make even less sense than it does as an emotional marketing tool for Nestle to say that they care about the environment.

For 30 years, we've heard that cheap solar is just around the corner. Note that in the article, there is another long term forecast of 15 years before everything looks rosy for solar. I'd be willing to take that bet, and I don't gamble.

And what if we succeed in our efforts to wake people to the fact that nuclear is in fact safe, much denser and much cheaper, and even far easier to handle waste in than solar or wind. That's right, in 20 years, dismantling wind and solar installations or maintaining them is a form of waste, and very expensive waste. By contrast with PMBR reactors, waste for a power plant that can power a ship for 10 years, only takes about 20 cubic meters of storage space. And it is easy to transport as it is dry waste, with built in radioactive shielding, unlike the old liquid waste of the 2G reactor designs popular in the 1970s.

So solar will have a much greater competition from nuclear than it does now even from fossil fuels. Solar can't compete with power that cheap. And that's cheap power that will be critical to the development of the third world. Clean drinking water and hospitals require power, and a growing economy requires energy. Why would we deny these people the same benefits we have here in the US? And if we can give them power at a reasonable cost, we get the benefit of selling them the reactors and know-how? They are certainly not going to develop a large scale economy with solar cells, when Purina can only power 1% of its energy needs to make pet food products with a massive and expensive 467 cell installation.

You feel good about your installation, but that doesn't mean it really makes sense for anybody else, and that's why solar's adoption rate is so low. Most people make more sound financial decisions, and ones that don't unnecessarily burden their fellow citizens with taxes that they in turn take as credits, rebates and incentives.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 09:54 AM
59. At # 53, and 56,

I'm in favor of doing what makes sense given the circumstances (and nukes make sense).

You mention excellent alternatives and I am all for the use of these types of innovative "Home Economics" approaches to cutting energy costs.
Such innovations have been discussed and utilized in Popular Mechanics since the 1940's (I have a solar panel to trickle charge the battery on my RV).

In context with nukes, I would be very surprised if these alternatives actually "pay for themselves," in terms of net gain over time. First, if they were really economically feasable, I would expect that someone (like yourself) would be in business and making a killing installing them. This is empirical evidence that these solutions are not ready for prime time, and there is little doubt the main reason for this is the cost/benefit analysis won't pencil out.

The use of solar panels, cisterns and solar water heaters may be good ways to cut bills as you say, but they will not touch the larger problem.

I would like to be able to utilize marginally economic alternative sources of energy such as solar energy but they will cost too much and they won't do what I need most. I am concerned that Obama believes in the coercive approach which will drive the economy to a point where such alternative sources of energy will be artificially justified. More resistance to the use of nuclear energy alternatives only makes individual households more vulnerable to the wacky inverted economic logic of the Obama administration.

Safe nuclear energy on a large scale is viable. Why not exploit it?

In this vein, I am reminded of the Obamunism that stated that aerating our tires would save us energy. It has a particle to the truth in it, but only a particle.
Because Obama is not interested in energy efficiency as much as he is in gaining control over our freedom to make our own choices he may well create a situation where onerous (and relatively inefficient) alternatives will be necessary for our very survival (remember the 1930's). The fact that you are free to engage in "personal research/feasibility" on such systems is great. Please, lets not pretend that mandating the use of them is a good alternative to nukes.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 30, 2009 10:17 AM
60. @57,

"i would highly recommend swh's to anyone who's interesting in seeing immediate reductions in their utility bills."

I will look into it.


Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 30, 2009 10:24 AM
61. I agree, there's no reason not to save energy, turn off the lights when not needed, install more efficient appliances, add insulation to older homes, and strive to reduce one's expense load. But spending $20K to save $50 a month does not pencil out for most people who may not even have plans to live in a given region for enough years to see an ROI.

It's about control and to sell that, emotion is needed, because there's nothing rational about wind and solar. Hope and Change.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 10:37 AM
62. Especially when there are folks who are contemplating controlling your thermostat...

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 30, 2009 10:54 AM
63. Jeff,

Some more money quotes from the article:

Looking ahead, the German firm Deutsche Bank is predicting parity for solar power vs. traditional energy sources globally by 2015 just by comparing the steady drop in the cost of solar with the steady rise of traditional electricity rates. media relations manager for the governor's energy office.

In some states, including California, solar is already cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. In Colorado, utility rates are among the lowest in the country, creating a greater economic challenge for solar energy here.

In addition, we often forget the public costs associated with conventional fossil fuels are not included in the tab, such as the environmental impacts to air, water and land, and the associated public health effects. And, by extension, we -- as a society -- have spent enormous sums, in blood and treasure, employing our military to ensure a steady supply of oil from troubled regions of the world. In fairness, these expenses need to be part of any conversation about energy costs.

You keep harping about subsidies for solar and wind. But they're not the only ones receiving subsidies...

Oil receives over 25 billion annually (lowball estimate) in subsidies between the EU and the US.

Significantly reduced royalties paid
Tax-free construction bonds
No-bid contracts
Income tax breaks for oil cos.
Gov't assuming exploration risks, companies reap rewards
The iraq war was a nice subsidy for big oil. In fact, securing the middle east turns out to be a pretty ginormous subsidy for oil.

Nuke power heavily subsidized for over 50 years:
60-90% of plants costs are paid for by gov't
Power co's asking for $1 billion in subsidies per new nuke plant
$74 billion in R&D from '48-'98
tens of billion for yucca (nuke. cos aren't responsible enough to deal w/ waste they produce? No surprise there)
Billion dollar tax giveaways
No U.S. nuke plant has been built on budget or on time.
Lobbying congress to allow plants to run beyond designed life
Billions in 'risk insurance' picked up by the taxpayers
Billions in decommissioning subsidies
Billions in waste management picked up by taxpayers

Nuke power ceo's have gone before congress and even stated there would be no new plants w/ out gov't subsidies.

If you really are for free markets, then by all means, let's remove all these subsidies. let the energy co's take on all the risks and there is no way nuke power would be cheaper than solar or wind.

Yes, we should conserve energy. We have efficient appliances and have a well insulated home.
I didn't spend 20k, I spent under 15k, but were it at cost, it would have been closer to 20k.
Yes, we're only saving $50 a month now, but we just started net metering this month, and will see bigger savings this winter. And if the cost of power goes up, we're relatively insulated.

It's not about control, it's about freedom and making choices that reflect my desire to protect the environment and increase the value of my home.

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 11:02 AM
64. #63. "It's not about control,..."

May I buy an incandescent light bulb after 2012?

Posted by: Gary on July 30, 2009 11:11 AM
65. Yes, just not inefficient ones that operate @ like 8% efficiency

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 11:17 AM
66. Ah, I did not know that. So I can't buy (much, much cheaper) a less efficient one? It's still control.

Posted by: Gary on July 30, 2009 11:28 AM
67. Yes, let's remove all of the subsidies and let the best player win. And while we are at it, let's remove the lobbying and corruption that protects both fossils and wind and solar to a much greater extent than nuclear, because nuclear has unfairly been a pariah.

If it were strictly bang for buck, nuclear would win hands down. There's nothing that even approaches it in terms of efficiency, cost, and benefit. Your whole bet is on the increase in costs made by vilifying and marginalizing fossils. That's why Al Gore and other greens are such cheerleaders against carbon. They've got extensive investments in wind, solar, and cap and trade schemes. If we go with nuclear, costs go down, and solar falls apart even more so than it does.

But why wait. You first. Send the government a check or extra payment on your taxes for $5K for the rebates and incentives you received for your solar install.

And tsk, tsk. For a avid anti consumer, you sure spent a lot to save a little. If you followed your credo, you would have instead simply learned to live with less.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 12:00 PM
68. mike, I applaud your efforts to engineer a more efficient home. I have also made strides toward increasing the efficiencies of my home, although my emphasis is more towards self-reliance than novelty since learning from several winter storms that it can take weeks for the power company to restore power.

There is another aspect of this that I haven't seen explored yet. That is the success of your efforts being your own worst enemy. Your plan works for you exactly because it is a novelty. If everyone were to do it you would quickly find the power companies enacting penalties against nominal users like yourself. I would like to bring your attention to this article as illustrative of how they will find ways to compensate for the lost revenues and increased overhead that your mini-generation station represents.

Just as HOV lanes only work when just a tiny minority access them, personal solar and wind generating stations are only useful as novelties and not mainstream installations.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 30, 2009 12:10 PM
69. If nuclear was worth it, you would have companies clamoring to build plants. As it is, none of them will do it because they don't want to take any risk (i.e. shell out 6-9 billion for a new plant)

A buffett subsidiary backed out of building a nuke plant because the numbers didn't work in their favor - apparently energy companies only want to go the extra mile after the American taxpayer runs 25.2.

Nuclear hasn't unfairly been a pariah - it's overly subsidized, an environmental nightmare, overly worshipped and not green in any sense of the word unless you happen to run the company that gets the taxpayer to build your pet project.

I'll send my rebate if we get single payer, how about that?

Btw, I'm not anti consumer. I didn't spend 'that much', I increased the value of my home and increased my own self reliance. My reasons for doing it are more wholistic - I don't look at everything for cost savings. Sure, I can get my crops picked by slave labor, but that doesn't make it right.


Are you saying that anti-competitive behaviour of subsidized companies like xcel is acceptable?

Posted by: mike on July 30, 2009 12:26 PM
70. No.

I'm saying that, just as water seeks its own level, companies will seek to recover lost revenues. I'm not saying that it is right, wrong, or proper, just that it will happen and that it should be factored into any responsible discussion of policy.

If one person does it the power company will look at it as an aberration, or novelty if you will. If everyone did it (or even a significant percentage of the population), it would have a profound effect on their business model and they would retrench and come out with a new plan. Power companies are in business to make money and they will find ways to turn a profit or they will cease to be.

And not just corporations, either. Governments are notorious for revenue-enhancement schemes to back-fill for shortfalls, perceived or otherwise.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 30, 2009 01:58 PM
71. #70 "And not just corporations, either. Governments are notorious for revenue-enhancement schemes to back-fill for shortfalls, perceived or otherwise."


Yeah, just look at what they do to you when you save water.

Posted by: Gary on July 30, 2009 02:10 PM
72. "It is the only energy source tracking its waste stream literally by serial number, and can be safety stored in containers for hundreds of years."

"But the issue is that nuclear fuel is a risk for millions of years. Discussing risks that far in the future may be more academic than practical, but it still needs to be discussed."

It is not a million year problem; this is a canard. Recycle the fuel and burn down the TRU in Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. You end up with fission products that decay within a couple hundred years, some of which are quite valuable. Contrast that with the infinite half-life waste steams we generate every day.

Posted by: Arcs_n_Sparks on July 30, 2009 02:21 PM
73. @72, not to mention that newer designs may use encased pebble fuel and gaseous coolants so there is no steam or water. Thus there is no liquid waste.

The biggest myth in nuclear is that technology is frozen in time in the 1970s. Meanwhile, process control, sensors, electronics, fuel encapsulation, shielding, and negative coefficient core designs have all been developed and improved. Nuclear will benefit from all of the same advancements in materials, computer networking, electronics, CAD design, etc. that every other industry has. It's a matter of will, not technology.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 03:25 PM
74. Again, I'm not a big fan of pebble bed reactors - big, bulky and the spent pebbles are just as intractable a waste problem. How do you reprocess those pebbles?

The LFTR in contrast is known as the "chemist's" reactor. Eugene Wigner, the genius who conceived it was a chemical engineer. The molten salts of the LFTR are much easier to handle and process - eliminate neutron poisons from the stream like Xenon gas, etc.

The solid fueled reactors of today are a total PITA to deal with in comparison although they've got it down pretty much to an exact science - a lot of unnecessary effort in my view but we went that way in seventies to complement strategic weapons policies.

Reprocessing the waste from solid fueled reactors is costly and complex - requiring 90 steps IIRC. It's a total no-brainer in comparison to process the molten salt stream of a LFTR.

The legacy solid fueled reactors are the mainframe computers of nuclear power. LFTRs are the mac book air's and Iphones!

Posted by: YLB on July 30, 2009 05:42 PM
75. Mike wrote:

less than 20k all in for grid-tied 1.5kw PV, evac tubes SWH and the cistern was free (2100L)

we're saving about $50 a month average over the last 12 months, and after rebates/incentives the systems will pay for themselves in under 10 years.

Great, so on monthly savings alone, you have 400 months ($20,000 / $50), or about 33.3 years.

The only way you get down to 10 years is if you get some big tax breaks and rebates. Meaning you made about $13,000 in tax breaks.

So what you've done is cost-shift 2/3rds of your energy costs to your neighbors. You're actually not saving the cost of installation (it's a 30 year payback at 0% interest; factor in a 4% interest rate and you're looking at more than a century). What happened was the tax dollars of your neighbors are paying you to install the equipment.

Sounds like a good deal for you, not too good of a deal for society in general, as we're now picking up your tab, and you'll never actually save money over the long run if we factor in the deployment costs.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 30, 2009 07:17 PM
76. Here's a nice unbiased look at the subsidies for different energy sources. If you turn to page 16 of that PDF (page 106 of the report), you'll find the following:

Natural gas and petroleum receives $0.25/MWhr in subsidies
Coal receives $0.44/MWhr
Hydro gets $0.67/MWhr
Biomass gets $0.89/MWhr
Nuclear gets $1.59/MWhr
Wind gets $23.37/MWhr
Solar gets $24.34/MWhr

What stands out on that list? The two sources being pushed so hard by the anti-nuclear forces (wind and solar) receive more than an order-of-magnitude higher subsidies per MWhr. Meaning that if they were deployed on an even footing with hydro (our source around the NW), we'd see our electricity costs jump by a factor of 35.6. That $30 electricity bill would be over $1000.

If wind and solar are going to be pushed, then wait until the technology gets them to the point where they're at least competitive to other sources - cut their production costs by a factor of 10 or so then we can talk. As it sits right now, solar and wind are simply untenable from a cost standpoint.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 30, 2009 07:26 PM
77. Hmmm, link didn't show up... It's from the DOE report on subsidies.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 30, 2009 09:30 PM
78. @76

Yes Dan. Let's wait. Because since Wind and Solar are intermittent sources, they will never be competitive. And thus we can get on with energy sources that are real.

Feel good progressives like mike never have a problem with unbalanced subsidy or shifting financial burden on to their neighbors. Whereas, I'd never take a subsidy or do a solar rebate for that reason alone.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 30, 2009 10:11 PM
79. @ #72,

Thanks for the clarification about fission product decay. Its as though liberals have "The China Syndrome" stuck in their heads whenever they discuss nuclear power generation. Testament to the power of emotionalization of an issue and the result of only having told half of the real story.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 31, 2009 08:18 AM
80. This is slightly off topic, but related. Note how Obama's Cash-For-Clunkers program went belly up after seven days of operation, instead of lasting all the way until October. Fortunately for mike, there wasn't similar enthusiasm for purchasing a solar systems with the rebates and incentives mike received.

But, this shows the folly of these government incentive programs. If you put out a sign giving away something for free, many people will stop and take you up on the offer. It's human nature.

This is why Progressivism fails. It assumes that human nature will orient itself towards a communal paradise where sharing and caring are the norm. Where everyone can pitch in to buy everyone else a solar panel and solve our energy problems without need to heed the laws of physics. And if never mentions that the incentives come from taxing someone else.

In reality, human nature is that of self interest. The only political system that will ever work is one that encourages rational self interest, and keeps the playing field level and honest so that folks are free to trade amongst themselves to the best of their abilities. This is far more fair, than a system where the first in line gets the cash for their clunker, solar panel, or the toilet paper before supplies run out.

But @69, mike's still looking for single payer healthcare paid for by the rest of us as well. Progressives never learn what doesn't work.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 31, 2009 09:57 AM
81. JeffB at #80, absolutely right.

Even though it is the very teat from which they were suckled, they simply cannot comprehend the paradigm. The idea of socialism was inculcated into them early by teachers who found that such simplistic ideas are easy to teach. Our problem is that they are also nearly impossible to un-teach and re-orient because their reality is not based on reason, but prejudice borne of sentiment. Liberal/progressive rules are easy to break, so why would they cop to operating by rules that force them to respect others?

You are attempting to relate Adam Smith's basic economic ideas to someone who truly believes that economies are made by governments, wealth comes from banks, and markets are merely a locus of human expliotation convenient to corporate gargoyles. They actually believe that Obama's health care proposal is simply a matter of exchanging corporate exploitation of humans for government exploitation with the enhancing proviso that government will (for some reason) be more benevolent to humans than business.

Lambs to the slaughter.
They are trying to take us with them and I'm not going. Keep your powder dry.

Posted by: Amused by Liberals on July 31, 2009 03:30 PM
82. you might not be going, but the dry powder won't help you, a**hat.


you somehow forgot to add refined coal which came in @ $29.81/MWhr

and those stats are for 2007 alone. since coal, nuke, and oil have been in use for 50+ years each, the masses have already been soaked for the tax breaks and subsidies for these forms of production. the stat is very misleading. in the early days of nuke production, it also had a high MWhr rate

recently in ontario, the bid for 2 nuke plants came in @ 26 billion.

is that a worthy investment?

Posted by: mike on August 1, 2009 10:40 AM
83. So refined coal is a good thing? What about the pollution and hassle of mining it, the risk to the miners, the much higher distribution costs of trainloads of coal vs. handful of uranium? Straw man argument. The point is, that nuclear is much more efficient. $26 Billion is a bargain for the amount of energy produced, and consistently, from such a small amount of fuel, adn the much small real estate demands.

For example, T. Boone Picken's foolish wind farm plan, which has now died out, was calling for $10 billion to create a potential of 4GW. Now that's spread over 2500 windmills in West Texas. The plan did not take into account total costs of real estate, nor maintenance of 2500 windmills, and was far less complete than the bid you show when taking in to account total costs. And where else do you find West Texas style expanses of land to build wind plants that don't always run, especially at the solstices when wind is usually slack, but the energy demands are highest for heat or AC? Answer, you don't. Especially on the dense East Coast. And when you do find a lot of land, it's a long way from cities, such that transmission costs are high, and all of that infrastructure needs to be built as well, at a considerable cost.

Wind is foolish.

$26 billion for the nuke plants, would have been roughly the same amount of power created, but the difference would be that it is baseload power, meaning it is always on, and always capable of supplying the grid while not down for maintenance. Most modern nuke designs have about a 60 to 80 year lifespan.

Now, there is certainly a need for standardization of plants, better total life cycle of fuel management, etc. such that the lower cost of that total infrastructure would be less across an entire country embracing the technology. When that is done, then other technologies can't even hold a candle to nukes, because then you can really build nuke plants at a much lower cost through mass production savings. The Candu plants you mention, are of the opposite, old school mentality, where there is still way too much cost wasted in a French design that is mostly outdated. And there is such a thing as making a grossly inflated bid, so that you don't win the bid. The Ontarians are notoriously far to the left, and would love to see a nuke bid fail.

The point is, that we need a nation wide space race like embrace of nuke technology that will lower total power costs to prices we have not seen in years, while simultaneously removing most of the fossil fuel dependency and it's much dirtier side effects.

As it is, there are more than 200 nuke plants on Subs, Carriers and throughout the US operating safely right now. Nukes are already a great technology, and could only be made more so through the benefits of modern designs, technology and standardization.

Posted by: Jeff B. on August 3, 2009 09:09 AM
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