Home > Regular Features > Sandpit

Sandpit

October 19th, 2010

Another thread for lengthy debates, off-topic exchanges, long posts on regular hobby-horses etc.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. el gordo
    October 9th, 2010 at 11:10 | #1

    Goody, fresh sand.

    “It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”

    Hal Lewis

  2. spangled drongo
    October 9th, 2010 at 13:47 | #2

    John Quiggin,

    If there’s one thing that needs to be widely discussed if the world is serious about CO2 reduction as well as minimal earth surface degradation for environmental protection, it’s nuclear power.
    To shut down debate and /or relegate it to the sandpit is pathetic.

  3. Alice
    October 9th, 2010 at 16:01 | #3

    the Prof didnt relegate it to the sandpit – if you check the previous thread “Nuclear the last post” not so long ago spangled – you obviously missed it – the Prof allowed that thread to run on and on up to 411 posts – so must has been covered in depth here a number of times – that is hardly shutting it down.

  4. Chris Warren
    October 9th, 2010 at 16:42 | #4

    spangled drongo :
    John Quiggin,
    If there’s one thing that needs to be widely discussed if the world is serious about CO2 reduction as well as minimal earth surface degradation for environmental protection, it’s nuclear power.
    To shut down debate and /or relegate it to the sandpit is pathetic.

    Drongo-talk from a drongo? How apt.

  5. Chris O’Neill
    October 9th, 2010 at 17:42 | #5

    Finrod in the Nuclear, again thread:

    I doubt that nuclear could beat hydro anytime in the near future and of course, a Carbon price is not going to change this.
    Also, a Carbon price, if it’s genuine, will get rid of coal-burning to smelt Aluminium in Australia. So there won’t be any non-hydro Aluminium smelting in Australia. Nuclear just can’t compete.

    Don’t be too sure about that. As demand grows, utilities running hydroelectric stations will be able to charge premium bucks for peaking power, and hydro is in short supply in Australia. Nuclear may be competative after all, especially after the NPP has been amortised.

    I was referring to Nuclear competing with hydro generally, i.e. around the world. There’s nothing that says Aluminium must be made in Australia. Of course, as time goes by, hydro may become more valuable in Australia and thus uneconomic for use in Aluminium smelting. This doesn’t mean the same must apply elsewhere in the world. Other places are much better endowed with hydro than Australia.

    Also Professor Q, Finrod may have been swamping the thread but I think a lot of his comments were relevant.

  6. October 9th, 2010 at 20:51 | #6

    I was referring to Nuclear competing with hydro generally, i.e. around the world. There’s nothing that says Aluminium must be made in Australia. Of course, as time goes by, hydro may become more valuable in Australia and thus uneconomic for use in Aluminium smelting. This doesn’t mean the same must apply elsewhere in the world. Other places are much better endowed with hydro than Australia

    Better endowed indeed, but as demand grows these sources will ultimately become less of the overall mix, and then nuclear will be the only game in town.

  7. Chris Warren
    October 9th, 2010 at 21:33 | #7

    But as social conscience grows these sources will expand and then nuclear will be the only albatross around some natoins necks.

  8. Alice
    October 9th, 2010 at 22:38 | #8

    @Finrod
    It is quite clear you, Finrod (and others like you), think nuclear is the only game in town right now. Others of us are not as convinced as you and some of use are unlikely to be as convinced as you ever. In fact some of us dont seek an oil/coal alternative power source to provide 100% of existing energy usages (coudl it be that some of us dont think we need as much evnergy as we currently use? Yes.)

    Can you possibly even imagine that ie a curb on existing usage and renewables or is it only coal or nuclear, thus status quo unchanged usage levels for you?.

    Nice but self serving.

  9. Alice
    October 9th, 2010 at 22:46 | #9

    @Chris Warren
    As time goes by…we have discovered the dangers of coal… so why are not take two steps and omit the dangers of nuclear (which we already know exist).

    Two giant steps for mankind. Beyond coal and beyond nuclear. It couldnt be that hard.

  10. October 10th, 2010 at 05:33 | #10

    @Alice

    When taking giant steps, the direction they lead is a very important consideration. What’s your plan for running the Haber–Bosch process once the gas fields are depleted? At the moment the hydrogen required for the process comes from natural gas. When that is no longer available, we’ll have to return to producing hydrogen from water. Note that the global population is currently projected to peak at nearly ten billion.

  11. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 09:10 | #11

    @Finrod

    When taking giant steps, the direction they lead is a very important consideration. What’s your plan for running nukes once more Chernobyls erupt and waste storage facilities are exhausted? At the moment long-term waste is stored in short-term facilities. When that is no longer available, we’ll have to return to producing power from fossils. Note that the global population is currently projected to increase exponentially.

  12. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 09:37 | #12

    @Finrod
    Finrod if we we concentrated more on national industry and its development concerns and less on pandering to the elite industries and their captains in the global markets..have you ever thought of the possibility that people may not have to traverse the our spreadeagled cities to get to their employment with some large international firm and instead go to work in a local business?

    Imagine the petrol they wouldnt have to use. Imagine that smaller scale firms would again be viable to sustain our national population instead of endlessly obsessing over global participation and worrying which international conglomerate wanted to aggressively take our businesses over to satisfy the sharemarkets insatiable desire for short capital gains (and spit the pips out).

    Im not trying to kill ideas of globalisation Finrod but it does tie in to rapid and unsustainable use of energy resources also, which we have seen over the last century. Ideas of globalisation will die naturally as energy reserves decline.

    To advocate for nuclear over coal in order to maintain the lifestyle status quo we currently have now, with coal, …is like choosing to drive your unnecessarily large car down the same old self destructive road in the same self destructive traffic jam. Yet we do it over and over…many of us… twice a day.
    Its not lack of energy that is the problem. Its our perfectly wasteful consumption of it. Perhaps our industry is not organised efficiently at all.. (quite tragic – after all the years of freeing capital and so that it could become “more efficient”) Perhaps we need to be thinking of how can we produce using less energy, or how we can better organise production and transport so that we do use less, travel less etc rather than what will provide the same energy needs we have now.
    I dont want my kids to be in that worsening traffic jam. The golden age of driving is already over.

  13. October 10th, 2010 at 09:41 | #13

    Chris Warren :@Finrod
    When taking giant steps, the direction they lead is a very important consideration. What’s your plan for running nukes once more Chernobyls erupt and waste storage facilities are exhausted? At the moment long-term waste is stored in short-term facilities. When that is no longer available, we’ll have to return to producing power from fossils. Note that the global population is currently projected to increase exponentially.

    It is rather unlikely that another Chernobyl-type accident will occur again, however much the anti-nuke community might long for it. If such an accident does occur, we’ll deal with it and move on. The same cannot be said of the genocidal disruption to human civilisation which the inability to run Haber-Bosch would entail.

    The used nuclear fuel will be recycled in breeder reactors to extract the remaining available energy, vastly greater than that won through the current once-through cycle.

    Where did you get the idea that current population projections were for exponential growth? You seem very ignorant of these matters.

  14. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 10:22 | #14

    @Finrod

    You are obviously a computer program. All those issues have already been done to death.

    Your statement that the anti-nuke community long for a Chernobyl-type accident is obscene, and displays ignorance of the capitalists’ assurances prior to the BP oil spill.

    Functional breeder reactors which leave no waste are further off than improved renewables. They are a concept, essentially based on recycling plutonium from decommissioned warheads.

    All percentage growth is exponential.

  15. October 10th, 2010 at 10:41 | #15
  16. DavidC
    October 10th, 2010 at 10:59 | #16

    Sadly I missed the opportunity to comment in the ‘Nuclear, again’ thread because it was so quickly closed down. I was hoping to address Barry Brook who quickly shuts down any criticism on his own blog.

    I’ve found Brave New Climate to be the energy equivalent of WattsUpWithThat. It’s atrocious pro-nuclear propaganda. It goes from desperate fear-mongering – “Nuclear Power or Climate Change: Take Your Pick” – to ridiculous articles that are nothing but collections of strawmen – “Hypocrisies of the antis”.

    He even produced a ‘business card’ for visitors to print out which says ‘Renewable power does not work.’ It’s hard to believe Brook is a scientist.

    And it’s made all the more ludicrous that Australia has massive potential for clean, safe, renewable energy, especially solar.

    Ultimately, it looks very much like Brook and the rest of the nuclear fan club have backed the wrong horse. New nukes are barely being built quickly enough to replace old ones going offline. Google ‘Nuclear: New dawn now seems limited to the east’ for a Financial Times article on the reality of nuclear in the short to medium term.

    Meanwhile, renewables are being deployed at an accelerating rate and falling in cost as a result. That process is only likely to move further in renewables favour in the coming years.

  17. October 10th, 2010 at 14:10 | #17

    @DavidC

    I was hoping to address Barry Brook who quickly shuts down any criticism on his own blog.

    That is simply untrue. Stephen Gloor, Peter Lalor & BilB who disagree have never been barred from posting there.

    He even produced a ‘business card’ for visitors to print out which says ‘Renewable power does not work.’

    That was not produced by Professor brook but a contributor, John Morgan, so this is wrong too.

    Meanwhile, renewables are being deployed at an accelerating rate and falling in cost as a result.

    And yet fossil hydrocarbon usage continues to grow, despite subsidies/support for renewables. Go figure.

    Nobody will be happier than I am on the day, if it ever comes, when the the first coal or gas fired plant is retired in favour of some combination of renewables, but I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen.

  18. el gordo
    October 10th, 2010 at 14:25 | #18

    No need for alarm, the hockey stick was only a delusion.

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/7ss_unadjusted_niwa.png

  19. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 14:40 | #19

    @el gordo

    No need to bother – el gordo is only a delusion.

  20. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 14:47 | #20

    @DavidC
    I agree David. I also find it a bit hard to believe Brook is a scientist (or perhaps a truly objective scientist may be a better description) given what appears to be a slight religious fervency of pro nuclear advocation. Take no prisoners – there are no alternatives????

    (but then other scientists have been guilty in the past of being slightly overdevoted to their own fields of “expertise” or “solutions” – for example Dr McBride or Harry Bailey in the medical fields are two examples of what one might describe as eminent in their fields yet somehow tripped up). Couple this with his webistes obvious attraction to “disciples” and the tacit approval of what seems to me to be a sloganistic anti renewable stance ie a business card with “Renewable power does not work”.?

    Dr Barry Brook may not have made that business card but he obviously doesnt object to it being on his website. To answer Ernestine’s question Professor Barry Brook does not appear to be a nuclear physicist as far as I can ascertain. Accordining to his blibliography he has a degree with honours and a PHD from Macquarie uni in science (major not specified or I couldnt find it).

    Perhaps Fran might know.

  21. spangled drongo
    October 10th, 2010 at 15:21 | #21

    “Nobody will be happier than I am on the day, if it ever comes, when the the first coal or gas fired plant is retired in favour of some combination of renewables”

    That is the bit that the anti-nukes just do not get.

    I have been using off-grid wind since 1957 and solar since 1985 and I know what their limits are. Check how well the solar thermal is going at Windorah. [They still run the diesel generator almost as much as they did before the ST was built at $100,000 per household]. If the residents paid the true cost of this power it would cost them over $20,000 per annum per household.

  22. Chumpai
    October 10th, 2010 at 15:29 | #22

    I thought the nuclear thread was interesting, though a little too personal towards the end, alas internet threads can easily dissolve even with the best of intentions. If there ever is another nuclear thread perhaps we could cover a narrow topic such as ‘economics of the AP-1000′ etc?

    @Alice

    I think Prof. Brook studies climate change in general? I quite like bravenewclimate although I don’t read the posts there anymore as they are too long.

    In all honesty I think one day we will get all our domestic power needs from uber-solar panels on our rooftops, but that could be decades away. Alice, I feel your frustration with people wasting energy, I guess one reason I advocate nuclear energy is that I don’t believe people will give up their lifestyles until there is a crisis. You can eliminate the energy efficiency conundrum with nuclear. The other reason I want nuclear is that we already have nuclear waste, and nuclear weapons- the only way to comprehensively eliminate these materials is via deep burn cycles in advanced nuclear reactors (which use the laws of physics to prevent Chernobyl like accidents).

  23. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 15:49 | #23

    @Chumpai
    Chumpai – I live on the beach and I look at the vaste expanse water every day and Ill be damned if we cant do something with the power of the ocean. Something that may not be cheap to start with, but something that may be very powerful in the long run.
    I dont want nuclear simply because its the cheapest for those with money to install now.

  24. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 15:54 | #24

    DavidC and Alice, Brook did not produce that “business card”, I did. I participated in the “Walk Against Warming” recently, in Sydney, and I wanted to have something to hand out to communicate the important facts of our current greenhouse situation and energy options, and I thought this was a good way to do it, particularly since I could take advantage of a company that does free business card printing, so I only had to pay postage. You can see an image of the card here: http://i.imgur.com/jsjTm.png . There was a very tight letter count, so its a bit of a haiku, but each assertion is correct. Barry saw fit to draw attention to it in a blog post, but it was my work.

    There was the full range of responses too, on the walk. Some people were interested and wanted more information, there were a couple in full agreement, and wanted to know which reactors I favoured. Others disagreed, in a knowledgeable and friendly way. And as might be expected there were a couple of angry and aggressive reactions.

    David, the tone of your comment suggests you object to the statement, “Renewable power does not work”. It depends on what you mean by “work”, of course. You can put an alternator on a wind powered crank and produce an electric current, but that’s too low a threshold of utility to say it works, as a useful power source. You can, if you choose, take your home completely off grid and, personally, substantially cut your CO2 emissions. But this is strictly the domain of individual hobbyists, its an available option for very few people indeed, and it will not “work” to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions. By “work”, I mean cut CO2 emissions by offering a societal scale alternative to fossil fuels. “Renewable” energy can’t do this. Renewable energy doesn’t work, as a greenhouse response. If we choose a renewables strategy, we are indeed headed towards disastrous climate change.

  25. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 15:55 | #25

    Alice: “I also find it a bit hard to believe Brook is a scientist (or perhaps a truly objective scientist may be a better description) ..”

    Here’s a short list of his gongs, as a scientist of the first rank:

    2007: Cosmos Bright Sparks Award: One of the top 10 young scientists in Australia

    2007: H.G. Andrewartha Medal: Royal Society of SA. Awarded for outstanding research by a scientist under 40 years (any discipline)

    2006: Fenner Medal: Australian Academy of Science. Awarded for distinguished research in biology by a scientist under 40 years

    2006: Edgeworth David Medal: Royal Society of NSW. Awarded for outstanding research by a scientist under 35 years (any discipline)

    2006: Who’s Who in Australia? (Crown Content Publishing) bibliographic entry

    2005: 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century, bibliographic entry (International Biographical Centre, Cambridge)

    1999: Australian Flora Foundation Prize, Australian Flora Foundation

    They don’t give these things away, Alice.

    In the nuclear thread you implicitly accused Brook of having some commercial interest in nuclear power. Quiggan rightly asked you to retract, which you did. But here you are now trying to associate him with William McBride and Harry Bailey. Sure, you’ve maintained sufficient deniability to plead you meant no offence, as you did before. But you know what you’re doing. Stop it.

  26. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 16:06 | #26

    @John Morgan
    Yes yes John Morgan – I saw all the awards too. Anyone can view the awards. The inquiry under discussion is about his qualifications. Ernestine asked if he is a nuclear physicist. That is my enquiry. I do not believe he as I cannot find anything in his blibliography along those lines, notwithstanding the awards you list.

    I will not retract the references to other eminent scientists guilty perhaps of making mistakes, in favour of their own research. This is a general comment and we should be aware that it happens. I have questions over someone who permits theirw website to carry a card or a note (even though it was not written by them personally) that states

    “renewables dont work”.

    Even Professor Brooks own papers in other areas do not indicate that he fully subscribes to the view that “renewables dont work” – so why permit it on his website??

    Could it be that there is more funding available from short termist capitalists for pro nuclear research. We all know increasingly, public sector researchers and academics are being pressed (pressured) to seek private sector monetary grants.

    I know what I am saying. I may not agree with the system of grants and the soliciting of private sector grants for research in universities but it now exists all the same which only makes it harder to discern genuinely objective scientific research and separate it from money and egos.

    I will not stop John Morgan. This is the sandpit. Save your misinterpretations and skewings of my post for someone less gullible.

  27. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 16:41 | #27

    @John Morgan
    To be more precise Barry Brook won the following for the following reasons…

    the 2007 Cosmos award – Barry Brook:” ecology & climate change”, University of Adelaide.
    2007 Fenner medal – I can not find the specific research that gave Professor Brook the award – he was involved at the time in research into whale shark mammal decline. It is for distinguished research in the field of “biology”.

    2006 – Edgeworth David medal – he was awarded it in 2006 but we dont know his field of expertise because it isnt listed. See below.

    http://nsw.royalsoc.org.au/awards/edgeworth.html

    No – they do not give these things away as you say John. Im sure Professor Brook is an eminently capable scientist. Whether it makes him an expert in the field of nuclear technology and appropriateness of use is quite another question entirely.

    Professor Barry Brook has published extensively but not all his publications , unlike the website “bravenewclimate’ are about his pro nuclear advocacy John Morgan and I would be interested to know exactly what research about which subject saw him gain the above awards.

  28. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 16:49 | #28

    Why don’t you ask Barry about his awards and expertise directly? The comments on the ‘About’ page at BNC would be appropriate.

  29. Alice
    October 10th, 2010 at 16:53 | #29

    I dont need too Jon Morgan. Professor Brooks publications are in the public domain. I do not see many publications linked directly to nuclear power although he has recently published a book about it and he does have pro nuclear website.

    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/barry.brook#Publications

  30. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 16:56 | #30

    @spangled drongo

    You need to put up some evidence.

    Was this plant a ‘first of kind’?

    What does “almost as much” mean?

    AGL is building a 52MW wind farm for $120 million ["Hallett 5" as advised to Australian Stock Exchange on 26 August 2010].

    Theoretically this is 1MW for $2.3 million, but windfarms do not produce consistently.

    If it averages just under 30% capacity, each MW will need $8 million in construction costs.

    At 5%, the capital cost for this is $400,000 per yr. per MW capacity (which gives 8,760 MW-hrs per year).

    This may be more expensive than fossil, but at $45.70 for each MWhr it seems affordable and efficient.

    If the windfarm only performs at 25% capacity (over a year) then each of 8,760 MW hrs per year will cost proportionately more.

    So, even adding in overheads, transmission costs, and depreciation – this still seems affordable and efficient.

    If we develop renewables further, these costs will fall.

  31. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 17:19 | #31

    Alice, you’re not discussing his publication record. You’re mischievously raising a number of different questions that go to his credibility. These are the questions I suggest you put to him.

  32. October 10th, 2010 at 17:26 | #32

    @John Morgan

    What Alice is doing has been dubbed “the Gish Gallop”.

  33. Rapid Rabbit
    October 10th, 2010 at 17:38 | #33

    @Alice

    Alice said:

    Whether it makes him an expert in the field of nuclear technology and appropriateness of use is quite another question entirely.

    Oh, right, I see. So if a nuclear physicist or nuclear engineer says that nuclear fission energy is an appropriate and effective way to cut carbon emissions, then you’ll ‘believe’ and ‘support’ it, eh Alice? Right, got it, thanks for that clarification.

  34. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 17:45 | #34

    Fran, I think she’s doing something darker than simply overburdening us with questions. Its very close to the Fox News “Some say ..” tactic, used to make an insinuation without being responsible for a direct accusation (if you ever saw the doco Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Jounalism, you’ll know what I mean).

  35. Peter Lang
    October 10th, 2010 at 18:01 | #35

    This comment was posted by Seth on BNC today. It is probably more applicable here. Those with an open mind might appreciate the its applicable to some of the contributiosn here:

    QUOTE
    One of the major roadblocks in getting nukes built at any cost in the west is the massive unreasoning opposition of antinuclear greenies. Any attempt to educate the undecided is met with vicious opposition.

    This extends to the deletion of critical comments on greeny web sites.

    No better example than antinuclear advocate David Roberts who runs Grist.org. He has an article there on how prevalent the climate Denier community is amongst Republicans and how how the progressive politicians are avoiding the fight.

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-10-08-telling-the-truth-about-climate-change-is-good-politics/#comments

    I made the following comment pointing out that its while he thinks it’s okay for antinuclear progressives to make fun of climate deniers, by rejecting nuclear power as a solution nuclear deniers are just as dangerous to civilization’s survival as the climate variety in fact more so.

    In fact James Camerson agrees.

    My comment:

    “People that claim to believe in climate change but reject nuclear power as a solution are actually a far worse danger to humanity than reasoning progressives’s and climate deniers who generally accept the need for nukes.

    Here’s James Cameron recently

    ” I’m pro-nuclear, yeah, in this particular context, as a bridge to a fully sustainable future. I think the waste problem is a 500 year horizon, I think the warming problem is a 10 to 15 year horizon. ”

    10 to 15 years people!!! Then add to that less than ten years for Peak Oil.

    Wind and solar couldn’t make more than a tiny dint in our GHG emissions in that timeframe.

    Even if it weren’t industrially and financially impossible, its politically impossible as well. Deniers hate wind/solar with a passion and will fight every effort to build them. With increased Repug control of government it is likely all subsidy will end.

    Some Australian power engineers, real engineers as opposed to some Greenpeace study done by social workers, looked at a proposal to power Australia by 2020 with balanced wind solar and biomass. It was found to be impossibly expensive, utterly impractical, and an orders of magnitude more costly than nuclear with costs reaching as high as $1.20 a kwh.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/

    With a World War II effort, in ten years 10000 mass produced nukes could easily with a fraction of our industrial capacity, with the costs covered at a 30% ROR by replacing fossil fuels, head off the the global warming and peak oil crises.

    The three million people that die every year from air pollution will then live and the hundreds of millions sickened will live healthy lives.

    The cost of mass produced nukes are a tiny fraction of wind/solar coming in at under 2 cents a kwh based on American NRC approved American engineer build reactors under construction in China with onshore unsubsidized new wind starting at 12 cents and offshore 25 cents. Solar is double that. Wind costs and solar PV have bottomed and are increasing. Solar CSP is an unknown but at a minimum higher than offshore wind.

    Nuclear Waste? the usual canard.

    All the worlds nuclear waste would fit in the Great Pyramid at Giza which has lasted 5000 years. Better we let a billion people die than lose a football field forever? And the stuff is not waste it is fuel waiting for recycle enough to power the world for hundreds of years. Whats left is such low level it could be stuffed back in an uranium mine shaft.

    Meltdown?

    The worst possible accident with a post fifties nuke happened at three mile island, the reactor vessel was barely scratched. The IAEA standard for new reactors has a core melt release probability on 1 per million reactor years of operation. The AP-1000 improves that to 1 per 200 million reactor years of operation.

    10 to 15 years folks!!!! That’s what climate scientists are telling us. Wind and solar people don’t seem to believe them, while all the time dissing climate deniers. They seem to love the not so renewables more than the survival of civilization.

    Stop laughing at the Repug deniers and look in the mirror. Maybe some comprise to your rigidity is in order. Add nuclear power to a RES standand – maybe that might actually get a bill signed and some process under way.”

    I got this right away from Roberts as he deleted my comment.

    “Seth, one more off-the-shelf rant about nuclear power on a thread that has nothing to do with nuclear power and you will be banned from Grist for good. Last warning.

    – david roberts
    senior staff writer”

    Presumably that would include any articles extolling the virtues of wind or solar power.

    This is the second time, the first note from Roberts came after my comment on a Joe Rolm article that Charles Barton was kind enough to comment on here

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/09/bankrupt-criticism-of-nuclear-power.html

    You will find a similar thing on Huffpo where antinuclear baiters can call pronuclear commentators all sorts of nasty names liars, shills and worse yet never get banned while the list of banned pronuclear commentators is lengthy.

    It is apparent that the antinuclear component of the Green community is hell bent on shutting down opposition and any means fair or foul is all for the cause.
    END QUOTE

  36. jquiggin
    October 10th, 2010 at 18:05 | #36

    Nothing more on Barry Brooks’ qualifications and so on, please. Let’s stick to the arguments on his site.

  37. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 18:44 | #37

    Strongly agree. I can’t stand credentialism. Let arguments stand or fall on their own merits.

  38. spangled drongo
    October 10th, 2010 at 19:38 | #38

    Chris Warren,

    Solar Thermals have been around for years and are claimed to be highly efficient.

    Because this plant only supplies power from 8 am till 5 pm [when no one is home] peak load is still carried by the old generator so it really only “keeps the beer cold” for this incredible cost. And there is very little diesel fuel saved compared to the previous system.

    “At 5%, the capital cost for this is $400,000 per yr. per MW capacity (which gives 8,760 MW-hrs per year).

    “This may be more expensive than fossil, but at $45.70 for each MWhr it seems affordable and efficient.”

    For an asset that has to be written off in 20 years, the capital recouped, interest charged and maintenance, running costs and overhead allowed for, your figures are completely unrealistic.
    $150 per MWhr would be conservative and at the usual 25% or less average performance, $180-200 is nearer the mark.

  39. Peter Lang
    October 10th, 2010 at 20:07 | #39

    The cost of electricity from solar thermal is about $225/MWh according to EIA. This has risen 30% in the past year. This is the cost for solar thermal that operates in day time in summer only. So solar thernal is virtually useless and about 5 to 10 times the cost of electricity from conventional power stations.

  40. Alan
    October 10th, 2010 at 20:10 | #40

    @spangled

    Sorry, we already have solar thermals providing baseload power. Even on the face of your post you are making stuff up. The sun does not rise at 8 am and set at 5 pm. Australian technology is also already providing baseload power. Sadly it’s happening in California because Australia has a more than faintly weird attitude to innovation. John Howard was great at talking points, but not so great at science.

  41. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 20:24 | #41

    Obviously you have to ask twice with some people; so

    You need to put up some evidence.

    Was this plant a ‘first of kind’?

    What does “almost as much” mean?

    Silly statements such as “only keeps the beer cold” don’t mean anything.

    Where is your evidence?

    Was this a ‘first of a kind’?

    Under public ownership, given proper maintenance, the asset would not have to be written-off. It would only be written-off if cheaper means of renewables arise.

    So where is your evidence that a 54mw capacity wind-turbine produces @ $150 per MWhr before overheads.

    If you read what I wrote – you will see that my costing is before overheads, transmission and depreciation as these apply to all forms of generators.

    So, yet again, you have not answered the question, and have not understood the point.

    It may be best if you try again …..

  42. jquiggin
    October 10th, 2010 at 20:29 | #42

    @Chumpai If there ever is another nuclear thread perhaps we could cover a narrow topic such as ‘economics of the AP-1000? etc?

    I found a 2004 DoE study associated with the “Nuclear Power 2010″ plan. Estimated levelized cost for AP1000 is $36-50 /MWh, but this assumed a capital cost of around $1300/KWh, which is about one-third of current estimated costs in the US. So, $100/MWh is a plausible minimum in the absence of subsidies. That means a carbon price of at least $50/tonne, as I think I said in the original post.

  43. spangled drongo
    October 10th, 2010 at 20:52 | #43

    Alan,

    D’you really believe you can average better than 9 hours [8 to 5] a day performance all year round?

    And Windorah ST doesn’t have any energy storage which adds considerably to the price and would be useless in many of our usual wet periods. How is that baseload?

    Also Howard new that Nuclear was the only serious “renewable”.

    Peter Lang,

    Thanks for that. I suspected as much.
    On top of that Windorah is a very dusty place most of the year and they have no clean, clear water to wash those six-storey mirrors. It often doesn’t rain for months or even years.

  44. John Morgan
    October 10th, 2010 at 21:04 | #44

    Alan: “Sorry, we already have solar thermals providing baseload power.”

    No, we already don’t. There is no baseload solar thermal anywhere in the world now, and I do not expect there ever will be.

    Read what the citation you offered actually says, and I draw your attention to the use of the subjunctive tense:

    Using molten salt to store solar energy could provide electricity 24 hours a day, equivalent to baseload supply, according to Matthew Wright, executive director of Melbourne based company Beyond Zero Emissions.

    Could? Doubtful. Does it? Certainly not.

    Matthew has something of a blind spot when it comes to solar thermal. When he refers to “baseload” solar power you have to check carefully how many hours storage he is referring to. He promotes the Beyond Zero Emissions Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan as having “baseload” solar thermal. In that plan, the generators are configured at 17 hours storage. What this means is that the “baseload” generator is killed by a single cloudy day. Thats not baseload. How many cloudy days in a row should the system need to cope with? One? Thats about a forty hour storage requirement (plus the additional generation capacity required to pump up that additional storage). Is one day a realistic storage requirement? What do you think? Has it ever in your experience rained, God forbid, for two days in a row? More?

    Your second link is interesting – its from 2007 (!) and refers to David Mill’s solar company Ausra’s plans. From 2010 we can see how this unfolded. In 2008 Ausra built a 5 MW (ie practically nothing) demonstration plant. It is not providing baseload power for anyone, anywhere. In 2009 Ausra’s plans for a 177 MW Californian plant were shelved. In 2010 Ausra was bought by AREVA, and its not providing solar systems with storage anywhere.

    You guys really need to stop drinking the Kool Aid and exercise a little critical thinking and research skills. There is no such thing as baseload solar thermal. If you disagree with me, point me to an example.

  45. Alan
    October 10th, 2010 at 21:28 | #45

    Windorah is not a solar thermal station. It uses PV cells with a mirror concentration system. The daylight hours for Windorah cane easily be googled. I’ll leave you to that. I suspect that even in Windorah the sun does not work 8 to 5.

  46. DavidC
    October 10th, 2010 at 21:51 | #46

    Fran Barlow :

    That is simply untrue. Stephen Gloor, Peter Lalor & BilB who disagree have never been barred from posting there.

    No. What I wrote is true – from *my* experience. I am not Stephen Gloor or anyone else.

    That was not produced by Professor brook but a contributor, John Morgan, so this is wrong too.

    I do apologise. Brook did not actually make the ‘business card’ – he just posted and promoted it on his blog.

    And yet fossil hydrocarbon usage continues to grow, despite subsidies/support for renewables. Go figure.

    It’s not difficult to figure (assuming your claim is true). Developing countries such as China and India are playing catch-up with the ‘west’ and rapidly deploying the energy sources which allow them to compete with us. When CO2 per capita of the US and Australia is ~20 tons per person and China is 5 and India is 1, there’s no moral justification for anyone in the ‘west’ to criticise them.

    Nobody will be happier than I am on the day, if it ever comes, when the the first coal or gas fired plant is retired in favour of some combination of renewables, but I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen.

    You’re in luck. It’s already happened and continues every day as GWs of clean, safe, renewable energy come online. Here’s a starter:

    Renewables Global Status Report: Renewables accounted for 60% of new power capacity in Europe in 2009; China added 37 GW of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world; Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable capacity was added, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity; Solar PV additions reached a record high of 7 GW; 83+ countries have policies to promote renewable power. http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2010.asp

    There’s much more information like that if you choose to educate yourself on it. However, you will not find this information on Barry Brook’s blog.

  47. DavidC
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:08 | #47

    Alice :
    …religious fervency of pro nuclear advocation. Take no prisoners – there are no alternatives????

    I only started taking an interest in energy ~9 months ago as a result of climate change, and it took me completely by surprise that so many people are *rabidly* defensive of nuclear and dismissive of renewables. Evidence and reality be damned. That “Renewables don’t work” ‘business card’ promoted by Brook is simply bizarre.

    “Nuclear will take us to a magical utopia! Renewables will have us all sitting in mud huts and speaking Chinese!”

    One other indicator that you know something is amiss is that *every* climate change denier is pro-nuke / anti-renewable….

  48. Peter Lang
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:13 | #48

    John Quiggan,

    The projected cost of electricity from new plants varies according to assumptions. Equivalent assumptions must be used for comparisons. The $225/MWh for solar thermal is for power that is provided only when the solar power station wants to provide power. This is very different from the power supplied in response to to demand. Nuclear, fossil fuels and hydro provide power on demand. These costs of wind and solar are not comparable with costs from nuclear, fossil fuel or hydro.

    For a fair comparison you need to compare on the basis of the cost of power from generators that can respond to demand. Baseload power is the power that is demanded all the time. Approximately 75% of the electricity we consume is baseload. In Australia’s NEM, the baseload varies between about 17GW (summer) and 20GW (July). Annual average demand is about 25GW. ur peak demand is about 35GW and occurs in winter at about 7 pm (after sundown!).

    Cost projections for new nuclear in USA and EU are around $60 to $100/MWh as you state. For new coal about $50/MWh. These costs cannot be compared with wind or solar without incorporating the costs of the back-up generators and extra grid costs that are necessary to enable wind or solar to provide baseload power (reliable power on demand).

    Wind power with gas back-up and grid enhancements necessary to provide reliable, high quality power on demand would cost about 3 times the cost of nuclear in Australia. You will hear lots of argiuments from the renewables advocates, but these are basically attempts to muddy the waters and confuse people.

    If you would like more on this, could I suggest you and and any readers who are interested might like to look at these articles:

    1. Critique of the Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 report
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/

    2. Replacing Hazelwood coal fired power station
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/05/29/replacing-hazelwood-coal/

    3. Emission Cuts Realities
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    The first explains how ridiculous are the claims of the renewable advocates who claim that wind and solar can provide our needs for power.

    The second shows that replacing Hazelwood power station in Victoria (Australia’s highest GHG emissions intensity power station) with wind and gas would reduce emissions by little more than with gas alone but the electricity would cost about twice as much.

    The third compares five options for replacing our fossil fuel power stations. It compares the options over a transition period until all coal and most gas has been replaced. The options for replacing are gas alone; gas and nuclear; gas and wind; gas and solar thermal; and gas, wind and solar thermal. The options are compared on the basis of: capital expenditure, CO2-e emissions avoided, cost per tonne emissions avoided, electricity cost of the replacement technologies.

  49. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:17 | #49

    Cost of nukes ??????

    Here is one take…

    http://scitizen.com/future-energies/how-much-will-new-nuclear-power-plants-cost-_a-14-2287.html

    The bottom line is that no-one knows, and always more than promised.

  50. Rapid Rabbit
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:18 | #50

    Deleted. I’m not interested in spillovers from fights on other blogs, even in the sandpit. I’ll delete anything more I see that relates to intra-blog disputes at BCN

  51. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:36 | #51

    @John Morgan

    Your comment is hollow and out of time.

    We have already been through this issue.

    There are new storage technologies that can store discontinuous energy for continuous baseload requirements.

    They are all more expensive – but not unreasonably so.

    As I remember, most of the info is in various magazines such as New Scientist, (molten metals not just molten salt) so please search the archive, or the internet for assistance.

  52. Chris Warren
    October 10th, 2010 at 22:56 | #52

    Anyway – solar cells are approaching US$0.95 per watt.

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/10/whats-behind-record-breaking-solar-cell-efficiencies-part-1

    So renewables are moving towards centre-stage.

  53. DavidC
    October 10th, 2010 at 23:04 | #53

    Peter Lang :
    One of the major roadblocks in getting nukes built at any cost in the west is the massive unreasoning opposition of antinuclear greenies.

    This is the silliest of the nuclear fan club’s defences. You’re suggesting that the powerful (!) hippy lobby is stopping those poor, weak nuclear corporations from building their reactors?

    No. The reason nukes are not being built to any significant extent anywhere outside of China, India and a few other Asian locations is very, very simple: cost.

    Added to cost is time to deployment and risk of failure. The new Finnish reactor is currently ~4 years over schedule and billions over budget. Assuming no further delays, it will have taken 13 years from licensing to grid connection. And Areva cannot just blame Finnish contractors (as they are trying to do) because they are suffering delays and cost overruns with the same EPR in France!

    Added to all of that is the small issue of needing to store waste for a few thousand years (fast breeder reactors are vapourware, not commercial reality).

    ~~~

    John Morgan :

    “Renewable power does not work”. It depends on what you mean by “work”, of course.

    Your business card makes an absolute statement. That statement is nonsense – no matter how you parse it and equivocate. Just to drive that point home:

    1. you are right and therefore thousands of German scientists and engineers have got it very badly wrong because they have worked out that they are going to be 100% renewable by 2050 (and are already ahead of schedule).

    2. you are wrong.

    There is no baseload solar thermal anywhere in the world now, and I do not expect there ever will be.

    World’s first concentrating solar power (CSP) to use molten salts for heat transfer and storage; can extend its operating hours 24 hours a day for several days in the absence of sun or during rainy days; first to be fully integrated to combined-cycle gas power plant. http://www.carboncommentary.com/2010/07/20/1604

    That is a prime example of what I see from nuclear advocates – an assumption that things do not exist because you don’t know they exist. Again, reading only Barry Brook’s echo chamber will keep you in the dark about what is happening with renewable energy around the planet.

    ~~~

    Fran Barlow :
    What Alice is doing has been dubbed “the Gish Gallop”.

    No, Alice is doing nothing similar to ‘the Gish Gallop’. Try playing the ball and not the (wo)man.

  54. October 11th, 2010 at 04:13 | #54

    @DavidC

    That is simply untrue. Stephen Gloor, Peter Lalor & BilB who disagree have never been barred from posting there.

    No. What I wrote is true – from *my* experience. I am not Stephen Gloor or anyone else.

    You posted twice there. People answered you. You were not “shut down”. It is not “your experience”.

    yet fossil hydrocarbon usage continues to grow, despite subsidies/support for renewables. Go figure.

    It’s not difficult to figure (assuming your claim is true). Developing countries such as China and India are playing catch-up with the ‘west’ and rapidly deploying the energy sources which allow them to compete with us.

    But if renewables are in the long run, as effective, why are not China and India using them to the exclusion of coal? China imports a lot of coal and even transporting its local coal places crippling burdens on its infrastructure. Water is a huge problem for coal use too. Yet it is going to at least double coal use by 2020. Moral condemnation of China and India is not afoot here. The fact is that renewables are not competitive even in China, where they can dictate investment.

    Nobody will be happier than I am on the day, if it ever comes, when the the first coal or gas fired plant is retired in favour of some combination of renewables, but I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen.

    You’re in luck. It’s already happened and continues every day as GWs of clean, safe, renewable energy come online. Here’s a starter:

    Renewables Global Status Report: Renewables accounted for 60% of new power capacity in Europe in 2009; China added 37 GW of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world;

    This fails to address the question. Is even one existing fossil thermal plant being retired by this new renewable capacity? No. Is fossil thermal capacity growing faster than renewables? Yes. The conclusion is forced: Renewables are not yet the answer since fossil hyrdrocarbon combustion continues to grow.

    It is not future growth in fossil thermal capacity that is the chief problem but what we have now that is central and what we have now is growing not shrinking.

    Nuclear will take us to a magical utopia! Renewables will have us all sitting in mud huts and speaking Chinese!”

    Strawman arguments simply invite people to conclude you have no serious case to put.

    One other indicator that you know something is amiss is that *every* climate change denier is pro-nuke / anti-renewable

    Actually, most favour business as usual though occasionally, mostly to wedge those of us who favour action, pretend they favour nuclear. The fact is that an increasing number of us who favour serious global action now regard nuclear power as indispensible in practice.

  55. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 07:01 | #55

    Fran Barlow :
    You posted twice there. People answered you. You were not “shut down”. It is not “your experience”.

    You have no idea how many times I posted or what the result was. You have no idea what my experience was. Last time my comments were pre-moderated and not published. The denizens then had a little party, crowing that I was a “drive-by” troll and that I had run away.

    However, I have little interest in posting again. I only did so because I was shocked at the ignorant nonsense and eye-watering propaganda coming from an otherwise respectable scientist. Given the type of people attracted to Brooks’ blog, it would be as pointless engaging them as it would engaging the deniers at WattsUpWithThat.

    But if renewables are in the long run, as effective, why are not China and India using them to the exclusion of coal?

    I already explained that in my previous comment which you quoted (in amongst the jumbled mass of text that you quoted as well!). I’ll reword it: do you think it’s fair that China attempts to compete by using renewable energy against industrialised nations who built their economies on fossil fuels and continue to do so? Do you think there is one rule for Chinese people and another for you?

    This fails to address the question. Is even one existing fossil thermal plant being retired by this new renewable capacity? No.

    It fully addresses the question. Or do you think all those gigawatts of renewable electricity just disappear in to the ether? I’m afraid you’ve provided the wrong answer to your own question. Renewable energy displaces fossil fuels.

    Strawman arguments simply invite people to conclude you have no serious case to put.

    I thought it was obvious. My “Nuclear will take us to a magical utopia!” quip is a parody / mockery of the inanity of many in the nuclear fan club. It’s not serious so it’s not a strawman. That’s why I put it in scare quotes, you see?

    Actually, most favour business as usual…

    Actually, it’s exactly as I said – *every* (OK, the vast majority) of ACC deniers rabidly favour nuclear. I have *many* years experience ‘debating’ ACC deniers. I know them well.

    I note that you have ignored just about every piece of evidence that I have provided here. This is exactly the behaviour I encounter with nearly every nuclear advocate. It’s like an impenetrable cult!

    P.S. I made an earlier response which has been held for moderation for some reason.

  56. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 07:51 | #56

    @DavidC
    I agree David C. You can see the evidence for the religiousness of the pro nuclear stance in many (and “renewables dont work”) and simultaneous climate science denialism of the sort spangled drongo engages in …yet is also fervently pro nuclear??.

    That is, Spangled Drongo, for example, denies AGW exists yet sees a need for nuclear anyway. If it doesnt exist then why does Spangled Drongo support pro nuclear so much? Completely contradictory and because for him its become a political argument a la “Lefts go for renewables and rights want nuclear so I, Spangled Drongo, barrack for my team”.

    It seems its another thing written into the handbook fo young conservatives / republicans.

    The entire thing is bizarre and political which is not particularly helpful. Neither is the underlying attack on “progresssive greens who support renewables” by pro nuclear advocates. Yet another scientific debate hijacked to fight an engineered left right war by disciples who are less nuclear disciples than they are conservative / republican political disciples.

    Another simple sign is the sheer length of the posts and how some posters, with names unheard of prior, descend here as if from the outer universe at the first mention of a nuclear topic.
    Many of them protest too much and we already know that conservatives use the methodology of fighting a so called war of words (which involves conjuring up an imaginary left right divide) using members to disseminate climate science denialism.

    It is entirely appropriate in these times to question scientists qualifications to disseminate their supposed expertise if they take a strongly one sided public position on the expanded use of a very dangerous material as Professor Brook does. They should naturally expect public questions and inquiry.

  57. John Morgan
    October 11th, 2010 at 07:56 | #57

    Chris,

    There are new storage technologies that can store discontinuous energy for continuous baseload requirements.
    They are all more expensive – but not unreasonably so.

    Chris, there are no technologies available for energy storage on the scale required to enable baseload renewable power in the gigawatt range at a cost that is remotely viable. That you think you maybe read about it in New Scientist and that maybe it had something to do with molten metals does not inspire confidence in your grasp of the issues.

    Look, the most plausible thermal storage technology available today is molten salts. The ZCA2020 plan tried to construct a generation system employing molten salts. It was ruinously expensive. And it only specified 17 hrs storage on its solar thermal plants. You can’t contemplate having a stable grid with that paltry amount of storage, you’d need a minimum of ~40 hrs to hold over for a day of cloud, or the grid will be a train wreck. But at that level of storage the cost is into trillions of dollars.

    And you’re suggesting that “new” storage technologies technologies are more expensive than this, but not “unreasonable”?

    But if you think I’m wrong, just give me an example of an alternative technology that can work.

  58. John Morgan
    October 11th, 2010 at 07:59 | #58

    Anyway – solar cells are approaching US$0.95 per watt.

    Say, thats pretty cheap. How much to buy that watt at nine o’clock tonight?

  59. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2010 at 08:33 | #59

    I’ve commented several times previously about the conditions I would have to see met before accepting nuclear power on a large scale in Australia. I’ll leave it at that.

    With regards to Barry Brooks’ advocacy of nuclear power – I have watched his views move towards advocacy and away from a more reflective and open arguing of the alternatives. I don’t read his blog very much now. BTW, his advocacy for nuclear power is not what I have a problem with, beyond disagreeing with him on the relativities that he believes make nuclear power so utterly compelling.

    Our largest concern now should be a simple one: what activities may be achieved within the best guess time frames to make the best long-term impact? While dollar cost has its importance, every day of foot-dragging we accept is another day that the balance of concerns shifts away from dollar cost and towards what is physically achievable. We forget too easily that manpower is a finite resource on short to medium time scales, no matter what pile of cash we might have as enticement to do a job.

    Nuclear power reactors are large scale facilities and are complex. They take a lot of time to go from concept to turn-key on day one of operation. Wind turbines while certainly not cheap have some benefits in the Australian context that nuclear does not – wind farms may be extended rapidly and incrementally, as opportunities and/or demand arise. Same goes for many types of solar facilities.

    The displacement effect of trying to go nuclear as the solution for Australia, instead of attempting a mixed solution of large scale transition to multiple sources of power, is where nuclear may create a cross to heavy to bear. In my opinion nuclear advocates should define a clear short term goal to go from A to Z with a relatively small number of nuclear reactors chosen to give the best chance of the quickest completion time. If the project is successful, meaning that the reactors are operational and operating at expected loads, then it is likely that both the skills and capital necessary for a second project will be available even before the first project is complete. Staging it in this way is probably a lot more palatable to Australians than a “big bang” approach, and if a small but substantial project of say three reactors is unable to execute to completion on time targets, then in the meanwhile other achievable alternative energy projects have had a chance during the same time period.

    We should be putting a hell of a lot more effort into alternative energy production, distribution, storage, and usage patterns; we should be contracting to remove permanently existing coal-fired power stations and for their replacements to be non-coal and preferably non-gas too (gas aka methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and some is lost to the atmosphere at several points in the production to consumption chain); we should be finding ways of reducing household need of their current energy by aggressively seeking more efficient ways of achieving the same ends. If we do these things then I can accept nuclear power projects of the type I’ve described above, as being in the mix.

    All nuclear is not something I could support however. In this instance I just don’t see how it could be less risky to go all nuclear than to go for a more aggressive target of replacement per unit time (of coal based power) in which multiple lines of alternative energy sources are being installed.

    In this note I am assuming more or less that the dollar cost is not the primary objective, but rather the replacement of coal-based energy per unit time (with a relatively hard time limit based for example on the 2015, 2020, 2025 dates in order to force transitions that are scientifically compatible with climate scientists estimates). The work of Hansen and many others makes it abundantly clear we are entering a period where the costs are much larger, simply because we have fallen so far short of action right up to the present day.

  60. BilB
    October 11th, 2010 at 08:50 | #60

    John Morgan,

    “you’d need a minimum of ~40 hrs to hold over for a day of cloud, or the grid will be a train wreck. But at that level of storage the cost is into trillions of dollars”

    that is total rubbish. Please some reading on the hybride CSP solar thermal system.

  61. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:11 | #61

    Donald Oats,

    “I’ve commented several times previously about the conditions I would have to see met before accepting nuclear power on a large scale in Australia”

    I haven’t seen your previous posts. Could you provide a short list of the main points.

    If they include concern about the safety aspects or nuclear waste (once used nuclear fuel), then why would you be concerned. Nuclear fuel cycle is 10 to 100 times safer than coal so, why delay any longer? Any move to nuclear will save lives, clean up the environment, reduce mining, reduce use of fresh water (if located on the coast), and more. So why argue for further delay?

    “Our largest concern now should be a simple one: what activities may be achieved within the best guess time frames to make the best long-term impact?”

    I agree. Few would disagree (other than locked in renewable advocates).

    “While dollar cost has its importance, every day of foot-dragging we accept is another day that the balance of concerns shifts away from dollar cost and towards what is physically achievable. We forget too easily that manpower is a finite resource on short to medium time scales, no matter what pile of cash we might have as enticement to do a job.”

    I agree with the point. What you seem to not understand is that the quickest way to cut our emissions by the huge amounts being advocated is to get moving with nuclear asap. We’ve been delaying for 20 years and the same arguments are being presented now to continue the delay as was presented 20 years ago.

    Do you realise that wind power for example has little or no effect on cut emissions?
    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/#more-10349

    Yet, the wind industry, and the governments’ environment departments continue to mislead the public that wind farms cut emissions by the same proportion as the energy they displace from coal fired power stations. Here is an example of such a claim:

    From the energy generated (140,000 MWh/y) and the claimed emissions avoided (180,000 t/y) the emissions avoided are 1.3 tonnes CO2 avoided per MWh. That is the same as the emissions from Victoria’s highest emitting power station. That is an example of the misinformation that is being propagated by the renewable energy advocates and the federal and state governments’ environment departments.

    This comparison demonstrates that by far the least cost and quickest way to cut our emissions is to roll out nuclear power to replace fossil fuels electricity generator. We need to keep electricity as cheap as possible for many reasons, one of which is that if clean electricity is cheap it will more quickly displace fossil fuels for heat and for land transport. Low cost electricity also bring massive benefits to society. So arguing to raise the cost of electricity, rather then to allow low cost clean electricity, is exactly thje wrong solution. It is another one of the many short sited, single issue solutions that have been advocated for decades by “greenies” and cause us so many problems later.

  62. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:12 | #62

    @John Morgan

    There is no point to this.

    As replacement technology is developed and demonstrates breakthroughs and efficiency gains, it is not relevant to demand that it show “technology that can work” now.

    Only pro-nukes play this game.

    Also any solution to zero-carbon future will include a mix of renewables – wind, hydro, solar, tidal, geothermal and a mix of storage capacities. It may even be more expensive, but this can be countered by a subsidy similar to that gifted to capitalists in the GFC.

    If you can bailout capitalists why not bail out humanity?

  63. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:24 | #63

    The cost of PV cells is not and indication of the the cost of the power station. The new, state of the art, solar PV station at Windora, Qld, is $34,615/kW (c.f. about $4,100/kW for the NPPs recently contracted for UAE).

    But Windora has a negligible storage. So it is a day time, (mostly summer time) power plant. The cost of average power works out $109,500/kWy/y (c.f. about $4,500 for the nuclear plants in UAE). So the capital cost si about 8 times nuclear, the energy cost (roughly) about 20 times the cost, and the energy is not available on demand so is of low value. There is no way any of these renewqable energy plants would be built if not for the fact they are mandated by governments.

  64. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:27 | #64

    Here is the link for the Windorah solar farm figures:
    http://ecogeneration.com.au/news/windorah_solar_farm/011780/

  65. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:33 | #65

    Hi Alice,

    Alice :
    Yet another scientific debate hijacked to fight an engineered left right war by disciples who are less nuclear disciples than they are conservative / republican political disciples.

    Perfectly put. That’s my experience. “Whatever those leftie / socialist / treehuggers are for, I’m against!”

    I guess it should have been obvious that the right would be mobilised on this subject given the funding, influence and control exerted by the fossil / mining corporations and billionaires over their world view.

    It is entirely appropriate in these times to question scientists qualifications to disseminate their supposed expertise if they take a strongly one sided public position on the expanded use of a very dangerous material as Professor Brook does.

    Absolutely. And it’s perfectly reasonable to ask about conflicts of interest or funding from vested interests. Professor Brook has categorically denied that and there’s no reason to doubt him.

    He’s a very good climate scientist and did an excellent job of exposing Ian Plimer’s nonsense, but I really wish he’d stick to his area of expertise because I believe he is myopic when it comes to energy.

    Fortunately, I think this energy ‘debate’ is largely academic. Every credible opinion and analysis (e.g. Google ‘Nuclear: New dawn now seems limited to the east.’) points to nuclear remaining a niche energy source while renewables continue to drop in cost and increase in efficiency and be deployed at an accelerating rate. We just need to speed up that process by fighting back against the obstructionism and propaganda coming from the fossil dinosaurs.

  66. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:39 | #66

    I left out another link that should have followed this statement;

    “Yet, the wind industry, and the governments’ environment departments continue to mislead the public that wind farms cut emissions by the same proportion as the energy they displace from coal fired power stations. Here is an example of such a claim:”

    http://ramblingsdc.net/Australia/WindVic.html#Challicum Hills Wind Farm

  67. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:52 | #67

    Peter Lang :
    Do you realise that wind power for example has little or no effect on cut emissions?
    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/06/subsidizing-co2-emissions/#more-10349

    Do you realise this is utter factual nonsense? Google ‘No myth: Wind power HAS reduced Denmark’s CO2 emissions a lot’ and read. I’d link to it but my comment would go to moderation.

    Also, do you realise you’re linking to a blog run by a libertarian ex-Enron executive? I wouldn’t trust that source to tell me what colour coal is!

  68. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 09:59 | #68

    Chris Warren :
    If you can bailout capitalists why not bail out humanity?

    What if we invested in a better world and a liveable climate for no reason?

  69. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:20 | #69

    @DavidC
    says to PL “Also, do you realise you’re linking to a blog run by a libertarian ex-Enron executive? I wouldn’t trust that source to tell me what colour coal is!”

    Great – just great. Links to libertarian Ex Enron execs who are wading into the debate on renewables…what other quack links can we expect here?

  70. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:26 | #70

    Amazing isnt it – one think you can count on with the political pro nuker AGW deniers. They never go far without dropping their rubbish links in here. Its a damn political strategy – thats all it is.
    Shut the air off this topic again Prof. Its quite clear the zombies are thriving on higher C02 levels and now they want something radioactive to expose us all to (can we use them as labrats?).

    There will be a fancy dress parade of the lunatic fringe Monkton calibre anti science links in here if you dont. There already is. PL has taken over from el gordo and is moving to the front of the mad link dropper race.

  71. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:39 | #71

    The pace of improvements in renewables seems reasonable. Here is one outline (pdf version of powerpoint presentation):

    http://cses.anu.edu.au/files/Blakers_ANU_CPV.pdf

    The chart at slide 38 is particularly interesting.

    Does that Brook fellow’s blog give any link to this recent research on renewables?

  72. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:42 | #72

    Wow, not much rational discussion about facts here. The anti-nuke sentiment displayed by some posters is like a highly emotive defence of a dearly held religious belief. This obvioulsy was ignored:
    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/10/09/sandpit/comment-page-1/#comment-268875

  73. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:51 | #73

    Peter Lang :
    Wow, not much rational discussion about facts here. The anti-nuke sentiment displayed by some posters is like a highly emotive defence of a dearly held religious belief.

    What’s your problem? Don’t you know how to read pdf documents from the ANU website?

  74. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:58 | #74

    DavidC :

    What if we invested in a better world and a liveable climate for no reason?

    That would be Utopia.

  75. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 12:18 | #75

    @Peter Lang
    “The anti-nuke sentiment displayed by some posters is like a highly emotive defence of a dearly held religious belief.”

    I dont think so PL. The only religious beleifs in here are aligned to the pro nuclear advocates here who refuse to countenance consideration of any other alternatives less harmful energy sources…including even reading ANU research (ie real research) as Chris suggests above. No you would rather link to a profusion of religio political sites like unqualified ex Enron executives charlatans “opinions”.

    How to identify a religio political pro nuker – count the links to crackpot sites.

  76. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 12:57 | #76

    @Peter Lang
    You also linked to sites that have either been funded by or worked with the CATO institute and whos principals have a profusion of works that may as well say “parlez vous laissez fairer for me… but not for you”.

    Sound of retching from utter disgust from me. Do your homework PL. Your links are mostly politically inspired rubbish.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Cato_Institute

  77. spangled drongo
    October 11th, 2010 at 14:56 | #77

    “Does that Brook fellow’s blog give any link to this recent research on renewables?”

    You wouldn’t like it Chris, it’s too factual.

    BTW, I bought my solar panels 25 years ago for $4 per watt and they are still the same price today, unsubsidised. [10kw for $40,000]

    I also cannot measure any improvement in performance in new PVs over my old ones. There probably is a marginal improvement but it doesn’t show up on my multimeter.

  78. spangled drongo
    October 11th, 2010 at 15:07 | #78

    That is, for the same area of PV.

  79. Tom Bond
    October 11th, 2010 at 15:28 | #79

    I am attracted to the BNC website due to the high calibre of the posts and the informed comments from many of the contributers which are backed with objective evidence and data. Those who only want to rant, without facts to support their views are quickly taken to task. The issue of climate change and reduction in greenhouse emissions is the most important issue of the 21st century. I have to agree with Prof Brook, that on the current evidence the only mature technology available that is capable of replacing fossil fuels is nuclear. I went to an energy seminar about 35 years ago and was given the same message. For the record I have solar panels on my house and know their limitations.

  80. jquiggin
    October 11th, 2010 at 16:20 | #80

    @spangled drongo “I bought my solar panels 25 years ago for $4 per watt ”

    That was a very good price – Wikipedia says the 1985 price was $US7/watt, which would have been about $A10, and of course the CPI has approximately doubled since then.

  81. October 11th, 2010 at 17:06 | #81

    @Chris Warren

    I read your link but as interesting as were the technical specs of the various systems there wasn’t a single claim in the whole PDF that the renewable energy captured by these systems could retire a single watt hour of fossil hydrocarbon energy.

    Some lovely pics but nothing of substance in terms of abating CO2 emissions.

    Here’s one for Chris and Alice: What is the difference between renewable energy and renewable power? Which is the more valuable?

    @DavidC

    do you think it’s fair that China attempts to compete by using renewable energy against industrialised nations who built their economies on fossil fuels and continue to do so? Do you think there is one rule for Chinese people and another for you?

    What has fairness to do with it? If renewables are competitive with fossil fuels then surely the Chinese would want to build them, because coal is a huge drain on them right now. The Chinese are actually building more nuclear power than renewables, almost certainly for this reason.

    Personally, I’d be happy for Australia to help them do so, because if we can’t abate CO2 here, then abating it in China or India is just as good, and I agree, as a socialist — the legacy issue lies with the first world.

  82. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 18:39 | #82

    John Quiggan,

    Further to my post #48 regarding comparing the cost of electricity from different types of generators, the correct way to compare is on the basis of the Long Run Marginal Cost (LRMC) (also often called Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE)). However, to do this requires many assumptions about cost of capital, equity, debt, discount rates, taxes, etc). It is difficult to get truly comparable costs. The EU ExterrnE NEEDS project is an authoritative study that may do this as well as any:
    http://www.needs-project.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=66
    Compare the projected cost of electricity for Solar Thermal and for Nuclear (but remember that even in 2020 solar thermal is expected to oly have storage for one day and cannot handle a day of heavily overcast weather).

    Below is a simple, rough alternative to a full blown LCOE comparison. It is intentionally very smple so anyone can follow it. In this case the comparison is for wind power and nuclear power. This may assist you the readers to understand why wind and solar power are unlikely to ever be able to supply baseload power at a reasonable cost. Therefore, they can never provide more than a small component of our electricity supply and will always be little more than a heavily subsidised nuisance to the electricity system.

    Compare the cost of wind power and nuclear power on the basis that they must be able to provide baseload power:

    Requirements:

    Power is available on demand whenever we demand it – every instant of every day and all through the night.

    Cost of nuclear power

    Assumptions:

    1. the first nuclear power station would cost the same or less than the first nuclear power station to be built in United Arab Republic (contract for four APR1400 units awarded to a Korean consortium a few months ago); i.e.
    A$4,100/kW

    2. The cost of further units would decrease over time, to say
    $3,000/kW for the sixth unit.

    Cost of wind power (to provide reliable, on demand power)

    $2,600/kW for the Wind farms.
    $1,000/kW cost for transmission and grid enhancements to manage the peak and fluctuating wind power
    $1,000/kW for gas generators to provide the power when the wind is not blowing at full power
    $4,600/kW total

    But wind power delivers, on average, only about 1/3 the energy of a nuclear power station of the same capacity. So we need 3 wind farms to produce the same energy per year (or average power) as a nuclear power station. So the cost of the wind farms to provide the same energy as a nuclear power station would be:
    $7,800/kWy/y of average power for the wind farms
    $3,000/kWy/y of average power for the transmission and grid upgrades
    $1,000/kWy/y for gas generation for backup when there is no wind
    $11,800/kWy/y total

    An alternative to back-up with gas generators is to use energy storage, such as pumped hydro, compressed air or batteries. Pumped hydro is the cheapest option where the appropriate topographic and geological conditions are available (Australia does not have much economic hydro potential near our major demand centres).
    If we did have economic pumped hydro sites available the cost might be something like this:
    $7,800/kWy/y of average power for the wind farms
    $3,000/kWy/y of average power for the transmission and grid upgrades
    $1,500/kWy/y for pumped hydro generating capacity
    $100/kWh for energy storage capacity and we’d need say 50 days energy storage to get us through the low wind season; 50d x 24h/d = 1200h x 1kW @ $100/kWh =
    $120,000/kWy/y of average power
    $132,300/kWy/y total (cost per kW average power)

  83. jquiggin
    October 11th, 2010 at 19:30 | #83

    As I’ve pointed out at length, Peter, the whole idea of baseload demand, on which your reasoning is based, is a nonsense. Coal and nuclear turn out power 24 hours a day whether there is demand or not. That’s why “off-peak” power has to be sold at low prices, or even given away.

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2009/07/22/the-myth-of-baseload-power-demand/

  84. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 19:41 | #84

    John Quiggan,

    I posted another comment but it is held up in moderation. Is that because it has five links to references?

  85. spangled drongo
    October 11th, 2010 at 19:43 | #85

    JQ, back in the early ’80s the AUD bought $US1.10. Maybe they were old stock or maybe they came off the roof of Hans Tholstrups car.

  86. Alice
    October 11th, 2010 at 19:48 | #86

    @Peter Lang
    Five links is starting to look like a snowstorm of propaganda.

  87. jquiggin
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:04 | #87

    Peter L, I think your post has been caught in the permanent spam trap. Five links is generally too many.

  88. John Morgan
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:12 | #88

    BilB: “that is total rubbish”

    Why?

    If it is total rubbish,

    i) are you saying a so-called “baseload” solar plant configured with 16 hours storage can serve its demand through a rainy day, ~40 hours low/no insolation?
    ii) if not, how much storage do you say is required for a solar power plant to provide power through a rainy day? And,
    iii) How many hours storage would be required to consider a solar plant baseload?

    I note you have form with this “well thats total rubbish” approach. You’re quick to issue these dismissals, but you’ve never been able to articulate your reasons. We were having quite a useful discussion on Brave New Climate until you undertook to find a qualified friend to review our arguments, and we never heard back. May I formally invite you to continue that discussion? The thread is still live.

  89. John Morgan
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:13 | #89

    Chris Warren,

    As replacement technology is developed and demonstrates breakthroughs and efficiency gains, it is not relevant to demand that it show “technology that can work” now.

    But you said “we already have solar thermals providing baseload power.” Are you now saying we don’t, but its not relevant?

    To be clear, baseload solar does not exist. It doesn’t exist now, and in my opinion it is unlikely to ever exist, for the reasons I articulated above.

    I did look through your set of ANU slides. Like Fran, I couldn’t see how they related to your point. You draw our attention to slide 38. The presentation only has 29 slides. There’s no research – just some nice pictures of solar collectors. Is that it?

    And you’re wrong to say its not relevant to demand that the technology can work now. On the contrary, its critical. The immediate goal, as proposed by James Hansen, should be to completely phase out coal power by 2030. An effective plan must be able to shut down coal plants, one by one, until they are all gone.

    That is a very ambitious timeline. It requires the immediate large scale deployment of technologies that are available now. It does not accommodate a discovery phase for new technologies or serendipitous breakthroughs. It does not accommodate the development phase for novel technologies to proceed through qualification at utility scale. It requires that we proceed now with what is available now. And the only available technology that is qualified at utility scale and is verified as capable of replacing coal is nuclear.

    It may not be the option you want, but it is the only option that is available to us at this point in history where we are required to act, now. Its what we have.

  90. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:40 | #90

    @Peter Lang

    At some point you just gotta laugh. Unfortunately for Lang his only reference contradicts his argument.

    If you click on his cited link, and download the report titled:

    “Cost development – an analysis based on experience curve” the cost trends over time become clear.

    Fig 5.2 shows the cost of developing nuclear in France skyrocketing as the number of plants increased from 1977 to 2000.

    It shows the opposite for photo-voltaic (PV) power in Japan from 1976-1995.

    The cost of developing fuel cells also decline – Fig 5.5.

    And of course the cost of developing wind farms also falls – Fig 5.6 (1981-2000).

    The report indicates that the price of developing PV specifically for Sydney will also fall as we head towards 2020.

    So what is the conclusion of this report w.r.t. nuclear and other renewables?

    The report concludes:

    ..The result of the critical review of the experience curves studies and the bottom-up analysis agree in most cases, i.e..cost reduction described in the bottom-up analysis. Only one exception is found; in the case of nuclear the extrapolation of the experience curve illustrates
    a cost increase…

    Lang’s post had all the usual tricks from nuclaholics – playing with assumptions, ignoring Yucca Mountain, and so on. They are worse than the nicotine scientists.

    So how does Lang deal with

    Fig 5.2?
    Fig 5.5?
    Fig 5.6?

    and the conclusion from his own bloody “authoritative” citation??????????

    Where in his scenario is the cost of waste (low, medium and high) included.

  91. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:55 | #91

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran

    Not one of those points was in the scope of the presentation.

    Not one of those points were relevant to why I pointed people to it.

    You can always artifically criticise something for not complying with issues that lie out of its own defined scope.

    But so what?

  92. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 20:58 | #92

    Fran Barlow :
    What has fairness to do with it? If renewables are competitive with fossil fuels then surely the Chinese would want to build them, because coal is a huge drain on them right now. The Chinese are actually building more nuclear power than renewables, almost certainly for this reason.
    Personally, I’d be happy for Australia to help them do so, because if we can’t abate CO2 here, then abating it in China or India is just as good, and I agree, as a socialist — the legacy issue lies with the first world.

    I’m not sure what you mean by that first sentence. Do you think it’s fair that there is one rule for you and another for a Chinese person?

    I’m stunned that this needs explaining to you: renewables are *not* competitive with fossil fuels in most locations. That’s the entire point of the ‘debate’ – people who deny ACC deny the need to stop using fossil fuels.

    Coal is usually cheaper (excluding externalities) and more energy dense than any renewable source. In order to compete with ‘western’ industries – which are built on and still are powered by coal – China must use coal.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people drone on about what China (5 tons CO2 per capita) is doing when they live in Australia (19), USA (19), UK (10), etc. Clean up your own mess before complaining about your neighbour’s.

    The Chinese are actually building more nuclear power than renewables, almost certainly for this reason.

    “China’s wind power capacity surpassed the country’s installed nuclear capacity in 2009, with just over 13.8 GW added to reach a total of 25.8 GW.” www. ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2010.asp

    Again: you’ll never find this information on Brook’s echo chamber or any of the nuclear fan blogs. They are all the same: carefully selected data, superficially impressive but simplistic maths (as Peter Lang has just copy pasted) and conclusions that do not match what is happening in reality *today*.

    Also, China are making *massive* investments in renewable energy, high-speed rail links, tree-planting programs, shutting down inefficient factories, etc. The ‘dirty China’ argument is looking very tired and silly. Just a couple of days ago I read that there has been a big reduction in CO2 + CO emissions across China over the last several months as their efficiency / clean-up drive kicks in.

    While much of the ‘west’ is bickering over the reality of ACC and who should do something about it, the Chinese are ‘quietly’ getting on with the job.

    Personally, I’d be happy for Australia to help them do so, because if we can’t abate CO2 here, then abating it in China or India is just as good, and I agree, as a socialist — the legacy issue lies with the first world.

    This makes no sense. You want to “help” China decarbonise but admit the main responsibility lies with the “first world”. The reality is that we must *all* act and act *now*.

    I strongly suggest that you and all nuke fans inform yourself about the *reality* of renewables – and not the distorted view of them you get through some nuke propaganda blog. Try this for starters: renewableenergyworld.com – and watch the conveyor belt of daily advances in technology, new solar plants, new wind farms, new production records, new factories being opened, falling prices, etc. etc.

    Compare that to nuclear: outside of Asia, virtually nothing is happening because it is too expensive, too slow to build and (slightly important in democracies) most people do not want it.

    ~~~

    John Q,

    An earlier comment of mine is stuck on the moderation queue. I’m going to repost it in separate chunks – so feel free to delete the original. Cheers.

  93. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:00 | #93

    Peter Lang: One of the major roadblocks in getting nukes built at any cost in the west is the massive unreasoning opposition of antinuclear greenies.

    This is the silliest of the nuclear fan club’s defences. You’re suggesting that the powerful (!) hippy lobby is stopping those poor, weak nuclear corporations from building their reactors?

    No. The reason nukes are not being built to any significant extent anywhere outside of China, India and a few other Asian locations is very, very simple: cost.

    Added to cost is time to deployment and risk of failure. The new Finnish reactor is currently ~4 years over schedule and billions over budget. Assuming no further delays, it will have taken 13 years from licensing to grid connection. And Areva cannot just blame Finnish contractors (as they are trying to do) because they are suffering delays and cost overruns with the same EPR in France!

    Added to all of that is the small issue of needing to store waste for a few thousand years (fast breeder reactors are vapourware, not commercial reality).

  94. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:05 | #94

    John Morgan: “Renewable power does not work”. It depends on what you mean by “work”, of course.

    Your business card makes an absolute statement. That statement is nonsense – no matter how you parse it and equivocate. Just to drive that point home:

    1. you are right and therefore thousands of German scientists and engineers have got it very badly wrong because they believe they are going to be 100% renewable by 2050 (and are already ahead of schedule).

    2. you are wrong.

    There is no baseload solar thermal anywhere in the world now, and I do not expect there ever will be.

    World’s first concentrating solar power (CSP) to use molten salts for heat transfer and storage; can extend its operating hours 24 hours a day for several days in the absence of sun or during rainy days; first to be fully integrated to combined-cycle gas power plant. carboncommentary.com/2010/07/20/1604

    That is a prime example of what I see from nuclear advocates – an assumption that things do not exist because you don’t know they exist. Reading only Barry Brook’s echo chamber will keep you in the dark about what is happening with renewable energy around the planet.

  95. DavidC
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:07 | #95

    Fran Barlow: What Alice is doing has been dubbed “the Gish Gallop”.

    No, Alice is doing nothing similar to ‘the Gish Gallop’. Try playing the ball and not the (wo)man.

  96. Chris Warren
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:11 | #96

    John Morgan :

    But you said “we already have solar thermals providing baseload power.” Are you now saying we don’t, but its not relevant?

    Stupidity – I never said that.

    You draw our attention to slide 38. The presentation only has 29 slides.

    Slide 38, is labelled 38 on the bottom right-hand corner.

    There’s no research – just some nice pictures of solar collectors.

    I am sure the ANU will be pleased to hear your sage comment and will give it the respect it deserves.

    Can you (and Fran) explain why the citation does not show that:

    “the pace of improvements in renewables seems reasonable.”

  97. Peter Lang
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:13 | #97

    John Quiggan,

    I now understand where you are coming from. I hadn’t seen this post of yours before.

    I believe this is such a major misunderstanding of the fundamental requirements of the electricity system it would take a lot of explaining to persuade you otherwise. Far more than can be done in comments here.

    If you believe the concept of baseload is a myth, and you don’t recognise that about 75% of demand is constant, and that generators designed to generate constant power to supply the baseload, produce by far the least cost electricity, then there is an enormous gap to close between us before we could even begin to have a sensible discussion.

    This explains the NEM energy demand as it is now:
    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/peter-lang-solar-realities.pdf

    I realise that you are basing your argument on this statement:
    “If we didn’t discount offpeak electricity, it seems likely that offpeak demand would be around a quarter of daytime demand.”

    However, I get the impression from your examples that you believe most of the night time demand is due to demand from residential and commercial customers rather than industrial customers.

    You also say:
    “But even then, the offpeak demand could be met by reliable sources that are independent of time of day, most obviously gas and hydro”

    You can forget hydro. We do not have the resources. So gas it is. We’d replace coal with gas. That is a lot more expensive. Solar and wind are unreliable. Geothermal, forget it too. It will be another token gesture. I could go into that a lot more if you want to.
    The Zero Carbon Emission Australia by 2020 Plan presented the case for what you are arguing for. It really is complete nonsense. I’ve provided the link to the critique before. This would be a good paper to read to get an understanding of how far from reality are these arguments for renewables being able to provide the electricity supply demanded by modern society

    You say:
    “A baseload demand problem would only emerge in a system reliant almost entirely (more than 75 per cent) on solar electricity.”

    Where do we get our power during the day when most of eastern Australia is under cloud for several days? How much redundancy has to be built? How much trasnsmission? The costs of such a system are discussed here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/
    and here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/

    You say:
    “It is a positive disadvantage for nuclear that it generates power 24 hours a day rather than solely during the daytime. Much of that power, and the fuel used to generate it, is effectively wasted.”

    That is a misunderstanding of nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are designed to run at full power all the time or to load follow. The ones designed to run at full power all the time provide power at the least cost. Plants that follow the load produce power at higher cost. And because of the higher capital cost and lower running cost of nuclear relative to gas, for example, it is cheaper to use gas for peak power (or hydro where available). The European EPR for example is designed to ramp its power up and down at 5% (80MW) per minute and can operate between 25% and 100% of full power (400MW and 1600MW). Nuclear powered ships stop and start and acceperate and decelerate, and the same is the case with nuclear power plants if designed to do so. If we were building NPPs in Australia, we would build baseload only plants until they have replaced at least 50%, perhaps more, of our coal fired plants before we started building load following NPPs.

    John, Nuclear is by far the least cost way to avoid emissions, about the safest and has the least environmental foot print. By far!!

  98. October 11th, 2010 at 21:14 | #98

    @DavidC

    I’m not sure what you mean by that first sentence. Do you think it’s fair that there is one rule for you and another for a Chinese person?

    Not at all. I’d prefer that we decarbonised here and there, and would love to see the full externalities of fossil hyrdrocarbon imposed universally. Yet I’m just one person. If folks here are not willing to do what is needed, as a result of an unreasoning fear of nuclear power, that’s dreadful. OTOH, CO2 knows no jurisdiction and if we can help China and Russia and Indonesia and others who aren’t wetting themselves with childish fear over nuclear power decarbonise with our help then I say that’s still a step forward. It’s also just because the mess was substantially made by our predecessors here, and we are their beneficiaries. Call it restitution.

    Coal is usually cheaper (excluding externalities) and more energy dense than any renewable source.

    Energy density? You mean you think that is relevant? Gosh — will wonders never cease? Something pertinent crept into the considerations of an anti-nuclear campaigner! What does energy density tell you about the size of the likely subsidy to renewables David? If it exceeds the cost of the fossil hydrocarbon externality or else the capacity of human beings to pay, what then?

    You are on the verge of an epiphany but you need to think this through.

  99. October 11th, 2010 at 21:24 | #99

    @DavidC

    Added to all of that is the small issue of needing to store waste for a few thousand years

    Again, this is a non-problem as the volumes involved are tiny and well before we got anywhere near the “thousands of years” timeline (probably not later than 30 years) we would be using the hazmat in fast reactorts, further reducing the length of time at which it would be hazardous.

    And can anyone here say what, 200 years from now, how hazmat management will be done? What would a person living in 1810 have usefully said of todays practices? In those days, sewerage wasn’t even connected. At the current pace of technological change, if hazmat is a serious concern in 200 years, better solutions than we have now will be found.

  100. embee
    October 11th, 2010 at 21:27 | #100

    World’s first concentrating solar power (CSP) to use molten salts for heat transfer and storage; can extend its operating hours 24 hours a day for several days in the absence of sun or during rainy days; first to be fully integrated to combined-cycle gas power plant. carboncommentary.com/2010/07/20/1604

    That’s not clean baseload. That’s summer solar with gas backup.

Comment pages
1 2 3 6 8897
Comments are closed.