Germany Should have Gone with Nuclear

"Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress."

Very interesting.

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26 minutes ago, Marina Schwarz said:

"Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress."

Just, wow.

I wonder how much they would be generating if they had instead invested $680 billion into @Jan van Eck's Molten Salt reactors.  They'd probably be exporting energy to Russia!

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2 hours ago, Epic said:

Just, wow.

I wonder how much they would be generating if they had instead invested $680 billion into @Jan van Eck's Molten Salt reactors.  They'd probably be exporting energy to Russia!

And The C Foundation would have been getting hundreds of millions more in "Russian donations"  ;)

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8 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

"Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress."

Very interesting.

The reality is that any reactor design, even the old clunky ones from the 1950's, would achieve and could have achieved energy independence, for either political entity, and likely for a lot less than that $680 billion.  You have to remember that, excepting the Russian Chernobyl layout which was just ridiculous, every other reactor has performed well, specifically including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's "Three Mile Island" reactor No. 2, or TMI-2, a Babcock & Wilcox design.  I will address that reactor briefly. 

The two reactors (TMI-1 and -2) sit on an island in the Susquehanna River, a broad, shallow river running down to the sea.  It is not navigable by freighters due to the shallowness. The reactors were built on that island to ensure access to lots of external cooling water, mostly to supply the condensing towers  (those big concrete structures you see water vapor coming out of).   River water is sprayed into the tower and air is forced upwards by powerful fans; the cooled air passes through horizontal radiators and that condenses the spent steam from the generating cycle, leading to more power extraction as shown in the "steam card."  (You can also have non-condensing steam plant, but that extracts less power, hence the cooling towers). 

Reactor TMI-2 developed some sort of problem  (and I don't know what it was, not really relevant) and went into automatic shutdown.  The rejected heat from the coolant system caused the water to expand slightly (water expends with rise in temperature), and a coolant dump valve opened, all according to design.  Unfortunately, that dump valve got stuck in the Open position, the operators got an erroneous signal (apparently a faulty sensor design) that it had closed, too much coolant water was dumped, there was insufficient coolant to keep the reactor core cool, and the core partially melted.  

As a result of the melted core, hydrogen gases built up inside the containment dome, and they vented out via vent valves which worked as  designed.  Everything else worked as designed.  The vented gases immediately dissipated in the airstream (moving air) outside the plant, and the radiation was at "background level," what you see everywhere on the planet.  so: the "failure" was in one dump valve (and its sensors), and the design flaw was the control system, and no mechanical closing to that piping.  You could say another design flaw was to use that particular uranium core reactor, which only consumes one half of one percent of the core material in its life cycle, instead of 100% in either a breeder reactor or a molten-salt Thorium reactor, but that is another debate.  In reality, TMI-2 was a complete success, not a failure.  The design prevented a complete meltdown, and there were zero deaths. 

It got expensive quickly as the neurotic public went bananas, insisting the politicians ensure zero further release of any material that was radioactive.  Some dump water accumulated in the reactor structure, in the bottom, and had to be removed.  Now the logical way to remove that is to install a hose with holes in it a few hundred feet long and drop that transverse to the river along the riverbed, and slowly pump out the water into the river.  The vast flow of river water instantly dilutes the coolant water and its slight contamination down to background levels, lower than detection.  This logical solution led to "freak-out" hysteria in the public, and the plant operator was forced to pump out every liter from the well and truck it away two thousand miles for disposal, at enormous expense.  That cost was staggering, led to a very long removal time, which led to a very long remediation time, and other problems, so TMI-2 was never repaired.  

TMI-1 kept running and is still running today.  This event happened in 1979.  So the Babcock design, while hopelessly outdated today, proved its ability to generate power for a half century.  TMI was a success, not a failure.  The public has a hard time understanding that. 

Three successive levels of design of reactors has occurred since the original Babcock & Wilcox design.  Now called "Generation IV," the Gen IV design uses no coolant water at all.  The entire core is a molten salt at about 800 degrees, it runs in the heat-transfer cycle under low pressure, and if any of the parts fail, it will rise in temperature, melt a plug in the bottom, and all that salt flows out of the reactor core into a big pit, loses criticality, and then the salt passively cools by heat transfer to the walls of the pit.  SO it is about as fail-safe as you can get.  

These machines are cheap to build, as you avoid the stupendous costs of all the complicated plumbing and valves and generators and the rest of the stuff the panicky and rather stupid public forces the Regulators to insist on with pressure-water or boiling-water reactors. And, since it burns the spent fuel from earlier designs, you easily have 500 years of free fuel out there to go burn, costs you nothing, indeed any plant operator can get paid to accept the spent fuels as an additional profit center. You can build thousands of these machines and make a totally stable grid across North America for a lot less than any other generating system, run it for free, and you are all set for centuries as far as free electrical power is concerned. 

Except, of course, since we do not teach physics, chemistry, or even thinking in the school system, it is not happening.  The public and its politicians are profoundly stupid.

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8 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Except, of course, since we do not teach physics, chemistry, or even thinking in the school system, it is not happening. 

^Quoted, because it needs to be said more than once.  

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On 9/13/2018 at 12:19 AM, Marina Schwarz said:

"Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress."

Very interesting.

I'm on the fence with nuclear, I love the carbon free power and it's huge base load capability, but it's incredibly expensive. New plants are always chronically behind schedule and massively over budget. Then there are the problems like we had at Fukushima, which shows that even when you think you've though of everything, bad things can still happen. 

I believe that existing plants should be kept operating as long as they pass safety audits and are not located in active seismic zones. Some of the new reactor designs are very interesting, and safer, but can they be built any cheaper than existing nukes and on schedule?

Renewables are in the process of killing coal, after that it will natural gas. For the price of one incredibly over budget and behind schedule nuke you can build a lot of renewables which also have the advantage of producing electricity within a year or tow, instead of 10 years from now. I wonder how much interest is accrued on some of these nukes when they take billions to construct over 10 years.

 

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3 hours ago, Refman said:

I'm on the fence with nuclear, I love the carbon free power and it's huge base load capability, but it's incredibly expensive. New plants are always chronically behind schedule and massively over budget. Then there are the problems like we had at Fukushima, which shows that even when you think you've though of everything, bad things can still happen. 

I believe that existing plants should be kept operating as long as they pass safety audits and are not located in active seismic zones. Some of the new reactor designs are very interesting, and safer, but can they be built any cheaper than existing nukes and on schedule?

Renewables are in the process of killing coal, after that it will natural gas. For the price of one incredibly over budget and behind schedule nuke you can build a lot of renewables which also have the advantage of producing electricity within a year or tow, instead of 10 years from now. I wonder how much interest is accrued on some of these nukes when they take billions to construct over 10 years.

 

Greg, what makes nuke plants so expensive are compliance with all the Rules to counter every conceivable combination of events that the anti-nuke crowd dreams up.  But you don't need any of that with the new, molten-salt Thorium reactors. 

For example, there is that "containment dome," a massive shell sixteen feet thick.  You don't need that any more.

There are those water coolant systems, with back-up coolant piping and supplies, all those automatic valves, a big control room to run the valves, and back-up diesel generators.  All gone, as the molten-salt reactor needs no coolant. 

There is that on-site fire department, with lots of trucks and firemen staffed 24/7, at staggering expense, all gone.

There is that big fancy "control room," with all those expensive technicians, all gone. 

It gets really cheap to build and to run when you get rid of all the stuff layered onto those water plants. 

You can build them on a production line and truck to the job-site.  Need a plant?  Order today, deliver next week.  Fast enough for you?

Anywhere from 10 MW to 200 MW of pure power, running flawlessly, straight out of the shipping carton.  Plug and play. 

Costs you nothing to run.  Works on scrap stuff sitting around the country in those spent-storage pools and containers. 

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On 9/13/2018 at 9:00 AM, Jan van Eck said:

The public and its politicians are profoundly stupid. 

I will grant the public one thing: they were often screwed over by industry in terrible ways, and they're smart enough to remember that.  One might even argue (only half tongue in cheek) that a combination of heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, herbicides, pesticides, and the declining quality of food - all of which were perpetrated by industry - has lowered the average IQ to the point where wind turbines and solar panels seem like a good idea.  I think there's a moral to this: you can get ahead today by screwing people over, but it will catch up to you. 

Politicians, on the other hand, seem to be plenty intelligent.  They just apply that intelligence to accumulating wealth & power, which doesn't require technical proficiency.  Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if all the lawyering, subsidies, and energy price spikes associated with renewables have made them and their ilk quite wealthy.  Most likely, they know exactly what they're doing. 

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2 minutes ago, mthebold said:

 

I will grant the public one thing: they were often screwed over by industry in terrible ways, and they're smart enough to remember that.  One might even argue (only half tongue in cheek) that a combination of heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, herbicides, pesticides, and the declining quality of food - all of which were perpetrated by industry - has lowered the average IQ to the point where wind turbines and solar panels seem like a good idea.  I think there's a moral to this: you can get ahead today by screwing people over, but it will catch up to you. 

Politicians, on the other hand, seem to be plenty intelligent.  They just apply that intelligence to accumulating wealth & power, which doesn't require technical proficiency.  Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if all the lawyering, subsidies, and energy price spikes associated with renewables have made them and their ilk quite wealthy.  Most likely, they know exactly what they're doing. 

Paul, that is seriously scary!

You have to wonder if the human body has a self-regenerating capability, or in the alternative if the genes passed forward remain isolated from the assaults of the heavy metals and herbicides  (Round-up being the worst, brought to you by that most egregious offender, Monsanto Corporation). There still seem to be rather bright people born in the last two decades, I meet these kids around college campuses, it gives me (a little) hope for the future. 

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Just now, Jan van Eck said:

Paul, that is seriously scary!

You have to wonder if the human body has a self-regenerating capability, or in the alternative if the genes passed forward remain isolated from the assaults of the heavy metals and herbicides  (Round-up being the worst, brought to you by that most egregious offender, Monsanto Corporation). There still seem to be rather bright people born in the last two decades, I meet these kids around college campuses, it gives me (a little) hope for the future.  

Yep, it's scary.  IIRC (I don't have a source), there was a recorded jump in average IQ when lead was removed from gasoline.  That's just one of many pollutants with known neurological effects. 

Yes, we still have some bright people.  For one thing, intelligence follows a Gaussian distribution.  The bigger reason is that some parts of the population are far more affected than others.  Consider that people located in certain industrial cities or near certain industrial facilities will be disproportionately exposed to pollutants.  Also, the upper-middle-class can afford to live and work in clean cities, clean neighborhoods, and clean offices.  They can also afford whole-house water filters, the best food, competent medical advice, specialized training to mask their deficiencies, etc.  They have the ability to weather this, and they're predominantly the ones sending their kids to good universities.  The rest of the population lacks access to information on health pollutants and couldn't afford to fix problems if they did. 

I think a more interesting question is, "Why do government and industry allow this?"  I think it works to the advantage of politicians, who now have a mentally stunted, dependent population that will do as it's told in exchange for welfare.  They're more interested in how much of the economy they control than they are in expanding the economy, and this helps them consolidate power.  Corporations that benefit from centralized government power will also favor this. 

The rest of industry, on the other hand, should be having an "Oh s***!" moment right about now: 

- They won't be able to compete in international markets with mentally stunted employees (The smart people are increasingly opting to work for large, politically-favored corporations).

- The population now distrusts them and wants to use government to regulate them into oblivion.

- Government will strip them bare and toss them aside, giving the spoils to favored corporations. 

I have actually wondered if Trump is a last-ditch effort to fight this consolidation of power.  It's an ostensibly odd effort, given that Trump is gutting the EPA, but I don't think this - or the EPA - was ever about pollution or "doing the right thing".  It's a power struggle. 

 

On that note, it's interesting to me how each political party, state, and municipality favors some elements of centralized power while opposing others.  E.g. conservatives oppose the EPA because it harmed their particular industries, but they're currently attempting to force CA to develop more natural resources because that helps their particular industries.  Likewise, CA likes to maintain autonomy from the federal government in ways that harm "conservative" industries (E.g. CARB.  It's almost as though they're trying to drive out conservatives to maintain political control of the state), but they're all about Net Neutrality favoring their tech companies.  It's just a power struggle. 

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I'd agree that if you want to go down the zero carbon route then nuclear is a must for large northern European countries with peak winter demands. 

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On 9/16/2018 at 3:37 PM, Jan van Eck said:

Paul, that is seriously scary!

You have to wonder if the human body has a self-regenerating capability, or in the alternative if the genes passed forward remain isolated from the assaults of the heavy metals and herbicides  (Round-up being the worst, brought to you by that most egregious offender, Monsanto Corporation). There still seem to be rather bright people born in the last two decades, I meet these kids around college campuses, it gives me (a little) hope for the future. 

I forgot to address your question about human self-regeneration.  I can't make a blanket statement about that, but I can make a few observations:

- Anything that affects children 4 and under tends to be devastating and irreversible.  From 0-4, the primitive parts of their brain undergo a critical development process; development processes cannot be repeated or corrected. 

- There are several time periods when a child's brain is exceptionally capable of learning.  Frighteningly so.  If stressors render them unable to learn during these periods, they fall behind.  Once we're adults, we can retrain to some extent, but we can't recreate those periods of development.  E.g. much as I would love to, I will never write code like the guys who started young. 

- ADHD and other behavioral problems are rampant among poor children.  I used to think this was just bad parenting, but the more I learn about nutrition & environmental factors, the more I suspect something has permanently stunted them.  The part of their brain that regulates attention, focus, decision making, etc doesn't seem to be functioning. 

- Adults are known to weather heavy metals, poor diet, and other stressors fairly well.  It's bad for us, but we mostly recover once the stressors are removed.  It's hard to say how this affects the next generation, but researchers have tracked the effects of a single famine through several generations.  One could argue that, once a stressor is present, it can take several generations for a population to fully recover. 

- In the Midwest and rust belt, we've now had 2-3 generations consistently immersed in a cocktail of industrial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, vehicle exhaust, artificial birth control, etc.  The first couple generations seem to have done ok.  The latest generation, on the other hand, is experiencing rampant infertility problems.  It's hard to pinpoint a cause, but something is very wrong.  When I compare more polluted areas to less polluted areas, my first impression is how strikingly unhealthy people from polluted areas look.  I don't know if that's because of the pollution or because the beautiful people got college degrees and left. 

Anyway, we're doing bad things to our population.  I'm glad the health movement is taking off. 

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