Advice to Pres. Obama (# 4): Go for Wind Power, Seriously

There is no silver bullet to either the financial crisis, the economic crisis, the housing crisis, the industrial crisis, the jobs crisis or the energy crisis we're in right now. But there is one sector of activity which can help in every single one of these: wind power.

the GTK 1100 crane, the largest in the world, able to lift 100 tons 460ft high. It is a product of the Grove company, part of the (US) Manitowoc group, but manufactured in Northern Germany for now.
This is part of the Advice to President Obama series
  • it is a competitive source of power. For structural reasons (its long term cost of production is set by financing terms upon construction, and does not vary in the short term) , it requires feed-in tariffs to be kept in place to protect it from short term price fluctuations in a market context, but overall it will be one of the cheapest sources of power - and one with a price guaranteed not to increase over time;

  • The most recent report of the International Energy Agency notes that wind is competitive with coal and nuclear even without subsidies

  • it is an industry that creates jobs - lots of them, and of the well-qualified, non-offshoreable kind in sectors (construction, mechanical construction) in desperate need for them. A recent study by the European Wind Energy Association suggests that the construction of wind farms generates 15 jobs over one year per MW built, and 0.4 permanent jobs per MW installed. A plan to bring wind to 30% of electricity generation by 2020 would require the construction of 30GW of wind power per year (4 times the current level) and would create half a million permanent jobs - and this could happen at no cost to the taxpayer or rate payer;

  • With 8GW built per year, and 60GW installed, Europe had more than 150,000 jobs in the industry last year

  • it is a sector that directly helps reduce dependence on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. A MWh of wind eliminates a MWh of coal-fired or gas-fired power. It does not eliminate coal-fired or gas fired plants, but it allows for these to be used less (ie to burn less gas or coal), and that is what matters. Reducing coal-fired generation has to be one of the overriding goals of any serious climate change policy, and wind is one of the most effective ways to do it. And if the transportation sector is to switch from oil to electricity, this will be even more important:

  • A study by the UK network operator suggests that generation displacement does happen almost one for one, even if capacity replacement is more limited.

  • it is a sector which is fully scalable. one of the arguments against wind is that it is too small to have an impact. This may have been true, but it is no longer the case when wind power is larger, by turnover, than gas-fired power plant construction, in both the EU and the USA, and its penetration is already reaching 10-25% in various regions and is not limited, in the USA, by the geographical constraints and population density found in Europe. It means heavy industry, qualified jobs, large scale power generation; Intermittency can be dealt with, as the European experience shows, by a combination of smart grid management and rare use of the existing fossil-fuel-fired capacity - again, it does not matter that we still need lots of MW of thermal power, as long as we require few MWhs of it.
  • it brings jobs everywhere: manufacturing jobs in crucial sectors that hurt right now: construction and mechanical engineering), and permanent activity in rural areas that desperately need it. Wind farms require a lot of space, but do not prevent the land underneath from being used as before (for farming or otherwise) and bring in significant income streams for the local landholders and communities, as well as jobs that cannot be taken away;
  • it requires no import of fuels. It does not replace oil (or not yet, ie as long as electric cars are not around) but it does replace natural gas, whose long term availability is very much in doubt and which availability will soon be depending on LNG imports from places like Qatar, Nigeria or Russia.

Wind power's development will require, at some point in the near future, a significant volume of investment into the national grid - but that's exactly the kind of much -needed things that a voluntarist federal policy can bring about, by banging heads in the various separate regions together and fast tracking permitting procedures. It will require consistent regulation rather than subsidies (nothing has hurt the industry worldwide more than the haphazard way the PTC has been extended, or not, over the past few years) - the private sector has been busy investing in the sector when the rules in place did not prevent it. A clear set of rules (whether a long tern extension of the PTC, a simple feed-in tariff or a simple Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)) will work.

Inconsistent regulation has killed the industry 3 times in the last decade - and will likely have damaged it once again in 2009, after a record year in 2008

Together with plans towards energy savings (and in particular energy efficiency improvements in the existing housing stock, a policy that will employ construction workers and help reduce energy use with no pain for consumers), boosting wind should be a no-brainer: it works, it costs very little, and it creates a sustainable infrastructure for the future.

As any politician would, I am sure that President Obama, Governors and Mayors everywhere would love to see the kind of positive benefits that wind power will bring as far as jobs are concerned. And as noted here and elsewhere, energy and resources (not money) are what drives economies. Wind power = energy.

What are the opportunities for rural/suburban wind vs urban (rooftop) wind vs "offshore" wind in the Atlantic or on retired Santa Barbara oil rigs?

After the oil runs out, this seems like an excellent re-use of any old-school oil rigs on land in the Bakersfield-LA metro area.

The key question is "who will pay for it?", along with NIMBY/safety concerns. Berkeley and SF have subsidy and 3rd party financing programs for solar installation which seem to be applicable here.

Here's a map of how much wind power is already installed:

Texas is way ahead, California is 2nd. Pacific Northwest states, Minn, Iowa, Colorado and Illinois round out the rest. Nothing shows up for AZ or the deep south, which makes sense if you look at a wind power potential map of the US:

The banksters ought to be forced by the Obama administration to fund wind power with their ill-gotten TARP money (our taxes)... they are partly nationalized as it is.

Realistically, would you really want to build state-of-the-art wind turbines on rusting, derelict oil rigs?

Maybe geothermal is more suitable for oil rigs. The basalt ocean floor is relatively thin; drilling through seawater is easier than drilling through granite. And drilling is what the rigs are designed for (albeit a rather different type of drilling). They aren't designed to have 5 MWe turbines attached.

But probably not anytime soon. Offshoring is expensive by nature so there's a challenge, and every rig that works reasonably well to be potentially used for geothermal, is needed for producing oil.

Having never been involved off shore oil rig construction I am not presenting but the most general construction view.

All modern designs have a certain life expectancy, an overbuild safety factor and weak points with minimum overbuild. Old oil rigs may or may not have a reuse potential for any thing more than subsurface sheared anchor points for marine habitat.

It could also be that drilling rigs will be specifically designed and new built for geothermal offshore drilling. If the costs can be reasonable.

Offshore wind capacity accounts for almost 1,170 megawatts worldwide, roughly 1.2 percent of the 94,100 megawatts of installed capacity at the end of 2007; while this is a small share of the total, it is up from less than 0.3 percent in 2000. Europe is projecting 50GW of offshore wind by 2020.

The largest wind turbines are 5 MW (a few are bigger but they are a small segment so far.) Avg wind turbine size is 2MW.
So 600 wind turbines to make up the 1170MW for as of 2007.
10,000 avg sized 5 MW wind turbines for the 50GW for 2020.
North America has about 70 offshore rigs.

There are a few hundred offshore oil platforms worldwide.

The rigs are going to be used for at least a couple of more decades even if there is peak oil. Only one of the big wind turbines can fit on an oil rig. Look at the picture in the article leading this thread of the size of the wind turbines.

bottom line: converting a few hundred offshore oil rigs to each one large wind turbine is meaningless.

BigGav sent this around on our staff list:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - PresidentBarack Obama aims to double alternative energy production over three years, but how much "green" power will come from the U.S. West is uncertain if the sunny and wind-swept region cannot overcome a shortage of power lines.


It seems we are also facing a 'cart before horse' issue, as far as renewable electricity, at least in US. Timing of both has to be synergistic.

One solution, run HV DC and/or HV AC along railroad ROWs (BNSF RR President came out with same idea two weeks after TOD article).

Best Hopes from DC,


Doubling renewables in three years is close to BAU isn't it? Wind alone @ 30-40% growth is going most of the way. Not very ambitious. But a very good start. I missing something? What about thin film solar? If they're right, and 1kg of CIGS is equivalent to 5kg of uranium, and they're already doing commercial set ups, at $.99/watt, isn't that much more viable?

Lot of deserts in this day and age...

Seems like Jerome's chart should have shown solar. Nanosolar talks about film getting that cheap but doesn't come out with real numbers to my knowledge.

Lot of deserts in this day and age...

Every time I hear someone say something like this I'm reminded of the fact that the Everglades in my back yard (what remains of it anyways) was at one time considered a swamp that just needed to be filled in and developed.Now we know better.

Don't get me wrong I certainly believe that sunlight falling on deserts can and should be harvested to provide people with energy. It's just that simplistic statements such as this just don't cut it anymore. There are deserts and then there are deserts, some of which are very complex and productive ecosystems. Just for the record I consider blacktop parking lots and shopping mall roofs to be more deserving of the desert moniker by the mere fact that they are rather lifeless unproductive barren devastated areas already...

You see Ive been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
cause there aint no one for to give you no pain
La, la ...

After nine days I let the horse run free
cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with its life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see Ive been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
cause there aint no one for to give you no pain

It's just that simplistic statements such as this just don't cut it anymore.

Indeed, simplistic statements simply don't cut it.

As I mentioned I have nothing against harvesting energy in the desert. I think Ausra actually has a pretty good proven concept and it is certainly is better than coal.

However I think you missed my point and my comparison to the filling in the Everglades, which everyone thought was just a swamp that could be filled in for development. If you were to go there today (I live here) you would see mile after mile of suburbia, highways filled with SUVs, stuck in traffic jams commuting to work, the supermarkets and the shopping malls to buy more big screen TVs etc..etc..

So when I hear someone say let's just build these plants in the desert It seems to me they are not thinking through the consequences of trying to maintain growth, BAU and the non negotiable lifestyle of the Americans. That's what I call simplistic.


There are so many degraded brownlands, salt pans where nothing grows, military 'playgrounds' etc, around the world in sunny areas, that can be used with very little environmental impact.

I'd worry more about the mountain top removal thing.

Most thin film solar companies fail.

The reality, according to Neal Dikeman, partner with VC firm Jane Capital Partners, is that only one or two thin-film projects have brought product to market in 30 years, and it's a US $100M-$200M dollar up-front investment "just to play the game and see if your product really works."

Silicon Valley investors have mistakenly bet on "really great teams" while the technology is still at a science experiment stage, he argues — investors are beginning to realize this, he thinks, and that the industry is sitting on the back end of about 5-10 years of US $100M bets. "We're going to see a bunch of write-offs coming up," he warns.

The challenge that has caught startups in this sector time and time again, Dikeman explained, is underestimating the engineering scale-up and production on a tens-of-megawatts (MW) scale.

"People always assumed that if the technology worked and the team was good, that the rest was just engineering...and so far, that has never proven to be the case," he observed, noting that there have been several hundred (thin film) companies that have tried and only two succeeded.

"The challenge has been that the engineering scale-up has been much harder than the science experiment." Citing the "black art" aspect to thin-film projects, he observed that for factories in the 30-40 MW range, what matters is getting the same yields, distributions and performance out of the second plant as was achieved in the first.

Intermittency can be dealt with, as the European experience shows, by a combination of smart grid management and rare use of the existing fossil-fuel-fired capacity - again, it does not matter that we still need lots of MW of thermal power, as long as we require few MWhs of it.

I wouldn't be so flippant about the cost of intermittency in wind power. In California the ISO, (Independent System Operator) pays over two billion dollars a year for Dispatchable power. This is not the cost of the power as much as the price they pay to be able to call for it or reduce generator output on demand. As an example for each 1000 MW nuclear power plant to be replaced by wind we must build between 3000 to 4000 MW of wind turbines, and approximately 800 MW of coal or gas for dispatchabllity. To what should the "backup" coal or gas plants capital and O&M costs be charged?

Or a 800 MW or so of pumped storage plant,

Best Hopes for Better Solutions,


PS: Pumped storage is also useful to shift PV solar from solar noon to afternoon peak demand and for nukes.

Pumped storage's negative generating capacity would seem to indicate a smart grid and more diverse generation systems would usually be more efficient, that of course takes more integrated planning than has generally been the rule in the U.S.

Maybe using more power to pump the water than it produces would make sense in some locals, but all that equipment is wearing out producing negative watts and it takes energy to produce the equipment.

I am curious if any sort of tidal applications of pumped storage have been designed. Awful lot of power in those huge Alaska and Maine tides. Might be able to be done with few moving parts. Maybe I just like the symmetry of gravity generated power generating gravity generated power, the whole idea could be off the wall.

but all that equipment is wearing out producing negative watts and it takes energy to produce the equipment.

Refurbish every 50 or so years. Cost/MWh VERY low.

Pumped storage/hydro is the cheapest source of spinning reserve. It allows economical dispatch of other sources (less fuel burned for both) It allows much higher wind % in the grid.

Pumped storage makes the SYSTEM, the grid, work more efficiently. It saves FF energy.


Yes! More pumped hydro please.

There should be loads of potential in large abandoned underground mines. A low cost underground resevoir, and less surface space use (only for the upper resevoir).

Certainly a thought. Heavily fractured rock is often the rule, and the toxic material that some mines would certainly impart to any water run through them might limit the potential candidates but we do have a whole lot of mines to start with.

But that's precisely why wind intermittency is relatively easy to deal with: the system HAS to deal with unepxected events, and have reserves at all times, so you don't actually need to build more to deal with wind.

Wind production is intermittent, but it is not unpredictable. Forecasting tools are increasingly effective and precise, and wind producers are getting better and better at nominating into the system the volumes they can produce.

And the economics of power plant that work as peakers, or on the basis of capacity charges are well known - they already exist.

Isn't there a fairly big difference between the US grid and the European grid in terms of their ability to accept new wind production?

A US Department of Energy May 2008 report said that if the US is to increase its wind to 20% of total electricity generation, a New Transportation Superhighway System (that is, upgraded grid with long distance high voltage transmission lines) would be needed. Estimates of this I have seen are 20 years to completion, and in fact this report says by 2030.

Isn't this going to be a challenge in the light of peak oil?

Use railroad ROWs and apply the effort that was (until a few months ago) applied to Alberta tar sands and such a grid can be completed in a dozen years or less (perhaps 7 or 8 years).

And an incomplete HV DC grid is still VERY useful. Completion is not required for benefits.


Completion is not required for benefits.

An excellent point that is often not taken into account.

Real World Example

ERCOT Texas (the ~85% of Texas that is an electrical island)

In 2006, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced commitments of $10 billion from private companies to increase wind generating capacity in the state by 7,000 megawatts, contingent on the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) approving construction of additional transmission capacity to windy areas of the state.

In 2007, the PUC announced its approval for additional transmission lines that could deliver 10,000 more megawatts of renewable power by 2012. New transmission infrastructure will allow all Texans to access the the state's vast wind resources.

That is 5 years (not 20), 10 GW of new wind power transmission (an overbuild of transmission for a projected 7 GW of new wind),

The Chairman of ERCOT spoke after me at a SMU seminar and he assured the audience that they had plans for even more wind, but they wanted to see more geographic diversity in future wind generation beyond the first 15 GW.

Best Hopes for Reality checks with the Real World,


BTW, ERCOT is not federally regulated, no federal approvals required, which allows faster action.

You've probably read it already, but could you give your opinion on this relevant work?

But that's precisely why wind intermittency is relatively easy to deal with: the system HAS to deal with unepxected events, and have reserves at all times, so you don't actually need to build more to deal with wind.

Intermittency is easy to deal with at low penetration levels, but since natural gas supplies (which is our primary fuel for load balancing) are going to decline, we need to think about longer term requirements. Here is a link to a German paper discussing the possiblility of CAES storage to complement wind power in northern Germany which states:

Already 5% of the electricity in Germany comes from wind energy… Already today, it does happen that wind turbines in the north are prohibited from feeding electricity into the grids for some periods, due to grid overloading.

Denmark has achieved 20% integration of wind energy by using Norway’s hydroelectric system as energy storage for their wind turbines. If we are going to need storage and supergids in a post fossil fuel world we should start planning for them now. The excess cost of energy during a growth phase of infrastructure building can be quite high compared to the long term equlibrium costs of an energy system in which we are merely replacing/repairing worn out components. We need long term strategic planning rather than short term acts of convenience that make it appear as if we are dealing with the very serious problems of fossil fuel depletion.

I wouldn't be so flippant about the cost of intermittency in wind power. In California the ISO, (Independent System Operator) pays over two billion dollars a year for Dispatchable power. This is not the cost of the power as much as the price they pay to be able to call for it or reduce generator output on demand. As an example for each 1000 MW nuclear power plant to be replaced by wind we must build between 3000 to 4000 MW of wind turbines, and approximately 800 MW of coal or gas for dispatchabllity. To what should the "backup" coal or gas plants capital and O&M costs be charged?

The 1000 MW nuclear power plant loses about 2000 MW as wasted heat, to be fair.

Rejected heat isn't waste heat(ask an engineer about the second law).

The wind turbine loses ~10 000 000 000 000% to waste heat, to be fair.(only about a billionth of the sunlight even makes it to the Earth, sunlight to wind is about another factor 100 loss).

This a much too much of a stretch. One could then say that uranium loses 1000s of orders of magnitude of energy from the full power of supernovas, which is how uranium is formed.

Rejected heat from a thermal cycle power plant is indeed an entropic loss. You see combined cycle plants reduce some of that loss.

I don't believe Jerome is for replacing Nuclear with Wind (what would be the point?). Instead, he sees the two as complementary. I think.


Right. If anything needs to be replaced first, it is coal. Nuclear is a hell of a lot better than coal (I think most people will easily agree to that) and can be part of the solution to that.

Advise to Obama:

Invest in nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, wave, insulation, efficiency and system reorientation.

Its no time to be picking beauty queen winners, the risk is such that everything needs to be thrown into the pot. That might even include 'clean' coal - if it can be anything other than a phrase.

Above all, its not a question of independence as such, its a question of resilience. Look to maximise the distributed nature of key services.

Nuclear, yes.

Wind, yes.

Solar, no. It is still an R+D game, and should still be treated as such. It is NOT ready for primetime.

Tidal has yet to see a single installed pilot project, so put VERY few eggs in this basket.

Wave, see tidal.

Efficiency, get where the getting is good. This may at the least help to slow demand growth.

System reorientation.... Here we run into troubles, While BAU has many opponents, and for good reason, it's what our world is predicated on. Attempts to "step back" and return to a more "pastoral" lifestyle will in all probability result in everyone dying. The only way out is through, stepping back is death.

We do not need beauty queen winners, but we DO need our picks to work and be viable places to put our limited resources. As renewables go, wind is by far the standout in terms of scalability, economy, history. Resources that can be used pursuing solutions are limited, so they must be spent wisely, if you have only 1 trillion dollars to spend, you can get 20% of total us electric demand from wind from that, that's a pretty good deal, and totally beats the best that can be hoped for from solar in its current state.

Tidal has yet to see a single installed pilot project

From little apples..........

I rest my case. 1, 1 mw installation. This is beyond unproven and well into hallucinatory territory. I am in no way claiming that it will not become an excellent energy source, but what it is is a fine destination for a billion dollars of r+d money, NOT a trillion dollars of energy infrastructure investment.

What is the cost/MWh of that kind of installation? The article says at full operation it should power 1000 homes, so we'd need quite a few of them to make a difference to the UK power supply.

Personally, I'd like to see the Severn Tidal Barrage built, at the est. £14bn for 7% of the UK's power supply, it has to be competitive with a new nuclear power station.

Big engineering projects tend to have lots of cost overruns, for political reasons (advocates like to chose a lower estimate for the project to gain support) and engineering/managment reasons. Severn is no exception. But sometimes, you just have to build something to find out! Otherwise you might always get that 'what if' feeling.

I was not suggesting that it would solve the US of A's energy problems, just pointing out that there is a pilot project.
Development costs should not be huge, not the billion dollars in R&D you mentioned (wow).

From UK point of view we have very good tidal resources around our coast which should be utilized.

Nuclear no: it's simply to expensive at $5,500 to $8,100 per kilowatt (, and the investment risk is so enormous that private companies are not going to try unless the state covers all risks.

The biggest risk to any technology that takes 20 years to get going (new nuclear, including Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactors) is that wind and solar by that time are so cheap that nobody will want the electricity from nuclear.

This is apart from the risk that accidents happen, full insurance costs may have to be paid, waste storage is still not solved (one of the German "permanent" storage caves is caving in on top of 6000 barrels of waste:

My take: concentrate on wind and solar.

It is not clear what the levelised cost of the 5-8 bucks a Watt estimate is. The financing details are not disclosed as usual, but that leaves us in the dark regarding competitiveness.

As noted in the renewable energy world link above.

Most thin film solar companies fail. Out of hundreds of companies only one or two companies have brought products to market in any scale.

New energy costs money to develop. Tens of billions spent on wind and solar over decades to get them to this point and they are still not certain.

Governments are involved all over energy. It is not "all just private companies". Do you not read the main article. Jerome is asking for constant high levels of government subsidies.

Solar and wind are likely to be getting $20 billion from a clean energy bill, probably going along with tens of billions more in whatever 800-1500 billion stimulus packages get passed.

The long-term extension of the renewable energy production tax credits, which would cost the government $13.1 billion over 10 years. Plus 30% tax credits for instant subsidy.

Jerome has said that wind gets wiped out whenever the government funding goes away.

Worldwide it is about $2 trillion per year for energy spending. Hundreds of billions on subsidies and research and development. Energy costs BIG money. Why do you think otherwise. All the investments are big and multi-year and often decades long. Just because you can chunk up some aspects of it is meaningless.

The US energy grid is going to take well over a trillion to upgrade over the next decade or two. Same for Europe's energy grid. Renewable like solar and wind need a better energy grid to have deeper penetration.

The solar and wind factories and supply chain cost a lot of money and take years to scale up. $100-200 million for each solar thin film company to make a serious play and they take a decade or so to get their R&D and then make scaled factories and try to deploy. Plus each one is competing with a hundred other variants. So which is the riskier long term investment ?

What is this "all private" BS ? By that standard you are telling Jerome to let wind make it "all private" which he just told you wipes out the wind industry. Same thing for wind. Coal gets and natural gas and oil get their credits too and the biggest gift to coal is not having them pay for their waste or handle it. (the CO2, smog, particulates which would more than double the cost of coal power, it would also add 30% to natural gas)

Who is covering all the risk for coal, natural gas and oil (85+% of all of our power ?)
3 million deaths per year from air pollution.
Potential extinction from CO2 levels.
The state is not even covering it yet which is worse than paying for effective coverage.
People/citizens just die.
60,000 in the US (30,000 from coal each year, the 60K is coal and oil)
250,000+ in Europe
750,000+ in China.
This is every year.

Plus 5000 to 10,000 dead each year from coal mining.
More asthma, more heart attacks, more lung disease. 30% of the medical care is related to the increased air pollution.

Coal power is being added the fastest worldwide.
Oil over $250 billion on exploration and development each year.

Right now, it looks like new nuclear requires far more subsidies to ramp up than new wind, even on a per kWh basis.

As Jerome mentioned, this 'subsidy' actually reduces ratepayers money. Nuclear builds increase rates.

We all know you're biased against wind because you really like nuclear power, but a fact is that new nuclear generation is substantially more expensive per kWh than new wind even when intermittency costs are included. It also looks like the difference is increasing over the long run, with nuclear power having a negative learning curve and wind advancing nicely.

Good point about coal though. I don't want to compare wind versus nuclear so much as wind+nuclear against coal, but if it really comes down to it, it looks like wind wins over nuclear, hands down.

The Hyperion Power Generation "nuclear battery" is a self contained, automated, liquid metal nuclear reactor. A hundred have been sold for about a cost of $1000/KW. But this cost includes turboelectric generators and grid connections. However, if only the thermal units were deployed inside the boiler rooms of current coal fired power plants, deployment cost of these thermal power units would drop to $400/KW, since existing coal fired power plant turboelectric generators and grid connections could be used. Additional savings could be obtained if denatured U233/hydride was used as nuclear fuel. This improvement would drop the cost to $300/KW.

The elimination of the two trillion dollars cost for a smart grid together with the additional deployment costs for land for windmills and associated gas fired backup power generation makes the massed produce factory manufactured nuclear battery the way to go.

Such a reactor would operate unattended for 10 years with little maintenance or operations costs and would allow very high availability and good load following electric power production. In large coal power plants, multiple nuclear batteries would be deployed.

Modern nuclear reactors (see Areva, Toshiba-Westinghouse, Mitsuibishi) cannot generate the heat required to drive a modern coal fired plant.

Nukes have lower pressure steam and existing US nukes (unsure about new ones) have 4 pole generators (steam typically has 2 pole) and the nuke steam turbines operate at half the rpm of coal & NG steam plants.

Perhaps there are some 2 pole nuke generators, but I know of none.


Modern nuclear reactors (see Areva, Toshiba-Westinghouse, Mitsuibishi) cannot generate the heat required to drive a modern coal fired plant.

The Hyperion Outlet Temperature of 550 C is an ideal fit for most coal fired supercritical steam powered plant turboelectric generators.

By the way, the upcoming "cap and trade" energy rebate to coal using utilities would pay for the instillation of these nuclear batteries and then some. This is not a 'subsidy' but a carbon reduction incentive

The Hyperion Outlet Temperature of 550 C is an ideal fit for most coal fired supercritical steam powered plant turboelectric generators.

I doubt that !

30 years ago, state of the art steam plants operated at 1000 F (538 C) to 1050 F and 2400 to 3100 psi (3208 is super critical). Those plants are on the way out. And note the pressures required. What can Hyperion do ?

Today, 1100 F (593 C) and 3500 psi are common.

The metallurgy required for these temperatures and pressures would not seem compatible with nuclear safety. If I were a NRC examiner, I would rake the product over the coals making triple sure it could withstand these temperatures and pressures for extended periods.

Why do you think commercial nukes operate at lower temps & pressures ? For precisely those reasons !

I do NOT think Hyperion can get a US license for operating at 550 C and supercritical pressures.


I work in a power plant. Alanfrombigeasy is essentially on top of his game on THIS question. Most modern steam plants, gas or coal fired that are NOT supercritical (above 2500PSI, usually 3600 PSI) run at 1000F plus or minu. The new Frame 7 GE Gas Turbines I think on the steam side of the HRSG run at 1250 F. Hyperion or any LWR cannot be used to replace a coal boiler. In fact, the reality is that even if a LWR could out put 1000F (which they cannot) they are not "Reheat" units...most coal plants and steam plants take steam from the outlet side of high-pressure section of the turbine, return it as "cold reheat" to the boiler and then back again to the intermediate section of the turbine as "hot reheat" (also at 1000 F).

The idea of nuclear subsitution, developed by those of us who happen to be big LFTR advocates, see a 'generalized' plant-per-plant, same location, MW per MW new nuclear build for every coal plant, AT every coal plant. Use the huge ridiculous size of a coal plants area to build a brand new LWR or, in a few decades, a LFTR/Gen IV reactor, using the same permits, balance-of-plant, river/rail//road access, grid connection, hazardous materials facilities etc.

It would solve some rather costly issues with new nuclear and it would *clean up the site* and the area around the coal plant for hundreds of square miles. We even have some test-plants picked out as possibilities to poise to the TVA among their many dozens of coal plants.

The "nice thing" about this is that the point at which the nuke goes commercial, we trip the fires in the coal plant and end start bulldozing. N-I-C-E.


in a few decades, a LFTR/Gen IV reactor, using the same permits, balance-of-plant, river/rail//road access, grid connection, hazardous materials facilities etc.

David, forget the Lftr, jump on the “nuclear battery” bandwagon. It will be certified for deployment in 2012. It too can run on Thorium (i.e. U233)

First you say a 100 have been sold. To my knowledge, there are no such reactors delivering electricity to the grid. NRC says approval by 2013. Right now, all I've seen is computer rendered images.

I think the hyperion concept is really attractive. But let's not get ahead of the facts just yet. Hyperion wants to build thousands; one or two delivering kWhs to the grid is enough to convince me.

Love the nuclear battery...but they are not mutually exclusive. The idea of the LFTR style battery is also in play.


True, yet the Hyperion might be sooner to market, since the system is based on existing operating reactors.

I don’t believe that is accurate. Can you explain in more depth? What existing reactor type?

There are many similarities with the TRIGA testing reactors, also using hydride fuel (albeit a different hydride). In fact Hyperion says they are basing their system on the tech and experience of TRIGA.

Also check out Brian's excellent overview that mentions these things:


The big feature or downside depending on your prospective is Lftr online on-the-fly fuel reprocessing. IMHO, a nuclear battery should be a no “operations/maintenance required” proposition. That is not true for the Lftr because of the Lftr designer’s insistence on constant salt reprocessing. The Lftr may be best suited as a nuclear waste burner supervised by IAEA inspectors. Remember, no one tool can do every job well. There is no silver bullet.

The liquid chloride variant might be more suitable for waste burning.

One caveat. Nuke sites have to be seismically stable, not an issue with coal plants.

Otherwise, I agree. Upgrade transmission lines and build duplex or triplex nuke at site. (Efficiencies to have 2 or 3 nukes at one site).

Bets Hopes,


What can Hyperion do ?



Once the nuclear reaction has started, it will continue until it reaches a certain temperature, approximately 800 degrees Celsius, where, due to the chemical properties of uranium hydride, it chemically decomposes and turns into hydrogen gas and uranium metal. The loss of neutron moderation due to the chemical decomposition of the uranium hydride will consequently slow--and eventually halt--the reaction.

The NRC certification is limited to a temperature of 550C to make it compatible with current steam turboelectric generators.

The Hyperion reactor uses internal potassium heat pipes to transfer heat to an external heat exchanger. The interface to the existing coal plant steam circuit is centered on the design of this external heat exchanger in terms of temperature and pressure steam circuit specifications.Each coal fired electric plant requires its own customized external steam heat exchanger.

The metallurgy required for these temperatures and pressures would not seem compatible with nuclear safety. If I were a NRC examiner, I would rake the product over the coals making triple sure it could withstand these temperatures and pressures for extended periods.
Why do you think commercial nukes operate at lower temps & pressures ? For precisely those reasons !

Unlike existing light water reactors, steam has no role in the operation of this reactor. The moderator is hydrogen and the coolant is potassium in a closed system. Furthermore the external heat exchanger can fail without affecting internal reactor operational integrity in any way.

I do NOT think Hyperion can get a US license for operating at 550 C and supercritical pressures.

From page 16


Vendor: Hyperion Power Generation
Reactor Power: 75 MWt
Electrical Output: 30 MWe
Coolant: Potassium
Outlet Temperature: 550 C
Fuel Design: Uranium Hydride
4.95% enrichment
Refueling: 5 Years
Application: October 2011
Reference: ML072340518

Is 800C maximum outlet temperature acceptable for your approval?

Having a real product is far more important than being able to achieve high operating temperatures.

Hyperion has a real product. They just need to get it certified by the NRC. The NRC has so far only certified big light water reactor designs. They don’t want to consider small reactor designs because of lack of knowledge or background in these various technologies nor are they willing to pursue such expertise. In conclusion, the major obstacle in the small reactor business is the lack of NRC outreach to these new reactor technologies and bureaucratic inertia.

TRIGA is a real reactor. Product implies commercial, since you have to be selling something. If your product isn't approved, you can't sell it. Price is another aspect that is not proven for Hyperion (until real systems are connected to the grid). Hopefully, the modular nature of the Hyperion reactor will mean less cost overruns, and a positive learning curve.

Granted, a firm order is a sale, not sold and delivered.

In more detail, the NRC certification process requires that there be significant customer interest in a given reactor as witnessed by many firm orders placed by those customers to justify certification of that reactor. This customer interest gives the firm that manufacturers the reactor the privilege to apply and pay for the certification process. After certification, the vendor can fill these orders and deliver the product resulting is final payment by the customer to the vendor.

The Hyperion Power Generation would generate temperatures that are too low for some industrial applications but not for others. The HPG can provide process heat or quality for some forms of oilsand recovery.

Of course wind power does not generate heat and would be even more inefficient for displacing such energy applications.

China is where the bulk of the world's industrial and manufacturing facilities are going. They will be driving the large scale plan for getting more nuclear power in place of coal. And they will keep building coal plants until they can make the shift.

The Chinese high temperature nuclear reactor is more suited to replace coal for industrial heating. 200 MW reactor modules that will be factory mass produced. The project received environmental clearance in March 2008 for construction start in 2009 and commissioning by 2013. Initially the existing HTR-10 had been coupled to a steam turbine power generation unit, but second phase plans are for it to operate at 950°C and drive a gas turbine, as well as enabling R&D in heat application technologies. This phase will involve an international partnership with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), focused particularly on hydrogen production.

China Huaneng Group, one of China's major generators, is the lead organization in the consortium with China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group (CNEC) and Tsinghua University's INET, which is the R&D leader. Chinergy (a 50-50 joint venture of INET and CNEC) is the main contractor for the nuclear island. Projected cost is US$ 430 million, with the aim for later units being US$ 1500/kWe.

The HTR-PM will pave the way for 18 (3x6) further 200 MWe units at the same site in Weihai city - total 3800 MWe - also with steam cycle. INET is in charge of R&D, and is aiming to increase the size of the 250 MWt module and also utilise thorium in the fuel. Eventually a series of HTRs, possibly with Brayton cycle directly driving the gas turbines, will be factory-built and widely installed throughout China.

High temperature reactors can be adapted to use thorium for fuel and the plan is for factory mass produced reactors. Two year construction times and mass production driving costs down to less than half the cost of the first units. China sees these as supplemental reactors to the big reactors. They will be used in smaller cities and towns and by factories for generating industrial heat. Also, they are looking to use heat for hydrogen generation, desalination and coal liquification (at least that would be cleaner than straight coal burning).

Nov 5, 2008
Toyo Tanso Co., Ltd (President: Ms. Junko Kondo, hereafter, "Toyo Tanso") and Sumitomo Corporation (President: Mr. Susumu Kato, hereafter "Sumitomo") received order for graphite which is a major component for a Chinese High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor project (HTR-PM) *1 It is a Chinese national project and a next generation nuclear power plant construction project (HTR-PM).

Toyo Tanso and Sumitomo received the order of Toyo Tanso high purified isotropic graphite IG-110, and the order amount is several tens million dollars and over one thousands tons of graphite blocks. The delivery will be made from the middle of year 2010 till the end of year 2011

Study of China's plans for developing nuclear power for non-electrical applications

The US has the Very high temperature Gen IV reactor candidate, which could have deep burn and temperatures up to 1000 degrees

The difference between the US and China is that China will make the reactors that they are certain that they can make now. Building many copies of a conservative design. Then they will upgrade components as they build more. So China plans to get to more advanced reactors by improving the 10th-20th copies or the 21-40th copies. By the time 2025-2035 rolls around and the US may have built its first very high temperature reactor China will have upgraded their high temperature designs for their 300-500th factory mass produced 200MW reactors to comparable designs that have the advantage of similar early versions being in use.

Do we see some flaw in the China plans ? Is there going to be a licensing issue ? Will the leadership of China lack the will to carry through ? Will there be protests from the people who would prefer to keep using coal power ? What is the uncertainty that this will happen ?
Not one or two year delays but that by 2025-2030 we will be talking reactors of this type in the dozens if not over one hundred ?

The Hyperion Power Generation would generate temperatures that are too low for some industrial applications but not for others. The HPG can provide process heat or quality for some forms of oilsand recovery.

How can nuclear reactors and, lets be fair, even solar panels and windmills replace fossil fuels in a wide range of main stream high temperature industrial processes.

Electrical resistive heating of various molten metals can replace fossil fuel in the aluminum, glass, and steel, plastic and cement industries.

Currently, high quality steel is made by using massive electrodes 24 inches wide by 24’ feet long. Here, Temperatures of between 1,482 to 1,649°C are achieved.

Aluminum smelting can achieve temperatures of between 1900°C to 2000°C through electrical resistive heating.

A molten metal to inert gas heat exchanger that can transfer heat from a variety of molten metals based on the temperature range needed. Using this method any low temperature power source can transfer electric resistive heating to cement kilns and glass ovens.

Very high temperatures can be produced without any concerns about the temperature tolerances in the materials used in reactors of any sort; you just need lots of megawatts.

With the molten metal to inert gas heat exchanger, even a low temperature Lftr can efficiently produce hydrogen at temperatures north of 1200C.

I agree it is wind, nuclear, solar [all the variants], geothermal and even natural gas against coal and picking up from where oil leaves off.

Also, the hypothetical arguments about:
1. No government support of energy - private all the way after policy adjustment for externalities is like arguing for a US elimination of the income tax and going all value added sales tax. It is interesting in theory but until there is a bill that has the support of either the democrats or republicans then this is not going to happen in US or if any other country actually passes such policies. Of course try to form or get a major group to push those plans. Is there any group with ten thousand or more members that has this as formal policy that they are actively lobbying for ?

2. Also, the pick only solar and wind and no nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas is not happening. Even excluding subsidies for nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas is not happening. Practically all the major countries that halted nuclear are rolling that choice back. Plus the future of nuclear power is primarily in China, Russia, India, South Korea, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Japan, etc...

3. I know that wind and solar and the grid are going to get tens of billion in the US. I am fine with that. Probably about $500+ billon/year [public and private] will be going to energy infrastructure in the USA over next 4-8+ years.

Solar guys will get their government money and policies and more solar will be built
Wind guys will get their money and policies
Nuclear will get their money and they already have the 2005 policies and they will get more
Oil, coal, geothermal etc...

If anyone is paying attention, it is the rare group that is not getting money and favorable policies. If they aren't then they need to dump their lobbyist. If they don't even have the 100,000 to few million to buy the necessary politicians then they do not have the money to develop whatever it is they were going to try to make.

The actual issues are who can get a few extra tens of billions on top of what they are already getting.

It is like the scene in the Godfather where the five mob families are divvying things up. They all have a bunch already and they are just agreeing on how to shift at the margins.

"Certainly, he can present a bill for such services. After all, we're not Communists. But he must let us draw the water from the well."

... those politicians that you carry in your pocket like so many nickels and dimes.”

Everyone gets to draw water from the government well and they pay lobbyists to get more and the politicians are in the pocket of all of the interests.

4. I believe that more wind will be built and they will get $20 billion in the US

I would be surprised if the forecast by canWEA could be hit. 240 GW worldwide by 2012.

The Council now forecasts an addition of 146 GW in the coming five years, equaling an investment of more than 180bn EUR or 277 bn US$ in 2007 values. The electricity produced by wind energy will in 2012 reach over 500 TWh (up from 200 TWh in 2007), accounting for close to 3% of global electricity consumption (up from just over 1% in 2007). So they are thinking $277 billion over 5 years not including energy grid upgrade costs and storage or supplemental power.

IEA World demand for electricity was forecast to rise from 15,665 TWh in 2006 to 28,141 TWh in 2030. 12,000 TWh over 24 years or 500 TWh per year to be added.

The 300 TWh of added power over 5 years would be a fraction of the 2500 TWh needed additions. The 300 TWh is based on an optimistic Canadian wind energy association projection.

That forecast was made pre-credit problems. Plus the target of 20-30GW additions per year from now to 2020 will be tough to acheive. Meanwhile the world will need 400-500 TWh per year added. Maybe 300-400 TWh if there is reduced economic growth and a lot of organized conservation.

What about dumping waste nuclear fuels to other planets and moons? How much energy it takes to take one ton high density mass to moon, seriously?

Jerome has said that wind gets wiped out whenever the government funding goes away.

It's more devious than that. Wind gets wiped out without government regulation. It gets wiped out even when it is cheaper (as is happening in a number of places) because of the structure of market prices. Coal and gas, which have prices always close to marginal prices, don't get wiped out by price movements, while wind can, which reduces the willingness of investors to go for it.

It's the difference between being above the water by 10cm on average (but with periods at -10cm that can last more than 10mn) and being above the water by 5cm, but never lower than +1cm. In the second cse, you get to live, even though you are lower on average.

It gets wiped out even when it is cheaper ....

give me a break ! straw men in your neighborhood ? I know you love wind, but please ...

The troubles wind-power endure, is that the utilities/governments don't know what to do with it ... It is blowing at all the wrong times, thus WT's are not easy to manage in todays 24/7 BAU schemes. We must understand this today, so that we are more prepared for tomorrow. The same goes for German PV-solar.

So you are trying to rebut a straw man with half truths and more straw men?

That's great.

Wind is perfectly absorbed in Europe, except for a few odd locations, some of the time. Go read the French network operator, which was very hostile to wind, and now says in its official annual report that wind fully displaces thermal power (1 MWh for 1MWh) and estimates that it can absorb 10 times more wind than today easily, using large scale simulations with 50 years of met data.

As to my point about prices, do you even understand how marginal pricing works, and how a power source with fixed costs tolerates markets price fluctuations differently than a power ource with mostly variable short term costs?

What's hopeful for wind is that natural gas is gaining a lot of ground over coal with respect to being the marginal fuel in a lot of places in Europe and the US.

With natural gas fuel costs being almost certainly substantially higher than those of coal fuels, in both the near and long term, the marginal pricing problem should be a lot smaller. Even if cleaner coal with sequestration works on a large scale, the variable costs will go up a lot, so that should also make wind a lot more attractive.

Of course, with sufficient pumped hydro and/or CAES capacity, and also with a smart grid responsive demand, the marginal pricing problem is mostly solved.

Wind and solar power are imperfect vessels for your hopes and dreams.

In the very near future, the smart grid will be developed and deployed as enabling technologies that will accompany the nationwide deployment of renewable power production. Its primary purpose is to transmit renewable energy from the wind corridors of the mid west and the solar farms of the western desert to the population and industrial areas of the east and west coasts.

This upcoming centralization and concentration of national energy production opens up an opportunity for terrorists to disable national electric energy distribution across wide areas of the nation by destroying a limited number of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) trunk lines radiating from these new major areas of US power production. Both underground and overhead power lines will be too long and interspersed through open country and populated suburbs on their way to the big coastal cities to be properly secured with absolute certainty.

What is the cost of securing the smart grid and what is the cost of a successful terror attack against this grid?

A properly designed and operated smart grid is less voulnerable. For getting into the right mindset for designing such a grid I would recommend reading a lot of

It is allmost impossible to secure a grid against large scale coordinated sabotage, you need a full mobilization for that. What makes a grid sensitive to small scale sabotage and accidents is lack of redundancy, build more HVDC lines then the absolute minimum.

And it is anyway a good idea to have plenty of UPS and generators for critical services.

Wherefore art thy paranoia?

You have a serious case of misplaced priorities. Terrorists blowing up power lines might cause inconvenience for many, while blowing up skyscrapers or sports stadiums cause much more certain death. Are your dreams continually haunted by mad arabs plotting destruction?

Grow up.

Wherefore art thy paranoia?

In May 2006, the House overwhelmingly approved by a 421 to 2 vote, legislation to provide $7.4 billion in spending on new port security inspectors, nuclear weapons screening and the development of an automated system to pinpoint high-risk cargo.

The economic impact of even a single nuclear terrorist attack on a major U.S. seaport would be very great. In the three plausible scenarios examined, a successful attack would create disruption of U.S. trade valued at $100-200 billion, property damage of $50-500 billion, and 50,000 to 1,000,000 lives could be lost. Global and long-term effects, including the economic impacts of the pervasive national and international responses to the nuclear attack, though not calculated, are believed to be substantially greater.

Grow up please!

Nuclear weapons existed many years before commercial nuclear power.
1945 Nuclear weapons.
Mid-1950s the first commercial nuclear reactors.

Almost every country that has nuclear weapons got them before they got commercial nuclear.

There are now thousands of nuclear weapons. If you got your wish (which you won't) that all commercial reactors get shutdown and no new ones built. Then the nuclear weapons and nuclear material still exist and are still a threat. Thus showing one aspect of the lack of correlation between nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power. If the nuclear power plants get shutdown then would the US not have to secure its ports ? The US still would have to secure its ports. So how does the $7.4 billion count against commercial nuclear power ?

Does North Korea have commercial nuclear power ? No. But it has six atomic bombs or at least the material for that many.
Iran has the centrifuges running to get its nuclear bombs, but does it have a commercial nuclear reactor yet ? No.

The scenarios that they talk about is always a maximal super optimized attack against New York. Against every other place (other than perhaps Tokyo) there is not that much concentrated and valuable population and property.

You need to make the terrorist connection between 5% enriched uranium and 90%+ weapons grade.

How about farming and fertilizer ?

Timothy McVeigh used a fertilizer bomb. Do the deaths and damage from that count against farming, trucks and fertilizer. Why not ? It is a tighter correlation.

At 9:02 a.m. CST, the Ryder truck, containing in excess of 6,200 pounds (2,800 kg) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture, detonated in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The effects of the blast were equivalent to over 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) of TNT and could be heard and felt up to 55 miles (89 km) away. The attack claimed 168 lives and left over 800 people injured.

How about a scenario where a supertanker which can hold up to 500,000 tons is loaded with fertilizer explosive ? Plus they mix some radiological material from some hospital or other source or just mine some up ?

The explosion could be even bigger than the hypothetical nuclear terrorist attack.

But that kind of thing has not happened before right?


The Halifax Explosion occurred on Thursday, December 6, 1917 when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with a Norwegian ship, the SS Imo in "The Narrows" section of the Halifax Harbour. About 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured. This is still the world's largest man-made accidental explosion. All buildings and structures covering nearly 2 square kilometres (500 acres) along the adjacent shore were obliterated, including those in the neighbouring communities of Richmond and Dartmouth. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbour and a pressure wave of air that snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres.

2,653 tons of wartime explosives.

According to estimates, roughly $35 million Canadian dollars in damages resulted (in 1917 dollars; adjusted for inflation, this is about CAD$500 million in 2007 dollars)

Terrorists do not have to do it the hard way. Grow up please !

There are now thousands of nuclear weapons. If you got your wish (which you won't) that all commercial reactors get shutdown and no new ones built.

What are you taking about? Where in my post did I mention reactors?

So are you agreeing that nuclear weapon risks are not tightly correlated to the amount of nuclear power ? So why were you bringing up a nuclear bomb terrorist port attack and the cost of port security being expensive in a discussion on an energy website ? I perhaps should not have said your wish for no commercial nuclear reactors -but that is a position of many at the Oil Drum. I amend that to if many anti-nuclear power people got their wish.

I know that many anti-nuclear people want to shutdown nuclear reactors and use the claim of increased risk for nuclear war and some extreme scenario for nuclear power plant accidents as part of a line of reasoning on why nuclear power is bad.

In your past comments:

You were making some connection between nuclear power and proliferation risks.

So what is your position on proliferation, more nuclear power, incremental risks with different forms of energy or lack of incremental risks and terrorist nuclear bomb scenarios and spending on port security ?

The greatest risks for terrorist nukes are from Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and any still loose Russian nukes.

My point about non-nuclear port attack being as deadly and damaging as nuclear is unchanged and also that I believe it is easier and more likely given that there have been hijacked ships and their has been a devastating non-nuclear port explosion and tens of millions of tons of highly explosive material are shipped every year.

I think it is wasteful and wrong to try to achieve some form of delusional perfect safety. Ignoring or not doing enough about more likely threats and attacks is a mistake.

I will not group you in with people who are saying:

Nuclear war ! Terrorist nuclear attack ! City destroying nuclear power plant accident ! Were pissing our pants about anything nuclear that could kill us ! Nothing non-nuclear can make a big explosion ! If I personally do not support anything in reality that is or could kill a lot of people then it does not matter if it does kill people. Coal pollution kills a lot of people, but I don't support it so those deaths don't count. Deaths caused by delays in solar and wind displacing coal do not count. Only deaths caused by nuclear power taking too long to displaced coal and oil count.

Nuclear spill. No one dies. No one gets sick. But hey that was a nuclear spill. It does not matter if was into the ocean and less than background radiation. It was nuclear! Tennessee coal sludge spill over a square mile. Oh Coal. You scamp. Coal mining accident in China that kills 200. Which month is it ? Didn't that happen last month ? Hey what about Chernobyl. 56 dead directly and world health organization says maybe 200 up to this point a couple of decades later.

Since 1944, 1000 times as many people have died from conventional wars. 200 million deaths. And war still killed less than indoor and outdoor air pollution combined. Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed less than half of the global coal mining deaths since 1944.

Nuclear proliferation has killed no one. All the nuclear weapons used to kill anyone were from the original developers (the USA). But Nuclear proliferation needs to be impossible by a design leveraging the laws of physics [I believe that was in one of your posts]. Every neutron accounted for...ignore that there 150 million tons every year of fertilizer for explosives floating around. It is the neutrons. It does not matter if taking the time and costs to do that kind of thing delays the addition of more nuclear power, because it is not like the world would be using energy sources with a lot of air pollution like coal or oil instead.

The 4 years or more to certify the building of another copy of a certified nuclear reactor makes us safer how ? How does it help lower nuclear proliferation risk ? How does it help prevent accidents ? How does several rooms full of paper documents help make us safer ? Will that much paper block radiation.

Something wrong happened...more bureaucracy is the answer. Sarbanes Oxley in response to Enron. Bureaucracy to make company executives sign off on all of their financial statements. Good thing we had Sarbanes Oxley or our financial problems now would be really bad.

Blow up Hoover Dam and cause flooding deaths. Blow up oil refineries and take out the surrounding town. But let us keep racheting up the measures on nuclear risks. A lot of deaths from something else is tragic but non-nuclear. So clearly not nearly as important.

In simple language, I will try to summarize this thread for you.

Dezakin: You place too much priority on terrorism.
Janap128: Terrorism must have a very high priority and the entire US House of Representatives agrees to the tune or $7.4 Billion.

Why are you so intent on bating me on the reactor issue?

My position on the issue of powerful technology is this as follows:

Any powerful technology can be used for both good and evil. The engineers and designers of these technologies need to maximize their designs for the proper and good use of the technology and minimize the improper or evil use or bad consequences possible form the diversion of that technology as far as humanly possible.

Don’t you agree with this proposition?

Indeed. You face the same risks with blowing up dams or natural gas terminals with fertilizer bombs, which are far more plausible and accessible. Or even (perish the thought) hijacked airliners.

You're fretting about one single high entry cost weapons system that is difficult to employ by anyone smaller than a full nation state. Theres bigger risks to worry about in life, not because nuclear weapons aren't fearsome but simply because life is risky in itself.

Since fertilizer has been abused through fertilizer bombs they have restricted fertilize sales. Since airliners have been abused through hijacking, they have restricted passenger carry on baggage options.

Why does something bad have to happen before safeguards are imposed on a technology? Why can’t we be forward looking for once and avoid the problem in the first place. A popular phrase has proven itself over many centuries: "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine". Is that not wise and prudent?

No. You seek to build an iron door with paper walls; Paranoid ravings about an allready extremely security concious industry are misallocation of resources. It will allways be easier to cause mass death and destruction through simple techniques of opportunistic chemical explosives.

2007 a ship carrying 3000 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer caught fire off of Newport Harbor in Australia. This was a narrowly avoided accident that would have devastated the city of Newport just like the Halifax explosion of 1917 or the Texas City explosion of 1947.

The ship had visited six other Australian ports.

the security safegaurds are not sufficient and fertilizer sales are not restricted or minimally restricted depending upon the jurisdiction.

Estaca de Bares, Spain, 2007
The NPK fertilizer cargo of the ship Ostedijk sustained a self sustained decomposition (SSD) fire for 11 days. The fire plume reached 10 m in diameter and several hundred meters in length. Special water spears were inserted inside the cargo to extinguish the fire.

You make a strange jump from faulting the Source Technology (wind/solar) to focusing on Transmission in your post.

The grid is vulnerable to some degree, but probably more to decay than to demolition. This is the case whether it's today's or tomorrows grid. But still, it's designed to be paralleled, so faults can be bypassed. Doesn't always work, but that would surely be a core aspect of a 'Smarter' grid.

But Solar and Wind wouldn't be Centralized Power. Even with some coming from very large installations, it would be essentially diffuse and so very complicated to 'Targetize' (if you will)..

Beyond that, a couple KW of PV on many people's rooftops will create a great deal of energy resilience precisely in the case of ANY kind of grid failures, or central source breakdowns. Similarly on the next scale up, companies, communities, institutions and townships that invest in a wind turbine or solar on muni rooftops- as emergency local power and long-term energy investing would have another layer of insulation against this dependency on imported power, be it from fuel and grid interruptions, or price swings, or political obstacles like Russia and Ukraine's recent spat.

Beyond that, a couple KW of PV on many people's rooftops will create a great deal of energy resilience precisely in the case of ANY kind of grid failures, or central source breakdowns.

Get real!

Can renewable energy do heavy duty industrial chemistry like fertilizer production, Coupled CI2 and PVC chemistry, heavy industry that includes steel production, paper manufacture, and water desalination, high temperature insulation production, manufacture of oils and greases, make cement, smelt aluminum and other metals, make glass?

These industries make huge, concentrated, and constant demands on energy resources. These industries require huge, concentrated, and constantly available energy source. Industry uses as much power as all current electric generation supplies. What will happen when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. The renewable advocates say use natural gas to fill the gap.

There is a flaw in that strategy. At the current consumption of 20 trillion cubic feet a year the North American gas reserve of 283 trillion cubic feet will last for only 14 years. If coal powered electric production is replaced by renewables, natural gas consumption will double and more. The North American gas reserves will deplete is no time. Then there is gas powered trucks and cars to deplete the gas reserves even faster.

The EIA says the gas shortfall will come from the Middle East by ship. We will then be in the same spot we are now in with oil; hostage to a Middle East natural gas cartel.

Advocates of advanced high temperature reactors have a very good alternative to this renewable energy short coming.

Energy intensive industry is already clustered around renewable energy, hydroelectric :-)

No change required except wind works VERY well with hydro. More MWh.


And add geothermal power to the list.

Get Real?

"These industries make huge, concentrated, and constant demands on energy resources."

But with a grid, you can take a diffuse source and apply it towards a concentrated demand. Every watt coming from some residential rooftop OR from a big central PowerPlant.. all would add to what's there on the grid, AND it would still provide people with some security against load-shedding, rolling blackouts and price swings that could disrupt society functioning. But these rooftop PV watts would be offsetting any Burned Fuel watt that would have been needed if it wasn't in place.

You'd be getting a lot of complementary benefits from a 10 million solar rooftops program. For Real.

(But no, noone is suggesting that this is the whole answer. Just one really good piece.)

My concern with renewables and its enabling techknology the smart grid is that the amount of power they will be required to produce to replace coal for electric generation is very large. On top of that, renewables are required to replace coal and natural gas in the industrial sector which is as much power as is produced in the entire electric generation sector. Then there is the replacement of hydrocarbon based transportation energy which is as large in amount as the energy needed for all of industry. Then atmospheric CO2 needs to be reduced by 100 parts per million through char production and sequestration in soils. And all this production of energy must double every ten years into the indefinite future. That is a lot to ask. IMHO, it might be too much to ask.

Angry face

Then there is the replacement of hydrocarbon based transportation energy which is as large in amount as the energy needed for all of industry.<

Trade 20 BTUs of oil for 1 BTU of electricity.

Trucks > Electrified rail and cars & SUVs > Urban Rail & Transportation Orientated Development

Best Hopes,


Solar: Yes, because Solar hot water and related solar approaches are well out of the R&D phase (see later comment on distribution)

Tidal & Wave: Yes because of energy density. Severn Tidal barrage could deliver 8% of UK demand, regular and predictable as clockwork. That's valuable. Its already done in france.

As for system reorientation, I wasn't describing the pastoral idyll red herring; but more practical changes to the societal system structures that support reduced transportation energy usage. There are quick and easy wins there to be had (eg supermarkets that deliver as normal, rather than you driving there by car, commuters, etc.).

Finally, wind has known issues because of energy density and reliability. However a sizable missed issue is that it does little to address the resilience issue. Its lack of reliability, coupled with its need to be implemented on a large scale to be viable limit its applicability to encouraging a resilient system.

You are ignoring hydro and CAES storage, which complement wind.

The wind intermittency for grid power doesn't vanish. To be honest it's much worse in the US interior than for steady-wind European offshore wind which still has problems as the wind turbines are all located in one area(the North Sea).

The most obvious solution for the wind intermittency is to just get off the public grid completely and make hydrogen gas for fuel cell cars from water.

130 million fuel cell cars like Honda's FCV going 22000 miles per year would require about 4000 Twh of wind electricity for electrolysis and compression.

4000Twh is less than the Class 3 wind areas of Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas. That's about 800,000 (2)MW wind turbines.

This is what renewables will really end up looking like but too many fools have given up on hydrogen because of its 'inefficency' starting with Ulf Bossel. Hydrogen makes a helluva lot more sense than batteries or stored hydro which is limited to a small number of sites.

No reason you couldn't make hydrogen from solar either.

4000 TWh/yr is roughly the entire US consumption of electricity, so you're talking about doubling it.

A few years ago I calculated that a direct replacement of on-road motor fuel (gasoline and diesel) by electricity would take perhaps 180 GW average, about 40% of then-current US electric consumption; that calculation did not include efficiencies likely to be included in any conversion process.  Dr. Bossel is right.

No, I am NOT talking about doubling our electric grid.
I'm talking about replacing gasoline with clean hydrogen from renewable energy. We use the equivalent of 7500 Twh of energy to run
our cars,trucks, trains , I propose to replace it with 4000 Twh of energy. You talk about 4000 Twh of grid electricity generated by 10000 Twh of mainly storable fossil energy.

Electricity CORNUCOPIANS such as yourself never recognize energy storage issues, so you dream about plugin cars and electrified trains
and leave it to the utilities to balance everything. You just kick all the problems down the road.

All the diesel/oil energy we put into transport amounts to 7500 Twh of primary energy. According to Bossel who uses liquid hydrogen, that could be be replaced by 2800 Twh of grid electricity with Li-ion batteries(with all his 'efficiency' values). This would be 70% of our existing electricity.

Assume you got all your power from nuclear power plants running 7800 hours per year, thats's 360 GW 'average', which would require 8400 Twh(thermal) of uranium fuel but more likely from fossil plants where we currently get 70% of our electricity now.

This is what you miss--we get 91% of our electricity from stored sources. What this should show you is that your plug-in world is an illusion.

In fact, poetaster-engineer, this proves that you don't even know what energy is because you continually confuse energy(kwh) with power(kw).

Funnily, the distinction seems totally lost here at TOD.

Hydrogen is a loser and should be forgotten about.

There is a place for SOME ammonia generated with surplus wind energy in the future.

Enough ammonia to replace all gasoline & diesel (AND fertilize fields), NO !

Best Hopes for Bicycles, Shoe leather and Urban Rail,


Hydrogen is a loser and should be forgotten about.

Who died and made you the Energy Pope(though you certainly are a true urban rail fantatic)?

You don't need to be the Energy Pope to know that hydrogen is a loser.

You just need to have a reasonable understanding of thermodynamics/entropy and what inefficiency means in macro-economic terms.

Another Energy Pope.
Try to make an argument, your Holiness.

We don't need to rehash the inherent problem hydrogen has, it has ben intensively dealt with before, as a TOD member you are aware of this, but your bias prevents reasonable - even obvious - logic.

Entropy, exergy, macro-economics. You've read Bossel's work haven't you?

Anyway, the pot calls the kettle black again, you're calling me an energy pope, after proposing some behemoth top down scheme for hydrogen. Swimming in hypocrisy.

Both the US and Canada have a much cheaper solution for short to long term electricity storage, using the vast Great Lakes and Canadian Lakes for pumped hydro. This is 75-80% efficient and easy to scale.
Using a lake level range of less than one meter in Lake Ontario(74meter elevation) and Lake Erie( 173 meter elevation) would allow 9,000GWh to be stored as 18 million cu m of water. With up to a one meter manipulation(the natural range) of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, another 80,000 GWh could be stored on a seasonal basis. This would enable all of the base-load coal and peak NG power to be replaced by solar and wind.

Where are you going to get a differential head out of that? There is no way to produce a drop that would allow the use of "pumped hydro" to and from the great lakes without an enormous geo-engineering project. Far far larger than the three gorges dam in china.

Just time shift the existing flows through enlarged existing power plants (Niagara being the largest, but also St. Lawrence plants). No pumping required.

Ontario Hydro (forgot new name) is now upgrading Niagara (Adam Beck) power plant with 14 m tunnel to reduce frictional losses and use more Spring water (water that now goes over the falls unused).

The calculations overlook head losses down river from Niagara (5 m ??)

Today, Niagara runs full bore (~5 GW) all night with available water, and cuts back for tourists during the day. Adjusting the flows entering the Niagara River (<$1 billion) so as to time Niagara power production with load (say max 14 GW, minimum >1 GW) and seasonally shift power (spring > summer) is doable at affordable costs.

Not the cure all for North America as claimed, but a big piece.

That'd be quite the project. I think your number is very very low. bear in mind that to seasonally adjust the lake levels you'd need to modify not only the recieving channels, but the floodplains on EACH of the feeding channels to lake erie going upriver for tens of miles (runoff follows energy gradelines, raising the water level at the outlet affects a LONG distance upstream).

After that, you have to look at the river capacity itself. If you tried to release 1 year's runoff into lake ontario in half the time, you'd cause horrible erosion to the niagara river itself, not to mention flooding out every house even CLOSE to the current river elevation.

After THAT, you would need to look to the saint lawrence seaway itself. Start fluctuating the level of lake ontario by a foot or more over the course of a month and you can look for floods going clear down to quebec. These are NOT small projects. They will not respond well to poorly thought-out meddling.

You will notice from this that the RECORD high and low levels of lake erie are only 1.5 feet separated. This is NOT a game for amateurs.

1 foot of elevation in lake erie is 277,111 million cf, niagara falls carries 6 million cfm. That means that it would take niagara falls 30 days at double flow to pass that difference (assuming steady inflow). Which in turn means that you would be passing 12 million cfm to lake ontario for 30 days, a volume of water that would need to be handled by the Saint Lawrence. Which in turn passes an average of 14 million cf overall. The chances of this increase leading to erosion, flooding, and a host of other problems is insane.

I'm just not sure this plan was well thought out.

The concept is to stay within the seasonal peak flows and levels but time shift them to human advantage.

Do not exceed the highest average annual flow of the Niagara River (on the Canadian side they have a forebay that stores water from the Niagara for some hours before generating power, new 14 m diameter tunnel to said forebay). Run at Niagara River @ Spring flood levels during hot July & August for example.

Do not exceed highest (and lowest) average annual levels for Lakes, etc.


A higher lake level in Erie would actually be welcomed.

This plan was not well thought out, but I did look up natural fluctuations of some of the lake, generally 1.5 METERS( see your own link) not FEET. Thus I calculated potential storage in Lake Erie/Ontario with a max of 1 meter fluctuation to see if it has the scale required to provide all peak electric power in US/Canada.

Few other regions in the world has this type of natural storage separated by a natural 100meter height( Niagara falls)

If a dam had to be built to create Lake Erie it would be the largest engineering project in the world, but its nearly all in place.
For pumped storage to work would have to regulate Lake Ontario outlet, just as Lake Winnipeg is done now, allowing most additional flow to be retained in Lake Ontario, for perhaps a day or two (during a low wind event) or perhaps just during daily peaks. Fluctuating lake levels(+/- 0.75 meters) would be no different to tides, and initially would be much less until many additional turbines were installed. The first 900GW would only cause a change of 10cm, smaller than wind blown hourly fluctuations.

The main engineering would be to build tunnels from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario to be able to pump back, and a way of regulating outlows of these lakes( perhaps similar to Thames barriers?) or a totally submerged structure that can be raised to within a few meters of river surface( to raise the lake level but only reduce flow not stop it).
To use the first 900GW storage would require perhaps a capacity to generate 200GW/h, but only pump using 50GW/h(100million cu meters/h) and use some of the natural flow ( 50 million cu m/h) to replace the rest.

The main engineering would be to build tunnels from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario to be able to pump back, and a way of regulating outlows of these lakes( perhaps similar to Thames barriers?)

Already done. It's called the Welland canal. It's already got locks and everything (no pumping stations, though). Coordinating backflow periods with ship traffic might be a little tricky, though.

good catch! Thank you.

I was not saying to begin with that it couldn't be done, I was saying that the hydrologic and hydraulic engineering at that scale are very serious projects, and they will not respond well at all to missed considerations.

The first 900GW would only cause a change of 10cm, smaller than wind blown hourly fluctuations.

An interesting idea, but I would be opposed to manipulation of lake level by more than 10cm just from 21 years of personal close observation of Lake Erie shorelines, perhaps even less than 10cm if I looked into it more closely.

The volume of water and related turbulence, currents (dumped on one end of a long lake) from 900 GW make it impractical.

I have noted the maximum spring flow in the Niagara River gives about 14 GW, and have used that as a base for staying within natural limits.

Perhaps that limit could be raised (some from Welland Canal, some from Niagara, but one cannot slosh THAT much water into one end of a lake without negative results.


What about a canal running from Georgian Bay in Lake Huron to Lake Ontario? A larger head than Niagara and uses the combined area of Lakes Huron and Michigan as storage.

What about conservation???


For pumped storage, the capacity of Lake Ontario is the limiting factor( but very large). Lake Erie is of similar area, so the two lakes would be balanced for pumped storage. The larger upper lakes offer much longer term(years to decades ) storage but would not be able to pump back without serious decreases( below 1 meter) in Lake Ontario levels.

I was just trying to point out that these two lakes could be scaled up to provide ALL North American peak electricity, whether generated from wind, solar, nuclear or geothermal. Probably only 5-10% of that 9,000GW would be needed on a daily basis, but for those rare nation-wide LOW WIND events or other breakdowns it would be possible to run for several weeks by drawing on upper great lakes.

You may have heard of Niagara falls. No reason you couldn't pump water from Ontario to Erie to store power. Erie lake levels have actually been dropping for the last few years so there is capacity.

Add Lake Winnipeg (Manitoba Hydro is shopping 5 GW of renewable hydro, sold 800 MW to Wisconsin).

Not the cure all for North America as claimed, but a big piece.


Wind intermittency can be solved by connecting regions with DC, like between Norway and the Netherlands.

Ulf Bossel has provided arguments that won't just go away by putting 'inefficiency' between brackets: the hydrogen economy simply is very wasteful (, because energy is lost in generation of hydrogen, compression, storage, decompression, burning in fuel cells.

True. But entropy and macro-economics are somewhat difficult concepts, so a lot of people aren't aware of hydrogen being not very useful, at least not for energy storage.

Jerome your linked article suggests feed-in tariffs are superior to tax credits and green certificates. I consider each of them to be inferior to carbon charges (permits or tax) and prescriptive standards. If I recall both Spain and Germany have complained about the public and private costs of feed-in tariffs. Not only does the consumer pay more for electricity but government revenue suffers if that is a partial source of funds. Instead of giving steroids to wind and solar it may be better to put lead in the saddle of the competition, namely fossil fuels.

A modest carbon impost could double the price of lignite generated electricity assuming no giveaways like bogus offsets. That makes it a lot easier for wind power to compete. That could be backed up by a prescriptive standard just out of reach of gas combined cycle, say no more than 200 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity. That standard could apply across the portfolio of technologies a utility company employs. Thus a big firm with nukes, wind, hydro and lignite might need to ditch lignite and add more wind to meet an average of 200 g CO2/kwhe. New firms would be effectively cut out of fossil fuels. I think such approaches are much better than feed-in tariffs which already are a source of resentment.

Complaints about feed-in tariffs increasing prices for consumers are wrong-headed, given that these tariffs actually lower the overall price of electricity now, as wind, from a certin penetration, brings down the market price of electricity (see the explanation here)

(note that the above subsidy represents the gross amount, not the net amount which is the difference between that amount and the market electricity price)

The link peters out so I looked at Wikipedia's article on FiT which defers to a long pdf by Paul Gipe which in turn defers to a DoE paper. I agree that diagrams showing lens shaped regions will be key to many such issues which may cause eye glaze-over for some. I've seen such a diagram for example that claims to show that there is no point in Denmark expanding windpower.

I'll restate my position that feed-in tariffs are a tax on the poor when TOD has a full discussion on alternative incentive schemes for renewables.

Did you see these two presentations?

(both PDF - both from the European Wind Energy Conference last year)

Spot pricing is a different setting to fixed prices typical of solar PV FiT. With spot pricing you need an existing large renewables producer who is able to play the wholesale market and charge a smidgin above marginal cost.

My beef is more do with solar PV installers getting not only a large capital subsidy but say 45c a kwh export credit. That's at the same time of day when retail electricity that used to be 15-20c a kwh is forced to increase in price for very little increase in output.

Solar is different to wind in that solar still clearly need tariffs that are an order of magnitude higher than market prices to make sense. But the cost to the network is still relatively low as the overall production is still relatively small. The trick will be to reduce the FIT as capacity grows and (hopefully) levelised costs decreases.

Re wind: even if the producer gets a feed-in tariff, that electricity is still included in the price setting mechanism (it comes into the network as compulsorily delivered power, ie it has a marginal price of zero in the price discovery mechanism. So even if FIT regimes, it helps bring down market prices driven by marginal price mechanisms.

My January copy of the 25 year old Windpower Monthly just dropped on my desk. It appears the US installed at least 8500MW of wind plant last year, a whopping increase of 63% on 2007 (itself a 45% increase on 2006) - this figure is missing from the above graph. This is under climate skeptic oilman Bush, and before a number of major manufacturers had local factories commissioned. This massive increase makes any talk of doubling renewables incredibly unambitious, sir, try a 10 fold increase in 3 years!

It has been said that North and South Dakota alone could supply the US market! I agree major tranmission is required (as it was with coal) and in the short term could be the limit - course, one could do like some of the British windfarms and just 'let go' of the high production offpeak generation (not that expensive a loss as it is infrequent and the value of the forfeitted electricity is low - makes the potential of electric car development in rural areas intereting, too).

I will admit that offshore wind is taking longer and costing more that previously hoped, but onshore it has consistantly broken records and smashed targets.

I disagree that gas generation backup is an issue, it already exists - what increasing amounts of wind will do is reduce the amount of gas required and pollution produced. Load following gas plant can coexist with wind and other continuously varying generation, because of course, it is designed to cope with continuously varying loads. Coal and nuclear are different and 'compete' with wind as they can only really run continuously - all three technologies have an economic need to run as often as they can - high capital cost, low running cost.

As for PV, growth is even quicker, thanks to global manufacturing giants like Honda, Hyundai, Bosh and Toshiba and old time solar people like Qcell and others massively ramping up production - 5GW last year? 20 to 30GW this year? Those, like myself, who have long waited for a significant drop in PV drops, hey, this is the year. Think of PV like an appliance rather than a power station - India and China cannot keep up with electrical demand (global financial meltdowns not withstanding) because they are better at making appliances that consume electricity than power stations producing it. Course, the gorgeous thing about PV is that it generates during peak (OK, hot areas - where I live), has little maintenance and generates where the load is - roofs. The sprawling suburbs of California and Australia are not short of roofspace.

Solar thermal looks incredibly promising, too. With it's storage capability, some magic could be done with wind - and like wind, it will be 'big' and exported at wholesale prices.

I agree that energy conservation should have first priority.

How about instead of focusing on Wind.

They focus on SolarThermal Power with Heat Storage, EGS Geothermal, and Adiabatic Compressed Air Energy Storage. (And top it off with improving our grid)

That stuff is really hurting for some attention.

(Also the problem with listing things as Megawatts and Gigawatts, is that you're ignoring the capacity factor, and the issue of baseload and dispatchability. If you need 3x or more Wind to meet the capacity of 1x coal plant, then you have to increase the cost atleast 3x. Not to mention, it'd but a lot more strain on the grid, and need a lot more grid expansion to accommodate it.)


As for the UK, since this is posted in the "Europe" section, why don't you guys look into power from Ocean Currents. (Florida would be a pretty good place for this too)

Wind is proven and the costs well known - be interesting to see when the dramatic drop in the spot prices of copper and steel flow through from the turbine manufacturers, too.

The capacity factor is an issue BUT remember the driving force of the whole system that is the load or demand which varies considerably between a very spikey maximum (certainly in hot areas) and a much lower minimum. It is NOT continuous! People may talk in terms of GW and MW but the economics of projects are done in $/MWh, and certainly when proper comparisons are made between, say, wind and coal, it is in $/MWh. Also, over a reasonably sized area, the wind does average out - ie it is extremely rare that it is very windy (max output of wind turbine) over the whole area or that there is no wind at all. If need be, dirt cheap diesel gensets (run on modest amounts of biodiesel) can take care of no wind (we are talking mere hours a year here) if demand managment measures cannot. And at the other end, too much wind generation? just let it go. Again, the numbers of hours a year this happens is too low to be economically significant. See and scroll down to diagrams 4, 9 and 10.

As for solar thermal, it is much more expensive but very promising. Generally more electricity is used during the day, so it is a good match. With it's inherent storage capability, I see magic in mixing it with wind. Might be why the major developers of the technology, at least in Spain, are wind developers?

Solar thermal is NOT "much more expensive" if it could get to modest volume construction. Sargent & Lundy's very conservative calculations state that it can come in UNSUBSIDIZED at $0.06 / kwh IF it could get to a total installation base of 2 to 3 GW by 2020.

Assessment of Parabolic Trough and Power Tower Solar Technology - Cost and Performance Forecasts - Sargent & Lundy LLC Consulting Group Chicago, Illinois

Solar thermal is NOT "much more expensive"

They are in Ontario. I wonder if even solar hot water heating is worth doing there.


I'd suggest letting Ontario wait until after California, Arizona and Nevada are entirely solar powered. Maybe then we could consider a continental HVDC grid system? Share some of the Southwest's solar in exchange for some of Canada's hydro?

See Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by
Interconnecting Wind Farms
by Stanford's Archer & Jacobson.

From the abstract:
"Because it is intermittent, though, wind is not used to supply baseload electric power today. Interconnecting wind farms through the transmission grid is a simple and effective way of reducing deliverable wind power swings caused by wind intermittency. As more farms are interconnected in an array, wind speed correlation among sites decreases and so does the probability that all sites experience the same wind regime at the same time. The array consequently behaves more and more similarly to a single farm with steady wind speed and thus steady deliverable wind power. In this study, benefits of interconnecting wind farms were evaluated for 19 sites, located in the midwestern United States, with annual average wind speeds at 80 m above ground, the hub height of modern wind turbines, greater than 6.9 m s1 (class 3 or greater). It was found that an average of 33% and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric power."

I'd be happy to see people argue with their results, rather than just saying "windpower is intermittent, and therefore..."

In addition:
One cannot ignore smart load-shifting, or applications (like charging PHEVs) where intermittency is less bothersome.

However, whacking solar PV as just researchy is also odd. In CA, summer electricity in mid-day is worth more, solar PV provides it then, and a whole bunch of people are heavily into serious cost-reduction efforts. They don't have Moore's Law, but when companies like Applied Materials get serious on PV, I listen very hard, as they are a serious engineering outfit that has delivered over decades.

This probably means:
0) Efficiency
1) Wind wherever it works, especially in the mid-West, and especially on farms/ranches.
2) Solar thermal for utility-grade sites in the deserts.
3) Solar PV on corporate roofs and parking lots.
4) Solar PV on homes (addon, and then Building Integrated Photovoltaics, like roof tiles)

3) and 4) have the great plus of *not* requiring massive grid upgrades (unlike 1) and 2).

PV-covered Parking lots (as shown in URLs above) have multiple benefits:
a) They produce power.
b) They keep the cars cool.
c) The keep the sun off the parking lot, which reduces the Urban Heat Island effect, which can possibly help reduce air conditioning.

(Note: I have no connection with AMAT, although I used to design chips manufactured at fabs using their gear, and I've heard their VP Solar, Charlie Gay talk.)

Thanks for that link on intermittency.

As to solar and wind, I agree that we should do both. Wind should be done now on as large a scale as possible, as it is already cost-competitive and industrially mature, but solar should be pushed in order for its still high cost to go down and become competitive, and for it to reach the scale required.

So I see wind dominate the next one or two decades, and solar take over after that.

I was told recently (no source) that Fermany now expects to have more jobs in the solar industry than in the car industry by 2030 (and that's the expectation of people that do not see the car industry shrink because of peak oil or similar issues)

Fermany, where's that :) Where all the German feminists live? ;)

The Archer study is an interesting thought experiment, but doesn't focus on effective load carrying capacity, it can be considered too arbitrary. Fortunately it admits this shortcoming.

I think the Decarolis study is better.

I'd be happy to see people argue with their results, rather than just saying "windpower is intermittent, and therefore..."

Go to this website:

Download the simulated wind power generation data. There are 10 farms worth, spread out over Ontario, Canada.

Current Ontario baseload power is about 15GW.

Your mission: given this data, find a scaling at each farm such that the aggregate of all farms produces 15GW of power, at a 95% capacity factor.

Question: how much turbine do you need to install to hit this figure? What is the character of the outages -- how often they occur, how long, etc.

Note that in the real world, baseload reliability is essentially 100%. This is achieved by combining numerous sources that already have excellent reliability, dispatchability, etc. If there was a very large wind source (many gigawatts), because it's reliability is relatively low, and relatively frequent dropouts, the system will need to have a backup source to cover the outages.

The larger the wind contribution, the larger the necessary backup.

That you may be able to predict when these outages occur is beside the point: the backup must nevertheless exist for wind to contribute to baseload power.

Ontario has more than enough hydro to balance out enough wind to scrap your coal power and keep NG for VERY rare back-up.

Wind and hydro make an especially good match in Ontario. Water stays solid for Ontario (except Banana Belt ?) for several months, and reservoirs must be drawn down (reducing the total energy extracted due to lower heads#) because no liquid water is coming in and demand is high.

Wind is highest in winter, when there is no new liquid water. More wind > less hydro. Whenever wind blows, and it blows a lot in winter in ON, hydro can stay off-line, conserving water for when the wind does not blow, and even conserving water for the following summer.

Winter wind replaces winter hydro (and winter coal), conserving water, keeping reservoirs nearly full. Summer hydro from full reservoirs (plus a bit of summer wind) replace summer coal.

Your exercise is some fantasy, wind does not act alone, but as part of the mix. A VERY useful part in Ontario.

Best Hopes for more Ontario Wind,


# Hydropower is proportional to the reservoir level minus tailrace level (the "head"). Lower reservoirs produce less electricity per m3 of water flow because the head is lower. Keeping reservoirs full maximizes the energy extracted from a given annual river flow.

Hydro sources are, like everywhere else, tapped to the max. According to:

It is about 5GW or so. If hydro backs up wind, then that 5GW is the maximum amount of reliable, baseload, power you can expect from hydro+wind.

Current Ontario baseload is 15GW or so. Now, 5 < 15, so that's a problem.

The problem has been solved today with 10GW of nuclear. Given there is essentially no wind in Ontario today (a few hundred megawatts), how much would it cost to install 5GW worth of wind? (Hint: Ontario has plans to build more nuclear power.)

Hydro sources are, like everywhere else, tapped to the max.

The Premier of Quebec has said that they are willing to sell Ontario new hydro, and Manitoba Hydro is trying to find a buyer for 5 GW of new hydro (so far 800 MW sold to Wisconsin).

MB is to the west of ON, QC to the east.


Hydro sources are, like everywhere else, tapped to the max.

The US alone has an undeveloped hydro-power capacity of about 30,000 MW.

While not all of it is feasible, Canada's total technical hydropower potential is 163,173 MW.

Current Ontario baseload is 15GW or so.

Baseload is defined as the annual minimum demand. Stereotypically 3 to 4 AM on a pleasant spring weekend.

Just looking at that curve for a winter day, I would be surprised if ON baseload is >10 GW and VERY surprised if >12 GW.

Total nukes need to be < baseload.

And just how long will it take for Ontario Hydro to build even one new nuke ? (just repairing old nukes takes ON Hydro quite a bit of time, and large cost overruns).

Wind can be on-line in 30 months.


The larger the wind contribution, the larger the necessary backup.

This completely ignores hydro storage and demand side management.

I said "backup", right?

Yes, I did.

Storing energy is "backup".

demand side management.

Conservation and other demand issues are irrelevant to this particular discussion, since it scales both terms in the sum.

In Ontario, wind is a better match with hydro than nuke. See winter max for wind and your solid water problem.

Nuke is constant, whether you need it or not.


Ontario is perhaps the worst example one might use to extol wind generation, as it's baseload is almost entirely nuclear with some (declining) coal. The problem is that nuclear cannot load-follow, but coal can to some extent. THEREFORE the proven result of adding wind generation to Ontario is that nuclear baseload gets shut down (in 500 to 600 MW increments) in favour of coal.

I am not anti-wind, and do belive it can be brought up to a significant percentage of every grid's mix of generation, but am concerned about people claiming that can be accomplished with existing utility structures and incentives, and customer lack of awareness. To exploit wind gen (and solar), customers are going to have to get involved in load scheduling, time-of-use, etc. Ideally the painless way for that to happen is implementing smart controllers in the meters, and tying everything together with reliable communications to central grid dispatch, under full or quasi market incentive systems.

Ontario has large hydro generation (4,837 MW ATM), much of which can be deferred when wind is on-line.

AFAIK, Adam Beck (Niagara 2.x GW) has a forebay that allows hydro to be deferred for hours, most other hydro has reservoirs that will allow hydro to be deferred for months (full reservoirs generate more energy from a given river flow, a very nice bonus from winter wind).

Natural gas is 1,930 MW ATM and it can also be easily deferred.

From prior discussions, in Ontario, a majority of wind is generated in the 4.5 months of winter. Just when hydro needs relief.


It is not true that nuclear cannot load follow. Ontario's nukes can't follow load, but that is because the were not designed to. France's Westinghouse derived nuclear plants follow load, they engineered it into the basic design.


And its still a bad and stupid idea that provides no benifit whatsoever.

France shuts down nuclear plants in the weekends. It is somewhat disingenious to call that load following, although you could say it works.

Existing nuclear plants do not load follow. They have some operational margin. This is not load following.

Load following is suboptimal from a system perspective, it is no surprise that France doesn't do it. It shouldn't be too difficult to slightly oversize (20-30% or so) the reactor thermal output and use that extra heat for a dedicated thermal store, which in turn powers and intermittently run (peaker) turbine for valuable peaking power.

Eventually, it'd be very useful to tailor the grid to be more correlated with constant output (or variable output in the case of wind). Cheap demand side lower temperature thermal store, such as ice storage for AC and refrigeration, and hot water storage for space heating and domestic hot water, G2V plugin hybrid charging when demand is high, wait a bit while demand is low etc.

A smart grid would be a major improvement in this respect.

Current Ontario baseload power is about 15GW

I'll say it again; you ignored hydro and seemingly assumed it would be replaced with wind in your exercise. Hydro and wind are highly complementary, so any artificial separation is meaningless.

Conservation reduces the need for energy, which includes the 'sum'.

I'll say it again; you ignored hydro and seemingly assumed it would be replaced with wind in your exercise.

The exercise was designed to show you can not use wind for a truly significant fraction of baseload grid power. It also argued that whatever wind you install, if it is to be used for baseload power, has to be backed up with some other source.

Do you deny these truths? If so, I'd like to see your solution to the exercise then.

Conservation reduces the need for energy, which includes the 'sum'.

This does not change the equation in the slightest: whatever wind you have installed and using must be backed up to achieve useful degrees of reliability. You propose hydro backup. Some people say build another wind farm or six, maybe 2000km away, and link it all together with monster HVDC lines. I say we enslave the entire population of prairie dogs and force them -- at gunpoint -- to run on treadmills hooked to generators when the winds abate.

Do you deny these truths?

I saw no 'truths' presented.

I say we enslave the entire population of prairie dogs and force them -- at gunpoint -- to run on treadmills hooked to generators

Your bias and "alternatives analysis" show that your intent here is not to discuss and exchange ideas openly, so there's little point in continuing this thread.

I saw no 'truths' presented.

Being in violent agreement can be hazardous to your reading comprehension.

Your bias and "alternatives analysis" show that your intent here is not to discuss and exchange ideas openly, so there's little point in continuing this thread.

I honestly asked for your answer, and receive this.

Whatever: as J.R. "Bob" Dobbs says, "If they can't take a joke, F*** 'em!"

You're assuming that without storage all wind has to be used. But without storage, it is OK to dump some wind during excess supply as long as the rough generation cost per kWh of wind energy is low. Since wind is still advancing technically with bigger turbines, vortex airfoils, variable coil relay generators and what not, the learning curve should continue. Geographical spreading also helps a lot in particular in the absence of storage.

I also suggest you peruse the actual Ontario records of generation in 2008 of the existing well-distributed 475 MW installed wind generation, here. Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator - IESO - (Select Hourly Wind Generator Output) You will note eg. on August 15, 2008 during the entire 10 hour daytime peak, the 475 MW was producing at below 3% capacity. Many other similar days. So what's the issue? Existing investment companies don't know about the magic formula behind that website calculator you reference?

Wind has been steady at 265 MW for the last couple of hours ("Other" is at 140 MW, I assume mainly biomass). 55.8% capacity/nameplate.

That would be 265 MW less hydro, coal or NG (all can be throttled back, hydro saved for this summer).

Given greater thermodynamic efficiency of thermal generation in the winter, and full reservoirs produce more energy from a given river flow, I would chose to throttle back hydro today and use it to replace coal & NG this summer (assuming adequate reservoir capacity).

It would be better if wind was at 1,265 MW at this hour (nameplate 2,285 MW x .558), a coal plant could be left cold and hydro throttled back even more.

Ontario could have 2,285 MW of installed wind by January, 2013. And have a new nuke plant 18% complete on that date.

The delay on new nukes (say 3.4 GW worth) is so long that already installed wind turbines will be near their end of life by the time "enough nuke" comes on-line. Ontario can make a decision on building a 3rd nuke *OR* replacing the oldest wind turbines in future decades. Until that point is reached, build both (one fast, the other slow).

Best Hopes for a richer mix of wind in Ontario,


Typical of wind "fans" (as opposed to realistic wind promoters such as myself). Take a random midwinter morning as representative of the entire year. The fact that the wind genration is at full nameplate power on an off-peak midwinter day is actually a perfect example of the problem i pointed out, which is the wind normally does NOT generate power when you need it, but when you DON'T need it, unlike EVERY presently common competitor.

The delay on new nukes (say 3.4 GW worth) is so long that already installed wind turbines will be near their end of life by the time "enough nuke" comes on-line.

The real delay on new nukes to replace coal in Ontario is that the grid has already got 33% nuclear connected, and because of a) reducing rainfall into hydro reservoirs and b) additions of wind requiring increasing load-following of other generation with existing coal having partial load-following capacity, adding enough new nuclear to eliminate coal means Ontario will need to add load-following gas generation peakers with very low efficiency rather than replacement baseload nuclear. We are doing it however, with site studies already underway to take nuclear up to 50% and shut down the coal. However there are 2 pre-requisites which have delayed that. 1) we need to get smart TOU metering in place on every customer. Schedled completion is 2010. b) we need to install significant modifications to the Niagra Beck generating station to convert it from a run-of-river baseload unit into a storage peaker system. Tunnel boring machines thru the niagra escarpment have been at work since 2005, completion soon.

Addressing reality is important.

You were the one "cherry picking data" with one specific date, I took a random data point.

I am aware of the 14 m TBM bore at Adam Beck and take it's completion as a given (any last minute disasters I am unaware of ?). This will give Ontario Hydro (what is the new name ?) the ability to use even more hydro for peaking and make the use of NG peaking less likely. Thus making structural changes to allow economic use of more wind.

The loss of hydro base load (> to more valuable peaking and shoulder generation) allows for the rebuilt old nukes to come back on-line.

More wind, more nuke (rebuilt old), more hydro (less water spilled without generation in the spring), all good things working together !

Best Hopes for More Wind, More Nuke, More Hydro, Less coal,


Even with all the rebuilt's online, we'll need another 4,400 MW of nuclear to shut coal down to 1,100 MW. Show me how wind can pick up even that last 1,100 MW without further heavy interventions of some sort (market controls, construction of new gas peakers, new import tie-lines to whom?).

I do not cherry pick data. You claimed that a single random day in mid-winter indicated wind excellence. I showed, by accurately analysing the entire years data on an hourly basis (which I have done), that adding wind causes definite problems on many occasions at summer peaks, one example being the day I cited above.

Even after the enhancements to Adam Beck (from memory) 14% of the time water will go over the falls unused (or used by New York in their plant). Down from almost 40% of the time some water was being spilled..

Letting 1% (likely less) of wind be spilled once or thrice a year circumstances (a few hours each time) is hardly a significant anti-wind argument. And nukes will NOT be taken off-line to make room for occasional spilled wind (as claimed).

Quite frankly, Ontario has potential customers for any surplus wind (Michigan, New York (VERY strong ties to Niagara on both sides, is Adam Beck tied with 1+ GW transmission to Robert Moses ?), New England, even Hydro Quebec will reduce hydro if they can buy ON wind cheap enough).

Surplus 3 AM summer wind power will find "empty" transmission lines, so I except very little to be spilled.

The "best use" of wind (majority winter generation in ON) is to preserve hydro reservoirs in ON, QC and even MB through the winter. This enhances total MWh generated by these rivers and time shifts hydropower.

And wind can reduce coal use while those 4.4 GW of new nukes are being built (2030 ? 2035 ? 20xx ??). Given a 20 year economic life (actual ~25 years) for WTs they will be supplanting coal & NG for most of their lives while nukes are being built (IF 4.4 GW is built).

You are asking a hypothetical AFTER 4.4 GW of new nukes are built. That will likely be more than 20 years in the future and hence simply does not apply to new WTs today. The "decision point" will be when the current WTs need replacement and has no relevance today.

And Ontario should promote ground loop heat pumps (increase winter load, less oil & NG heating, more efficient cooling, reduced summer load) and wind is the perfect power source for this shift.

BTW, wind is up to 319 MW, 67% generation/nameplate.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind in Ontario,


And wind can reduce coal use while those 4.4 GW of new nukes are being built (2030 ? 2035 ? 20xx ??).

Come on.

AECL recently completed 2 new reactors at Quinshan, China in 46 months first shovel to first power, 2 months ahead of schedule and under budget. Even the DOE is impressed, see:

"A recent nuclear power plant construction project in China, known as the Quinshan CANDU project, used several advanced information technologies: the Asset Information System and TRAK databases, the CANDU Material Management System, and the Integrated Electrical and Control Database (Reference 3)." Application of Advanced Construction Technologies to New Nuclear Power Plants

"Jul 24 2003 Qinshan-5 (China) declared commercial at 00:18, four months ahead of schedule. {AECL}"
Canada's Nuclear History

Meanwhile back in Ontario, with the same workforce that new builds will require, how many years to simply replace some plumbing on old CANDU's ?

A billion over budget as well (from memory).

Or will Canada issue work visas and fly the Chinese workforce over to the shores of Lake Erie ?

I think the rebuilt plumbing is a better predictor of the future for new built CANDUs in Ontario.


You confuse "real work on reactors" with "political games with reactors". The details of that event you refer to were 1) OPG planned to take down a reactor for a minor 4 month maintenance job inside the containment. Most of the work was to be done during the fall when grid demand was lowest. 2) Just as the job started, the Federal government (Liberal) decided they wanted to arbitrarily take over all regulation of nuclear in Canada (previously a provincial jurisdiction, Conservative provincial govt. in Ontario. Big time hard feelings) 3) Before the new CNRC in Ottawa even had an office or staff, a bunch of enviro laywers filed suit with them demanding that a full environmental analysis of the work must be carried out. 4) CNRC issued orders halting work until enviro. assement complete. 5) Process took 2 1/2 years.

Outcome: The actual final upgrade cost only a little more than the original $300 million budgeted. HOWEVER, because the entire reactor was offline for over a year more than anticipated, OPG spen $1.2 billion to import replacement electricity from the spot market in the US.

IMHO, the cost overrun is ENTIRELY chargeable to the stupid anti-nuc enviro's, their lawyers, and whoever finances them. However, several execs at OPG were fired (further political CYA stuff).

I am unsure of which refurbishment you are talking about. My knowledge of OPG nukes is not extremely detailed, as yours is.

There is the fiasco of refurbishing Pickering 4 (Pick 1 was "lessons learned" and modest cost overrun) and Bruce 1 & 2 (cost overruns of $1 billion at least, unsure of delays).

Which one was the lawyers fault ?

All refurbishment projects had cost overruns, from massive to "normal".


This Calgary Hearald article pretty much sums up the history of refurbishment "cost overruns" in Ontario, though you need to read the detail of the actual reports produced in each case to see the proof.

One of our biggest problems associated with the earlier projects was that they were probably, unlike the proposal that was just announced in Alberta, subject to a whole lot more political ditherings than this one would be.

Huge cost overruns mark nuclear industry

Political and legal "ditherings" by anti-nuclear groups who exploit the mandatory safety system structures to implement delays, then try to exploit the resultant delays as arguments against the technology. Stupid, but that's how democracies work, eh?

Political and legal "ditherings" by anti-nuclear groups who exploit the mandatory safety system structures to implement delays, then try to exploit the resultant delays as arguments against the technology. Stupid, but that's how democracies work, eh?

I am not aware of any research that shows a full quantitative breakdown of what causes all of the cost overruns. Mostly there is just unquantified jibberish like you're claiming here, "it's all because of the anti-nuclear groups". Certainly, this issue is far more complex with lots of different reasons for cost overruns.

not really. China builds nuclear on budget. The difference is?

Not sure if the Chinese figures can be trusted, and also the entire political system is different. Not all regulation is because of anti nuke groups. Chinese nuclear industry also has a somewhat dubious track record with dumping waste inland. And unless you're suggesting a planned economy for the US, maybe with a wild west capitalistic system like China has right now, then your point is moot.

Granted that not all regulation is activist related, but all *off-budget* regulation IS. Regulatory compliance is part of EVERY seriously considered budget. The point is that nuclear power is prone to massive budget over-runs *only* in nations with political structures similar to our own, wherein a single pissed-off person can cost years of delays and millions in litigation. I would also note that the french nuclear development came in close to budget. This point is *not* made moot by the fact that the chinese political system is different to our own.

Don't get me wrong, I think you have a good point. It's just that I don't see how the regulatory process could be improved without sacrificing democratic values etc.

The uncertainty about what exactly contributes how much to cost overruns is actually a big problem. Your opinion is hardly useful in this respect, we need to know the facts.


Please refrain from name calling. That is so 4th grade. You put your pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us.

Please refrain from adding a y to the end of a man's first name. That is so 2nd grade.

Typically for renewable advocates, JohnMashey has not closely looked at what Archer & Jacobson actually say. What they say is that windmills at 19 highly selected locations in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico, if linked, can be counted on to produce at least 21% of there rated power 81% of the time. This system would seem to possess some but not all characteristics of base generation capacity. It's down time cannot be scheduled to reflect low power demand, as true base power can. A glance at the Archer & Jacobson data set reveals huge weakness for the system. The system has no ability to produce electricity during daily peaks of summer electrical demand. Thus as electrical demand rises during the summer days, electrical generation drops sometimes to virtually nothing. Thus the so called wind base generation system fails to provide electric when it is needed the most.

Finally, since "base" capacity is 21% of name plate capacity, the real cost of of "base" electricity is 5 times the cost of "nameplate" rated capacity. Thus if 1f a 1 MW, electrical generator costs $2 million. the cost of base capacity will be 5 x $2 million or $10 Million. This price comes in at the high end of nuclear range and the whole system is less capable than nuclear, since it can be counted on to not deliver electricity during periods of peak demand. Thus carefule sttention to Archer & Jacobson, far from revealing the advantages of wind, actually testify to its weaknesses.

This is true, one of the most important critiques regarding the Archer and Jacobson study. The study does recognize it's better to focus on effective load carrying capacity (ELCC). However, another study by DeCarolis and Keith has done just that, and although it is idealized (assumes optimal grid functioning), it does provide a decent insight to the increasing costs of wind by increasing penetration. However, it shows that providing 80% of a real grid's demand with wind power would cost less than 8 cent/kWh with plausible future developments in wind tech. But no doubt you would find them unplausible, eh Charles? ;)

Adding hydro and biogas would make for a good combo. Shouldn't be too hard to fit in continuous power sources, in particular nuclear and geothermal. And probably solar.

U232/U233 Uranium hydride can provide the ideal backup to wind and solar electric production utilized in the form of a thorium based nuclear battery. These renewable power sources can double and triple the lifetime of the nuclear fuel in the battery. These batteries are ideal load followers and can mitigate the cycle weakness of renewables and also provide peak power at any time. Let’s work together on this.

Per the Dept. of Energy, the USA can build, at most, eight new nukes in the next ten years. Nice, but not nearly enough to deal with our energy & environmental issues. We should build six, seven or eight new nukes by 2019.

The question for the rest of US power is wind, geothermal, coal or natural gas (perhaps solar). Nuke is NOT an option beyond 8 (add Murphy and make it 6) new nukes.

And for nuke costs in the USA, WHO KNOWS ? Watts Bar (and rebuilding a burned Browns Ferry 1) are the only data points in recent DECADES,

The nuke industry performed hari kari with low quality (Zimmer, Bellefonte, TMI) and out of control cost overruns before.

So your "upper end of nuke costs" is just smoke you are blowing. NO ONE KNOWS the "upper end of nuke costs"

Reality !


Even the lower end of nuke costs (ie the ones with the lowest levelised cost) historically increased at a rate of roughly $2/MWhe per year (that is corrected for inflation mind you). And that lower end, unlike the upper end, has been very consistent.

So it may well be that the minimum levelised cost of new nuclear by 2015-2020 is around 11-13 cents/kWh (2004 USD), and maximum or even fleet average levelised cost... well yes, who knows indeed?

The nuke industries all claim cost reductions in the nth plant but they have been claiming that for decades and this has not been significant before. They are basically not living in the real world.

Wind learning rate and exponential growth is far more promising that nuclear cathedrals.

I've looked at lot at a bunch of the various approaches to energy. On one of the sites aimed at pebble bed reactors, a set of calcs regarding wind are made as shown below:,_Introduc...

To illustrate the magnitude of the energy mess we are getting ourselves into: The United States' coal-burning power plants alone combine to make as much real-life electricity as 1,059,000 170 feet in diameter VESTAS V-52 wind turbines (using the very generous American Wind Energy Association capacity factor of 33%).

VESTAS is installing wind turbines at the rate of one every 5 hours. It would take them 604 years to install 1,059,000 wind turbines to replace only the United States' existing coal power plants.

I suspect this assessment is as slanted against wind as a wind promoters will be slanted for wind. I'd like to see a 'back of the envelope' calculation for how long it would take to replace coal for electricity and another for how long it would take to replace all fossil fuel use for electricity with wind.

I realize that in the real world it's likely to be a mix rather than all of one thing. I'm just trying to get a feel for how long a wind promoter thinks it will take to get it done.

And we build how many cars most years ?

I noted that only Vestas was allowed to build WTs, GE and others not included.

Mass production of 1 million wind turbines (over a decade plus) is certainly possible.


And we build how many cars most years ?

I noted that only Vestas was allowed to build WTs, GE and others not included.

Mass production of 1 million wind turbines (over a decade plus) is certainly possible.


Cars aren't 170' in diameter, nor are they built of carbon fiber, nor are they associated with multi-hundred foot steel towers. How fast factories can make wind turbines is only part of the issue. At what rate can they actually be deployed?

Lets take the 5 hour install rate above and say 10 companies are all doing it at that rate, so install rate is .5 hour. Then it only takes 60.4 years just to replace coal. Do we have the fossil fuels to keep that up for 60+ years? Can we afford to emit CO2 for 60 more years? All the above is for US Coal alone. Look at the world situation from same source as above.

The world's total installed electricity generation capacity from all sources in 2005 was 3,900 gigaWatts, or 3,900,000 megaWatts. To replace that much electricity using Vestas V-52 0.85 megaWatt wind turbines and being mindful they only average 1/3 their rated power, we would need 13,770,000 wind turbines. To get the job done in 10 years, we would have to install about 3,800 wind turbines every day of those ten years. At Vestas one every 5 hours rate, this would come to 7,859 years.

Can a wind expert please show me why/how wind is better than those quoted estimates? Not asking for a blueprint and a budget, just a 'back of the envelope' calc showing that wind has any chance of making a real dent before we're out of fossil fuels or CO2 crosses a tipping point...

I.E. Show me wind is scaleable fast enough to stop a crash oil and/or climate.

The historic rate of installation of new nuclear power (until the industry performed hari-kari) closely parallels the more recent historic rates for wind.

Both are exponential functions, with rapid growth rates. The fallacy of "we cannot do it" is based on arithmetic growth (so many years at current rates, x10 still will not do it) not the recent 40% compounded annual growth.


Not bad for 7 years of 40% compounded growth, 10x in 7 years, 100x in 14 years.

Build one wind turbine for 200 cars we built in 2007 will "get the job done". Those blades are simple (unlike auto engines) and only the nacelle is complex.

Best Hopes for a prolonged Wind Rush,


Ok, so with your compounded rate how many years from today to replace entire US fossil fuel use for electricity? How many to replace world electricity generation? Still just back of the envelope stuff... No consideration for growth or replaceing transportation with something electric based...

25 to 30 years to replace 86% of US fossil fuel generated electricity (i.e. 10% of MWh would still be FF).

Replacing the last 10% of FF MWh is a complex problem and I will let others resolve that "later".

Best Hopes for getting rid of MOST FF electricity,


This analysis agrees with you:

80% wind looks possible without much storage. Biogas/biosyngas would be a useful (very flexible) component for some of the other 20%.

A Strategic Biogas Reserve. Why not?

I looked at your link. This analysis assumes a wind/natural gas generation system with natural gas costs at $4/GJ. Wind penetration goes up to 70% (not 80%) only at the highest carbon taxes considered. In what universe does $4/GJ natural gas make sense in a time frame at which we are getting 70% of our electricity from wind? Even in the current economic downturn natural gas prices are already higher than this. Of course you do not need much CAES or pumped hydro if you have a plentiful supply of cheap natural gas to act as your energy storage medium.

The natural gas fuel cost and carbon tax are comensurate in the model as natural gas is the only source of carbon in the system. So you could also see this as an economical sensitivity analysis to natural gas fuel costs. As was also explained in the reference - you should really read it rather than just look at it. This is great, because it makes more wind attractive as natural gas runs out/peaks (because the structural cost will be on an increasing trend).

IMHO it's one of the best proxies so far on systemic wind cost, although there are a few caveats. Pumped hydro, effects of enhanced capacity factor (eg vortex generators), effects of increased natural gas burn efficiency (figures used were rather low compared to state of the art) etc.

You can extrapolate the functions since they are quite beautiful natural curves. 100% wind is not possible due to the asymptotic form of the functions, which makes sense of course.

The quoted $4/GJ cost of natural gas is a baseline cost (i.e. It has nothing to do with carbon taxes, which are added on top) which comes from the EIA 20 year projection. This projection may well be total nonsense. There is a very real possibility that North American natural gas production will be in a steep decline within a decade’s time. In any event natural gas will definitely not be with us forever. Natural gas currently provides only 17% of our total electricity so that a 30% requirement for natural gas is not small potatoes.

And you still did not respond to my central criticism; Claiming that a system which gets 30% of its energy from a high quality storable fuel like natural gas does not need much storage is false advertising.

The quoted $4/GJ cost of natural gas is a baseline cost (i.e. It has nothing to do with carbon taxes, which are added on top)

In the model, natural gas is the only source of carbon in the system, so an increase in carbon tax can also be seen as an increase in the natural gas cost over the baseline. So it can be interpreted as a sensitivity analysis for natural gas cost (ignoring the carbon tax). This is mentioned in the Decarolis and Keith paper.

This projection may well be total nonsense. There is a very real possibility that North American natural gas production will be in a steep decline within a decade’s time. In any event natural gas will definitely not be with us forever.

The scarcer natural gas becomes, the higher it's structural cost. Thus, more wind is added in the system. In reality, we have a host of other technologies developing, solar, low temperature geothermal, some more nuclear, small hydro, and others. Plus there's a suitable candidate with a decent resource: bio-energy. Flexible, storable. The sustainably harvestable bio-energy resource is quite large. A combined food/fuel agricultural model could work, where food is the primary output, and the waste biomass is converted into biogas etc. and the slurry returned to the soil (perhaps processed into organic fertilizer). See this reference for combining the Decarolis study with bio-energy:

In the case of nuclear plants, it shouldn't be too difficult to use their rejected heat in stead of hydrocarbons in a CAES system. This could be easier than an adiabatic system, although we should develop both.

And you still did not respond to my central criticism; Claiming that a system which gets 30% of its energy from a high quality storable fuel like natural gas does not need much storage is false advertising.

If you look at the curve, 80% wind would cost about 8 cents/kWh busbar. I think I already answered you, at least partially, with all the options on the table, existing and new nuclear(+CAES), existing big hydro (ask Alan!), new small hydro and run of river, low temperature geothermal (PPA @ <8 cents/kWhe), some traditional geothermal (perhaps EGS on the long run), bioenergy (possibly bioenergy CAES), solar thermal and solar PV if they get cheaper (seems likely). Not to mention the benefits of a smart grid, leapfrogging efficiency and conservation of absurd energy uses. Enough to get started if you ask me.

The article states that higher NG costs would be balanced by reduced carbon taxes, so costs would be valid for 6$/GJ or even higher.

I see detailed grid problems with wind being much above 50%, or nuke being much above 55% in North America, even with HVDC and large pumped storage.


I think you are right, but with nuclear plus geothermal 50% and wind plus solar 50%(25% each) would probably need about 25% back-up capacity( not production), initially NG but moving eventually to pumped/or high peak hydro. Since pumped hydro will have a very long lifetime( 100-200 years) it can be expanded slowly. A 25% capacity of pumped or high peak hydro would allow geothermal plus nuclear to expand up to 70% if this was the cheapest option.
V2G may allow less than 25% back-up capacity(perhaps 5%less).

My thoughts on geothermal in the USA -

- All west of the Mississippi
- Not enough to export beyond the region, it will be consumed within a few hundred miles of generation (kind of like New England wind)
- Additional capital expense (more wells, more turbines) can transform a given geothermal resource from baseload into shoulder power (not peak, not baseload). Throttle down at 3 AM, throttle down when wind is blowing, fill gaps, extending pumped storage.
- Each resource is different, but generally, inertia of steam in rock requires some flow at all times and hour(s) to double production. Good for rough load following.


There's at least 100 GWe near continuous power low cost low temperature geothermal, using off the shelf airconditioning units, slightly modified for this purpose (to run in reverse in this temperature range). Is that not enough to export? It's certainly enough for a huge chunk of demand west of the Mississippi. And that's just low temp geothermal.

Raser has started to feed kWhs into the grid with their first plant already, which they got running quickly, at a contract of 78/MWhe (PPA).

Why would you want to use 0.85MW turbines when most of the new turbines built onland are 2-3MW and offshore 3-5MW? That already reduces your need by a factor of 5. Then take into account the fact that Vestas is only one fifth of the market and, hey, you divide the problem by 5 again.

Then take note that wind has been growing at 20-50% per year over the past 10 years. The argument that this cannot be sustained has merit, but only if you grant me that the argument that wind was small implies that it will remain small forever is bunk.

And who's talking about replacing 100% of worldwide generation capacity? That's just such a stupid argument. Oooh, we can't do it all, let's do nothing. Barf.

Defend nukes on its merits. I can. Why do you need to say wind is useless to make your case?

It takes some imagination to understand an exponential function.

Wind and nuke can be complementary, eg CAES wind/nuclear combo where the rejected heat from the nuke is used as heat source for the expander. A priori, it seems to me that existing nukes can be used just fine.

I think you should look at some real life examples of the productive capacity of the US.

In WW2 the us produced

1,430 medium tanks in 1941 and by 1943 it was producing 28,164 medium tanks
6,086 aircraft in 1940 and by 1943 it was producing 85,898 aircraft
in addition 33 million tonnes of merchant ships were built.

to think that if needed it would take the US 600 years to produce 1,000,000 wind turbines lacks insight into what can be done if you really want to.

To Grumalg : I'm on you side ..... people discussing against you simply don't grasp the gist to your argument, or they don't want to for some reason... - period -

Then vegimite -

a) The UK just last year finished her WW2 debt to the US ... also remember that the entire "western world" was tuned in to use all their efforts on the war. Little else mattered. But in that view one can argue that given Peak Oils approach, there will again be "war footing" ... or rather energy-footing in the things to come.

b) 1. 000.000 WT's in a short span of time ... where to start? (Jerome, you can think of 200.000 of these ... initially)

Lets try this : The world has slightly more then 1000 747-Jumbojets buildt over some 40 years and those have been continuously flying 24/7/365/40years , serving 100's of millions of pay-willing travellers ...
I call this :: Proof of concept (!)... an anecdote this was.

Now :: Have a look at this -
*) Multibrid 5Ms WT-manufacturers PDF's :
**) here are a couple of "seafloor legs" for a 5MW WT :

... then please tell me how far away this is technically from a 747 , also scale and complexitywise .... and weight and advansed processing.

Philosophy :
US has some 300 million inhabitants .... that leads to 300 peopole per WT in our example. Of them 300 only 150 work. So in short 150 working folks have to pay for "their" WT and maintain it .... and in 20 years time .... they better have the monies in hand for a brand new one. Those monies are ON TOP OF the cost of running "the rest of your life". Another angel, how many yers of manpower of those 150 would go to " build and maintain their" WT ? (This is too advanced , so please forget the last sentence )
AND important, as Grumalg points out, please do these constructions in an increasingly fossile fuels starved setting. Just try that at least !

These words of mine here was a "in your eyes" a stupid and utterly rediculus constallasion of words, but never the less, they were.

Lets take the 5 hour install rate above and say 10 companies are all doing it at that rate, so install rate is .5 hour. Then it only takes 60.4 years just to replace coal. Do we have the fossil fuels to keep that up for 60+ years? Can we afford to emit CO2 for 60 more years? All the above is for US Coal alone. Look at the world situation from same source as above

You are assuming a fixed, constant rate of buildout. What actually makes sense, is that the ability to manufacture and deploy the resource increases exponentially (at maybe 1.5 times/year), until some limits are reached. These limits might be critical materials needed for inputs, or suitable sites to put them, or demand for the power. A similar argument applies to solar. At this stage the appropriate metric for adding renewable generation should be against the need for new and replacement fossil fuel plants. Once the potential capacity to add new generation exceds our need for new generation, then the decision as to whether we want to retire FF plants before their operational lifetimes are up comes up. We are still a few years from that decision point. And when we do, we will probably choose the least economic FF plants for early retirement, i.e. not wholesale, but rather selective replacement. Of course trying to jumpstart wind -or any other technology, by forcing it to grow well beyond its natural rate of increase (say 1.5times/year), will be highly inefficient. Today we have the opposite problem, due to the financial situation wind and solar are laying off employees. Enough subsidy/stimulus to keep these technologies at their historic growth rates through this downturn would make real sense. Trying to push them much faster than that would not.

I noted that only Vestas was allowed to build WTs, GE and others not included.

Fine then, from 600 years, we can reduce that to (say) 300 years if GE helps out.

To get this down to 10 years, we would need 60 companies grinding away.

And what would you have at the end? Incredibly, you would still need to have some kind of backup systems. That means either the fossil ... or what?

you would still need to have some kind of backup systems. That means either the fossil ... or what?

Pumped storage, more Canadian hydro, and a HV DC grid (Florida can use wind from Oklahoma or Iowa or pumped storage from Chattanooga). Plus more nukes (at least some).#

In my modeling, I can see how to create a 90% non-GHG North American grid (25% min to 55% max nuke, 15% min to 50% max wind) but that last 10% (mainly summer) is hard to get rid of.

Best Hopes for Puzzling out how to get rid of that last 10%,


# to illustrate, Florida builds enough nuke to export power most nights from 10 or 11 PM till 6 AM, enough solar PV to export power (nuke +solar) at solar noon, but imports some power the rest of the time.

HV DC triangle - 3 points - Orlando, pumped storage in Chattanooga, wind in Oklahoma. Additional wind brought in from Iowa on HV DC line from Iowa to Chattanooga. When Florida needs to import power, they get wind from Oklahoma and/or Iowa if available. If not, then pumped storage (stored wind or Florida nuke & solar when FL was exporting power).

Weather fronts hit Iowa and Oklahoma at different times. so different wind profiles.

Pumped storage, more Canadian hydro, and a HV DC grid

Indeed, these would all be necessary for wind to make a decent contribution.

However, it is simply dishonest not to include them in the cost estimates for wind power installation: continent spanning, multiple-gigawatt-capable HVDC links are not cheap. (I'm not even sure that North America is large enough to break farm-to-farm power production correlations. Do you have any data on this?)

It also poses the allocation problem: we can spend X on wind turbines, the necessary grid and storage stuff to make it reliable, or we can spend Y on nuclear, and just install it where it is needed (no HVDC links, no pumped storage, etc). If the net power is the same in both cases, I'm going to guess that X >= Y, and highly likely X > Y, and maybe even X >> Y.

In all cases, wind isn't making much sense.

Indeed, these would all be necessary for wind to make a decent contribution.

Wrong, those would be required to get wind much above 15% to 20%.

15% wind would be a "decent contribution" and we need to work hard to get there.

In all cases, wind isn't making much sense.

Wrong. The case for wind getting to 15%/20% in the USA (33% in Ontario due to hydro) is different than the case for wind at 50% of grid.

You are attacking the 50% case, and it is a straw man if the immediate goal is 15% to 20% of the grid (and up to 33% in ON).


Actually, my immediate goal is a 100% GHG-free grid.

I'm surprised your sights are set so incredibly low.

100% non-GHG is easy for Ontario (either wind or nuke can do it, but I would advise against more CANDUs given their problems) but VERY difficult for North America.

When is hits 50 C (122 F) in Dallas, nuke cannot do it, wind cannot do it, no hydro, etc.

Lowest cost option for Ontario is likely to be a mix of wind & nuke, with more nuke than wind.


I would advise against more CANDUs given their problems

No more problems than any other current reactor design. Canadians -- or at least those Canadians who hold office -- are touchy on this, there being some kind of perpetual national identity crisis. To propose anything other than a CANDU is almost against the law. ("CANDU! Invented in Canada! Isn't it great! It was invented in C A N A D A! WHOOO! Look at meeee!")

Joking aside, I actually completely agree with you anyways: existing reactors are hideously inefficient, and extremely expensive. There are far better designs, and a need for some research and development.

I like the CANDU! (not canadian). The advantage of being able to accept ANY fuel from (spent fuel, mox, natural uranium, thorium, whatever) means that sorting out the plumbing issues is WELL worth doing.

You don't like Canadians?

That's a mean thing to say!


You're SOO funny. And Americans aren't like that I suppose? eg. two years ago AECL (CANDU builder with many installations worldwide, including recent years) partnered with Dominian electric of USA to propose new ACR's style reactors for US sites at $US 1,400 / Kw, but use NRC decided they "wouldn't have time to evaluate the design". And what's the odds France would allow anyone but AREVA to build in France?

At least Ontario is calling for intenational competitive tenders for the new 4,400 MW being built here. AECL has no guarantee, though that IMHO is just stupid given above.

AECL isn't planning on building a lot of new CANDU capacity. IMHO they should be more ambitious.

Getting rid of that last 10%? We produce a billion tons of surplus biomass per year. We burn a billion tons of coal per year. Even considering a 2 to 1 advantage in energy content in favor of coal we would only need 20% of that biomass surplus. A large part of that biomass energy could come from sewage based methane systems. The biomass advantage over wind and solar is that it can be used when needed and easily stored when not needed. This whole thread seems to have forgotten that biomass is an important renewable energy source.

I was already calculating 1.5% to 2% from biomass, a reasonable "real world" goal as part of the total.

There are all sorts of handling, etc. problems in actually using biomass that reduce the amount.

And biomass cannot easily be stored till a high pressure system settles over Texas and Dallas hits 122 F (50 C). The residual 10% is largely for summer air conditioning.


Shouldn't peak air conditioning time be peak solar thermal time?

No. Solar peak is plus and minus a few hours of noon. Air conditioning for commercial facilities is during this period. But residential peak is 1700 or later. This is the big problem in Texas when wind, for example is exactely when you don't want it and isn't there when you do. Texas wind will be an export commodity. Solar could be used locally, of course as part of the ramp up to peak but you'll need VAST quantities of power for the the actual late afternoon peak. Thank god they are going to build GWs of nuclear there.


Wouldn't that call for smart metering/TOU then? Have the AC on full blast from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm while you are away, cooling the house down below where you would want it, and then let it slowly warm up to the right temp when you get home? Pretty easy with a programmable thermostat.

House temperatures don't work like that. There is not 'gain' to wasting energy while you are not home. An hour or less would cool a house down depending on outside conditions, insulation, etc. There is, of course, absolutely no reason for any of this. If you had surplus power from base-load plants, you can save the money on what appears to be an outrageously expensive decentralized 'smart'grid.

I don't accept the premise that we have to live with 'just enough' power for minimal use.


Grind the biomass, dry it with waste heat from your powerplant and make pellets. Then it can be handled by slightly modified coal logistics, you need to keep it under a roof.

Build out both and see what happens. The nukes will shut off and close the coal plants and wind can wind them down while the nukes are being built.

Let's talk about what will happen in the US (not the theme of the Paris post). There will be more wind. There will be more nuclear. And there will be some more solar. Solar PV is very expensive right now and despite supporters claims it will drop, it's not really relevant to this discussion.

I thought the idea of using Florida's expanding nuclear capacity in conjunction with the Middle-Wests wind capacity is interesting. There is no HVDC grid yet, nor are their any serious plans to do this. So we have to speak about what will be, not what we want (for the moment). The "Big" thing is that natural gas combustion turbines are being built like crazy. About 2000 MWs in SF-Bay Area alone...that's on demand right-now power. It equals basically the next 10,000 MWs of Southern Ca. wind power schedule over the next 8 years (the 2000MWs will be completed almost as soon as it's finally approved). That IS what is happening now.

Jerome I am sure has parsed the numbers but a serious grid like the US can probably only take 30% at most capacity and not lose value based on diminishing returns given back up requirements. And that is with some futuristic cross country HVDC network.

I'm all for it, let's go. It'll cost 1 trillion dollars according to NBC news today.

Plans for HV (AC or DC) for the north south power corridor in California is being held up by...environmentalists who don't like HV of any sort. It is secondarily being hamstrung by wind advocates and solar advocates who demand *exclusive* use of any future transmission lines for "Renewables" (they don't get's about CLEAN generation, not just "Renewables"). This means that surplus Arizona (and CHEAP) clean nuclear power from Palos Verdes NP won't be able to use this new line...I suspect these particular environmentalists are going to be defeated on their elistist position on this.

That's the way it stands now in California.


I'll be very happy if we can get to that 30% of electricity from wind in a reasonable number of years - which means finding a reasnable solution for the remaining 70%, ie without coal...

To get this down to 10 years, we would need 60 companies grinding away.

Don't forget there are other abundant renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, and low-head hydro. An exercise trying to replace all of the world's energy with wind only (and one wind company at that) is just a stunt some coal/nuclear lobbyist tries to trap people with.

And 'grinding away'? That's the sound of money and green jobs, though here it seems to be presented in an oddly pejorative sense.

An exercise trying to replace all of the world's energy with wind only (and one wind company at that) is just a stunt some coal/nuclear lobbyist tries to trap people with.

This discussion here is about wind, because that's what the letter was about (see way at the top of this page). Yet everything I've said applies to solar systems too. Geothermal, "low head hydro" and other glorified hamster wheels ... well, what intermittency problems they don't have are replaced with thermodynamic efficiency and/or even large scaling issues than wind/solar! (EGS is one possible exception to this.)

That's the sound of money and green jobs, though here it seems to be presented in an oddly pejorative sense.

The core question is one of economic efficiency.

We can pay people to build turbines/solar/whatever ... and at the end of it all, we still have GHG-based grid.

Or we can pay people to build nuclear reactors ... and at the end of it all, we have a GHG-free grid.

If both cost more or less the same, which do we do?

I'm not opposed to doing both, and see no reason why they would have to be mutually exclusive. Do you have any such reasons?

We can pay people to build turbines/solar/whatever ... and at the end of it all, we still have GHG-based grid.

? define that term, and give percentages.

we can pay people to build nuclear reactors ... and at the end of it all, we have a GHG-free grid

No, with daytime peaks and nighttime valleys, not unless you grossly overbuild nuclear, in which case you fail your "core question of economic efficiency".

I can already see trouble with this, given Mr. Stewart is now ignoring me, but:

I'm not opposed to doing both, and see no reason why they would have to be mutually exclusive. Do you have any such reasons?

I dunno ... finite economic resources? If we can do both, and if wind is indeed lacking, then why do wind+nuclear, when we could do nuclear+nuclear?

? define that term, and give percentages.

You know what a GHG-free grid is? The negation is what I refer to.

No, with daytime peaks and nighttime valleys, not unless you grossly overbuild nuclear, in which case you fail your "core question of economic efficiency".

Your problem is that you assume reactor design reached it's peak in the 1970's. Guess what: it didn't.

The problem is you're building too many strawmen. Makes people think you're just a trollin' around.

You could try to be more scientific.

Nukes are *MUCH* slower than wind, by a decade for Ontario (my SWAG).

A Rush to Wind as the first nuke is being built, a slow down in wind expansion if that first nuke is not *TOO* expensive (it could be) and a second nuke is built. Then a third nuke and Ontario can decide whether to replace the first wind turbines after 25 years service (it will take THAT long to build enough nukes).

A Rush to Wind does not preclude nukes, but nukes are *S*L*O*W* and not enough, soon enough.


but nukes are *S*L*O*W* and not enough, soon enough.

This is undeniable: existing reactors are just loathsome beasts. But they are the 800 pound gorilla, hulking in the corner of the room in which energy issues are being discussed. I personally think 25 years is an over-estimate, even for CANDU systems (at least if an assembly line approach is taken). I think a much bigger whack for the buck would be to do some R&D on other reactor designs, with a firm focus on mass production.

do some R&D on other reactor designs

If there was EVER a new way to slow down nukes even more, it is a "new design".

And Ontario will depend on keeping the lights on with such an unproven design.

ANY changes (even a 1 GW CANDU, upsized from 700 MW) will require "more time". A bigger CANDU, just a year or two. A new design ... let me count the decades to 4.4 GW.

IMHO, an all new design will take reach 4.4 GW of capacity in Ontario long after the last wind turbine installed in 2012 has been scrapped.

It is not an "either/or" decision.


do some R&D on other reactor designs

If there was EVER a new way to slow down nukes even more, it is a "new design".

And Ontario will depend on keeping the lights on with such an unproven design.

ANY changes (even a 1 GW CANDU, upsized from 700 MW) will require "more time". A bigger CANDU, just a year or two. A new design ... let me count the decades to 4.4 GW.

IMHO, an all new design will take reach 4.4 GW of capacity in Ontario long after the last wind turbine installed in 2012 has been scrapped.

It is not an "either/or" decision.


do some R&D on other reactor designs

If there was EVER a new way to slow down nukes even more, it is a "new design".

And Ontario will depend on keeping the lights on with such an unproven design.

ANY changes (even a 1 GW CANDU, upsized from 700 MW) will require "more time". A bigger CANDU, just a year or two. A new design ... let me count the decades to 4.4 GW.

IMHO, an all new design will take reach 4.4 GW of capacity in Ontario long after the last wind turbine installed in 2012 has been scrapped.

It is not an "either/or" decision.


The point that the OP was making about wind is that wind is the best renewables investment available. That it can be expanded dramatically, and that there is some rational point in doing so.

20% of US energy needs would mean the installation of roughly 5 times world installed wind base. That's a pretty substantial increase.

Wind and nuclear provide energy at roughly the same cost per kwh, so as investments, they are quite comparable.

Nuclear alone doesn't get you to a carbon free grid. Nuclear plants run flat out, that means that once you hit the *minimum* daily demand, it's time to stop building nuclear plants unless you have a storage method or a use for excess kwhs. In the real world, that means FF generation for peak demand.

As for replacing ALL of the worlds FF power generation.... Forget it, it isn't going to happen. As far as global warming is concerned, that fight is lost. By the time even the fastest deploying technologies can be realistically scaled and installed, we're looking at a 2040 time-frame MINIMUM assuming a non-collapse economic paradigm (a collapse paradigm deploys no new tech) before there's a significant dent in FF generation. Similarly, efficiency tweaks and demand reduction are either too slow or fatal to industry, so the same goes there. So... as far as AGW goes, better advantages in preparing for the predictions to come true than trying to prevent them.

The good news on that front is that there simply isn't enough FF to hit the IPCCs bad cases, peak oil has already passed, peak coal is only a few years off, and peak methane is right around now, so look for a doubling of atmospheric co2 and that's about it.

Nuclear alone doesn't get you to a carbon free grid. Nuclear plants run flat out, that means that once you hit the *minimum* daily demand, it's time to stop building nuclear plants unless you have a storage method or a use for excess kwhs. In the real world, that means FF generation for peak demand.

If physical reality only permitted the current crop of nuclear reactors to exist, you would have a point. However, other designs:

are extremely promising in many, many ways. In the instant situation, LFTR's can indeed load follow as well as any gas plant can.

Time to regulatory approval for LFTRs is X decades. And more decades to build first prototype, debug it, and build in series.

*I* would be a NIMBY for the first one or two such reactors. Build them in Canada first !


The ORNL experience seems to suggest otherwise, but whatever...

I would be YIMBY for an RnD LFTR in Sweden. But there are other big science projects in the pipeline so there are no government funds avialable for such a suggestion. But who knows? It could be a good project for the 2020:s.

LFTRs haven't even made it out of R yet, let alone D. When would you estimate they'll show more than promise?

There are a lot of joules of energy accumulated in the LFTR design sketches and paperwork. Perhaps this is starting to get a significant source of energy.

Folks, see the next issue of Wired magazine...lots' on LFTR I hear.

But the argument is what exactly against nuclear? It takes a long time to build one so lets not build them at all? Please.

Ontario has a plan first and foremost as the only entity in the world that wants to phase out COAL. they have at least *priorizted* the issue correctly. They at least have come up with a combined portfolio that includes expanded use of hyrdo, wind and N-U-C-L-E-A-R. Does this make sense? Yes.


Ontario has a plan first and foremost as the only entity in the world that wants to phase out COAL.

PG&E (Northern Calif) was down to 2% coal in 08, from 4% in 07. I don't know the numbers, but I would hazard a guess that PG&E's customer base is larger than Ontario. In any case, that isn't the whole state for sure (Southern Cal Edison is way behind). And these utilities have more than a GW of solar thermal generation in various stages of completion (mostly on the drawing board). So Ontario isn't unique (but very welcome none the less).

The Lftr may be too completed and dangerous to deploy worldwide but the Hyperion "nuclear battery" is on the market now with no moving parts and no maintenance or operations costs. And it is close to NRC approval. The LIFE reactor can produce all the U233 hydride that a thorium based solid state Hyperion nuclear battery would need. Hyperion just has a better and more modern idea than a 40 year old Lftr design.

How do the waste streams compare? First question non tech savvy citizens like me ask?

Using U233 hydride the waste steam is the same with a waste cool down period of 300 years.

I suspect this assessment is as slanted against wind as a wind promoters will be slanted for wind.

You suspect? The stated facts and consequent arithmetic appears to be correct. What more do you need?

Well, if one company building smaller than standard wind turbines can replace all the US generating capacity in only 600 years, I'd say we are well set.

After all, we have 3 major auto makers in the US looking for profitable product lines, and GE and Westinghouse with well established generator manufacturing businesses (somebody needs to make all those generators for coal, gas, nuclear and hydro plants, after all).

Wind generator internals are smaller than the units used for coal, nuclear, gas, and hydro. Existing plants should be able to turn out more of them per day.

We have many companies with relevant experience and capacity for tower, blade, and fairing construction.

All that, and there are no concentrated radiation sources for the ill- and mal-informed to get upset about.

Wind beats nuclear hands down, and I like nuclear.

Excellent letter covering the major points in an effective summary. I agree totally, and only have one minor point to add;

Intermittency can be dealt with...

Consider adding hydro, geothermal (EGS), and solar (the first two being dispatchable) as other means of mitigating wind intermittency. Tidal, wave, and OTEC, while at a smaller scale, can also be added to such a list.

You mentioned the Smart grid, though it may be helpful to point out the demand side management aspects as being additional significant measures to reducing intermittency.

You can go a long way with just geographically dispersed wind farms, grid links, and some gas.

It would be interesting to have a model which includes hydro, geothermal, and solar, but there would be too many variables to really show anything conclusive.

Your kind of a nut but that is a very interesting article.
It shows that wind does work if there is a large carbon tax.
Most carbon tax proposals are much less than $100 per ton carbon, but this is more like hundreds of dollars per ton C.
Personally I'd be happy to pay a big carbon tax but most people wouldn't.

You're kind of a nut too, but that goes for a lot of people on this site. You're promoting wind to hydrogen transportation which shows you don't know enough about macro-economics and thermodynamics. Hey, if you cherry pick your figures to suit your ideology, you can make most things sound plausible. But I digress.

The analysis can be seen as sensitivity to natural gas cost rather than carbon taxes, since natural gas is the only source of carbon in the simplified model. This may be largely true for the future US energy system as well, since coal plants aren't popular and your clean coal is still vapourware and likely to be uncompetitive in the medium term. On the longer term it has to compete with various low carbon alternatives which is difficult competition. So with natural gas being popular, the cost of natural gas will rise, so more wind will be built in the system. Add hydro and some decentralised biogas and we're looking at >90% solution already. Not that I predict this will happen, but it's nice to know that it's a powerful combination.

I also don't mind paying a carbon tax even if that doubles my electric bill, because I realize what this can bring in the grand scheme of things. Economic and socially optimal efficiency.

Wind power's development will require, at some point in the near future, a significant volume of investment into the national grid

I think it is important to accurately define "smart grid".

1) Every utility company I know defines smart grid upgrading as adding sensors, controls and communications to their distribution substations and feeder switches so they can a) actually know when outage events occur and repair more quickly and b) implement rotating blackouts cheaply and efficiently.

2) Above author appears to define it as specific injections of HVDC, FACTS, storage etc. so that the grid can accomodate more wind generation.

3) I define it as adding intelligence and communications to every customer's metering and implementing control strategies so that a) customers are financially incented to reduce consumption b) customers are financially incented to match their remaining consumption to the optimal mix of generation available, on 15 minute intervals c) maximum incentive is provided for customers to implement distributed generation, esp. including solar thermal and PV, other renewables, and CHP us of fossil fuels if fossil fuels are to be used (eg. GE SOFC home heating/generating units, Whispergen gas-fired stirling generator/boilers. d) coming PHEV's are heavily financially incented to charge only when surplus power is available from maximum efficiency central units like windfarms, solar thermal stations, high-efficiency baseload units, and to not charge when the grid is stressed and low-efficiency peakers are in use. e) grid-wise PHEV's ?

Clarity required. We can NOT do everything.

Here in Germany almost every hilltop has four wind turbines.
I had a conversation with the project manager on such a hill where four turbines were about to be set up. In his opinion the big power companies betray the public. The site is ready to produce energy within just 5 weeks. Thus the power company has almost no credit cost
while it takes up to 10 years until a nuclear plant earns its first return on investment and in these 10 years the private client pays
the capital cost with the electricty bill.
Fact is, after more than 20 years of development of wind turbines,
these became cheap and reliable. In the first years maintenance cost had been high but now it is lower per MWh than for nuclear and coal.
Plans for smart grids existed for years but are held back because the
power companies who are themselves lobbyists for nuclear need argumentative power not to lower energy prices. They keep on claiming
wind energy is very expensive due to frequent maintenance.
Just a lie. Wind power is actually very cheap.

Partly. I agree that utilities are holding back the development of true intelligence in the grid, which would REALLY help renewables. However, I disagree that it is because the utilities prefer "much more costly" nuclear. They don't care whether we're buying nuclear, coal or hydro from them, provided they own the generation and equipment which they own gets used for the maximum number of years possible. And wind IS still significantly more costly than nucler on a per-kwh basis, even new nuclear provided you have it build by someone competent like AECL, see Quinshn startup 46 months above.

Not agreed. One has to sum up the total cost. That must be inclusive of capital cost. Further the end-of-life cost. Very low for wind turbines. Because of subsidies, some well concealed, unknown for nuclear. End-of-life includes safe deposit of nuclear radiant waste. And finally the run time between failure. Nuclear does not shine in this respect it is almost intermittent.
Certainly one has to agree on distributed energy generation
or simply more and effective competition. Ownership of generation
and ownership of trunk grids and power grids has to be separated as a first step towards free market.

And finally the run time between failure. Nuclear does not shine in this respect it is almost intermittent

Records show this is clearly not true of modern reactors. Having no problems getting over 90%. Many, esp. CANDU's in Ontario, Canada have historical records much lower, in the high 60's to 70's percent, but that only because Ontario chose to overbuild nuclear rather than coal and shut many down for varying periods in off-peak seasons in liu of load-following. Internationally, the record for maximum capacity factor ever attained by nuclear has several times been achieved by CANDU's in high-demand markets.

On subsidies, we can simply agree to disagree, though I would point out that while thee would be very little wind gen built anywhere without substantial direct subsidies, whereas what is commonly pointed to as "hidden subsidies" for nuclear are based on very subjective analyses, often provably incorrect, eg. Price Anderson.

On waste, the reason no industry group is pressing forward on a permanent "waste" repository is because they all know that the spent fuel is just too valuable a resource to be permanently burying anywhere.

This is a well research white paper into the cost of nuclear power compared to other power sources, including wind. And explains why despite almost 100% loan coverage by the US gov that private investment still has no interest in building new nukes in the US. In fact only governments persue the building of nuclear reactor. Private money beleives in gets a better return from wind in which $90 billion was invested in non-carbon electrical generation in 2007

As the era of cheap credit that begun after WW II is apparently over for quite a while - credit crunch , corporate loans freeze and such -
the factual total cost of nuclear will be made more transparent.
If global economy heads for a long run recession or even depression
financing a nuclear plant is not just what a banker would consider first.

On that last point, if the cost of a thorium reactor were to be less than Yucca Mountain, wouldn't that say that dev'p of the first such reactor would be both "free" and undeniably beneficial?

There is something about the current nuke approach which is a less-than-zero sum of power needs and environmental concerns -- we seem to be getting the worst of both worlds in some strange deadly embrace of special interests.

The high capacity factor could actually mean trouble for future competitiveness of nuclear plants, since the historic increase in levelised cost (cents/kWhe) was reduced by increasing capacity factor.

With this advantage now almost completely exhausted (maybe going from 90% fleet CF to 95% fleet CF will be possible) these new gen3+ have to find other paths to reduce levelised cost.

Wind in North America runs on average about 25%. It would be slightly higher if they used modern windmills and better locations. Nuclear capacity in OVER 90%. Please, you don't have to be a 5th Grader to understand the *value* in the latter and the problems with the former. "Almost intermittent". Gawwwddd!

Cyril, I'm not sure where you get the idea that levelized costs go up with capacity 'stuck' at plus 90%. It's *seems* like nonsense to me.

Secondly, in China, where overnight costs for nuclear are *well under $2000/KW* we are going to learn a lot more that should stabilize costs tremendously. China is build dozens and dozens of nuclear plants. 160 GWs by 2030. I expect this number to *climb* as the vertical infrastructure "confidence" builds. And...they are build GWs of wind as well. In fact, I can't find what they are NOT building.

But there will be a big payoff for the west with nuclear because the Chinese will develop FOR Westinghouse and Areva their production expertise for them. And that, folks will have an impact.


Ceteris paribus, increasing capacity factor reduces levelised cost. If you're @ 90%, there not much more to improve. Maybe another 5%. Since levelised costs keep escalating further, this *seems* like a problem for new nuclear economics, ie they could go up faster. But who knows what's cause and effect in the world of new nuclear economics? Too many assumptions, not enough facts.

Wind is currently at low capacity factor, and various innovations in the pipeline could plausibly increase this a lot. So there's a big gain for the future, mostly unrecognized right now. Tubercles, ExRo motors, Catch the Wind, taller turbines, and other interesting things. For example, using (some of) these technologies to increase the capacity factor from say 30% to 45% (plausible) is a 50% increase in kWhs per year. A very large levelised cost benefit, especially since many of these developments are relatively low cost (although they may not all pan out as advertised, of course).

China. Right. Coal is much cheaper still. IF we can trust the figures. And how are you going to move the power from China to the US? If you don't suggest this, then what is your argument?

China is not the US. You don't need to be a fifth grader to understand this. You just need a map.

The only relevant argument I can think of is that experience with advanced nuclear in China somehow trickles down/moves onto other countries.

What is your source that US or North American wind runs at 25% ?

*WAY* too low for stats I have seen.

Since growth is so high, and new WTs do not produce 365 days in their first year, taking calendar year wind generation and dividing by end of year capacity gives a false, and too low #.


David Walters likes nuclear so much, there is no more room in his heart for wind. So he arbitrarily picks some low ball figure.

Go google or wiki or whatever.

Regarding your first reference - U. Mass Renewable Energy Lab -- [QUOTE]for
every MWh that is produced by a wind turbine, one MWh is not produced by another generator.[/QUOTE] is clearly not true, see my discussions above on effects on high-efficiency baseload generation of adding "Must Run" intermittent renewables esp. wind, which will shut down large high-efficiency baseload plants and require operation of nearly as much low-efficiency peakers.

Most of the rest is similar. Nonsense.

Nuclear power is more "must run" than wind, since wind turbines can shut down by leaving the blades very easily. Shutting down nuclear powerplants means shutting them down for hours due to fission idiosyncrasies in the reactor. Nuclear powerplants are not "high efficiency baseload plants", CCGT and new coal are more efficient. You clearly don't understand the concept of efficiency, not to mention the concept of effective load carrying capacity and real grid dynamics that need to be addressed.

See my two references from Decarolis and Keith on wind power intermittency economics if you get tired of your own rhetoric, strawmen and half truths and really want a decent quantitative proxy.

The Hyperion nuclear battery is a potential ideal electric power load following partner to a wind farm. If each 30 Megawatts of wind capacity were paired with a nuclear battery as a backup, full reliability and availability of the wind electric generation is possible. The windmills would also extend the life of nuclear uranium hydride fuel in the battery from minimum 5 years to 10-15 years. It’s not nuclear or wind, it’s nuclear and wind.

Now that sounds like a powerful combination! That's the way to be thinking. With nuclear more directly competing with wind for sales, a more competitive market for alternative energy would be created, likely resulting in a strong downward pressure on prices. Transmission could also be shared this way, saving systemic cost.

Hopefully, Hyperion can licence the design earlier than 2013, so production can start sooner.

Perhaps another good advice for Obama is to speed up the regulatory process. Time to revise the NRC slowcouch.


I'm sitting on the couch here with my daughter (7 year old) looking at your post. Well, I'm reading, she tells me that she wants to do a game on my laptop.

Please: How do you expect me to explain the advantages of windpower if you haven't got at least a decent picture of a windmill in your post?

This is very difficult Jerome. My daughter just went upstairs to bed, because 'Daddy is boring'.

Give me a hand here, will you?


It's alive! It's alive!

Now that I can solve!

Not seen any mention of Paul Gipe and his ideas on how big and fast wind can get, check it out on

and while the US installed 5200MW in 2007, it put in at least 8400MW in 2008, an increase of 62% (Windpower Montly, January - back page).

Canadians and people who drive cars might also want to have a look.



I showed her the pictures and guess what she said?

"They are German, right?"

How about that?

1) The applicability of wind certainly varies by geography and other circumstances: some arguments happen simply because people (rationally) have different base assumptions. I.e., California likes solar more than, say British Columbia. What a surprise...

2) In most places, it will take a while before wind is such a big fraction of the power that intermittency matters vary much. Likewise, at least in some places, it will take a while before there is "too much" solar: in CA solar PV is very much a load-follower anyway, and it is worth a *lot* to PG&E and co to *not* build that next gas-powered peaker.

3) Many state PUC rules are simply broken, and encourage all sorts of behavior to think that "demand" is some kind of magic absolute, with result that utilities are enouraged to build more MWatts to handle peak "demand". This is good if you're a coal producer.

The *biggest* single useful thing we could do (in US anyway, I'm not sure how it works in Canada where I'm sitting at the moment) is to decouple utility profits from sales, as CA did years ago, and Waxman just got it into the stimulus bill, so that utilities are incented for efficiency, not just MW. Waxman just got this into For example, see comments by Peter Darbee, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric. I've heard him talk about this, and he is passionate about it. If utilities are rewarded for MW, they have little motivation for efficiency. Darbee noted he did have to change some minds at PG&E, but replacing 28 of 35 senior executives helped.

For example, this describes PG&E's demand-management programs for business, all of which let a business obtain lower prices in return for some form of demand flexibility.

Really, this stuff isn't rocket science. I'd be happy to see arguments why these approaches are unworkable. They seem to work here just fine, and businesses love to fidn ways to save money. Maybe CA is weird about energy and these methods won't work elsewhere ... but I think many certainly apply.

Naturally, sane utilities offer these deals to bigger users first. For example, see Smart AC at the PG&E website (PG&E attaches a device to your air-conditioner that turns it off for a while during peak usage). This is clearly a precursor of smart appliances for the home that negotiate with the utility for prices. The big one will be BEV and PHEV, but air conditioners and fridges are good candidates as well. *Anything* that trades microprocessor intelligence to lessen peak power requirements or move power usage conveniently to a better timeslot is a big win.

At some point, the the California Energy Commission almost certainly will start working smart appliances into the mix, as they've been doing appliance efficiency standards since 1976. ENERGY STAR got going in 1992.

The CEC (and its sibling organization the California Air Resources Board) are actually quite influential entities regarding emissions control and efficiency, especially when they don't have to waste so much time pursuing lawsuits against the Federal Government.

[CA generates a standard, vendors moan about CA demanding too much and putting them out of business, then grit their teeth and do it, since CA is a big market. Then they find it costs no more, maybe less, and they're more competitive elsewhere. On emissions, of course, there's this magic grandfather clause in the EPA rules that let CA (usually) set more stringent emission standards that can be copied by other states if they wish.]

Much energy-efficiency work has come from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, recently run by Stephen Chu, the new Secretary of Energy. See Art Rosenfeld bio for some of the history. Among other things, they long ago discovered that efficient fridges cost no more than inefficient ones...

Anyway, "demand" is always something that needs to be assessed carefully, not just assumed.

I see. So...basically your answer is to use 'less', be prepared for hours/days/weeks(?) without power...kind of like a 3rd World country? Basically then, you don't see, (or allow for?) increases in demand?

Fortunately, Stephen's Chu's program is for not only efficiency but *expanded* production of on demand power.

Out of curiosity, can you explain how Solar PV is "on demand" (other than there is so little of it, for only a small part of the day, that is is...always...on demand).

I suspect that the 'on demand' has become more idiomatic than technical. Lets change the term to what the ISO (and yes, the CAL-ISO in this case) really calls it: "dispatchable". Can you dispatch PV when you need it?

I think this is part of the problem. Wind and solar are not dispatchable, not really, not in this world, without massive storage. Does that mean they have no value? No, Jerome of Paris shows the value. But you have to put them *in context*, to show how they would function *with* (real) on demand power. This is who the grid is balanced...and expanded.

The day smart grids say I can't have air conditioning when I *need* it...that's the day there will be no more smart grid.


I think you are making too strong of a case for dispatchable power. There is clearly a tradeoff between dispatchability, and overall system cost. And we will choose some sort of compromise between the two. I suspect that compromise point will move towards less dispatchability and more towards demand management as time goes by. I doubt we will make the need for demand management get so high, that we are denied A/C. As opposed to having it denied for maybe ten minutes while a shortfall is handled by other users/suppliers that slightly longer response times.

The Calif claim that PV is load following, is the simple observation that AC demand in the state is driven by sunshine (although lagging by a few hours). Certainly the few cloudy days in summer (extremely rare), are not associated with high peak demand. This differs substantially from humid climates, where cloudy days can still create high AC demand.

Deserts are Not desert

I apologize for my english , BUT were are on TOD EUROPE

EU = 27 States and languages , not one , globish .
Deserts ARE NOT deserts .

there are """ deserts """ ONLY in the mind of those searching always
a " new frontier" to invade , destroy , without goal . for the return on investment of auctions ....
of billionnaires - billionnaires in what ??? Stupidity , greed , aggressivity ??? )

and generally without the respect of the inhabitants .
generally gold going back to a dictator and his family


generally gold finishing in fiscal paradise in specialized banks for the criminals
( you have the choice for the lands luxembourg lichtenstein swiz jersey caimans etc... / and fot the banksters )

It's always the SAME mental process .
all destroy , recover with concrete ,

the searchers of a new growth in desert ( Bansters , Bank investors etc... )
after massive destruction of lands , forest ,rural , mountains , lake

are looking at
- Artic "" desert ""
- Desert of Sand

there are not ONE type of desert , but several
all are distinct in
-geography , type of wind , temperature etc..
all are inhabited by thousands of animal species , to be exterminated
( but for a bankster !!! , live of animals !! )

all are inhabited by millions of men, able to live here in a sustainable , way of live , with more duration than the " not negotiable american one " , respectous of the nature .
and that an invasion by " investors " will destroy more and more .

as have done the oil companies in all the lands where they had severely act , allways , in history , by massive corruption , murder , coups , .....

If desert exist , fundamentally , and that is not understood by many , there have a ROLE in equilibrium of nature .

If there are regions of forest , rain .etc.. deserts are there ALTER EGO , the second face of the same Janus , the same system , as right and left hand .

the first cannot exist without the second .


if you put massive millionsof windmill ( example ) you will modify
- direction , force of winds , of humidity etc...

you can the desert on a previous fertile area

the complex system are not the Apprentice sorcers in a tower , in wall street or Paris or london , for persons of nature or not willing to understand it


Enfin , nature as allways the last word -

Nobody ( to my little knowledge ) as never discussed of the risk of natural catastrophes -
imagine , for example
a ) you destroy an area of desert ( windmills in too much quantity , with is corollary of concrete , roads , trucks ( oil-powered ???? ) , electric grid , iron structures etc....

2 ) a tempest od sand
all is buried under the sand , the pylons broken , the grid disconnected

3 ) it can be the bleak future of invading and destroying the " deserts " not desert
( false word )

I apologize for my globish , but we are on Tod Europe
( UE 27 States , some great languages Italiano Espagnol Deutsch .... )

Tartuffe or the Hypocrite , der Bettruger

a figure of the great french european playwright & actor Molière

- there are plenty of figures of Tartuffe in the little world of Peak Oil & Environmentalists , introduced between the true men , and searching now a new " green Gold " , hoping o find it in being masked undere the mask of the lamb .

Many foms of dissimulation

1 . the character of the TV compere

he turn in Helicopter over the rain forest
for movies giving much money , a great " quality of life for him "
vacations in tropical islands ( for the work etc... )
he get great money with ads for SUVs ( for discovering the nature etc.... ),
and agencies od tour operators
" As nicolas H... , YOU also can be an explorator od wildlife "
he had great revenues , allways in airplanes ,

- 2 the character of the Photograph of nature
Known in All the world
Selling book in all the world
little variant
he turn in helicopter & airplanes ,

takes photos of deserts , forest
pollute massively
had a very bad carbon footprint
and say to you
it's for demonstrate to you the beauty of nature

I destroy Nature to show you how she is beautiful
[ And i have , personnally , Great revenues from this activity !! )
( selling books , DVD etc... )
on all the TV Channels

I """" compensate """ by carbon compensation ????
( a lie scientifically )

and what for the "" compensation of Oil destroyed ???


3 the Character of the Minstry of Environnment

She is Minister , Secretary

( you can also take a """ Prince """ ( of What ?? ) , a HRH , a President
a """ Princess """ )
She had great Salary
She come to the Minister Office , Not by cycle, but with Big car
with chauffeur .

Or for THE unique photo with a bicycle , she ( he ) summon the Press
for the unique day of the year , for few minutes on a bicycle
[ In FRANCE , we have seen a case with Alain Juppé
in front of cameras of the convoked Photographs , for a
photo on a bicycle )

and he FALL !! not the habit
all was comedy ( or Tragedy )
all was TARTUFFERIE Tartuffery
She said to you
" drive a cycle , go by feet , etc....., etc.... "
She run a GRENELLE
In Summer , you learn a discret few lines in the journal ....

The Secretary of Nature as flight in an airplane with is family
for a long-distance polluting air travel
she had , after , take a Big Yacht for billionnaires in the Mediterranean Sea

Do for you , that I say to do
Don't do that i personnally do ...

4 the Dramatis personae Member of the ASPO
or other organization

a )
allways he cry " oil is disappearing "
[ And i think so )
frequently a retired of Oil companies ( geologist , engineer , professor of university )
having done personal Fortune by destruction of oil ,

b ) Every Year he ( she ) go to the
ASPO annual conference in Cork , Dallas etc..

allways by AIRPLANE
sleeping in Hotel DE LUXE

Almost allways surprised that the ASPO conference is NOT by teleconference call ...


Not being the sharpest pencil in the box, I pose the question" Why can't concentrated solar arrays be installed in linear fashion along the the side of the Interstate system with power plants set up in between arrays. If done in concentrations where powerlines intersect the interstates in say, southwest Texas (?) this would lessen the infrastructure costs.
As far as the desert issues go, the reflectors will leave shade in their wake, not abject darkness. The last thing this issue needs is disingenous grandstanding. I for one immediately suspect anyone engaged in that as being at best a member of the status quo and at worst an enemy of the people. We need to keep in mind that we are trying to replace the cheap energy the fueled the greatest revolution in mankind's history with one that ceases the the 700 billion dollar export of capital (per annum!) the is robbing us and following generations of prosperity. If I were a desert dweller, I just might welcome some comforting shade from the scorching sun.

Cheap energy fueled the greatest revolution in mankind's history?
Mankind has inventend a large variety of weed killers, but so far, man has not made a single new weed out of nothing.
So, what revolution?
Automobiles come fancy but it is merely re-packaging of a biblical times donkey cart. Because the priciple is that before starting off
both have zero kinetic energy and after slowing down on arrival both have again zero kinetic energy but on the road between departure and arrival energy is wasted. The price of energy, i.e. of wasted energy, is of no concern.
A predatory animal chasing a prey cannot waste more energy than it gets in return when it eventually devours the prey. And that must include the success rate. So, what revolution?
I cannot be sure however I cannot rule out that, for ex. Fermat, or Poincare, had produced and elaborated the same - revolutionary?- ideas
in ice age without availability if cheap energy.
I think mankind has not seen any revolution yet. A revolution were the extinction of man.
I think the true reason of the wealth transfer from industrially highly developed nations to less developed who happen to sit on oil, gas,industrial metals and sell these commodities - besides that especially russian oil oligarchs made the very same fortune that they are now losing from contango - is that those highly developed nations are just not highly developed.

So, ah, which is it? working for the status quo or enemy of the people?

Neither. In my opinion the mathematical cloth, the surface that bounds
economy and is considered theory of economy, is inappropriate.
It is by far too complicated.
Easy credit is here since the end of WW II.
Since then, economy is a simple Ponzi scheme.
Before WWII it was a slightly more "complicated" Ponzi scheme.

A self sustaining economy is "adaptive plasticity".
That is, only the strong survive, but "strong" is the respective degree of adaptiveness and of plasticity.

If I was a desert dweller

- but only the man who live really in desert can know that he want or need

- I too , i will be enchanted to have a windmill in my desert

- the revenues don't finish in the pockets of
Bush windmill international incoroporated company
Cheney Halliburton War and Wind Company
Ghadafi Dictature cie etc...
in the coffers of Geneva ,lichtenstein or Luxembourgbanksters .

I on the other hand, do not give a hairy rats patootie WHERE the revenues wind up. It is the energy that counts.

Obama's inaugural speech was very interesting in that it contained not the frightening vision of a radical extremist, but a Lincoln-inspired return to old-fashioned, conservative values---honesty, hard-work, decency and solidarity with one's neighbor---true patriotism.

In his new economic package, similar conservative principles need to be applied by President Obama. We have come out of an era of Big Bling and unfettered consumption which has ended in tears. We now need to downsize our lifestyles for the sake of the planet, and this means contraction in our economy. This is the painful part that cannot be avoided. We cannot continue to be as wealthy as we were by consuming too much. More than anything else, Obama really needs to be guided by the core green principle of sustainability in the coming years. Otherwise there is a danger that the stimulus package will stimulate artificial demand for goods and services that there is not a real need for and thus create another economic bubble in 5-10 years' time. It could also create demand for goods and services that damage our environment.

I believe the best way to avoid this is to direct the stimulus towards a new green economy, and to be guided by the principles of sustainability, austere as they may seem given our recent period of over-consumption, so that any demand that is created for products will be sustainable and will contribute to a new world economic order, in which we consume less in order to put less strain on our environment. If we take a short-term approach now, directed only at creating any type of employment for employment's sake, we will pay for it in future years.

All sustainable energy sources now require Federal investment and should be the main focus of the stimulus package, particularly the fledgling electric auto industry. This emerging sector needs help now that gas prices have fallen and consumers are not incentivised to switch to green transport. (More about why we should do this anyway on this page: )

As for a 'silver bullet' solution to our malaise, it doesn't exist, but a green bullet solution does and is the only solution that doesn't ultimately carry a bad-karma outcome for humanity.

Can someone please explain the EROEI of a wind turbine? Including construction and transportation costs and some reasonable capacity factor?

A very brief comparison of a wind turbine to light bulbs is at

Thank you,

New around and maybe it has been discussed earlier but Americans use double the amount of electrical energy as eropeans per capita The cheapest way to get ourselves out of the energy problem is using less. Better newer less apliences. Average Dutch house hold uses about 4100 kWh, my mother uses 2200 kWh and reading on dutch energy sites you have people using < 1000 kWh. Any USD/EUR spend on saving energy is at least 5 times more effective then trying to produce cleaner other energy.

What is the average use of the American household?