[FoRK] why the nuclear energy industry is dying

mdw at martinwills.com mdw at martinwills.com
Tue Jun 18 08:34:34 PDT 2013

> (this analysis dwells only in economical aspects, not EROEI
> total lifecycle or issues of massive scaling up of capacity
> under energy hunger conditions and hence not subject of ROI
> considerations as we know them -- still, economics dominates
> decisions today, including long-term R&D investment and
> ability to scale up deployment on short notice, negatively
> so)
> http://qz.com/94817/the-real-reason-to-fight-nuclear-power-has-nothing-to-do-with-health-risks/?oref=dbamerica
> The real reason to fight nuclear power has nothing to do with health risks
> By Chris Nelder	 June 17, 2013
> Chris Nelder is an energy analyst, consultant and speaker who has written
> about energy and investing for more than a decade.
> The economic case for building nuclear power plants is weak. AP
> Photo/Valentina Petrova
> Nuclear proponents are launching a full-court press for fresh investment
> in
> the technology. The release of the new film Pandora’s Promise, another
> editorial from ardent nuclear champions Michael Shellenberger and Ted
> Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, and Paul Blustein’s recent piece
> in
> Quartz, “Everything you thought you knew about the risks of nuclear
> energy is
> wrong,” are part of an effort to put a new shine on a technology that
> once
> offered, but failed to deliver, electricity “too cheap to meter.”

As a person who was qualified to operate a nuclear power plant and has
wrapped their legs around nuclear reactor control rods to replace their
drive motors (and 15 years later fathered two children who are in their
top 3% of their high school class), I feel somewhat qualified to discuss
nuclear power plants.

The following article is definitely an opinion piece by someone who
doesn't want nuclear power plants and tries to cite statistics that
bolster their point (rightly, wrongly, indifferently).

One of the failures of the article is to cite the scientific fact that
solar panel/cell technology is a red herring.  All citations to solar
panels/cells cite optimum/maximum capacity of the cells under ideal
conditions.  I have installed solar panels at my home and empirically
discovered that when the temperature rises above 70F, their power output
drops nearly logarithmically (living in an area where the temperatures
reach 100F, my solar output is only 20-30% of their rated power during
those temperatures). Also my $15,000.00 investment for the 4KW system will
take 28 years to pay off using the common equation of using the difference
of my grid energy costs to my savings of not being on the grid (also
failing to take into consideration replacing batteries, controllers, and
or panels due to failure).

Another failure of the article is to explain how the current solar
panel/cell production facilities in the U.S. are, or nearly are bankrupt
(several of these production facilities made news recently when it was
discovered they declared bankruptcy after receiving millions of dollars of
taxpayers money by the Obama administration). Furthermore, the prices of
the panels/cells are nearly wholly subsidized by tax dollars. Solar
panel/cell technology is a failure and no amount of media spin can change
the physics proving that as temperatures increases their solar power
output decreases (don't even think about raising the fact that global
warming will exacerbate the production of solar panel/cell energy in the

Same argument with wind power.  Most wind farms and wind turbines of
sufficient power to be used by the grid, are built by companies that are
almost completely subsidized by the tax payers (US companies). Wind is
also significantly less predictable than the day and night calculations
used with solar panel/cell technology.

I read the article and don't know if the author brought up the fact that
today's nuclear reactors used in the U.S. were designed and built using
1940's and early 1950's physics and technology.  There is a new and
revolutionary reactor design (utilizing 21st century physics and
technology) by a prominent Japanese company that is far safer (designed
using know physics principals that guarantees that upon losing water, the
supercritical nuclear reaction ceases and it automatically shut itself
down without intervention), cost effective (are built using modular,
production line methods), easier to install (dig a large hole, install and
then bury, thereby guaranteeing a person doesn't need to be being
physically present to monitor when operating), and produces significantly
less nuclear waste. However, the controversial decision to abandon the
plant and cover it with concrete after it exceeds it's useful life needs
to be reconsidered IMHO.

Personally I am ambivalent over nuclear power generation, all of the
energy production methods suggested by the author contains cost statements
that don't properly account for all of the costs of any of the power
generation solutions cited.


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