Sunday, August 10, 2008

More on Nuclear Power

Today's edition is from, with an article by Associated Press titled Obama Launches Yucca Attack at McCain. We hear from American Girl 1650, ex-Wyomingite, and Boone. As usual, I write as energyguy, and sign my real name as Roger E. Sowell.

My consistent theme is that nuclear power plants generate toxic waste that future generations must deal with, that new nuclear plants are too expensive to compete in the marketplace, and environmental attorneys will bring endless lawsuits to delay their construction. My conclusion is they will never get built in the U.S., so we must act to build other means of generating power.

American Girl 1650
Location: NY
Reply # 3
Date: Aug 9, 2008 - 10:53 AM EST
Subject: It's the only winning spin
that helps the voters deprive themselves of a viable component of the energy solution.

45 plants? The size we're used to? I don't think so. Did Mac say how small they'd be?

Technology has come a long way and you know the scientists and engineers (worldwide) have not stopped working while we stopped building.

Pretty soon we'll have laptops the size of pens. For sure Nuclear technology has not sat on the back burner.

Location: CA
Reply # 19
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 12:54 PM EST
Subject: American Girl
Nice handle.

We will not see any new nuclear plants built for many, many years due to their excessive construction costs. Leaving aside the subject of nuclear wastes, reprocessing, and/or storage at Yucca Mountain.

A utility in Florida published in March 2008 their construction cost for a new-technology, AP1000 plant. They stated it would cost them $17 billion for a two-reactor plant generating 2200 MWe.

The article is here: ece

This effectively puts new nuclear power plants on the back burner. Instead, we will see many more natural-gas fired combined cycle cogeneration plants, known as CCC. Natural gas prices are falling and likely to get even lower as LNG imports increase.

We still must dispose of all the nuclear waste our existing plants produce. But for now, we will not see any new nuclear plants.

-- Roger E. Sowell
Energy Attorney

Location: CA
Reply # 20
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 4:26 PM EST
Are you old enough to remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy? People at the time said his ridiculous notion of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was too expernsive, technologically impractical and, worse, wasteful. Then do you remmeber the summer of 1969?

If President McCain, and that's a big if, but if President McCain puts before the nation a goal of having some percentage of our electrical needs met by nuclear generation, it will happen. Nobody will care about some bush league utility having to bear all the costs; it will become like the interstate highway construction program, perfectly feasible.

Millions of Americans were reminded of something the other night from the opening night ceremonies in Beijing. Put enough people to work on something, and the little picayune problems such as those you are fond of citing, vanish. Collectively we can do anything. We're Americans: it's only a matter of setting the goal.

Location: TX
Reply # 21
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 5:15 PM EST
Subject: The waste problem is real. And forever.
If you want to get an idea just how permanent the waste problem is with nuclear power -- consider this. They are carving stick figure cartoons into the walls. Stick figure goes close to waste container. Invisible rays emanate from container. Stick figures drop dead. You see, people 100,000 years from now who may be another species, but will almost certainly not remember our civilization except the way we remember the sabertooth tiger or the dinosaurs will still be in danger should they wander into Yucca Mountain. People from other planets, maybe other galaxies, still need fear what we are leaving there. Certainly a safe centralized site is probably better than having it all over the country, but I would rather see it shot into the sun or buried on the moon -- both impossible with any forseeable technology. An earhquake of unforeseen magnitude could poison the ground water for most of a continent, but, heck, there may be some really cool mutant fishing available to future settlers on this planet as a tradeoff.

Location: IL
Reply # 22
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 5:22 PM EST
has it right.

and Energyguy is "changing" the Obamantra to "Yes we can't". Blasphemy.

Two birds with one stone. We can make use of, and drive the waste right off the bridge to nowhere.

Better yet, we can drill and then fill the empty cavities with nuclear waste.

Location: CA
Reply # 23
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 8:40 PM EST
Subject: ex-Wyomingite
I remember JFK well, and watched the first moon landing on TV at age 15. And what I remember is a massive spending program by the U.S. gov't in response to public hysteria that the Red Commies from Russia beat us into space with Sputnik.

It was far easier to manipulate public opinion in those days. We had not yet learned to be cynical.

Totally different worlds, then and now. We also had an economy slumping after WWII and no war to kick-start the economy -- Vietnam had not yet escalated yet in 1963.

If you want govt subsidized nuclear power plants, please go live in France. Leave my beloved U.S. of A.

If you would rather have the good old U.S. can-do spirit, where our smart guys and gals figure out the best solutions and a Reagan-style limited govt stays the he!! out of the way, then follow me. Our geeks and engineers can do it.

I have not exchanged views with most of you before now, so let me introduce myself. I am an energy attorney with 20 years prior experience as a refinery engineer world-wide, with a BS in Chemical Engineering. I welcome the debates on all these issues.

-- Roger E. Sowell

Location: CA
Reply # 24
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 8:49 PM EST
You are absolutely right. Our creating toxic wastes for future generations to deal with is not playing nice during our four-score years on the world stage. I am convinced that future generations will curse ours, and with good reason, for mucking up the earth with radioactive wastes.

One chilling scenario is an asteroid strike that we cannot detect early enough, and cannot prevent, smack onto a nuclear plant (or close enough). Or the same asteroid smashing into Yucca Mountain. Remember that heat does not destroy that stuff, but it pulverizes the rock and sends the dust into the sky to make Chernobyl look like a minor problem.

Is it likely? No. Is it probable? No. Is it possible? Yes. And that is too much of a chance to leave our grandchildren, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren to deal with.

Lucky for future generations, the present construction boom in China and India raised the prices of materials including those for nuclear power plants.

Also, the environmental attorneys are far better now than 30 years ago, and have far more laws with which to delay any nuclear power plant that obtains a construction permit.

They will never get built in the U.S. That is my prediction as a realist. Therefore, I support other means of making electric power, as we must have it, and must generate it ourselves.

It is very telling that 90 percent of all new gas-fired power generation in the U.S. is from CCC technology.

-- Roger E. Sowell

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