Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Texas Cogeneration

Abstract of speech by Mr. Tommy John, P.E., in March 2008 to STS-AIChE.
Mr. John holds a BS in mechanical engineering, a MS in chemical engineering, and is a registered professional engineer in Texas.

"30 years ago, cogenerators pioneered market
deregulation and energy efficiency in Texas. Today
Texas has 20% of the nation's cogeneration capacity,
some 16,000 MW of electrical generating capacity, representing
16% of the total, most associated with the
process industries. Yet there is potential for much more.

It is the cheapest option for baseload generation, in addition
to improving the reliability of energy supply, reducing
load on the transmission and distribution system, reducing
water consumption, improving air quality, and spurring economic development. The
need for additional generating resources in Texas will be reviewed as well as integrating with the open power market and renewable resources."

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

Nuclear Power Too Expensive

“Progress Energy [Florida] tripled its estimate for its new nuclear power plant in Levy County, saying Monday that the new price is $17-billion.

The utility paid more than $80-million for 5,200 acres in Levy County, about 10 miles north of its Crystal River power plant. It plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts each.

Despite [the utility company’s] assurances, the new price could leave some with sticker shock. The number will reverberate throughout the Southeast, where at least five similar projects have been announced. Utilities have said that surging prices for commodities like steel and concrete have driven up the cost of new nuclear, but Progress Energy is the first to offer a firm estimate."

Source: accessed 8-10-2008

Roger Sowell has these comments (aka Energyguy on
This validates what I have maintained all along: Nuclear power plants will not cost $1 billion for a 1000 MW reactor, but much more. Far more. The surging costs of stainless steel, concrete, and copper contribute much to the higher price.

A utility can add to this the long construction times, likely 7 to 10 years, and the cost of borrowing money to finance the construction. Nuclear power plants are not the best economic option, leaving aside the toxic waste disposal or reprocessing problems.

Natural gas-fired combined cycle cogeneration, CCC, is far superior. The world is awash in natural gas, and has been for decades. We are discovering more and more by the day. LNG plants are sprouting around the globe. Super-tankers for LNG are a reality, led by ExxonMobil; these reduce the transportation costs dramatically. LNG receiving ports are under construction around the U.S., and elsewhere.

A CCC is far more energy efficient than a nuclear plant. A nuke puts 3000 to 4000 MW of energy into the ocean, river, or atmosphere via its cooling system, compared to only 250 to 300 MW for a CCC. That is about a 12 to 1 reduction in wasted heat, or thermal pollution. Does that matter? It should, to the eco-hysterics.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Natural Gas Price Drops Again

from AP, Aug 4 2008:

"Natural gas futures also fell sharply [today], dropping 66.3 cents, or 7.1 percent, to settle at $8.726 per 1,000 cubic feet."

From NYMEX, Aug 7, 2008: (closing price) $8.540 per 1000 cubic feet. Wow. Dropped almost 30 cents in three days.

I added a response on T. Boone Pickens' website A commenter using BrianR as his handle stated that natural gas needs no refining, it is brought right out of the ground into pipelines for customers.

Well, that is just not true. I corrected that, stating raw natural gas has several impurities including water, sulfur, mercury (sometimes), ethane, propane, butanes, and natural gasoline. All these are removed by processing in a natural gas plant. Then, the processed gas is odorized to meet pipeline specifications and sent out to the consumers.

I also stated that mass conversion of autos to CNG will require some infrastructure work especially on the East coast. This was in response to those who claim that natural gas infrastructure is already in place. Well, it is, mostly, but it is strained each winter as the north and east get very cold. If the pipelines also had to supply gas for cars, there is not enough capacity.

One solution is to build one or more LNG regasification facilities on the east coast, preferably near New Jersey. But, the enviro-wackos will never allow that.

-- Roger E. Sowell, the energyguy on