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Fri May 18, 2018, 10:02 PM

2017: Number of US Nuclear Plants that Produced More Energy than All the Wind Turbines In Denmark.

In recent posts, I've been going through the comprehensive database of wind turbines in Denmark.

"Master Data Register of Wind Turbines".

The version I am using is the one that was available early this month, when I wrote this post:

Average Lifetime of Danish Wind Turbines, as of February 2018.

Denmark has constructed 9,452 wind turbines. Of these, 3232 have been decommissioned, but as I pointed out in another post, Total Energy Production, Capacity Utilization of Danish Wind Turbines Over 30 Years Old, there are a number of commissioned turbines that have not produced electricity in years.

The "Master Register" reports the energy output, year by year, (in units of kWh) of every turbine in Denmark, along with it's "peak power" in kWp. Often when telling bald faced lies about how so called "renewable energy" is "growing fast" people misrepresent these "peak power" numbers as if they were equivalent of plants that operated at 100% capacity utilization. This is nonsense, and is grotesquely dishonest, given that the planetary atmosphere is being destroyed at a record pace because people both on the far right ("Climate change isn't real" ) and the delusional ("100% renewables by 'such and such a year'" ) anti-nuke left just can't stop lying to themselves and to everyone else they meet.

(I am unusual as I am on the pronuke left; there are a few of us around the world, generally those of us who have taken the time to open lots and lots and lots and lots of science books and scientific papers.)

According to the Danish "Master Register" in the year 2017, all the wind turbines in Denmark, combined, produced 0.05283 exajoules of energy. World Energy Consumption, as of 2016 was 576 exajoules. In terms of average continuous power, this it equivalent of a power facility with 1674.2 MW name plate capacity operating at 100% capacity utilization, which is, in fact something that nuclear plants, and only nuclear plants have a demonstrated record of doing.

The United States Energy Information Agency keeps a database of all its nuclear reactors. In a period of about 25 years from 1960-1985, the United States built 111 nuclear reactors, this while producing some of the cheapest electricity on the planet. Of these, several didn't operate or operated only for a short time before being shut, usually by appeals to fear and ignorance by people who don't care who they kill because they can't or won't think.

The database is here: U.S. Nuclear Generation and Generating Capacity The (provisional) data for 2017, which I will use here, may be obtained by clicking on 2017p in the column on the right side.

All 94 operating nuclear reactors are listed there, along with their monthly and the sum total for 2017.

People will be killed because some of these reactors, perfectly good reactors, will be shut by appeals to fear and ignorance. This will happen right here in New Jersey. People will die here because the Oyster Creek reactor, which is the oldest reactor in the United States, for which ground was broken in 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was President, and came on line in 1969, the first year of Richard Nixon's presidency, will be shut in October of this year, even though it has a license for another 10 years.

A gas line has been approved by the Trump administration that will go right through my neighborhood. The irony here is that some of the very same assholes who agitated for shutting Oyster Creek, and thus killing people, are the very same people who whined endlessly about the gas line, which I also oppose. Of course, worse than what I'll go through because of that gas line, is what the people in Pennsylvania will experience, because that flowback water will be killing people for many, many, many generations, long after the gas has run out, been burned, with the waste being dumped into the planetary atmosphere.

Similarly stupid people have advocated for shutting the Diablo Canyon reactor in California, a reactor that has consistently and is consistently producing more electricity than all the wind turbines in California.

These people don't care who they kill with their ignorance.

Lest anyone think I'm casting stones here, let me state that one of the nuclear plants that never really operated is the Shoreham nuclear reactor on Long Island where I grew up. Let me state, that I was once just as stupid at the anti-nukes one can hear here, and I was very much a participant and cheerleader for the spreading of the fear and ignorance that prevented the Shoreham plant from saving human lives, lives that were in fact lost because a fair share of the electricity generated on Long Island is generated by "renewable" garbage incineration. And yes, they call that "renewable" on Long Island, trash incinerators.

I'm fine with that, by the way. As far as I'm concerned, all this so called "renewable energy" is very much involved with trash, including the huge quantities of carbon dioxide released to make steel for wind turbines, electricity for aluminum for wind turbines, and of course, huge amounts of concrete, this for stuff that becomes landfill in less than 3 decades.

Later on - beginning with the time that the Chernobyl reactor blew up and the disaster I'd been lulled into believing would happen didn't happen, and the disaster that was happening and is still happening, the deaths of roughly 70 million people every decade from air pollution wasn't important - I opened science books and papers, what would have been literally tens of tons of paper, were it not for the fact that the thumb drive was invented. Unlike some of the fools I see around here, I at least am not a dogmatic asshole who cannot change his mind.

The so called "renewable energy" experiment did not work; it is not working; it will not work. To the extent it exists, it exists only as a shiny marketing bauble on the rapidly expanding dangerous fossil fuel industry, by far the fastest growing energy industry on the planet, one quite literally choking us to death.

Now about the title here:

Of the 94 reactors in the United States, the majority of them are on sites where more than one reactor operates. There are 33 sites with two or three reactors, three with three reactors.

Every single one of them produces in either two buildings or in three buildings, more electricity that the Danes can produce with their 6,220 operating wind turbines and, of course, the 3,232 that have been "decommissioned."

In the "percent talk" that "renewables will save us" type so love, 34.2% of Danish wind turbines have been decommissioned, and others have clearly failed but have not been formally decommissioned.

By contrast, 15.3% of US nuclear reactors have been decommissioned.

The total name plate capacity of all the commissioned wind turbines in Denmark is 4,872 MW. This means that the capacity utilization of all the wind turbines in Denmark is 34.4%. No nuclear reactor in the United States had such a poor reliability. The lowest capacity factor in the US nuclear fleet was at the at Watts Bar 2 reactor, which did not operate from April to August of 2017, probably for refueling and maintenance, I'd guess (but don't know). It's capacity utilization was 50.2% Four other reactors had capacity utilization of less than 70%. Eighty reactors had capacity utilization of 90% or greater. Overall the capacity utilization of US nuclear reactors was 92.2%

One of the 111 nuclear reactors built in the United States was destroyed by an operational failure, the Three Mile Island reactor that all of our really, really, really, really dumb anti-nukes love to prattle on about when they're not prattling on about Fukushima or Chernobyl. This prattling, I'd guess, would be in lieu of giving a shit about the 19,000 people who died today from air pollution.

Several reactors - as mentioned previously - were never finished because of public agitation, costs inflated to address trivial concerns that were publicly represented as "dangerous," or because of extremely high nuclear standards, nuclear standards being standards that no other form of energy can meet in terms of low external costs - external costs being those costs paid by human, animal and plant flesh and destruction to what's level of the biosphere/atmosphere/hydrosphere.

Other reactors where shut because stupid and ignorant people don't know how to shut their mouths. A recent such crime was the shutting of the Vermont Yankee plant, which kept Vermont as the only state in the Union that did not depend of electricity generated by dangerous fossil fuels, a state of affairs that is no longer true. (They are driving massive trucks over pristine mountain tops there to install those awful wind turbines, but that's another matter.)

Justin Lindholm, Rutland County member of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board who works for Vermonters for a Clean Environment, points to a spot where he used to see moose before Green Mountain Power built the controversial wind project on the Lowell Mountains ridgeline. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

Lowell Mountains wind project: The great divider

The really, really, really, really, really, really stupid anti-nukes are the ones who carry on that nuclear energy is "not competitive." This is because, and only because, all other forms of energy are allowed to dump their external costs without charge on humanity and on the environment.

It's easy for the gas/wind/solar industry to bury its external costs, since nobody gives a shit if the rice crops in China are contaminated with unsafe levels of cadmium, or if indium workers get lung cancer - which I call "green lung disease" - or if the water supply in Pennsylvania is loaded for generations with heavy metals (some of which are ironically radioactive) and surfactants and God knows what else.

An example of an industry that was once allowed to do what the "competitive" gas industry does, but went out of business when it was forced to pay its external costs, is the asbestos industry. You know what? In the 1950's wood shingles were not "competitive" with asbestos shingles. All those TV "mesothelioma" lawyer ads are ads directed at the people who did pay - most with their lives - to assure that 1950's asbestos shingles were wonderfully competitive.

And this my friends, is the issue with natural gas. It's only "competitive" because the people who sell it, and the people who use it are not paying for the external costs.

Lives were saved by the Oyster Creek nuclear plant. It's an old plant, and in many ways a primitive plant; I can personally think of hundreds of superior designs to it; and in fact, I'd love it if someone could get their hands on and utilize the acquired used nuclear fuel there, if nothing else - and there's much more - the plutonium there. And it's all there, waiting for a better time inhabited by wiser and less criminal people than those living now. But that plant was a gift from my father's generation to mine, and what my generation will leave for my son's generation is nothing more than waste and broken dreams that should have died years ago.

Let me know when the assholes fronting for the gas industry - and this of course includes the solar and wind industry - are able to contain all of their discharges on site as the Oyster Creek reactor has done for almost half a century, without a single loss of life.

Have a great weekend.

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply 2017: Number of US Nuclear Plants that Produced More Energy than All the Wind Turbines In Denmark. (Original post)
NNadir May 2018 OP
Vinnie From Indy May 2018 #1
NNadir May 2018 #2
captain queeg May 2018 #3
Control-Z May 2018 #4
NNadir May 2018 #6
captain queeg May 2018 #5
aka-chmeee May 2018 #7
JayhawkSD May 2018 #8
caraher May 2018 #10
FBaggins May 2018 #11
caraher May 2018 #12
Finishline42 May 2018 #14
c-rational May 2018 #9
cstar May 2018 #13
NNadir May 2018 #15
hunter May 2018 #16
cstar May 2018 #17
StevieM May 2018 #18
cstar May 2018 #19
StevieM May 2018 #24
NNadir May 2018 #20
StevieM May 2018 #21
hunter May 2018 #22
NNadir May 2018 #23

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri May 18, 2018, 10:33 PM

1. I personally think you are wrong

The kicker here is that I have no motivation to prove you wrong!


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Response to Vinnie From Indy (Reply #1)

Fri May 18, 2018, 10:50 PM

2. I personally KNOW I am right, and I very much have the motivation and responsibility...

...to state as much.

If the fact that the planetary atmosphere now has 411 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste in it, a concentration which is rising at the fastest rate ever observed, doesn't "motivate" you, I really have nothing to say.

Mauna Loa CO2 as of May 6, 2018

I'm a scientist, not a day dreamer. Numbers matter to me, and the numbers convince me I have a moral impetus - something quite different than "motivation" - to speak up.

I have no dog to hunt here. Like Jim Hansen, I'm more or less at the end of my life, but I am, like him concerned about Storms of My Grandchildren.

But, again, if you're disinterested, you certainly wouldn't be alone. Experience teaches me that most people just don't give a shit about the future, and the hatred of science and scientists is certainly on the rise in any case.

Thinking is hard and takes work, lots of work, and if you're personally thinking at whatever level it is that you think, well, again, I have nothing to say.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 12:19 AM

3. I happen to work in the power industry

You are totally correct as to how numbers are gamed to further different Political views. The number I have heard for wind turbines in my part of the country is about 10% utilization. I.e. a 2MW wind turbine averages about 200 KW output. But the problem is they are completely in-dispatchable. They can’t be counted in for the heavy load hours when energy is most needed. Actually solar is quickly passing wind as “clean” energy there have been so many improvements. Again, in my part of the country.

I am fairly nuetral about nukes, but I know they don’t get a fair shake. I happen to work in hydropower. It is clean, renewable, dispatchable, and very responsive to load changes. But up until about 2 years ago you could only call tiny 5 MW or less hydro “renewable”. That changed when the US started setting renewable energy goals that they couldn’t achieve. So now big plants are counted. I think Grand Coulee in Washington state has about 6,000 MW installed capacity. Not that it ever runs that high but could if needed.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 01:15 AM

4. Have they found a way to rid the planet of nuclear waste yet?

Or neutralize it? How's that Fukushima meltdown coming along? Have they stopped the out-of-control melt? Where is it all that going? Into the Pacific still?

Until those questions are answered - as in solutions found. Sorry, not interested.

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #4)

Sat May 19, 2018, 08:57 AM

6. Of course you're not interested. In order to oppose nuclear energy...

...one must be totally disinterested and frankly uneducated.

You need, for instance, to be totally "disinterested" in the 7 million people who die each year from dangerous fossil fuel and biomass waste, aka "air pollution."

A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (Lancet 2012, 380, 2224–60: For air pollution mortality figures see Table 3, page 2238 and the text on page 2240.)

When I was a young man, many years ago, being a political liberal mean caring about the world, the people in it, the poorest of the poor, as well as something called knowledge, and of course, the environment.

It wasn't about lazy bourgeois sloganeering.

You're not interested. I can tell.

As for Fukushima, which killed more people seawater or radiation in that Tsunami event? Since you're proud of your disinterest, perhaps you are not interested in the nearly 20,000 people who died because of drowning, collapsing buildings, or rapidly flowing debris. Are you in favor of banning coastal cities?

In the 21st century, which killed more people, living in coastal cities or nuclear plants? (Of course, you're probably "not interested" in the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami, or in sea level change.)

The scientist, the climate scientist Jim Hansen has calculated that nuclear power has saved more than 1.8 million lives, including Fukushima and Chernobyl to balance lives saved from air pollution, irrespective of the fact that there are mindless uneducated bourgeois brats who think that the only energy deaths that matter are radiation related.

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power (Pushker A. Kharecha* and James E. Hansen Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 4889–4895)

You see those two links in which you are not interested? They're from the primary scientific literature.

I've spent more than 30 years in the primary scientific literature studying nuclear energy on my own time, so I am acutely aware of every single constituent of used nuclear fuel, and I understand perfectly well what I would do with each valuable component of it, and yes, every damn atom in that stuff has some value, most of them huge value.

But to answer a question from a person who is bored to death and disinterested in the state of the world, would require that person have basic scientific knowledge and education and not be some closed minded, completely uneducated sloganeering bourgeois brat picking lint out of his or her navel while the world dies.

Have a pleasant Saturday.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 01:44 AM

5. All fossil fuels contribute to global warming

I’ll be honest I didn’t dig thru all of Nndirs post, so I’m just saying there’s a price for everything. “Clean” gas turbines still pump billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Coal is much worse. So many pollutants beyond just CO2. I work with a guy who has a hard on about coal and he is always researching deaths directly related to those pollutants. The numbers are huge and I believe coal is the biggest source of commercial power in the world. Drive an electric car? Where do you think that electricity comes from? Manufacture of batteries is way worse for the environment than gasoline cars. I watched a history channel show one time. They had a Giger counter outside the fence of 3 mile island taking readings, then they compared it to a color TV, and then a banana. The lowest radiation readings were from 3 mile.

Anyways, yes they still don’t know how to get rid of radioactive waste. But as I say it would be better if people looked at all the energy sources and compared the benefits to the environmental costs.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 09:00 AM

7. Hear! Hear!

Although, I do find the fields of wind generators, fascinating and soothing to watch.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 10:02 AM

8. Three Mile Island was a classic.


Alarmists were howling, "See, it proves that nuclear plants are dangerous, lethal."

Actually, it proved that nuclear plant designers had been overly pessimistic in their assumptions, and had produced a plant which was far more safe during an operational mishap that it was thought it would be. There was a scenario called the "China syndrome" which assumed that if the core was even partially exposed to air it melt down, melt through the bottom of the container and down into the Earth, causing widespread destruction and nuclear fallout. Three Mile Island's core was exposed to air, for quite a lengthy time, and it did not melt at all. The reactor was damaged but repairable.

Fukushima's reactors are "boiling water" reactors and prove nothing about this nation's "pressurized water" reactors, which are a very different type and far more robust both in operation and in ability to withstand external accident.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #8)

Sat May 19, 2018, 06:49 PM

10. The US has plenty of BWRs

Just see how the Wikipedia list of BWRs starts off - 34 operating US reactors.

What is true is that US reactors of the same type as those that failed at Fukushima had some retrofitted safety features that the Japanese reactors did not.

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Response to caraher (Reply #10)

Sat May 19, 2018, 09:28 PM

11. You left off another important point

The Fukushima reactors didn't just decide to go "sproing" one day. They were hit by a beyond-basis earthquake and then an hour later with a wall of water that destroyed their backup generation capacity.

While there are reactors of a similar type in the US... there are none that are similarly situated.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #11)

Sun May 20, 2018, 01:09 AM

12. I figured that much was obvious

It just seemed like a weird - and false - factoid to claim that we don't have boiling water reactors here, when we do have many of basically the same design. It's not at all like the difference between our reactors and the Chernobyl reactor, which was radically different from anything operating commercially in the US or Japan...

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #8)

Sun May 20, 2018, 03:42 PM

14. You can always rationalize away the accidents that happen at nuclear plants by saying

You can always rationalize away the accidents that happen at nuclear plants by saying that it happened once and the problems have been fixed and won't happen again. The main problem is that the result of those mistakes will be paid for thousands of years at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Nuclear plants are complicated machines and now that they are all basically operating in the red means that some bean counter in one of the many utilities in the country will be one that determines if they can afford the scheduled maintenance required to maintain safe operation.

The main problem as I see it that the entire fuel cycle for a nuclear reactor creates radioactive waste that we still have no solution for and it just doesn't go away. Just do some research on the Paducah Gaseous diffusion plant leaks.

BTW - how many windmills have been brought online in the US since that last nuclear plant was cleared to operate? The last nuke plant was brought online in 1996 - Watts Bar.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2018, 11:37 AM

9. As a civil/environmental engineer I generally agree with your position on nuclear. Also, didn't Bil

Gates and his partner at Microsoft work on developing a reactor which would use the waste fuel presently awaiting a final disposal option. I recall hearing it could power the US or 750 years at present consumption rates. Not ready to give up on solar or wind. Another good point you make is our free market does not account for all costs associated with fossil fuel use - notably pollution, and our societal decisions on nuclear are filled with fear. Doesn't France get all of its electricity from nuclear.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun May 20, 2018, 02:34 PM

13. Wind capacity factor

According to the US EIA, Form EIA-860, "Annual Electric Generator Report," wind in New York (my home state) had a 25.6% capacity factor in 2016.

Clearly that is less than one-third that of nuclear, which was 87.7% in the same year. But it's not nothing.

Wind currently produces about 3% of New York's electricity. This could be much higher, as Gov. Cuomo has called for 2,400 MW of offshore wind (which has a higher capacity factor than land-based wind).

Rather than fighting amongst ourselves for which non-fossil fuel source is "best" shouldn't we work together to build the utility grid that we need to accomodate 100% non-fossil fuel power? More transmisssion to bring renewable power to urban centers, more demand response so the grid can "flex" with intermittent sources, more storage including vehicle-to-grid, and more efficiency and conservation?

Our three Upstate nuclear facilities currently get around $700 million in subsidies per year in New York just to keep them open. This will continue for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, distributed solar will get $900 million through 2023 and the subsidies are declining.

Do you blame renewable energy and "stupid" people for the difficulties faced by nuclear?

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Response to cstar (Reply #13)

Sun May 20, 2018, 04:48 PM

15. Yes. The renewable scam complaining about "subsidies" is like Donald Trump complaining...

Last edited Sun May 20, 2018, 06:09 PM - Edit history (1)

...about corruption.

I've been here for what seems like zillions of years. I have met very few advocates of so called "renewable energy" who are interested in attacking dangerous fossil fuels, and oodles of them who wish to attack nuclear.

They are, in fact, continuous and relentless in attacking nuclear energy, although nuclear energy, and only nuclear plants can operate without dangerous fossil fuel assists.

I am very clear about what I regard as stupidity, and feel no compunction whatsoever in stating it repeatedly.

Nuclear energy saves lives. Anti-nuke stupidity, it follows, costs lives, and destroys lives.

If there are nuclear subsidies, the big stupid bugaboo that assholes have been handing out for years, they aren't high enough. I note that the highest electricity prices in Europe are those of Denmark and Germany, almost triple of what I pay, and the subsidy that these prices represent falls hardest not on the rich bourgeois types cheering for this nonsense, but on poor people.

We spent two fucking trillion dollars on this planet in the last ten years on solar and wind energy on this planet, a planet where billions of people lack basic access to improved sanitation, with the result that we have just topped out at 412 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste of carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere.


The external costs, thermodynamic and material and environmental, of energy storage is also entirely unacceptable in my view. It's another attempt at Rube Goldberg redundancy, redundancy that is and will be met by gas plants. To the extent they are met by batteries, this is even worse. I have written many times here and elsewhere about these external costs, only to hear more and more hydra like crap about Elon Musk's batteries and other useless horseshit about energy storage.

The endless bourgeois nonsense about "conservation" is contemptuous of poor people - particularly people who don't live in our consumption focused world, a point I made elsewhere in a long post elsewhere:
Current Energy Demand; Ethical Energy Demand; Depleted Uranium and the Centuries to Come

My definition of liberalism is sitting on my ass and worshiping Elon Musk and the useless consumer junk he makes. I'm an "Eleanor Roosevelt" Democrat, a Democrat who believes that every human being is entitled to basic human rights, including material rights.

The 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the UN and proposed and shepherded by Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt means something to me, even if I'm the last person on this planet to whom this view applies. I am particularly attached, as I reported in the link above, to Article 25, section 1.

So please don't hand me horseshit about "conservation." People living on less than $1.25/day have nothing to conserve. They need access to more, not less. They are human beings, and as such, they matter.

As I made clear in my opening post here, I was born and raised in New York, on Long Island. I am definitely opposed to the destruction of the benthic ecosystem of the Long Island Sound, the Great South Bay, and Long Island's Atlantic coast with big concrete platforms for wind turbines that will be little more than navigation hazards in 25 years, delivered by diesel exhaust belching ships. Similar considerations apply as well as other ecosystems in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and elsewhere for wind turbines.

I happen to love natural systems, including birds and bats and I am opposed to the destruction of the avian ecosystem because some people can't think and can't grasp the outcome of experiment.

The so called "renewable energy" experiment is a failure, a huge failure, and the effort to deny this obvious fact is just that, denial.

The wind industry is unacceptable to me, on environmental grounds, on moral grounds and on scientific/technological grounds. It will never be as safe, as sustainable, as economic or as clean as nuclear energy.

Have a nice evening.

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Response to cstar (Reply #13)

Sun May 20, 2018, 05:01 PM

16. A society powered by renewable energy would look nothing like the industrial consumer society...

... many affluent anti-nuclear activists now enjoy

Almost universally they ignore the grotesque environmental impacts of "natural" gas, which are worse than nuclear, because that's what's needed to keep their wind and solar fantasies alive.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun May 20, 2018, 06:00 PM

17. baseload is the only way?

Despite your hostility and condescension, I'm going to follow up because you're obviously well read on the subject.

Aren't you assuming that the old utility model which relies on huge baseload power plants pushing electricity over hundreds of miles in a one-way flow is the only way?

NREL has done studies, using supercomputer modeling, over the entire Eastern Interconnect zone, which shows that intermittent power can be handled by NYISO, PJM and the other independent system operaters. And that, when combined with smart grids and changes in user behavior, these intermittent sources can match up to flexible loads.

Assuming that these people are not "stupid" and that their findings are accurate, would that change your mind?

Deploying nuclear facilities to serve the billions of underserved people around the world would also be expensive. I don't know if it would be more or less expensive than solar, wind and "flexible smart grids" - but maybe you have some info. on that.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun May 20, 2018, 09:13 PM

18. Every time this nuclear vs. renewable debate heats up, I notice something.

It always revolved around electricity. Don't we need a plan for transportation, industry&manufacturing, and space and water heating? Does anyone have any ideas for those portions of our energy economy?

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Response to StevieM (Reply #18)

Sun May 20, 2018, 10:55 PM

19. Good point

In New York, power generation is only responsible for 17% of total emissions. 34% comes from transportation and 32% from heating/cooling buildings and water heating.

The concept of "beneficial electrification" has been used to describe the need to electrify all transportation and all building-related energy use, through EVs and ground-source and air-source heat pumps.

As New York's greenhouse gas inventory noted, it will not be possible to meet our 80 x 50 climate goals without this.

That is obviously a huge challenge, and one that will not be cheap. IMO, our side shoots itself in the foot when we pretend otherwise. People are not stupid, despite what some in this forum seem to think. What we have to show them is that these technologies and services will work, even if they are more expensive (at first).

We also have to change the way we organize our transportation and other systems (i.e., food). For example, there are companies developing battery or hybrid electric small planes that can serve regional routes, use underutilized smaller airports, and deliver passenger miles for less than trains or driving (i.e., San Francisco to San Diego).

I do not see how we do this without a carbon tax, or carbon fee-and-dividend that is appropriately high enough (i.e., $100 per ton) to level the playing field with fossil fuels and spur behavioral and technological change.

The point has been made by pro-nuclear advocates that we cannot power civilization as we currently know it (by which they seem to mean American-style sprawl) withough the baseload power that nuclear facilities provide. They may be right, but I would argue that American-style "civilization" is not the appropriate model. Not by a long shot. And for more reasons than just power supply and consumption.

Yes, poor Africans and Asians need to have access to resources that will improve - and save - their lives. But rich Americans, Europeans and Asians need to ramp down their consumption. Which will happen. It's just a question of whether this ramp down is controlled and deliberate or as the result of chaos and conflict.

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Response to cstar (Reply #19)

Mon May 28, 2018, 09:42 PM

24. Thank you for your post.

And welcome to DU!!

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Response to StevieM (Reply #18)

Sun May 27, 2018, 10:10 AM

20. Actually, using thermochemical water and/or carbon dioxide splitting cycles, petroleum and gas...

...might well be phased out and if, using the technology developed by [link:Heather Willauer|Dr. Heather Willauer] and/or biomass we could close the anthropogenic carbon cycle as suggested by the late Nobel Laureate George Olah: Anthropogenic Chemical Carbon Cycle for a Sustainable Future (George A. Olah*, G. K. Surya Prakash, and Alain Goeppert, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133 (33), pp 12881–12898)

Of course, this cyclization requires an energy input, and frankly, because of the laws of thermodynamics, which people on the far left deny as much as people on the far right deny climate change and evolution, this system requires an energy input, the most efficient such input involving high temperatures.

The wind turbine garbage won't cut it, nor will those "in flight" bird vaporizing "solar thermal" schemes, like that disaster in the Mohave Desert cut it.

Nuclear energy and only nuclear energy can provide this energy economically and in an environmentally sustainable way.

But the reality is this: The car CULTure is not sustainable in any form. Like the wind industry, which is the same type of "distributed energy" scheme as the car CULTure itself is, the car CULTure is materially unsustainable because of its demand for metals.

Freight transport can be carried out by electrified rails, since these are not the thermodynamic nightmares that electric cars and other inexplicably fashionable stuff is.

The wonder fuel DME (dimethyl ether) about which Olah wrote so much can meet requirements for necessary self propelled vehicles.

A potential source of the carbon is carbon capture from the atmosphere. This would most likely be through the intermediate of seawater, in which carbon dioxide is far more concentrated or from closed (smoke stack free) combustion of biomass in pure oxygen atmospheres - the oxygen being a side product of water and/or carbon dioxide thermochemical splitting.

Dimethyl ether and carbon sequestering agents like graphene, polymers and high temperature quasiceramics like the MAX phases might potentially be manufactured this way.

Willauer's work was motivated by the US Navy's desire to allow for nuclear powered aircraft carriers to be able to generate jet fuel at sea without having to obtain it from shore based facilities. She has estimated prices of around between $4.00 - $6.00 a gallon.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #20)

Sun May 27, 2018, 03:04 PM

21. Thank you for your post. I appreciate the work you put into making your arguments.

I have a few more questions for you, if you have the time to answer.

1) Can DME ever work in regular passenger cars? You talk about wanting car culture to end, but realistically that is not going to happen. People are not giving up their cars and so we need to find a way to make them cleaner. A large percentage of European cars, for example, run on diesel. Could those cars start running on DME?

2) I have read that DME is highly flammable and toxic. Your response?

3) Wouldn't it take a long time to start building all these new nuclear power plants? As I understand it, the industry doesn't have enough trained workers to simply start building them all tomorrow.

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Response to StevieM (Reply #21)

Sun May 27, 2018, 11:34 PM

22. I know you asked NNadir, but here's a link to International DME trade group...


I'll also throw in my opinion...

1) DME is a good diesel engine fuel, but cleaner. Hybrid diesel electrics would make fine passenger cars. But I agree with NNadir. Car culture has got to go. We ought to be striving for a society where car ownership isn't considered desirable by most people. That means building attractive pedestrian and bicycle friendly cities with excellent public transportation.

2) DME is very much like propane. Propane and compressed natural gas vehicles are already established technologies. DME's toxicity is MUCH lower than ordinary gasoline. Gasoline is one of the most toxic substances ordinary consumers usually handle.

3) How is it impossible to do now that which was once possible?

Personally, I think natural gas is the most terrifying fuel on the planet. There are more than enough gas reserves to destroy life on this earth as we know it. The largest industrial projects on earth these days are all about the extraction and distribution of natural gas. "Fracked" natural gas, as common in the U.S.A. is as horrible as coal.

An industrial consumer economy powered two-thirds by gas and one-third renewables is undesirable and not something we should be investing in.

I don't believe in gas as a "transition" fuel. The only way to quit fossil fuels is to quit fossil fuels.

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Response to StevieM (Reply #21)

Mon May 28, 2018, 05:25 AM

23. Thank you for your questions. It's no sweat on my part.

I've been at this stuff for decades and can pretty much do it off the top of my head.

DME is an extremely flexible fuel. It can pretty much fit in to replace LPG, so called "natural gas," diesel fuel - it has a higher cetane number than petroleum diesel - and sort of oddly, most refrigerants and other heat transfer agents, although unlike HFC's and the banned CFC's, it is flammable.

It has been investigated in spark engines, and apparently works, but has been mostly strongly investigated in diesel engines because, lacking a carbon-carbon bond, it produces almost no particulates. All diesel engines still produce NOx, however these can be catalytically destroyed, especially in the absence of soot, which tends to poison catalysts.

A difficulty that might be easily addressed concerns lubricity and the nature of some seals in existing engines. A few buses and trucks have run on DME; Volvo was heavily involved in such research. It is, however, difficult to propose a new infrastructure. Petroleum fuels are considered to be "cheap" because they are not required to pay their vast external costs. If we cared about humanity and the future, we'd invest in DME infrastructure, but we don't care.

The most common use today for DME is as a propellant in spray cans, where it has, in fact, replaced CFC's. So no, it is not especially toxic. It is a mild anesthetic in comparison to its analogue, ethyl ether but is otherwise fairly benign. Unlike ethyl ether however, it does not form explosive peroxides.

The especially attractive thing is the ease with which it can be removed from water, by simple aeration when compared to methanol and soluble petroleum products, in cases of accidental release or spills.

It is less dangerous than natural gas because its critical temperature is 150C, meaning it can remain a liquid at temperatures higher than the boiling point of water under pressure.

As an industrial solvent - a role it could certainly play in pressurized systems - it is easy to remove by light vacuum.

Methanol, by contrast, is toxic. Olah argued that it was OK, because it is a common constituent of many commercial products, most generally windshield wiper fluid. Although my respect for Olah knows few bounds - his life is a paradigm of what a scientist should be - I don't accept this argument. Methanol is colorless, completely miscible with water and if ingested, causes blindness. Most chemists, Olah I'm sure, and myself included, have worked with methanol and so we can be cavalier about it. I'm not sure the general public is so equipped. It has the same advantages as MTBE, but the same problems as well; its soluble in water.

As for the speed at which nuclear reactors can be built, history, if not current practice shows that they can be built fast and cheap. Our current nuclear infrastructure, built largely a quarter of a century ago in less than 25 years by engineers and scientists who largely used slide rules and had access to very limited computer power, produces almost three times as much energy as solar and wind combined.

This fact seems to escape our current generation, suggesting the power of idiocy, something of which we are all aware or should be aware, given the type of creature that inhabits the White House, pure ignoramus.

This said, the types of reactors that I personally envision, reactors of the type that can carry out thermochemical cycles do not exist, the closest approaches having been the 20 or 30 Magnox built in the UK, as well as the advanced gas cooled reactors also built there.

Advances in materials science, carried out out of sight of the people who hate scientists and engineers and thus hate nuclear energy, suggest that they are now accessible. I have convinced myself that reactors accessing temperatures well over 1500C are possible.

I note that the elements plutonium and neptunium have liquid ranges comparable in length to that of gallium, which offers some marvelous opportunities, were we to live in an intelligent world.

I have also convinced myself that these kinds of reactors - and this is going to sound extreme but it isn't - can be best constructed using solid printing techniques.

In the 1950's and 1960's there was a lot of intellectual freedom to build different reactor types, and many different types were constructed and piloted in the US national laboratories, as well as in foreign laboratories. Many were remarkable machines but were abandoned for reasons having little to do with their viability.

This is covered ably in Alvin Weinberg's marvelous book The First Nuclear Era.

If we something of a less stupid culture, we'd dust that stuff off.

Thanks again for asking.

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