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"Embrace nuclear energy, Alberta: it’s the only way to lower oilsands GHGs"

Embrace nuclear energy, Alberta: it’s the only way to lower oilsands GHGs
April 5, 2013
By Steve Aplin

Alberta is panicking right now, fearing the worst when the U.S. makes its next decision on the Keystone Pipeline. If the new American secretary of state’s recent legislative past is an indicator, Keystone, which will carry Alberta bitumen to the U.S. gulf coast, will receive extra attention on the question of whether the proposed pipeline fits with the president’s stated climate change goals. After all, the most recent U.S. senate effort to reduce emissions of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) was called the KGL Bill. The “K” stands for Kerry, as in John Kerry, who is now secretary of state. And the KGL Bill died an embarrassing death, in 2010. Will the new secretary of state use the Keystone issue to redress that failure, and help his boss keep an important—and so far unkept—environmental promise? Alberta worries he will.

Oil sands operation, Alberta Canada. This is Alberta’s
cash cow and hope for the future, but that future is bleak because
Alberta’s biggest customer, the United States of America, has
singled Alberta oil out as “dirty.” The only way Alberta can clean it
up is to use nuclear energy.

Alberta’s panic is underlined by the recent revelation that the province is considering upping its much touted and totally ineffectual $15 per ton “levy” on industrial CO2 to $40. This is the centrepiece of Alberta’s new climate goal: a 40 percent reduction in CO2.

Considering where most of Alberta’s CO2 emissions come from, a 40 percent reduction is huge. The two biggest category sources in Alberta’s official Greenhouse Gas inventory are power generation and the oil sands, which in 2008 emitted 55 million tons of CO2 and 41 million tons, respectively. (You can download Environment Canada’s National Inventory Report 1990-2008: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada here; Alberta-specific information is on p. 118, or p. 119 of the PDF).

Alberta has been trying, in a PR kind of way, to reduce CO2 from power generation, which the province thinks is easier technologically than from the oil sands. This effort has focused mostly on carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS. Not surprisingly it has been a flop. The chemistry of the process is difficult: it involves separating CO2 from nitrogen (Alberta’s power plants are mostly coal-fired, and all use air, which is mostly nitrogen, as the source of combustion oxygen). That separation is inefficient and expensive.

The only ongoing CCS ...


UK govt sabotages energy efficiency program to ensure market for nuclear power (93%YOY drop)

This was predicted by govt experts when the old policy was scrapped and replaced.

Number of households getting help with insulation plummets
1.61m lofts were fully insulated in 2012, but just 110,000 were treated in the year to October 2013 – a pro-rata fall of 93%

Damian Carrington
The Guardian, Monday 30 December 2013 15.01 EST

The number of homes becoming warmer and cheaper to heat under government-backed insulation schemes collapsed in 2013, according to the latest official statistics. The drop, of more than 90% in the case of loft insulation, was described as serious by the government's own fuel poverty adviser and terrible by Labour.

The only way for households to cut energy costs permanently is by improving energy efficiency, but the new figures show that the number of efficiency measures enabled by government schemes plummeted in 2013 as new policies replaced those of the previous government.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change figures, 1.61m lofts were fully insulated in 2012, but in the year to the end of October 2013, the most recent data released, just 110,000 had been treated, a pro-rata fall of 93%. For cavity wall insulation, measures fell from 640,000 in 2012 to 125,000 in the year to October 2013, a pro-rata fall of 77%.

The big drops accompanying the start of the coalition's energy company obligation (ECO) and green deal schemes in 2013 were predicted by the government's own impact assessments. ECO schemes, which require energy companies to deliver energy saving measures, account for 98% of the measures installed in 2013, with the green deal delivering 2%.

"With a cold winter, rising energy bills and a worrying increase in winter deaths, the plight of the 2.4m households in England struggling with fuel poverty has never been more serious...


...under very conservative assumptions on renewables, we can reliably expect an extra 330TWh of electricity to be generated by 2020, leaving a shortfall of 16TWh to be made up by either energy efficiency or new nuclear.

There are currently 10GW of nuclear capacity under construction/development, including the UK proposed plants that should be on operation by 2020. If we assume that energy efficiency will not contribute, that would imply a load factor for the plants of 18%. Looking at the entire available nuclear fleet that would imply a load factor of just 76%. We do believe though that steps towards energy efficiency will also be taken, thus the impact on load factors could be larger.

Under a scenario of the renewables target being fully delivered then the load factor for nuclear would fall to 56%.

(Bold in original)

Citigroup Global Markets European Nuclear Generation 2 December 2008

No link, but PDF is available online.

Japan's First lady repeats skepticism of exporting nuclear technology

First lady repeats skepticism of exporting nuclear technology
December 30, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN Japan’s first lady again questioned the wisdom of exporting nuclear technology, a pillar of the growth strategy championed by the administration of her husband, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“It remains anybody’s guess if proper maintenance will be provided overseas,” Akie Abe told a TV program on Dec. 29. “I wonder how Japan would cope in case of an emergency.”

Akie Abe, who has called herself an “opposition within the household,” has long been openly skeptical about Japan’s export of nuclear power reactors. An opponent of nuclear power generation, she told a lecture session hosted by a nonprofit organization in June that she sees such exports as “very heart-wrenching.”...



The report, which was produced in collaboration with the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), examines the impact of solar storms on North America’s electric grid. By developing a model with the latest information on surface disturbances from geomagnetic storms and using storm simulations, the report quantifies the risk of space weather to North America.

Solar Storm Risk to the North American Electric Grid (753.57 KB, pdf)

Sample content:
7 Awareness and Preparation
Given the extensive impact geomagnetic storms can have on the electric grid and power supply, preventative measures that may mitigate the effect of these storms are important. The JASON Defense Advisory Panel Report42 recommends establishing a space weather monitoring program for CMEs and ensuring the safety of vital grid components with protective installations.

Currently, four space satellites (SOHO - Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, ACE – Advanced Composition Explorer, and STEREO A/B – Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) monitor the Sun. Situated between the Sun and Earth or along Earth’s orbit, these satellites can provide warnings of incoming CMEs on a timescale of a few days to hours. These warnings allow electric grid operators to take protective measures (i.e., decrease the electric load in the grid and increase reactive power production) before the storm hits. However these satellites are all several years past their planned mission lives43 and only one has a replacement scheduled to launch in 2014.

Additionally, several steps can be taken to harden the electric grid against geomagnetically induced currents: neutral-current-blocking capacitors can be installed to block GIC from flowing into at-risk transformers, series-line capacitors can be installed on autotransformers, improvements can be made to the tripping techniques to avoid false tripping from GIC harmonics, and the utilisation of GIC monitors at transformers will ensure that current levels remain stable.

Since the 1989 Quebec storm and power outage, the Canadian government has invested $1.2 billion (about $34 per person) into protecting the Hydro-Quebec grid infrastructure, installing numerous blocking capacitors44. While these mitigation strategies can be expensive up front (estimated cost of $100k per blocking capacitor for a total of $100 million to protect the 1,000 most vulnerable transformers45), the cost of prevention is much smaller than the cost of the damage a single storm can create.

Don't worry, the nuclear industry has a plan to clean up tar sands production

Nuclear Technology & Canadian Oil Sands: Integration of Nuclear Power with In-Situ Oil Extraction
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 24-105 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Abstract - This report analyzes the technical aspects and the economics of utilizing nuclear reactors to provide the energy needed for a Canadian oil sands extraction facility using Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology. The energy from the nuclear reactor would replace the energy supplied by natural gas, which is currently burned at these facilities. There are a number of concerns surrounding the continued use of natural gas, including carbon dioxide emissions and increasing gas prices. Three scenarios for the use of the reactor are analyzed1) using the reactor to produce only the steam needed for the SAGD process; (2) using the reactor to produce steam as well as electricity for the oil sands facility; and (3) using the reactor to produce steam, electricity, and hydrogen for upgrading the bitumen from the oil sands to syncrude, a material similar to conventional crude oil. Three reactor designs were down-selected from available options to meet the expected mission demands and siting requirements. These include the Canadian ACR- 700, Westinghouse’s AP 600 and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). The report shows that nuclear energy would be feasible, practical, and economical for use at an oil sands facility. Nuclear energy is two to three times cheaper than natural gas for each of the three scenarios analyzed. Also, by using nuclear energy instead of natural gas, a plant producing 100,000 barrels of bitumen per day would prevent up to 100 megatonnes of CO2 per year from being released into the atmosphere.


Alberta Tar Sands
Nuclear Power in Canada Appendix 2

(Updated February 2010)
In Canada, notably northern Alberta, there is major production of synthetic crude oil from bitumen extracted from tar sands. Alberta's tar sands are one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits in the world. Production from them is expected to grow strongly, but may limited by the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during extraction and upgrading of the bitumen. Open pit strip mining remains the main extraction method, but two in situ techniques are likely to be used more in future: cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). These methods inject steam into the formation to heat the bitumen, allowing it to flow and be pumped to the surface.


Nuclear power could make steam and electricity and use some of the electricity for high-temperature electrolysis for hydrogen production. (Heavy water and oxygen could be valuable by-products of electrolysis.) The steam supply needs to be semi portable as tar sand extraction proceeds, so relatively small reactors which could be moved every decade or so may be needed. One problem related to the provision of steam for mining is that a nuclear plant is a long-life fixture, and mining of tar sands proceeds across the landscape, giving rise to very long steam transmission lines and consequent loss of efficiency.


No more BAU: These trends will change the power system and utility businesses at their core

The Electricity Journal
Volume 26, Issue 8, October 2013, Pages 7–22

Rethinking Policy to Deliver a Clean Energy Future
Sonia Aggarwal, Hal Harvey

America's electricity system is in the early days of a radical makeover that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase system flexibility, incorporate new technologies, and shake up existing utility business models. Depending on each region's history and preference, well-designed markets or performance-based regulation can be used to accomplish power system goals of low costs, high reliability, and environmental performance.

I. Introduction
The electricity system in America, and in many other nations, is in the early days of a radical makeover that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase system flexibility, incorporate new technologies, and shake up existing utility business models. This transformation is already underway: it is not speculation. Managed well, this transition will give America a great boost, building a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable grid, as well as an industry ready to profit from deploying its technologies around the globe. Managed badly, we will spend too much time, money, and pollution on obsolete power plants, leave our country increasingly exposed to system failure, and let our energy technology businesses slip to back of the pack.

The stakes are high: every single part of our economy requires reliable, affordable electricity. And the world requires a climate that does not drown our cities, dry up our farms, decimate our planet's biological diversity, or leave us vulnerable to mega-storms.

Three factors are driving change in America's power sector. First, a large number of new technologies are becoming commercially viable. Power generation technologies like solar (prices down 80 percent in the last five years) and wind (down 30 percent in the same period) are gaining market share.1 Last year, the U.S. added more wind than any other kind of generating capacity.2 Smart engineers are rethinking the grid, to transform it from a static delivery system for electrons into an intelligent web that can optimize across many variables. New solid state equipment can deliver more functionality to grid operators and replace huge, expensive, vulnerable, and hard-to-monitor transformers and switching systems. And fracking3 has transformed the economics of natural gas in America, making natural gas-fired generation an attractive option, though history has proven the value of a diverse set of power supply and demand-side resources to minimize price volatility.

There is no more business as usual: These trends will change the power system and utility businesses at their core.

Second, the advent of competition has challenged the protected and privileged status of America's utilities—catalyzing massive change in the energy industry....

Full access provided to this journal article:

Why Are So Many Redditors Obsessed With Uncompetitive Nuclear Energy?

Published with permission under Creative Commons licensing
Originally published by CleanTechnica

Why Are So Many Redditors Obsessed With Uncompetitive Nuclear Energy?

I’m not a big reddit user, but I like the site and find it quite useful at times. Of course, reddit is humongous and the users span the social spectrum. Furthermore, there are hundreds if not thousands of subreddits, each with their own unique subculture. However, time and time again, I see a highly unrepresentative sample of nuclear enthusiasts over there, or in the comments of our posts when someone submits one of our stories to reddit and it does quite well there.

Nuclear supporters are far outnumbered by solar power supporters amongst the general population. Within the overall energy world, the general consensus is that solar power will grow tremendously around the world; nuclear power… not so much. Yet, on the /Energy subreddit, a popular solar or wind power story is sure to get swarmed by nuclear enthusiasts. Actually, it’s rare to even see a solar or wind story do well there despite the massive growth of these industries around the world. Renewable energy stories submitted there have a history of being immediately downvoted by redditors who simply don’t want to hear any positive news about renewable energy.

Interestingly, in the sidebar of the /Energy subreddit, where it’s routine to post links to related subreddits, there’s a link to /Renewable but not a link to the much, much larger /RenewableEnergy subreddit. And, above that, there are links to two nuclear subreddits + a subreddit that includes nuclear energy: /NuclearPower, /ThoriumReactor, and /HardEnergy. /HardEnergy, which covers fossil fuels and nuclear, is the top subreddit included there, despite having hardly over 1,000 readers (a small number for a subreddit, especially an overarching subreddit).

The /Energy subreddit isn’t the only one where the prejudice seems to be widespread. I’ve noticed it on the /Technology subreddit (to a lesser extent), and elsewhere. Recently, Elon Musk tweeted one of my solar energy stories (yes, bit of a nice surprise for me), and someone subsequently posted it to the /Futurology subreddit, one that I’d never even heard of but has quite a following. Sure enough, the same thing as always happened in the comments of the original post as well as on the /Futurology post to some extent.

The comments from the nuclear enthusiasts are almost always the same. They attack irrelevant matters related to solar energy. They make mistakes in their overall conclusions. They don’t seem to understand why solar power is growing so fast and why even Shell thinks there’s a good chance it will dominate the entire energy industry by the end of the century. They don’t seem to get that solar costs have fallen tremendously and are projected to keep falling, while nuclear is going in the other direction. They don’t seem to understand why there are massive campaigns against solar and wind funded by fossil fuel and utility industries. Or maybe the do?…

The cynic would likely conclude that many of these fanatics are indeed paid by the nuclear industry to spread misinformation and attack renewables on major sites like reddit. Such campaigns by various industries have been uncovered in the past. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the case with the majority of the nuclear commenters, and wouldn’t even contend that it’s happening at all. Rather, I think people who have worked in the nuclear industry and people who have been mesmerized by the idea of insane amounts of cheap energy from supernatural nuclear (you know, the “too cheap to meter” stuff) have simply been too enclosed in a nuclear-enthusiast bubble for too long and simply don’t have a good sense for where the energy world is today.
(emphasis added - k)

The bottom line for nuclear is that it’s far too expensive, hugely unpopular amongst the masses, and poses large financial and environmental risks. It is only really pushed through by corrupt or very confused governments. The private market won’t touch it and projects have no chance where legislation doesn’t ensure profit and put the financial risk of the projects on taxpayers or ratepayers. The following graph and quote from one of the commenters on my solar story (in reply to some of the nuclear enthusiasts) captures the financial absurdity quite well:

It compares the guaranteed pricing for the planned Hinkley Point C nuke in the UK with the current feed-in tariff for large scale solar in Germany. One gets less than 10 Eurocent/kWh for 20 years without inflation correction, the other gets 10,6 Eurocent/kWh for 35 years with inflation correction (plus free 3rd party liability insurance provided by the British People, plus cover for the long term disposal of the waste). Guess which is which. BTW, wind power is even cheaper than large scale solar. New nuclear is not cheap anymore!

Now you will say “but what about at night or when it rains”. The last thing we need then is a base load power plant that can meet above costs only if it runs 8000+ hours per year, regardless of demand.

The summary of the graph above from the website where it was first posted is also quite good (translated from German):

The details of the proposed UK new nuclear power station Hinkley C were announced in October 2013. The nuclear power plant to power with a fixed payment of 92.5 lbs / MWh (10.9 ct / kWh) are paid in the base year 2012 with full compensation for inflation. Thus, the nuclear power plant would be more than twice as expensive as photovoltaic systems in Germany.

The UK story is a long one, but what it’s showing is that nuclear energy is a complete ripoff in the medium to long term.
But the nuclear enthusiasts don’t seem get this no matter how many ways you explain it to them. I’ve been in numerous comment threads trying to illuminate them, but you can debunk the pro-nuclear/anti-renewable myths repeatedly and they just keep coming back, even by the same commenters.

So, the question remains, why is such a small portion of the population so obsessed with nuclear energy despite the fact that it’s no longer competitive? And why are they so opposed to the rapid growth of solar power? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it certainly gets old.

Update: Interestingly, this article didn’t go big on reddit yet still somehow attracted a huge swarm of nuclear-obsessed commenters. How would that be possible if such people weren’t coordinating in order to swarm any major anti-nuclear posts? The amount of old, repeatedly debunked misinformation posted in the comments of this article swelled tremendously as a result. So, rather than wasting my time dealing with it all yet again, I’m going to recommend a handful of articles not previously included in this piece. If you genuinely want to learn more about the energy sector and how it relates to nuclear, I recommend these pieces:

































Originally published By CleanTechnica

"World Nuclear Assoc. - Representing the people and organizations of the global nuclear profession"

Alberta Tar Sands
Nuclear Power in Canada Appendix 2

(Updated February 2010)
In Canada, notably northern Alberta, there is major production of synthetic crude oil from bitumen extracted from tar sands. Alberta's tar sands are one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits in the world. Production from them is expected to grow strongly, but may limited by the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during extraction and upgrading of the bitumen. Open pit strip mining remains the main extraction method, but two in situ techniques are likely to be used more in future: cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). These methods inject steam into the formation to heat the bitumen, allowing it to flow and be pumped to the surface.


Nuclear power could make steam and electricity and use some of the electricity for high-temperature electrolysis for hydrogen production. (Heavy water and oxygen could be valuable by-products of electrolysis.) The steam supply needs to be semi portable as tar sand extraction proceeds, so relatively small reactors which could be moved every decade or so may be needed. One problem related to the provision of steam for mining is that a nuclear plant is a long-life fixture, and mining of tar sands proceeds across the landscape, giving rise to very long steam transmission lines and consequent loss of efficiency.


You are one confused pup.

I don't know where you got the idea that the Lovins article you linked to supports those wild claims you've made, but you are as far off base on that as you are everything else related to nuclear, Lovins, and renewable energy. I highly recommend it as a resource on proliferation that is every bit as valid today as when it was written. Thank you for the reference.

Nuclear Power and Nuclear Bombs
By Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins and Leonard Ross FROM OUR SUMMER 1980 ISSUE


Executive Summary and Conclusions

...The 2013 edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report also includes an update on nuclear economics as well as an overview of the status, on-site and off-site, of the challenges triggered by the Fukushima disaster. However, this report’s emphasis on recent post-Fukushima developments should not obscure an important fact: as previous editions (see www.WorldNuclearReport.org) detail, the world nuclear industry already faced daunting challenges long before Fukushima, just as the U.S. nuclear power industry had largely collapsed before the 1979 Three Mile Island accident3. The nuclear promoters’ invention that a global nuclear renaissance was flourishing until 3/114 is equally false: Fukushima only added to already grave problems, starting with poor economics.

The performance of the nuclear industry over the year from July 2012 to July 2013 can be summed up as follows:
Operation and Construction Data (1 July 2013)5
- Operation. There are 31 countries operating nuclear power plants in the world.6 A total of 427 reactors have a combined installed capacity of 364 GWe7. These figures assume the final shutdown of the ten reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi and -Daini. It should be noted that as of 1 July 2013 only two (Ohi-3 and -4) of the 44 remaining Japanese reactors are operating and their future is highly uncertain. In fact, even if four utilities are expected to submit restart requests in July 2013, many observers believe that a large share of the suspended Japanese units will likely never restart.

- The nuclear industry is in decline: The 427 operating reactors are 17 lower than the peak in in 2002, while, the total installed capacity peaked in 2010 at 375 GWe before declining to the current level, which was last seen a decade ago. Annual nuclear electricity generation reached a maximum in 2006 at 2,660 TWh, then dropped to 2,346 TWh in 2012 (down 7 percent compared to 2011, down 12 percent from 2006). About three-quarters of this decline is due to the situation in Japan8, but 16 other countries, including the top five nuclear generators, decreased their nuclear generation too.

- The nuclear share in the world’s power generation declined steadily from a historic peak of 17 percent in 1993 to about 10 percent in 2012. Nuclear power’s share of global commercial primary energy production plunged to 4.5 percent, a level last seen in 1984.9 Only one country, the Czech Republic, reached its record nuclear contribution to the electricity mix in 2012.

From The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013

As of the middle of 2013, a total of 31 countries were operating nuclear fission reactors for energy purposes. Nuclear power plants generated 2,346 terawatt-hours (TWh or billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity in 2012 [21], less than in 1999 and a 172 TWh or 6.8 percent decrease compared to 2011 as well as 11.8 percent below the historic maximum nuclear generation in 2006. The maximum contribution of nuclear power to commercial electricity generation worldwide was reached in 1993 with 17 percent (see figure 1). It has dropped to 10.4 percent in 2012, a level last seen in the 1980s. According to BP, the nuclear share in commercial primary energy consumption dropped to 4.5 percent, “the lowest since 1984”. [22]

Figure 1: Nuclear Electricity Generation in the World

About three-quarters of the decrease is due to the continuing and substantial generation drop in Japan (–139 TWh or –50 percent over the previous year), which in three years fell back from the 3rd to the 18th position of nuclear generators. Production also decreased for differing reasons in all top five nuclear generating countries: United States (–20 TWh or –2.5 percent), France (–16 TWh/–4 percent), Germany (–8 TWh/–10 percent), South Korea (–7 TWh/5 percent) and Russia with an insignificant drop (–0.8 TWh/–0.5 percent).

Nuclear generation declined in a total of 17 countries, while in 14 countries it increased or remained stable [23]. Seven countries [24] generated their historic maximum in 2012.

Figure 2. Nuclear Power Generation by Country, 2012/2011 and Historic Maximum

The “big five” nuclear generating countries—by rank: the United States, France, Russia, South Korea and Germany—generated 67 percent of all nuclear electricity in the world. The three countries that have phased out nuclear power (Italy, Kazakhstan, Lithuania), and Armenia, generated their historic maximum of nuclear electricity in the 1980s. Several other countries’ nuclear power generation peaked in the 1990s, among them Belgium, Canada, Japan, and the U.K. A further six countries peaked their nuclear generation between 2001 and 2005: Bulgaria, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. Among the countries with a steady increase in nuclear generation are China, the Czech Republic and Russia. However, even where countries are increasing their nuclear electricity production this is in most cases not keeping pace with overall increases in electricity demand leading to a reduced and declining role for nuclear power.

Only one country in the world, the Czech Republic, peaked its nuclear share in 2012 with 35 percent. In fact, all other countries—except Iran, which started up its first nuclear plant in 2011—reached their maximum share of nuclear power prior to 2010. While three countries peaked in 2008 (China) or 2009 (Romania, Russia), the other 26 countries saw their largest nuclear share by 2005. In total, nuclear power played its largest role in ten countries during the 1980s [25], in 12 countries each in the 1990s and in the 2000s.
Increases in nuclear generation are mostly a result of higher productivity and uprating [26] at existing plants rather than due to new reactors. According to the latest assessment by Nuclear Engineering International [27], the global annual load factor [28] of nuclear power plants decreased from 77 percent in 2011 [29] to 70 percent in 2012. Not surprisingly the biggest change was seen in Japan, where the load factor plunged from 69.5 percent in 2010 to 39.5 percent in 2011 to 3.7 percent in 2012. This is also due to the fact that officially 50 of the 54 pre-3/11 units in Japan are still counted as operational—even though some reactors have not generated electricity for years (see box hereunder).

Figure 3. Nuclear Share in Electricity Mix by Country, 2012/2011 and Historic Maximum

<big snip>

Figure 4. Nuclear Power Reactor Grid Connections and Shutdowns, 1956–2013

Figure 5. World Nuclear Reactor Fleet, 1954–2013

Figure 6. Number of Nuclear Reactors under Construction

Figure 7. Age Distribution of Operating Nuclear Reactors, 2013

Figure 8. Age Distribution of Shutdown Nuclear Reactors, 2013

Figure 9. 40-Year Lifetime Projection

Figure 10. The PLEX Projection (Accommodates probable lifetime extensions)

Figure 11. Forty-Year Lifetime Projection versus PLEX Projection (in numbers of reactors)

Figure 12. Start-ups and Closures of National Nuclear Power Programs, 1950–2013

Figure 13: Average Annual Construction Times in the World 1954–2013

Note: The bubble size is equivalent to the number of units started up in the given year. Sources: MSC based on IAEA-PRIS 2013

And unlike your fevered visions of Lovins being a shill for the oil companies, the nuclear industry IS peddling those marvels of technology you're so keen on to the Koch Brothers for their Canadian tar sands operations. Maybe, just maybe, that will be their path to salvation - even if it does help kill the planet.

Canada Considering Nuclear Reactors in Alberta Tar Sands Fields

By John Daly | Mon, 21 January 2013 22:42

Like them or hate them, Alberta, Canada’s tar sands deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, are the world’s largest. The province’s resources include the Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake deposits in the McMurray Formation, which consist of a mixture of crude bitumen, a semi-solid form of crude oil, admixed with silica sand, clay minerals, and water.

According to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration, “Canada controls the third-largest amount of proven reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela… Canada's proven oil reserve levels have been stagnant or slightly declining since 2003, when they increased by an order of magnitude after oil sands resources were deemed to be technically and economically recoverable. The oil sands now account for approximately 170 billion barrels, or 98 percent, of Canada's oil reserves.”

Lying under 54,000 square miles of forest and bogs, the bitumen tar sands are estimated to be comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum.

But exploiting the tar sands comes at a significant environmental cost.

Oil sands pollution is not a topic that Ottawa is keen to publicize...


Toshiba Nuclear Reactor For Oil Sands To Be Operational By 2020: Reports
The Huffington Post Canada | Posted: 01/18/2013 2:27 pm EST | Updated: 01/18/2013

Toshiba Corporation has developed a small nuclear reactor to power oilsands extraction in Alberta and hopes to have it operational by 2020, according to news reports from Japan.

The Daily Yomiuri reports Toshiba is building the reactor at the request of an unnamed oilsands company.

The reactor would generate between one per cent and 5 per cent as much energy as produced by a typical nuclear power plant, and would not need refueling for 30 years. It would be used to heat water in order to create the steam used to extract bitumen from the oil sands.

Toshiba has completed design work on the reactor and has filed for approval with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nikkei.com reported. The company is expected to seek approval from Canadian authorities as well...


Hydraulic Energy Storage - Another Way to Use Gravity

Hydraulic Energy Storage - Another Way to Use Gravity
Davis Swan | Dec 23, 2013

I recently joined a discussion about how gravity might be used to generate and store energy. One of the comments provided a link to Gravity Power, a company that has proposed a modified take on "pumped storage" whereby a vertical water reservoir is used with a heavy piston. During the discussions a few variations on this technology were proposed. I suggested that abandoned open pit mines might represent a good starting point for very large facilities.

As in my earlier posting on Funicular Power the principle behind Hydraulic Energy Storage is to use excess electricity generated mainly from wind farms when demand is low (for example at night) to raise the potential energy of a mass by moving it to a higher elevation. In this case the means to do that is a relatively standard hydro turbine in a very non-standard configuration.

In energy storage mode a massive solid piston is raised by increasing the water pressure below it by running the turbine in reverse, acting as a pump to force water down the penstock.

In generation mode the piston is allowed to sink forcing water back up the penstock and through the turbine.

The piston would be a large concrete "cup" filled with as heavy a material as could be justified by the economics of the project. This could be rock debris, dense concrete, or even iron ore. The denser the material the better.

The containing cylinder would also have to be reinforced concrete. ..

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