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June 24, 2008


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All of Germany's improvements in windpower pale in comparison with what innumerate Greens have done to Germany's nuclear power generation. As a result, even with all those wind farms, Germany's admitted that it's not going to reach Kyoto targets.

France is the country to follow on these matters.

First off wind power == good thing.

What's the fluctuation for the power taken in for Germany over the course of a day? It's probably regionally dependent; however, how dependable is it for baseline power generation?

Cali has NIMBYism forever and then some. However, we do have some wind generators already. But you knew that.

Oh yes, Noel, referring to a comment on my blog about nukes not being economical. Could it be that they are not for two reasons?

First would be because the other power generating industries not held to the same standards for the impacts that they have? Coal plants, frex, are not held accountable for the CO2 they release. If they were, it would bounce up the price per watt to the same price range as a nuclear reactor. What about the health effects of coal extraction? What are the costs wrt that compared to those generally caused by nuclear reactors?

The second reason, I suspect, has to do with the lack of fuel recycling in nukes. Because of some less than well thought out legislation, iirc, we can't recycle the barely used nuclear fuel here in the US. We ship it off to France to do so and that adds a nontrivial amount of dinero to do so. That would help make it less than economical as well.

Actually, there may be a third. It's one that is anecdotal rather than one I've seen in print: if the radioactivity emissions standards that are applied to the nuclear industry were done to the coal industry, they'd have greatly increased costs.

Might it be that nukes are just legislated into uneconomical status wrt its competitors because of misunderstandings of the technology than anything else? I have my very strong suspicions there. I am willing to be corrected.

If I have time, maybe I'll do some digging and a post on the subject.

Re wind fluctuation: I'm not sure for Germany, but Denmark seems to have pretty much smacked into the economical maximum. (Their grid generates /no/ power about one day in every seven, with an average base load of 20 percent.)

Re nukes: there are three issues that I think need to be separated.

The first has to do with the negative externalities generated by carbon-based fuels. I strongly suspect that a serious cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax would make nuclear power more attractive.

The second has to do with the perceived negative externalities involved with nuclear power. I'm not sure that those are significant, at least not on a national scale, given that there are parts of the United States that would welcome new plants.

The third has to do with the immense capital cost, especially the long start-up times for a plant. The French, contrary to popular myth, have not solved this problem.


Key paragraph (if correct):

“The fact that the T.V.A. is spending $1.8 billion to fix up an old plant, rather than just spend it on a new plant, suggests that a new one costs well over $2 billion,” David Lochbaum, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told me in Washington. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and former consultant in the industry, agrees that carbon taxes could make a new nuclear plant financially viable. For now he says that the AP1000 just costs too much. This is something Westinghouse will not concede, but company executives did say they are fully aware that it isn’t passive safety or modular construction that will sell their designs. It’s the price tag, as well as proof that for the first time in history, a slew of nuclear plants can be built quickly, smoothly and within a budget.

Noel, great post. I love this stuff. And I'd be interested to hear about the "actual built-stuff problems".

Andrew, what do you think the innumerate Greens have done in Germany?

Doug M.


I was referring to their effort to phase out nuclear power, thus causing them to miss Kyoto targets.

See here:


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