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December 18, 2006



The last PWRs built in the US came in at a total cost of 6000 dollars per kw, rather than the 2000 predicted in this scenario.

No doubt it is a lot cheaper to build in China, with no regulation of any kind, only bribery of party officials.

Labor is also dirt cheap. Waste will be dumped wherever the corporation wants to dump it. Making it easily accessible to whomever wants to use it for whatever purpose.

So Westinghouise is owned by Toshiba now? How long will toshiba keep any of those jobs in the US? Why should they when they can hire engineers and other highly skilled workers in China for a fraction of the cost?

In fact this project most likely signals the outsourcing of the jobs held by employees and contractors of westinghouse.

I say the US should let these jobs go and get out of the nuclear power business. Instead, create 1000s of times more new jobs for our fellow citizens building out renewable distributed power generation and storage, plugin fuel cell vehicles, and algae/solar collector systems to produce fuel.

Paul Dietz

The last PWRs built in the US came in at a total cost of 6000 dollars per kw, rather than the 2000 predicted in this scenario.

The last PWRs built in the US were, of course, the ones that had been most delayed. Of course they were expensive.

barry hanson

SOFCs and soon DCFCs will be commercialized at $400 per installed KW, eight companies are ahead of schedule for the SECA $400/KW goal. Why should nuclear even be a consideration?...even the Bush administration admits that "a case for nuclear power cannot be made on the basis of economics.."

High temp fuel cells allow for distributed generation (no grid), the recovery of heat on site, better quality power, more reliable power as well as easier and less risky to finance because it is modular. And now with CO2/algae to biodiesel systems a ready source of clean CO2. I don't understand why anyone who is not a lobbyist for Westinghouse would even think of nuclear!

Paul Dietz

Barry: the achilles heel of distributed power generation with fuel cells it the cost of the fuel. Natural gas may become too expensive. DCFCs consuming coal would be nice for baseload, but are still in early stages of development, and coal cleaning could still be a showstopper.


Barry Hanson wrote: SOFCs and soon DCFCs will be commercialized at $400 per installed KW, eight companies are ahead of schedule for the SECA $400/KW goal. Why should nuclear even be a consideration?

...To create the fuel for the fuel-cells.


This is going to happen just because of the huge amount money . so why not make the best of it. The nuclear power plant creates steam to power the turbine to produce electricity. The steam needs to be cooled. Couldn’t the heated steam be cooled by heating water for bio fuels Hence bring the cost of bio fuels down shapely. And with the feedstock of lets say corn feed it to the animals on sight. Preventing the need to dry the feed stock. And saving electricity again lowering the price of the bio fuels. It seems there is a lot of opportunities to use several technologies to create more with less


Surely the cost of pv power is going to drop dramatically when CIGS cell production comes online. If Nanosolar can build a 430MW pa PV production facility for a US$100M investment, have it in production before the end of next year, (making thin film cells ideally suited to inclusion or addition to roofing and cladding) verses the US$2 billion for a 1.1GW nuke plant (does that include waste disposal and eventual decommissioning?) it sure looks like the economics are shifting towards renewables. The issues of PV being intermittent mean a grid wide enough to spread the load or storage or both. There has been significant progress with storage and I'm sure a nuclear power plant or four's worth of R&D could take that further faster -Vanadium Redox is an existing technology that is already being used for stationary application, LiIon has shown a lot of promise and there's Altairnano's nano-titanate batteries. Probably R&D could find ways to take the grid between continents as well as across them (underwater High Voltage DC transmission?)
Most of the elements for a shift to renewable are here already.

barry hanson

Paul Deitz wrote:
Barry: the achilles heel of distributed power generation with fuel cells it the cost of the fuel. Natural gas may become too expensive. DCFCs consuming coal would be nice for baseload, but are still in early stages of development, and coal cleaning could still be a showstopper.

Methane can be produced from pyrolyis, gasification or anaeobic digestion of biomass for $4 per million BTUs

SOFCs run well on syngas which can be generated from garbage using a gasifier at a negative cost if there is a tipping fee.

Coal should not be necessary; biomass is 50% carbon and Michael Antal's DCFC at the U of HI runs well on carbon produced with his 'flash carbonization' process.

I believe there is a company in Ohio that has already started to commercialize DCFCs with a licensing agreement from LLNL.


If we had enough solar panels to supply all our electric needs, we could charge PHEV's during daylight hours.  It's no technical issue; just wire and meter all the parking lots.

The problem with the debate between Li-ion and vanadium redox vs. hydrogen is that these are storage media, not energy production systems.  To have sufficient energy to store, we have to generate it first.  Relying on SOFC's without any new fuel supply is like building a car which runs on petroleum-derived plastic under the impression that it's an alternative to gasoline.


EP - "The problem with the debate between Li-ion and vanadium redox vs. hydrogen is that these are storage media, not energy production systems."

However in any forseeable renewable power situation there will considerable over-supply in the generation system. A lot of the time wind turbines generate much more than the current demand because it is at off-peak times. Storage allows this energy to be stored and used at peak times.


I think the whole idea of "meeting peak demand" is part of the problem.  We need to use real-time energy auctions (where DSM is one of the consequences) rather than just letting anyone switch on whatever they want and pay a flat rate to run it.  Even if you do have battery storage, the flat-rate model would lead to using it to run air conditioners at full power in late afternoon when it would be much cheaper to run the A/C's all night making ice and use the ice to handle the peak A/C demand.  Running the A/C's during the cooler night hours might even use less energy total.

Batteries are going to have a big role to play, but they make more sense in plug-in vehicles (where they buffer the grid AND displace liquid fuel) than in stationary use trying to make an obsolete paradigm work.


Distinction must be made between
-capital cost
-construction & maintenance cost
-fuel cost

Nuclear has a low fuel cost and the lowest overall kwh produced. Wind has no fuel cost but very high capital & maintenance cost. PV is worse (for the moment). Biofuels have high fuel cost... No miracle al-purpose single solution exists.

The Chinese project, with its 2 B$/GWe cost is dirt cheap! Finland's Olkiluoto EPR plant is nearly 50% more expensive.

Al Fin

Transitioning from a petroleum world economy to an electron world economy requires massive new nuclear construction. The only question is what reactor designs will be used.

Fuel cells need scarce fuel, and solar cells are intermittent generators--not on demand. You can't base an economy on them in the next 20-30 years.

In the long term, heat engines (solar, geothermal, OTEC) make the most sense for both centralized and decentralized production. Nuclear is a crude form of heat engine but newer reactor designs allow multi-stage, multi-cycle turbine retrieval.


"Fuel cells need scarce fuel"

New multifuel fuel cell/turbine designs could run on biogas or natural gas. Biogas from waste with natural gas as a fossil fuel backup. Reserves of coal and oil can be converted to natural gas with bacteria to provide a long lasting, clean energy source.

The most economical application of these fuel cells is in vehicle to grid (V2G)operation. Because the generators provide transportation energy as well as grid backup. That way no expensive and dangerous new power plants are needed and the present ones can be phased out as renewables backed by V2G takes over.

These vehicles are paid for by consumers, who then get payed by utilities for the power they sell into the grid. The huge capital cost of new power plants, particularly expensive nuclear plants is no longer needed. And the trillions in grid upgrade can also be mostly avoided.

When these fuel cell/plugin vehicles, trucks, buses, cars, farm and construction equipment are being driven they can operate on biodisel from algae grown in solar collectors. The cO2 from the fuel cells in V2G mode captured to accelerate the growth rate of the algae in the collectors.

This backup power source, consisting of 100s of millions of V2G units, solves the variability problem of solar, wind, and water power.

Making this statement false.

"Transitioning from a petroleum world economy to an electron world economy requires massive new nuclear construction."

This is a very common false dilemna fallacy. Repeated by nuclear power advocates routinely.

It bypasses all the dangerous, expensive, insurmountable promblems with nuclear power. Convenient fallacy, but not rational or good for the future of spaceship earth.


Fine idea the V2G concept amazingdrx. But it doesn't solve the problem of the fuel cost, not to say the abysmal efficiencies of the lack of economy of scale and the frequent refuelling.

And it's just a sci-fi project. Nuclear plants are real ;)


Biogas, as the sesquipedalian soi-disant doctor probably means, would not work.  Generation of biogas via e.g. bacterial digestion loses too much energy in metabolism.

As for the V2G and whatnot, it's good to see him get something right.

Demesure, the one problem with nuclear plants is that the USA isn't going to have anything coming on-line for at least ten years.  We need capacity a lot sooner than that.


Biogas resources too small to backup wind, solar, and water power? yep, most likely they are, but not because digestion loses energy. Manure and farm waste alone would supply a large percentage of backup biogas. Especially when the biogas is used at 75% efficiency.

Where does the rest of the biofuel come from so that natural gas is conserved as long as possible?

From algae in solar collectors. Half of the dry weight of the algae is biodiesel, the other half is cellulose powder. The biodiesel could power the fuel cell vehicles in driving mode, the powdered cellulose, biogas (with natural gas as a backup fuel) in stationery V2G mode.

In v2G the CO2 could be sequestered in the algae system.

The energy lost in bacterial conversion of coal and oil to natural gas would be less than the energy expended in conventional mining and refining. and all that toxic mess that comes with coal and oil would stay far underground where it is already. The natural gas would carry the energy in the coal and oil to the fuel cells.

Yep nukes are all TOO real Dem! Too bad for all of us.

Fuel cost? Biogas in a fuel cell/turbine is around 5 cents per kwh, powdered cellulose from algae is even cheaper. Biodiesel from algae will be cheaper than diesel or biodiesel from fuel farming.

In plugin/fuel cell cars that use 1/10nth of the fuel on average of an equivalent ICE car, biodiesel from algae can provide more than enough liquid fuel for transportation needs.

Manure and waste to biogas. Biogas to electricity and cO2. CO2 to algae biofuel. Biofuel to electricity and cO2. CO2 back to biofuel. It's a cycle.

While it is true that if the grid is mainly powered by solar, wind, and wave power the whole capacity of the grid may need to ocasionally come from a backup source. V2G does that with no duplication of generating capacity.

A big argument with renewables is that if you aproach 100% renewable power on the grid, you also need storage and generation capacity that equals that capacity. in other words you would need all the present power plants idling in case the wind, water, and solar power dissapears all at once all over the grid. And that cost of maintaining those plants in that idling state would negate all the savings from renewables.

By using v2G to supply this emergency backup generation that duplication of generating capacity does not take double the capital investment. Because the vehicles are already payed for by consumers for their transportation function. The V2G mode is a free bonus.

Trillions can also be saved by going to this distributed power generation and storage grid design, because it not only dispenses with power plants, but makes hugely expensive grid upgrades unecessary.

Each home with v2G becomes a neighborhood power system that can power that local grid. And it builds out in blocks from there. Also protecting from ever more frequent power outages due to increased storms from global climate change.

The profit potential of a home, small business, or farm that uses biogas digestors, V2G, wind, and solar power all together is enormous. It allows an individual V2G/renewable supplier or local renewable energy cooperative to guarantee a set minimum amount of power to the grid, making renewables just as reliable as advocates claim fossil and nuclear power are.

Brian Wang

You can talk about solar and biogas but they just are not happening that fast. 1.7GW of new solar power in 2005. Even with 30-50% growth per year. It is not solving the problem over the next 20-25 years.

Global coal use is currently on track to double. In the IEO2006 reference case, world coal consumption nearly doubles, from 5.4 billion short tons in 2003 to 10.6 billion tons in 2030. Coal consumption increases by 3.0 percent per year on average from 2003 to 2015.

A 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant burns two million tons of coal per year and releases seven million tons of carbon
dioxide to the atmosphere.

So 6 billion tons of coal/year is from about 3000 of those type of plants.

China plans to build 168 traditional coal plants in the next two years alone. The economic lifetime of those plants might be 50 years or more. So that is 3 new traditional coal plants in China every 2 weeks.

So about $60-100 billion for those coal plants. And say 80GW if they are the 500MW type.



As of June 2006, US power producers have approximately 150 new coal-fired plants on the drawing board, representing a $137 billion investment and the capacity to supply power to 96 million homes.


That is the reality.
Nuclear keeps its waste in vats. Coal plants leave it in the air and your lungs.

The 10,000 year waste can be processed. Not an insurmountable problem. Just the use of molten salt thorium reactors. 2 were built in the 1960's. New reactors are being researched and planned in Grenoble.

Scaling up solar is not an insurmountable problem either but recognize that everything working together will still take 30-40 years to seriously reduce coal usage. Solar is and will take time to scale up.

Much as you don't like it coal plants are being made. Nuclear plants are getting made. Solar and your favorite pet technology is a rounding error. Plug in hybrids are custom hobbyist versions now. Mass production of the first model is about 2008-2009.


Dr. X,

Could you please show your math regarding the economic feasibility of digested-biomass-fuel-cell electricity production?


Yep buddy, but only after you "show your math" on the contentions you made on driving safety and genetics.

I got my estimate from a landfill administrator negotiating with a public utility to sell electric power from biogas. I'll try to get his math.

"You can talk about solar and biogas but they just are not happening that fast."

The old "buggy whip" argument! Good one Brian.

Since the horseless carriage only has a small market penetration, do not sell your buggy whip stock shares. This technology will never replace the horse as the main transportation energy source.


barry hanson

Could you please show your math regarding the economic feasibility of digested-biomass-fuel-cell electricity production?
In brief: biomass can be converted into FC fuel (methane, syngas, ethanol, butanol, or carbon in the case of DCFCs) at about 65% efficiency, it depends on the conversion technology but Antal's "flash carbonizer' for example is able to recover almost 100% of the carbon from biomass. Even BRIs bio-catalytic process converts biomass to ethanol at 65% efficiency. Glick's leucaena/anaerobic digester in florida converts biomass to methane at about 70%, etc. The DCFC will convert the carbon to elect at over 80% efficiency, approaching 90%...the SOFC will do it at 60-65%, with 30% of the input energy recoverable as heat.

So .65 X .65= .42 without heat recovery.

For example there are 175 million acres of degraded farmland in the US that can be used for mixed perennial prairie grasses at 8 tons per acre biomass production (and at the same time sequester 2 tons of carbon per acre). Glick's Leucaena by the way produces 25 tons per acre, a wetland will produce 12 tons per acre of cattails,etc. Minnesota alone has 10 million acres of wetlands. They know that Miscanthus giganteus will produce 20 tons per acre in pretty much all of the Midwest. the DOE itself figures we have 1.366 billion tons of available, renewable biomass in the US. Waste is another source, we have 800 million tons of that per year including 175 million tons of high BTU industrial waste that requires huge tipping fees for disposal.

The potential is there for 2 B tons at an average of 15 M BTUs per ton minimum. That amounts to more elect than we need (30 quads X .42 = 12 Q as elect) plus we would all get free recovered heat saving another 5 Q of natural gas(20% of total demand). With wind and PV only about 40% would actually need to come from SOFCs so that means we have more than twice the renewable primary energy than we need.

The conversion technologies that use renewable energy can all pay for their own insurance by the way so take the $3.4 billion per year handout to the Nuke industry under Price-Anderson and see how far it would go toward commercializing SOFCs.

These renewable technologies all have an economic payback also so perhaps the Nuke industry can payback the $166 billion they have been given to date for R&D...before we go any further with nuclear.

Brian Wang

You are amazing for your distortions of what people write, distorted and wrong interpretation of history.

I said that solar probably would become a dominant source for energy but not for decades.

Let us look at the replacement of horses. It was rail and bicycle that replaced horses along with cars over the period from 1885 to 1920. But only in places like America and France the early adopters. China, India do not now have automobiles as the dominant form of transportation. After over 121 years.

So if animal power were like coal able to blight the world then problem not yet solved. But oh wait..
Cows do make a global impact because of grazing land and methane gas.

How can you stand being so wrong and misinformed all the time? Even your attempts to mock are wrong. I guess because you are denial of reality and have a complete inability to understand the actual comparative sizes of anything. Plus you can only see a distorted world out your window. Because when you look out your window you are not seeing much solar power you just really wish there was. You believe statements that are repeated frequently enough. "Horse and buggy" well those were replaced by the 1920's. That must be true. But domesticated animals are still all over for food here but for other purposes in the developing world.

A free US only car history lesson:
The changes began during the Golden age of the bicycle, the preceding era from 1880—1915.

Cars were patented in 1886. the first steam powered vehicles were in 1769 and 1789.
During it's first 20 years (1900-1920) motor vehicles replaced most of the animal powered transportation. Note: 14 year lag from 1886.

By 1920, there was one auto for every 11 persons. But a few states like California had one auto for every 6 persons while the South-Eastern states lagged the nation in automobilisation.

But even in 1920, railroad travel (including streetcars) still somewhat exceeded auto travel. In the 1920's, gasoline taxes were instituted and road construction and paving was accelerated, resulting in a decline of railroad travel. By 1930 there was about 6 times as much passenger travel by auto as by railroad and one auto for every 4 1/2 persons. Thus over half of U.S. families owned an auto although most working class families didn't.


Meanwhile China only now shifting to cars. India not really shifting yet.

The old ignore the world, ignore reality, ignore real history, repeat and misapply incorrect aphorisms. Good one amazingdrx.


"Those who learn from history are doomed to watch others repeat it" (amazingdrx).

Now you want us to watch while the nuclear industry builds 1000s of new nuclear plants Brian?

After chernobyl, Three mile island, Rocky Flats, Hanford, Yucca Mountain, Oak ridge, paducah nuclear fuel plant, and on and on. After nuclear proliferation that has made Pakistan, N. korea, and soon Iran a nuclear power?

Doesn't seem prudent.

BTW, how is your buggy whip stock doing? Is that a company based in India or China? Hehehey.

ps. Nice touch on the cow gas remark, it was almost Reaganesque!

Paul Dietz

After nuclear proliferation that has made Pakistan, N. korea, and soon Iran a nuclear power?

How exactly does not building commercial nuclear powerplants in the US prevent, say, a country like North Korea from building plutonium production reactors?



How would you get from what you posted to a conclusion of five cents per kWh, which is what Dr. X posted in another thread.

barry hanson

I don't have a copy of Dr. X's post but I might explain the SOFC production cost of electricity by: A)starting with the cost for the feedstock; say $10 per M BTUs which would give you elect at $16.67 or 5.5 cents per kWh. But that would just be for the fuel. B) You would need to know the capital cost and the O&M cost also; The SOFC will have the stack replaced every 5 years at 25% of the initial total installed cost so if the cost is $400 per KW double it for O&M over a twenty year period: $800 per KW will then cover both capital and O&M. Add 20% to the installed cost if you want to for financing. The unit will have a capacity factor of over 90% so the $800 per KW will work out to .5 cents per kWh over the twenty years.

The total comes to 5.9 cents so you will have to work backwards on the fuel cost to get the number down to 5 cents. But, as I mentioned, $4 per M BTU for methane is very realistic for gasified biomass, syngas can be made for even less if there is a tipping fee involved. $4 would bring the above calculation to less than 2 cents per kWh.


Barry Hanson wrote: Add 20% to the installed cost if you want to for financing.

A $400 principal with $20 annual addition at 10% discount rate over 20 years works out to %3,951.05. This adds 2.5 cents/kWh to the electricity cost.

Where can I buy an SOFC for $400/kW? Does that cost include the other typical costs of homepower, such as the invertor, wires, panels, fuses, conduit, installation, real-estate. Does it include the cost of the fuel-storage container?

barry hanson

The $400 will include the balance of system costs, several of the SECA participants claim they have the stack costs well below $400 right now.

OK....then don't add financing costs...what nonsense with the $3951.05 comment!


Fine math Barry!

Very encouraging for the whole V2G initiative. I think we finally have fossil and nuke power beat from the monetary angle.

Elimination of the duplication of having fixed power plants AND generators in electric vehicles is such a huge saving of capital that it puts reneable technology way ahead.

Now the question is how to implement it. I think indivual homes, farms, and businesses becoming stable power sources that backup a local area 100% renewable grid is the answer.

Then eventually these local renewable grids link together and conventional power plants start to shut down one by one.

Local renewable grids could also invest in large remote wind/wave power systems and transport the power over the grid back top the local area or sell that power into the grid when excess power is available due to low demand or high wind/wave power output.

I doubt that utilities as they now exist will be willing or able to adjust their systems to acomodate renewable power variability to get to anywhere near 100% renewable energy. They are willing to accept maybe 10 to 20% at the most and most will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do even that.

Barry now how do we estimate the total biogas generation capacity from manure, farm waste, human waste, garbage, and other sources? That would also tell us how much methane could be saved from entering the atmosphere from waste runoff and digestion of cellulosic matter in wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

Methane is 20 times worse as a gHG than cO2, so signifigant reversal of global climate change might also be a side benefit of distributed biogas fuel cell power.

By allowing renewables to aproach 100% of our power generation and transportation energy, saving land for conservation now devoted to fuel farming,and stopping oil wars and nuclear proliferation, this biogas V2G rollout provides the missing link to a total renewable energy solution.


"How exactly does not building commercial nuclear powerplants in the US prevent, say, a country like North Korea from building plutonium production reactors?'

By switching to better, more earth friendly, more cost effective technologies the uS, the largest market in the world, can lead by example. Those who do not follow will be left in the financial ash heap (radioactive) of history.

China is already ahead on mileage standards for vehicles (as Al Gore points out in his movie) and the US with lower standards is losing our share of the world automotive market. We could regain leadership, revive our economy, and save the planet with V2G backing up renewables.

As far as stopping N Korea from it's path of doom, Clinton had them negotiating, Bush stopped those negotiations, and almost 7 years later we are on the verge of a nuclear exchange with N korea. An exchange of nuclear bombs not nuclear reactors!


Exchange?  N. Korea wouldn't have launch sites, nor production facilities, nor cities if the US hit them.  The Norks' one launch site could be wiped out with cruise missiles if we saw it being readied, and they've never succeeded in firing a missile which could reach the continental US.

If it wasn't for S. Korea, I'd suggest removing the mad-dog regime as an example and leaving China with a no-man's-land for a buffer instead of a crazed dictator.

Brian Wang

Lead by example is parental wishful thinking, there is no reality in it for nations in economics or technology adoption.
Can you name some significant economic /technological changes that the N Korean have followed the US's lead by example ? They have not followed into capitalism.

This is another example of a lack of understanding of how nations and peoples behave.

How did Pakistan get the bomb?

An ambitious young Pakistani metallurgist Abdul Qadeer Khan (known in the style of the sub-continent by his initials AQ) was working in the Netherlands for a Dutch company called Physics Dynamic Research Laboratory. He was able to get blueprints for a centrifuge made by Urenco. Armed with his blueprints, Dr Khan then set up the AQ Khan Research Laboratories near the Pakistani capital Islamabad and began to build the bomb, often getting supplies and equipment from European companies. In those days, controls were lax and in any event much of the equipment was dual use so its ultimate purpose could be hidden. Dr Khan was remarkably successful. He is believed to have helped North Korea, which supplied Pakistan with missiles.

Lax controls in the 70's and letting those with foreign loyalties work with nuclear technology. More nuclear energy now in the USA will not change the situation.


The CIA was informed of AQ's activities shortly after he began working in the Netherlands, by security officials in that country.

Those official wanted tyo arrest him at that time, before he smuggled all the bomb technology out. The cIA said no, that they were using him to track proliferation.

Fort some reason nuclear industry folk want proliferation? Why? More demand for their products? who knows, but the cIA must have been doing their bidding.

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The construction field always has it ups and downs and is always changing but progress will never stop.Even in a questionable economy there is always room for growth and expansion. The will and strength of the people is what makes us all able to move forward and accomplish great feats together. and construction has always been the backbone of this country no matter the economic status.


Thank you for this its really helpful

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Wow...that's a lot of nuclear activity!

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