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April 07, 2007



A puff propaganda piece is my guess, but who knows? Maybe they will feature leaking nuclear landfills too? Or estimation of the disaster from a used nuclear fuel rod storage pool fire?

Or actual costs of nuke-u-ler power including insurance, waste treatment and storage, NIMBY lawsuit delays, cost and time over runs by corrupt nuclear contractors,and rising nuclear fuel costs.

Expect a Lovelocke, Brand style mass delusional media sellout instead. That's what the excerpt sounds like. The old false dilemna, it's either nukes or gHG disaster.

The old renewable can't do the job big lie technique.


Yep, pure propaganda in the preview.

No mention of safety, cost, and waste issues. Painted France as a nuclear powered paradise.

Public perception the only problem? Thanks Steve, hope you got your check from Bechtel.

This is why the TV networks are going out of business. No one with a brain will watch, 60 minutes joins American Idol in quality of programming.

Tom Lawson

This is a typical lefty site of irrationals. You prefer the guaranty of dirty power from destructive bio fuels, net energy wasteful solar (unless you color the data as the socialist machine demands)not to mention the toxic waste, over the remote risks of nuclear storage. You prefer expensive government programs that lead to retardation of progress, over the fantastic rise in the standards of living of 6 billion peoples over the last 150 years.

Kit P.

Info on EDF's Flamanville 3 EPR project can be found at: http://www.edf.fr/html/epr/uk/index.html

Click on 'launch the film' to view a video of the construction.

Udo Stenzel

"disaster from a used nuclear fuel rod storage pool fire"

Ceramics can now burn in air? Very amusing, drx.

Seems every village needs a clown. This one even has a suggestive name.


Amazingdrx wrote: rising nuclear fuel costs.

Nuclear fission uses dense fuel. That is why nuclear fuel costs are generally so low as to be of no consequence. This was addressed previously on The Energy Blog, here:

Ken wrote: and lack of maintenance or other costs.

Nuclear-power capital costs are high, Ken. All other costs are inherently low, because of the high energy-density of the fuel. Here is a World Nuclear Association (WNA) article on nuclear-power economics.


Ken wrote: I expect the price of Uranium will rise significantly so it will cost more to run them

It is interesting that nuclear fuel costs have been dropping, even as uranium prices have been dramatically rising. From the above link:

Fuel costs are one area of steadily increasing efficiency and cost reduction. For instance, in Spain nuclear electricity cost was reduced by 29% over 1995-2001. This involved boosting enrichment levels and burn-up to achieve 40% fuel cost reduction. Prospectively, a further 8% increase in burn-up will give another 5% reduction in fuel cost.

Charts are here:


Ken wrote: I have no doubt there'll be a lot more nuclear power plants built but there are problems including security issues, safety, waste disposal, decommissioning as well as being relatively expensive.

Every one of those problems afflicts solar power to a greater degree than nuclear power. The reason is that nuclear power is more energy-dense. Because of its superior energy-density, in the long run, nuclear power is by far the least-expensive energy option currently available to us.

Ronald Brak

I agree that nuclear would be the cheapest energy option, if it weren't so expensive.


In general the real issue with nuclear is that all of it's pricing is based on LONG term projections (And subsidies)
For instance, the cost of decomissioning a facility is not taxed.

Second, it'll be 8 years before even 1 plant can be built.

And 10 years at the earliest before Yucca opens up.

Considering the rapid growth of renewables (In particular solar).

One might wonder why we should waste money on technology that will be obsolete in less than a decade.

Lastly, it's not possible to solve the proliferation issue with nuclear if we expand it worldwide. (And if it were, it certainly would make all other energy sources look cheap by comparison)


re: Tom Lawson
--You prefer expensive government programs that lead to retardation of progress--

Back at ya buddy.

Nuclear gets more yearly subsidies than all renewables and effeciency programs combined.

And yet it's still more expensive than coal.

You want socialist electricity? Look no further than France, Japan or Russia.
Where the government owns the nuclear facilities, since they can't compete in a capitalist market.


--Ken wrote: I have no doubt there'll be a lot more nuclear power plants built but there are problems including security issues, safety, waste disposal, decommissioning as well as being relatively expensive.

Every one of those problems afflicts solar power to a greater degree than nuclear power. --

?? I don't see how solar is affected by even one of those issue.

--The reason is that nuclear power is more energy-dense. Because of its superior energy-density, in the long run, nuclear power is by far the least-expensive energy option currently available to us. --

Energy density doesn't matter except in portable applications. And nuclear facilities certainly aren't portable.

Given an equal ammount of subsidies, GeoThermal could easily match Nuclear capacity.

The only thing nuclear has over wind and solar is baseload.
And thats also easy enough to solve.

ESPECIALLY if UltraCapacitors take off:

Given how quickly DENSE energy storage is evolving in just the next 2 years, it's hard to imagine nuclear being cost competative in a decade from now.


GreyFlcn wrote: The only thing nuclear has over wind and solar is baseload. And thats also easy enough to solve.

Improving the ability of nuclear to provide load-following and peaking service would run nuclear out of business?

(By the way, here is a tutorial on HTML links: w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp)

Kit P.

Let me clear up a few things. It takes 4-5 years to build a modern nuke plant. Commercial nuke plants are under construction around the world. Concrete is being poured now for a plant in Finland Flamanville 3 EPR that should come on line 2010.

In France, nuke plants create 1 kg of waste per person with only 10 gm being high level waste.

In the US, almost all of the plants running will run for 60 years. Each time the reactor is refueled it gets a modern design.


And in the French government owns 80% share in their nuclear facilities.

They have a largely failed fast breeder program
A largely failed socialized reprocessing program. (Which was originally justified by the potential of their fast breeders)

And have a private island where they dump all their waste.


In short, the perfect example of socialist electricity.



Please explicate regarding the island.

Paul Dietz

Please explicate regarding the island.

Maybe he's confusing it with the islands the french used for underground nuclear weapons tests.

Kit P.

I am not sure what point GreyFlcn is making. Does he want to debate French politics? Unlike the US, France does not have large coal resources. The made a decision to rely nuclear power and have become a world leader. Other countries such as Japan and south Korea have followed a similar path rather than be dependent on imported fossil fuels to make electricity.

The French are building the Flamanville 3 EPR to maintain that leadership. It also looks like France is actively involved in renewable energy. It would appear that France wisely investigates its energy options and utilizes what is available.

Energy is not a popularity contest. Choices are based on what works.


--Energy is not a popularity contest. Choices are based on what works. --

Call me a cynic,
But are the choices really based on what works, if they are payed for almost entirely by government funds?

For instance,
Ethanol, and PEM Fuel Cells are some of the worst technologies, and yet they get a lions share of US government funding.


That said, apparently I am wrong about the island bit. It was just testing facility.

However the taxpayer burden, in underfunded fees, subsidies, and liabilities is quite real.

Paul Dietz

However the taxpayer burden, in underfunded fees, subsidies, and liabilities is quite real.

Given that your pronouncement about the island wasn't actually reality-based, you will forgive us if we do not believe this statement until you offer specific, numerical details. Be sure to distinguish sunk costs from putative continuing subsidies, as the former are irrelevant to the question of future spending.


Okay, for one example.

Lets say the cost of Yucca Mountain is estimated to be $27 Billion.

And the current revenues paid towards Nuclear waste storage is $25 Billion due to the $0.001KWh tax.

Furthermore, the current income from that $0.001KWh tax pays about $0.7 Billion per year, (Meanwhile lawsuits payed out by the Government for onsite dry cask storage are $0.5 Billion per year)

Sounds about square, now doesn't it?

Problem being, that $27 Billion figure makes the assumption that Yucca mountain opens up in 2017. Something Nevada is blatently opposed to.
Furthermore, that figure was ratcheted down from the previous $58 Billion estimate.

Thats quite a large margin of error.

And who is forced to pick up the bill, if it costs more?


Due to this unassumed liability, the Nuclear lobby is free to make their projections as rosy as possible.

Without. Consequence.

Kit P.

YM will also house waste generated by weapons programs so part of the cost is the burden of the government.


And who pays the government's bills?


Speaking of setbacks for Yucca
And budgets

And capacity:
"Currently operating U.S. reactors is projected to exceed the currently legislated. 63000-tHM quota for Yucca Mountain by 2008"

Brian Wang

"60 Minutes," had about 12 million viewers for the April 8th broadcast (8.1 rating /16 share). Plus they will get viewers from repeat broadcasts and any viewers of web video of this broadcast. So this positive nuclear message will reach millions of older americans, who watch 60 minutes and vote in elections (Thus influencing the policy choices of elected officials). All of the anti-nuclear blogs got out-messaged in one hour a few days ago. Ouch.


The polls in california before the CBS show for voters is 46% for more nuclear power and 46% against.

60 minutes reviewed researched facts about nuclear power. Which makes nuclear power look good because nuclear does make sense. They focused on France which is nuclear power success story country.

Complaining about subsidies to achieve success is like saying a kid with good grades and high SAT scores had them because his working parents could buy him books and tutors. The point are the results.

Does nuclear power cause less deaths because of reduced air pollution? Yes. Air pollution from coal kills 60,000 in the USA each year. This saves money with lower healthcare costs.

Does France reprocess their nuclear fuel? Yes they do. Thus they only need to store less than 5% of the amount that those who do not reprocess their fuel.

Fact: France is 80% nuclear powered.
Fact: France is the world’s number one tourist destination, with 78 million foreign tourists in 2006.


French Riviera, Provence, Burgandy, Paris, French Alps are all scenic.

Fact: France nuclear powered paradise. Truth hurts as the truth reaches amazingdrx through his denial.


re: Brian Wang
--Fact: France is 80% nuclear powered.

Where 80% of the ownership of the reactors is by the French government.
(i.e. NonEconomical, Socialized)

Even optimistic estimates don't see even 1 US nuclear facility being completed until 2015.

Meanwhile, Nuclear will likely be obsolete in the next 2 years. (If not sooner)
Most definantly within the next 8 years.

Nuclear is too much of a liability for taxpayers to be worthwhile.
Socialist electricity isn't the way forward.


GreyFlcn wrote: Even optimistic estimates don't see even 1 US nuclear facility being completed until 2015.


New reactor construction is expected to start about 2010, with operation in 2014.


In mid 2006 NRG Energy announced plans to build 8 GWe of base-load capacity across the USA in the next decade, notably two 1358 MWe ABWR nuclear units costing $5.2 billion at its South Texas NPP site, coming on line 2014-15.


While the focus is on new technology, TVA is funding a study on completing its half-built 1167 MWe Watts Bar-2 reactor, which could be on line about 2013.

In addition, TVA is rebuilding Browns Ferry-1 which was shut down in 1985. The 5-year refurbishment program will increase its power to 1200 MWe. It already has an operating licence and is expected back in operation in 2007.

Brian Wang

The criteria did not properly include or score actual implementability and scalability. They are properly assessing meeting the global (3 terawatts of electricity now, 14 terawatts if you include transportation and other power -which counts if you plan to convert cars etc over to electricity) or US demand (almost 1 terawatt) for energy.

The list has cold fusion as the #6 power technology.

The #1 power technology for implementation. By their own assessment is still in prototype.
Immediate, once results from initial prototype testing and evaluation are available.

The socialist argument is meaningless.
If there are ways to save the environment and the planet but some of them involve "socialist financing". You would say nope can't do it its socialist.

How about effective and affordable public trains ? the TGV system,on time affordable, high utilization. Can't do it because its socialist.

How about universal healthcare ? No solutions that involve government support ? To socialist.

Look at all of the costs to the taxpayer for not having nuclear and having 50% coal power in the USA which is the current reality. An extra 100+ billion per year in health costs and an extra 60,000 deaths per year.

Paul Dietz

Yucca Mountain is not a subsidy, since it's completely unnecessary. If the government decides to waste resources in a way that the industry neither needs nor wants, don't blame the industry or the technology.


Meh, fair enough.
I'll tone down the semantics.

"Federally owned/funded" electricity means theres hardly any market mechanisms being used, and all the liabilities are left in the hands of taxpayers.
(And there's a lot of liabilities. Both safety, cost, and miltary)

I see that as a problem.

Furthermore increased usage of nuclear makes it near impossible to manage the proliferation issue worldwide.
(Since if we're scaling up nukes, then we have no ground to tell sovereign countries like Iran that they can't do the same.)


We already have a solid alternative to Nuclear.


"MIT: The figure for the whole world is on the order of 100 million exojoules or quads [a quad is one quadrillion BTUs]. This is the part that would be useable. We now use worldwide just over 400 exojoules per year. So you do the math, and you know you've got a very big source of energy."

As is, California used almost as much Geothermal power as Nuclear power.

Check out how it works.


(Note, in any list of tech solutions a lot of them are gonna be duds. That list just has a relatively good ratio of non-duds, as well as a few innovative ones.)

Kit P.

Over at EIA, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/sep2005.pdf you will see that nuclear is the second largest source of NET electricity generation at 39,631,866 MWhr in California. Total US was about 1,435,585 MWhr. Geothermal is an excellent source of energy and maybe GreyFlcn can explain why the are about the same.

Brian Wang

what is the incremental risk from proliferation of more nuclear plants in the USA?

The nuclear cycle for nuclear power plants is not an efficient way to get nuclear material for bombs. So there is no connection between more nuclear plants and more nuclear bombs. Isreal, North Korea have nuclear bombs but no nuclear power plants.

There are already over new 200 nuclear plants that are going to be built around the world to go along with the 443 that exist already. More US plants will not matter.

Proliferation. Of course proliferation has not directly killed anyone.
40 countries already have the know how and the material to make bombs. Canada, South Korea, Japan and others could become nuclear powers in under a year if they wanted to.

For Iran, they were proliferated to decades ago from Pakistan. There is no need for logical grounds, moral grounds or non-hypocracy in telling Iran they cannot have nuclear weapons. The reason is the US already has thousands of nukes and a big conventional military and the big dog is saying "Iran do not get nuclear weapons."
It will be non-nuclear weapons that kill more people in the 21st century. Just like it was for 200 million in the 20th century. Less than 200,000 nuclear weapon deaths. Conventional weapons are plenty deadly and do not come with political baggage and are more precise.

US, China and India the main places where more energy is going to get built. Already all nuclear powers.

Nuclear proliferation is meaningless and overhyped.

Geothermal is not going to scale, but get more of it built if you can. More nuclear plants will get in the USA and 29 are being around the world now. I do not have to do anything and it is happening.


Here is a 10-minute clip of the actual 60 Minutes piece:

One important item to note is how deep the spent-fuel pools appear to be.

All of France's spent nuclear-fuel eventually ends up here, in pools of water.

"If I fell in, would I die?"

"No. No. I hope that you can swim."


Brian Wang

The latest article on this site and the previous discussion on this site about geothermal say that right now there is very little geothermal power, it is not yet cost effective and the hoped for plan is to try to equal the current amount of nuclear in several decades and not start building a lot of it until after 1 decade of research. Research which has not been funded yet.

Russia, China, India are planning a lot more nuclear power. China by itself may equal the current level of nuclear power in the USA by 2030 and the total amount of nuclear power in the world by 2050. Russia plans to build double or triple the current amount of nuclear power in the world. India is using nuclear power as part of their plan for energy independence (along with advanced solar)

Japan and South Korea also have plans are are building a lot more nuclear power

So by 2040, Russia, China and India and other countries (plus some frmo the USA as well) could increase nuclear power usage by four times or more. The share of nuclear power for electricity based on these plans would then double from 16% now to 32% (as energy demand would double)


Brian Wang wrote: Japan and South Korea also have plans are are building a lot more nuclear power

Japan is planning on doubling its nuclear-electric share to 60% by 2050, and additionally plans to be using 20 gigawatts of process heat for production of other fuels.


In 2004 Japan's Atomic Industrial Forum released a report on the future prospects for nuclear power in the country. It brought together a number of considerations including 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and 20% population reduction but with constant GDP. Projected nuclear generating capacity in 2050 was 90 GWe. This means doubling both nuclear generating capacity and nuclear share to about 60% of total power produced. In addition, some 20 GW (thermal) of nuclear heat will be utilised for hydrogen production. Hydrogen is expected to supply 10% of consumed energy and 70% of this will come from nuclear plants.

GreyFlcn wrote: the current income from that $0.001KWh tax pays about $0.7 Billion per year
As you can see from this table...

...the Nuclear Waste Fund levy is collecting $0.78 billion per year, and will be collecting $0.79 billion per year as of next month (when our 104th reactor-unit, Browns Ferry Unit 1, starts up). With expected power-uprates, that should soon move to $0.80 billion per year, and continue rising to higher levels.

Because of inflation, that one-cent/kWh levy, in terms of real dollars, actually continuously declines. Most analysts agree that it has been collecting too much money, but if the levy turns out to not be enough, it could easily be raised since it amounts to so little relative to the value of the energy produced.

This follows from the general rule that all costs associated with dense energy sources always amount to very little, relative to the value of the energy they produce.

GreyFlcn wrote: (Meanwhile lawsuits payed out by the Government for onsite dry cask storage are $0.5 Billion per year)

By reading the link you cited for that figure, it can be seen that that is not true:

Here is what was actually written there:

First of all, it is important to understand that the costs that the federal government is paying the utilities for continuing to store the spent fuel on site is small in comparison to the costs of reprocessing. As discussed in section I, the Department of Energy estimates that the costs will grow to $0.5 billion per year. We estimated the cost to be somewhat lower. Either cost is small, however, in comparison to a reprocessing program.

Perhaps one reason the DoE expects the dry-cask-storage cost to grow, is that it expects nuclear-energy production to also grow. Naturally, if nuclear-energy production grows, the absolute amount of yearly-money collected by the Waste Fund levy will also grow, since the levy is based upon the amount of energy produced.

The same principle applies in the case of the Yucca Mountain Repository. You said essentially that if Yucca opens later rather than sooner, it will cost more. Well, it is natural that it will cost more, since more spent-fuel will have been produced. More spent-fuel produced implies more energy produced. More energy produced implies more Waste-Fund dollars produced, because the levy is tied to the amount of energy produced.

What you have not demonstrated is that the Waste Fund dollars will not rise at least as fast as the repository costs. All you have succeeded in doing is confusing the issue by failing to point out important relationships, such as that between the variance in the cost of the repository and the variance in the value of the energy produced.

GreyFlcn wrote: And who is forced to pick up the bill, if it costs more?


There is not enough information to come to a conclusion about whether-or-not taxpayers would foot the bill. As I stated above, the levy is so small right now, it could easily be raised. In the end, no matter who ultimately picks up the bill, said bill will never amount to very much money in relation to the value of the energy produced. This follows from nuclear-energy's basic property of being very dense, which tends to make all of its costs relatively small.

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