Going renewable doable by 2050, new analysis suggests

A new study published in Energy Strategy Reviews this month affirms that sourcing 95 percent of our energy from sustainable sources by 2050 is possible, using already available technologies. The authors are from the Dutch renewable energy consultancy Ecofys. Their paper includes technical detail, but the general salient points are well identified and clear to the non-expert reader. Familiar themes are sounded and buttressed with careful and sensible analysis.

Efficiency and electrification are two key requisites on the way to the 2050 goal.  The scenario proposed by the study envisages a slightly lower power demand in 2050 than in 2000, even allowing for established forecasts of population growth and GDP growth. It surveys demand under three sectors – industry, buildings and transport – indicating in each case the prospects of much lower demand from the application of efficiency measures as compared with current business as usual (BAU) practices. The electrification which plays an important part in lowered demand occurs primarily in the buildings and transport sectors.

In the buildings sector the paper envisages the retrofitting of existing buildings by 2050 to ambitious energy efficiency standards. This requires retrofit rates of up to 2.5 percent of floor area per year, which is high compared to current practice, yet feasible.  For new buildings the scenario is for an increasing percentage to be built to ‘near-zero energy use’ standard, reaching a penetration of 100 percent of new buildings by 2030.

The power reduction in the transport sector scenario is not derived from a reduction in activity. It depends primarily on the reduction of energy intensity through the most efficient technologies. Plug-in hybrids and/or electric vehicles are posited as the primary technology choice for light duty vehicles. Long distance trucks undergo large efficiency improvements, but not electrification due to the prohibitive size and weight of batteries under current technology. A small share of shipping fuel is considered replaceable by hydrogen won from renewable electricity.

Global energy demand in all sectors when split by energy carrier shows a large increase in electricity but a sufficient fall in other carriers to add up to a projected total energy demand in 2050 slightly lower than that experienced in 2000. This stabilisation on the demand side is essential to the goal of having renewable energy provide nearly all of our energy needs by 2050.

Turning to the supply side, the paper considers the realisable deployment potential of the various renewable sources. The growth of on-shore wind power has been remarkable in the last decade, with annual growth rates exceeding 25 percent in most years. Several off-shore wind parks are already in operation worldwide and many more are currently in planning phases. The paper settles on annual growth rates of ∼30 percent for off-shore wind and nearer 20 percent for on-shore wind.

Future hydropower growth is restricted in the scenario to small hydropower and efficiency gains in existing large hydropower schemes in the interests of respecting existing ecosystems and human rights.  The wave and tidal energy potential is estimated at around 5 percent of the potential of offshore wind.

Direct solar energy is seen as having the largest realisable technical potential for renewable power and heat generation. The scenario assumes a photovoltaic growth rate of 25-30 percent per annum and a concentrating solar power (CSP) growth of 20 percent. Concentrating solar heat technology is not yet on the market and is therefore included only at a very small potential, around a tenth of the potential of CSP.

Geothermal energy has not had the attention it might have and given its large potential, specifically for demand-driven power, the scenario premises that the current 5 percent annual growth rate could be doubled to reach the levels of other renewable power options.

Bioenergy is included in the scenario only to the extent that it is sustainable and leads to high greenhouse gas emission savings in comparison to fossil references.

Thus efficiency on the demand side combines with the strong growth of renewable options on the supply side to reach the goal of a sustainable energy system by 2050. The writers note that their scenario uses only a small fraction of each of the sustainable sources.

The study then proceeds to stress the importance of a number of enabling levers: grid capacity improvements to remove bottlenecks and increase transmission capacities; demand side management, particularly for wholesale customers, but also at individual consumer level; storage, in the form of pumped hydro, centralised hydrogen storage, battery and heat storage; conversion of excess renewable electricity to hydrogen for use as a fuel in specific applications.

Overall, the energy scenario would lead to a ∼80% decrease in energy-related, global CO2-equivalent emissions versus 1990 levels by 2050.

How do the cost and savings of this energy system compare with a BAU energy system? The transition to the proposed energy system would require large additional upfront investments, albeit estimated at less than 2% of global GDP at any given point in time. However in the later years the net financial impact would be positive. That is to say, the energy system proposed in this scenario would be significantly cheaper to operate by 2050 than a BAU system.

The scenario represents a radical change from current systems of energy use, and current policies will not be able to manage it. The study is clear that new policies will be required. Public bodies should create the long-term framework enabling the transition and provide investment in large infrastructure and early-stage R&D projects. Private actors should operate under a long-term perspective, resulting in adoption of best practices in energy efficiency, and should channel investments into the most efficient and sustainable energy options. The most pressing policy needs are those related to what the study identifies as the two key enabling factors for the scenario – strong energy efficiency measures coupled with electrification for remaining demand, and the preparation of our energy grids to cope with the increasing demand for renewable electricity.

So yet another welcome report says it’s feasible that we can successfully move to an economy powered by renewable energy. That doesn’t mean we will do it, of course. Policy is the crux and there are few signs that policy makers are ready for the kind of drive needed to get the change of direction under way. Here in New Zealand the government still places considerable economic hope on fossil fuel exploration.

As I was finishing this summary of the Ecofys paper the Herald and Stuff websites carried reports from the Petroleum Summit meeting in Wellington that senior figures from the oil industry and the Crown’s resource management unit are planning a public relations push to get New Zealanders supportive of oil exploration. The Minister of Energy addressed the conference in no uncertain terms: “We like you. National likes you and we like what you do.” The incoherence of the government position was echoed by other speakers. Shell New Zealand chairman Rob Jager: “We are as committed to a cleaner future as many people who protest against our activities but the reality is demand for energy continues to grow.”

Taranaki Regional Council Chair Basil Chamberlain encapsulated the contradictions: “In short, putting greenhouse gas emissions arguably aside, at this regional scale, across land, freshwater, air or coastal resources, the industry has negligible adverse impacts.”

How on earth can greenhouse gas emissions be put aside when considering the impacts of the oil industry? They are the very reason why we need to start forsaking fossil fuels and moving with all possible speed to renewable sources of energy. The Ecofys analysis, along with many others, shows the feasibility of our doing so. Governments and industry need to stop prevaricating and commit to the new course.

145 thoughts on “Going renewable doable by 2050, new analysis suggests”

  1. This plan proposes to eliminate the eighty eight percent of world energy use currently sourced from fossil fuels, while at the same time getting rid of nuclear, and freezing large hydro, which currently provide nearly all of the rest. It also has total world energy use leveling out below current consumption, even though eighty percent of the people alive now are dirt poor, and barring accidents the population will go from seven to about nine billion people. It has nearly all use switching to electric, but the electricity would come from wind and solar, both intermittent and seasonal, and biofuels, which compete directly with food production ( and with natural ecosystems). Storage would be necessary. At the moment pumped hydro makes up about 99% of total world electricity storage, and it provides about half as much power annually as is used by the Faroe islands. Hydrogen systems have been tried, but not widely; about 60 percent of the power can be lost in transit, it’s pesky stuff to keep sealed in, you need huge volumes or very high compression, and it’s very explosive. Widespread use could have climate effects as bad as from leaking natural gas, as the superlight molecules shot up to the stratosphere and wiped out the ozone layer.

    1. These are all valid concerns but it’s not so dire.

      OK 9 billion instead of 7 – and, more significantly, increased energy use by those climbing the ladder of growth. It is indeed a challenge as is trying to fit any exponentially growing thing into a finite space. Some have noted that 2% year-on-year energy growth requires us to harness the entire output of the entire galaxy by 4500CE or so. If you raise this argument you should know that it undermines the BAU position completely.

      It’s notable that this plan includes a large level of building efficiency gains. Clearly the plan is picking the lowest hanging fruit first. There are huge gains to be made here. And if the third world “leapfrogs” inefficient building designs and goes straight to near-zero power usage buildings thats a huge part of the problem averted.

      The stuff about shutting down nuclear–that’s just pragmatism. Nuclear steam power is simply outdated and too expensive to be a part of the picture. The risks are unpalatable to the wider public. As Asimov predicted in _Caves of Steel_, future Earthlings are likely to shun nuclear.

      Also Solar and Wind are far more reliable and complementary than you give them credit for. The wind’s always blowing somewhere and if it’s not then it’s almost certainly sunny at peak demand times.

      1. ‘…. Nuclear steam power is simply outdated and too expensive to be a part of the picture.’
        France has about the cheapest electricity in Europe, and is the world’s largest net power exporter. They make a lot of money exporting to Italy, the UK, and Germany. About eighty percent of the power is nuclear generated. German reactors were so lucrative after the introduction of a carbon tax that the government brought in a nuclear fuel tax, used to subsidize otherwise unattractive offshore wind power.
        ‘…The wind’s always blowing somewhere and if it’s not then it’s almost certainly sunny at peak demand times.’
        If the somewhere where the wind is blowing is either side of a big high centred on you, then even your thousand km HVDC lines and your extra sets of windfarms will naught avail. And in temperate countries, peak demand is usually in winter, when sunshine is weakest and most erratic.
        ‘…The risks are unpalatable to the wider public.’
        The wider public is ill informed about comparative risk. The risks of unmitigated climate change are far greater than any putative risk from a nuclear power plant.

        1. We have an existing mix of generation including fossil fuel generation that emit CO2, a bad thing. Adding wind, solar and nuclear to the existing mix on the grid does not eliminate the existence of the existing fossil fuel generators, in fact their owners may even replace these when they reach their end of life. But the added wind, solar and nuclear will displace the generation that would otherwise be met by the fossil fuel power. As a result, the emission of CO2 (the bad thing) will be reduced. All this talk of being either side of a big high is silly. Would you prefer that we emit CO2 all the time at a rate that would occur with an imaginary ‘big high’ everywhere all over the world? It is just very very silly.
          Perhaps things are now disastrous enough to justify emulating the French experience with nuclear, but I would point out that the French are building rather a lot of wind power. Finland and the UK are cautionary tales on the cost and delays (our last one was finished 16 years late) of adding new nuclear plant. But even so renewable and nuclear are not incompatible and both benefit from transnational energy trading and energy storage. Take a look at China and their enthusiastic development of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear to meet demand. Why constrain the current progressive addition of renewable now just because someone may one day (at enormous cost) get sufficient nuclear power on line.

        2. A few points if I may.

          France deployed most of its nuclear fleet before it became expensive. What makes nuclear so expensive? Mitigating the risks of the many modes of failure that the industry is continually uncovering. This is called the “negative learning curve” of nuclear power. Is France managing to beat the US’ Nuclear Regulatory Committee on overall cost of mitigating risk? Hard to say because they’re not as transparent. More likely they’re winging it, relatively speaking.

          Those on-shore highs lead to a very large difference in temperature between the air above the ocean and the air above the land. The air above the land rises, and draws air from the ocean in. So offshore turbines perform well in this case. Not only that but offshore wind resources (speaking of the US, anyway) are vast.

          1. If you take the long view, hydro, nuclear and onshore wind all have the costs at the beginning, low emissions, and low Levelised Cost of Electricity.
            http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/#
            Nuclear works pretty much all the time, hydro when you need it (droughts and freezing excepted). Most industrialised countries have only ten to twenty percent of their electricity capacity as hydro, and the difference between minimum and peak demand over 24 hours is fifty to a hundred percent. Four countries make ninety percent or more of their electricity with various admixtures of these two low carbon sources- Sweden, Switzerland, France, and Brazil. Norway has 99% hydro, Iceland 100% hydro and geothermal. New Zealand used to have ninety percent hydro; now we’re about thirty percent fossil powered electricity. The thing is, in forty years or so we have to get every country up to these levels, and that while placing much heavier reliance on the grid than there is now. Yet as far as I can ascertain, not even a tiny test case, an offshore island in the trades where diesel is dear, or some sun blasted oasis, has achieved anything near that on the usual mantra of sun, wind, and storage. Individual houses, sure, but no communities. Wind used to power the world’s shipping, but pretty much vanished as soon as a reliable alternative appeared. Seen any oil tankers with a kitesail attached lately? If you do, they’ll be just like the German economy- a beautiful eco statement up top, but fossil fuels doing most of the work .If they’d brought in a Kohlenstoffausstieg instead of the Atomausstieg I’d be more impressed

            1. “Yet as far as I can ascertain, not even a tiny test case, an offshore island in the trades where diesel is dear, or some sun blasted oasis, has achieved anything near that on the usual mantra of sun, wind, and storage.”
              We have been here before when andyS wanted similar examples. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/19/canary-island-renewable-energy-lehir
              So, it works and is not, as you suggest without evidence, tokenism.
              “…and the difference between minimum and peak demand over 24 hours is fifty to a hundred percent.” How does nuclear deal with that, it doesn’t, thats how.
              As for your silly kites sail on oil tankers anecdote, it has one fatal deficiency, you are comparing an untested concept with tried, tested, used all over the world for years, modern wind turbines. As I said, silly.

            2. According to Beaker’s article

              Flettner’s spinning bodies were vertical cylinders; the basic idea was to use the Magnus effect. The idea worked, but the propulsion force generated was less than the motor would have generated if it had been connected to a standard marine propeller.

              Remind me what the point of these are?

            3. Andy, you really do hate anything that has to do with innovation and especially if it has to do with wind….
              Below is the full context of your little citation:

              HISTORICAL NOTE: In the early 1920’s the force from a rotating cylinder was used to power a sailing ship. The idea, proposed by Anton Flettner of Germany, was to replace the mast and cloth sails with a large cylinder rotated by an engine below deck. The idea worked, but the propulsion force generated was less than the motor would have generated if it had been connected to a standard marine propeller!

              http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/cyl.html

              So your lament and “failure” to understand was referring to trials of that technology in the 1920ies…. no doubt the engineers of the E Ship 1, built in 2009, had these early trials in mind….

              E Ship 1 is designed to reduce fuel use by 30%.

            4. Andy, you really do hate anything that has to do with innovation and especially if it has to do with wind….

              Hardly, I look forward to the next season’s kiteboarding gear with anticipation.

              However, I am at a loss to see how a fossil fuel powered cylinder that is less efficient that a propeller is better than a propeller alone, unless this is some kind of symbolism for the wind industry in general.

              By the way, I did use one of these magnus effect steered vehicles some years ago whilst prototyping some subsea pipeline video inspection devices. They were good for steering a vehicle with little turbulence, so enhanced the video capture.

            5. Andy…

              However, I am at a loss to see how a fossil fuel powered cylinder that is less efficient that a propeller is better than a propeller alone…

              This was said about the trials in the 1920ties. But the fact that the engineers launching the E Ship 1 in 2009 built in 4 of these turbines with the design spec to save 30% on fuel tells me that the technology and the design has advanced significantly since.

              http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/10/e-ship-1-21st-century-sailing/

  2. ‘“Yet as far as I can ascertain, not even a tiny test case, an offshore island in the trades where diesel is dear….’ Touche. The extreme case I said doesn’t exist, does ( or will, if they make it through the Spanish recession.)
    ‘” How does nuclear deal with that, it doesn’t, thats how.’ ( ie diurnal variation) Probably the same way as most of the renewable scenarios do, by overbuilding capacity, demand management, EV charging, hydro, and storage where possible. At the worst case, building double baseload capacity in nuclear would definitely cover the case, whereas just building double in wind and solar, plus connections, definitely wouldn’t.

    1. “Probably the same way as most of the renewable scenarios do, by overbuilding capacity, demand management, EV charging, hydro, and storage where possible.” yes as I pointed out to you further up these comments, just two days ago.
      “…building double baseload capacity in nuclear …” Wow, we have just leapt from ‘can we afford to and do we have time to implement a nuclear lead solution with minimal fossil fuel use to help with variable demand’ to building twice as much of the massively expensive and time consuming nuclear plant.
      To advocate this course of action with a straight face, you must really have a convincing case (i.e. not the stuff I seen from you here previously) against adding renewables to the generation mix. Could you let everyone know what it is.

      1. The French run their reactors at about 75% capacity, instead of the 90% achieved in the US or Korea ( or Japan till recently! ). Together with hydro that covers most of their use- sure they import some but they export more. They are expensive up front – so are dams – but they should be available, on demand, for the next sixty years. Windmills have half the life expectancy, a third to half the capacity factor, and if widely relied on would need, in addition, a huge rollout of HVDC connections and enough storage to make El Hierro’s system look like an AA battery. This is not taken into account in price comparisons but it should be.

            1. They also can’t be deployed for decades because the research and development cycle for nuclear technology is so long. The “Generation IV” nuclear you refer to won’t be ready until at least 2040; it’s too expensive, and too late.

            2. This argument that nuclear is too hard and too late is possibly the lamest argument I have heard (and I have heard it quite a lot)

              We have enough shale gas globally to last centuries. We can use this as a transition to thorium and other nuclear technologies, though currently the low cost of shale is pushing everyone else out of the market (including traditional oil and gas).

              Somehow, we are expected to believe that it is possible to get most of our energy from wind and solar, when this accounts for around 1% of global energy at the moment. We haven’t done any feasibility studies, just a lot of arm-waving and hot air.

              We are pushing billions into this unproven and unreliable energy, that is causing the Germans to think twice and ramp up their coal fired energy as a result.

              This is all going to end in tears

            3. You have no credibility. Hence your opinions are of no value.

              Anti-science wreckers who selectively behave as fervent advocates of an unproven, almost surreally expensive and baroque technology – because they perceive it as aligning with their ideological purposes – while simultaneously making hyperbolic and hysterical claims about demonstrably effective and readily deployed technologies are completely contemptible.

              There is certainly an argument for the deployment of nukes – and just as certainly there’s an argument against them – but not one for paying heed to the ceaseless vapourings of bad-faith cynical hacks. Go away.

            4. You have no credibility. Hence your opinions are of no value

              What an utterly arrogant and ignorant person you are Bill. You call me “an anti-science wrecker”

              What right do you have to call me that, and to say “go away”. I have provided solutions that such noble entities as George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and others are proposing.

              The only wrecking going on around here is by those that are proposing to bomb our economies back into the stone ages with their useless windmills and idiotic carbon reduction policies

            5. …bomb our economies back into the stone ages with their useless windmills and idiotic carbon reduction policies…

              Alarmist.

            6. AndyS, once more you kick yourself a massive own goal!

              Here you bleat on about molten salt reactors not needing water cooling and you obviously have not the faintest clue!

              To educate you: The molten salt reactor uses salt for their inner cooling cycle, the one that transfers the heat from the nuclear reaction out of the reactor and to the second cooling cycle, which is a water cycle generating steam for the steam turbine which generates the electric power. The cooling need arises at the low pressure point of the steam turbine!

              Like any thermodynamic cycle the steam turbines low pressure end must be massively water cooled just as the low pressure end of Huntly’s coal driven steam generators do. The laws of physics limit the efficiency of the system no matter what you use for your closed inner cooling cycle (water as in traditional reactors or molten salt as in 4th gen reactors) you still end up poring about 60% to 70% of the nuclear generated heat into cooling, either though massive evaporation towers or river water heating….

              So AndyS, for a PhD and for a vociferous opinion on a lot of things your basic understanding of the physics or technology involved is shockingly shallow!

              And reg wind being costly, your amnesia is just unbelievable. We have been around this point too many times already.

            7. Thomas, from the Wikipedia entry for MSR

              A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of nuclear fission reactors in which the primary coolant, or even the fuel itself is a molten salt mixture. MSRs run at higher temperatures than water-cooled reactors for higher thermodynamic efficiency, while staying at low vapor pressure.

              Operating at near atmospheric pressures reduces the mechanical stress endured by the system, thus simplifying aspects of reactor design and improving safety. It should be possible to construct and operate molten salt reactors more cheaply than coal power plants

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor

              So which bit did I misrepresent?

            8. ‘Bomb our economies back into the stone age’? Yeah, like the Carbon Tax has done here in Australia. In the fantasy land you inhabit that may well be held – desperately – to be true, but in the wider world we know as ‘reality’? Not so much…

              I am not a multiple-alias troll-for-all-seasons who routinely refers to warmists as ‘brownshirts’. Why you get your kicks getting up people’s noses I’ll leave to your (doubtlessly-never-likely-to-exist) analyst, but the spectacular hypocrisy of you decrying other people as ‘trolls’ over at the Confirmation-bias Club for behaviour far milder than that routinely exhibited by you here – and describing people back here that you’ve deliberately antagonised as ‘trolls’ also (talk about projection!) – really sticks in my throat.

              As I said, there’s room for a range of opinions on nukes in the rational cross section of opinion; but you are not part of that community. That was my point. As usual, we’re left wondering if your inability to comprehend is testimony to your dimness or your routine dissembling.

              And the anti-renewables brigade are wreckers of the first water – ideological curmudgeons who literally hate the idea of a world where AGW is taken seriously (this is why to be a Denier is to be a wrecker) with such a fervent, foam-flecked passion that they’d rather generate a toxic smog of hysterical propaganda to terrify and herd the masses into their blinkered, coal-fired corrals – and bugger the consequences – than see such technologies take their place in a workable, post-carbon future.

              Also, Genius, since you don’t believe in AGW how will the revival of German coal-power ‘end in tears’? This is one of those Freudian slips (Carbodioxymorons), like the oil industry simultaneously denying the reality of AGW while preparing to move their rigs into the Arctic as the ice melts out. You all know what’s actually happening, but like spoilt brats everywhere you not only want to have your cake and eat it, you want to have someone else pay to clean up your mess, too.

            9. Unfortunately for the deluded like Bill, your economies will be bombed back into the stone ages if you continue on your current trajectory

              What surprises me is that you are surprised by this. I thought you all despised capitalism, wealth and consumerism and would rather be clawing out root vegetables with your bare hands.

              Maybe I misread you

            10. Unless you can justify your pathetic “stone age” taunting with chapter and verse, I will not allow further comments running that line to pass moderation.

            11. Andy, you are clueless about the need of cooling in power generation. The fact that the primary runs at a higher temp is raising the efficiency somewhat but you still have the convert the thermal energy in to electric energy using a steam turbine and that is where the cooling need arises and that is not significantly different from a coal plant, traditional nuclear plant or a 4th gen plant. Your comment above suggesting that 4th gen nuclear plants are not affected by the massive needs for cooling water simply show that you have no clue.

            12. Andy, there are some things which a lot of descriptions of nuclear technology won’t mention due to them being down to elementary laws of physics.

              There are always two stages to a large scale nuclear generator: a closed inner coolant, which is heated directly by the nuclear chain reaction, and a secondary, open cooling system which cools the internal loop. The flow rate of the inner system, and hence how much power you can draw off it, is directly dependent upon how much you can cool it after it has passed the turbine. If you can’t cool it, the pressure backs up, there is no pressure difference, and zero flow rate. The temperature in the reactor will build up and once it approaches its design limit it will either scram or meltdown. The inner coolant must be very well enclosed, because it is radioactive.

              It is the secondary coolant which has to be readily available in the natural environment and flow effectively to be brought to the inner coolant loop for heat exchange to take place. Essentially that limits you to either air or water. As I mentioned in another comment, air cooling is expensive and not as safe, so that limits you to water. And lots of water, as the UCS article I linked earlier details.

              Admittedly my first quip about “nuclear steam power” is only really accurate for BWR, PWR and similar technologies where the inner loop is water or pressurized steam.

          1. Other reactor designs that may be of interest:

            Small Modular Reactor, specifically Westinghouse SMR.

            The Westinghouse uses a self-contained reservoir of water

            It will shut down automatically and keep cool without human intervention or AC power for seven days, using passive heat removal with onsite water inventory, relying exclusively on the natural forces of evaporation, condensation and gravity.

            thus the need for a large body of water such as sea, river or lake is removed.

            Also the Thorium LFTR design was envisaged as a power source for moon bases which by definition cannot have a coolant reliant on river, lake or sea.

            That was my original point that got shot down

            1. Helium 3 for what purpose? Fusion power?

              Cooling on the moon is still required, it’s just a different equation: you have to radiate all the excess heat into space rather than convect it away. That doesn’t work on Earth because of the greenhouse effect! So a completely different design is required.

              That Westinghouse reactor looks interesting: note the large amount of land required; 14 acres. Assuming the bulk of that is cooling, to dissipate 250MW of heat without using water in dry conditions, you’d need the hot air to be rising off that 14 acres at an average of about 0.2m/s; I have no idea how to do this properly, but a naïve calculation would suggest that the winds at the edges would probably be around 5m/s (assuming that the air is drawn in from the lower 2m, and the site is a square). Acres of heatsink is not a trivial proposition!

              It will be interesting to see whether or not any of these modular reaction designs receive enough investment and time to get licensed and deployed. In the meantime it’s probably better to plan for a low–carbon future without speculative technologies.

            2. But the important question is: What affects property values more, a nuclear reactor or a wind-farm? Prototype thorium or very high temperature (sounds scary) would probably kill the housing market.

            3. Well, wind power has been shown to reduce property values by over 50%, many houses are no unsaleable as a result of wind farm placement in the UK and elsewhere

              I can’t comment on a reactor, but a well-designed small reactor would be out of sight, out of mind.

              Furthermore, a nuclear reactor actually generators some power

            4. God you live in a fantasy world, andy. What a completely ridiculous pairing of statements.

              Along with your fellow-bubblers – I notice you didn’t rush to the defence of Dixie’s latest absurdity – your sad little lost world gets more absurd every day…

            5. I don’t know which is the more ridiculous comment by AndyS. I got a laugh out of his belief that we can mine the moon for He3 and bring it back to earth for the still nonexistent technology of energy from fusion, or his blathering on about a 50% decrease in house values because of wind farms.

              Here is a quote from people who actually went out and sought data, unlike AndyS who just makes things up:

              With wind energy expanding rapidly in the U.S. and abroad, and with an increasing number of communities considering wind power development nearby, there is an urgent need to empirically investigate common community concerns about wind project development. The concern that property values will be adversely affected by wind energy facilities is commonly put forth by stakeholders. Although this concern is not unreasonable, given property value impacts that have been found near high voltage transmission lines and other electric generation facilities, the impacts of wind energy facilities on residential property values had not previously been investigated thoroughly. The present research collected data on almost 7,500 sales of singlefamily homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states.

              The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models. The various analyses are strongly consistent in that none of the models uncovers conclusive evidence of the existence of any widespread property value impacts that might be present in communities surrounding wind energy facilities.

              Specifically, neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities is found to have any consistent, measurable, and statistically significant effect on home sales prices. Although the analysis cannot dismiss the possibility that individual homes or small
              numbers of homes have been or could be negatively impacted, it finds that if these impacts do exist, they are either too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact.

              http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-2829e.pdf

            6. I’ve no doubt that there is some evidence to support the 50% property devaluation due to wind farm proximity: real estate is in my opinion tragically over–valued and so very subject to whimsical variations. As I recall there was another study showing little to no increases… I think it would be highly dependent on the location and market. Do you have a link to the study Andy?

              There’s also this recent video from Peter Sinclair: Those Crickets are Driving me Crazy

            7. No I don’t have a link to a study. I speak to actual “people” (sorry I mean NIMBYs) who have been unable to sell their properties because of proximity to windfarms. I also know that councils have acknowledged this by reducing the council tax on the properties involved.

              As someone whose property in ChCh is effectively worthless after the earthquake, I have some empathy.

              In terms of the He3 story, you might find this “fantastic” but Harrison Schmidt (you know, the astronaut) has invested some money into these ideas.

              It is certainly no more fantastic than the idea that you can litter the UK with wind turbines, not reduce property values and destroy tourism, and keep the lights on (Ofgem seems to think power blackouts are very likely from 2015 onwards)

            8. No I don’t have a link to a study. I speak to actual “people”

              Ah, the perfect companion to Dixie, who cites studies he doesn’t read! Or even need to…

              ‘I speak to actual people’. Sure you do. If reading and regurgitating the Daily Mail counts as ‘speaking to people’.

              If – and that’s a big if – there’s a property-value effect, how much of it might be due to the hysteria you and the rest of your tribe have attempted generate, do you suppose?

            9. Actually Bill, I do not get my information from the Daily Mail. I get it from the large number of anti-windfarm activist groups that I belong to.

              I spend a lot of time writing to developers and politicians to do my best that your useless piles of metal and concrete do not ruin the country I was born in.

              I don’t intend to share any of this information with you or your rent-seeking parasite friends that hover around sites like this

            10. Incidentally, you silly, silly man, here’s a link to the results of 17 studies – actual real-live scientific studies, not Daily Mail hysterical onanistic outbursts – on the impact of wind-turbines.

              Guess what they all conclude? I’ll give some quotes, shall I?

              • “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.” Source: NHMRC 2010

              • “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.” Source: Colby 2009 review

              • “There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly… causing health problems or disease.” Source: Massachusetts review

              • “There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and… sound exposures in occupational settings, that the sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.” Source: Colby 2009 review

              • “… while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects…” Source: Ontario CMOH Report

              • “… the audible noise created by a wind turbine, constructed at the approved setback distance does not pose a health impact concern.”Source: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit

              Etc. Etc. Read the bloody thing.

              You won’t, of course, and it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, because your (collective) inherently atavistic, medieval world-view is the actual plague pathology here.

            11. Bill, I find it ironic that you refer to my world view as “atavistic and medieval”

              It is not me proposing to litter the country with medieval wind machines

              It is me writing about new generation nuclear fission and speculative fusion products from the moon.

            12. Yes, I’m sure you and your wrecker friends do all sorts of bad-faith social harm, but there’s clearly no evidence for anyone who’s not already as barking as you are to believe a word you say. As I said; you are the real threat to people’s property values and mental equilibrium; and by your own admission you have nothing but your own bigotry to sustain you in your motley little Crusade.

              And, frankly, I find no contradiction between your Quixotic fear of modernity on Earth, and the notion that all your problems are going to be solved by Mystical Elements from the Moon. Positively Medieval. And his hilarious notion gives us another very clear take on your grasp of economics – or lack thereof – if one were needed.

              Some may see you as less noxious than certain other parties, but, by way of parallel, being only the third-worst trombone player in Essex doesn’t strike me as much in the way of a distinction. You’re ideas are every bit as toxic and ruinous to the rest of us as your peers, and I’d advise that no-one should forget it.

    2. Further, the use of Nuclear power is predicated by the mining and refining of Uranium ore. Uranium is a very dilute mineral requiring huge amounts of ore and rock to be mined, moved, crushed and processes. All this including the building of the plants and processing infrastructure and all its associated transport matters result in a not insignificant CO2 dept plus ongoing CO2 emissions or between 90 and 140g of CO2 per KWh produces that way.

      http://timeforchange.org/co2-emission-nuclear-power-stations-electricity

      1. Thomas, most of this work could be done using nuclear power too, eliminating the CO2 emissions. Today it isn’t (except IIRC for some nuclear plants in France exclusively providing electricity for an uranium enrichment facility). Fossil fuels are so damn cheap 😉

        1. One day we might perhaps have electric earth movers digging for Uranium in Namibia with the power being somehow sent there from European nuclear power plants and then we load the ore onto sailing boats…. 😉
          But for all intends and purposes I would wager a bet that the production cycle of uranium mining will involve massive use of diesel etc. for a long time to come. (below open pit mine in Namibia)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arandis_Mine_quer.jpg

      2. The Storm van Leeuwin and Smith report has been widely disputed.From the UK parliamentary study on carbon footprints -‘However, a 2006 study by AEA Technology calculated
        that for ore grades as low as 0.03%, additional emissions
        would only amount to 1.8gCO2eq/kWh. This would raise
        the current footprint of UK nuclear power stations from 5
        to 6.8gCO2eq/kWh (Fig 3). If lower grades of uranium are
        used in the future the footprint of nuclear will increase,
        but only to a level comparable with other ‘low carbon’
        technologies and will not be as large as the footprints of
        fossil fuelled systems.’
        And this is for current reactors, which discard as ‘ waste’ most of the 99.7 percent of uranium, U238, which in a fast reactor is just as incredibly energy dense as U235. Most comparisons have solar, wind, hydro and nuclear on a par for total life cycle emissions.

      1. By ‘ just building double in solar and wind’ I meant to exclude the other items required in that study. They propose hydrogen storage on a scale comparable to all the hydro lakes of Norway, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland, with 40 percent power losses converting from electricity to H2 and back, plus the arithmetic assumed a ‘copperplate’ system, ie any power generated anywhere in Europe transmitted, with no capacity restrictions, to wherever it was to be used or stored. Someone will probably correct me, but I think the only extant hydrogen storage system is for a small village in Labrador. A review of that concluded that pumped hydro would have been a much better option

        1. … almost forgot- the Heide et al study found storage requirements with that amount of excess renewable generating capacity would actually be about ten times that stated above, so they split storage into short term ( 24 hours ) and longer term. So if you want to cook your breakfast before sunup, or fire up the arc welder when the wind’s not blowing, or if everyone in Europe turns on the telly on a calm evening, it’s only a short term mismatch, so they don’t consider it!

          1. There are production technologies that can deal with this. New York City has their flywheels, and smart grids are around. There are also low-cost, heavyweight liquid battery technologies with the wattage of aluminium smelters: they’re taking orders for container-sized systems in the 10’s of MWh range if I recall correctly.

          2. John, what many people don’t realize is how deeply ingrained our “entitlement thinking” really is. After only 100 years of electric power and less than 50 years in many places of the globe, we take it for granted that we can use any power at any time.
            That is a fallacy brought upon us through the exuberance of the last century when energy was spouting from the oil wells without end and consequences…

            The consumer – that is you! – must and will be part of the solution, like it or not! This means that due to smart grids power cost might make it prohibitive to start a welding job when alternative energy is expensive. If you don’t like that, get yourself a battery bank and store a days worth of power for a rainy day yourself.

            1. Tom Murphy
              http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/09/got-storage-how-hard-can-it-be/
              has a blog post where he calculates that a lead acid battery ( at the moment the cheapest and most reliable ) sized to power just the US for six days, would take more lead than could be dug from known reserves for the whole earth. So do I close the factory for a week till the wind blows? Hell no, I move to China and burn coal. Indians are used to frequent power cuts. Anyone who can afford it installs generators, and puts up with the fumes, the noise and the diesel costs.
              Samv, the New York flywheel system would power 0.03 % of the state’s average consumption for 15 minutes. It’s designed to keep the voltage and frequency steady, rather than let the generators take a holiday.The liquid metal batteries are interesting, but you’d need way less of them to pad out steady nuclear baseload than to try to run a system with most of the power sources off more often than on.

            2. John ONeill, “So do I close the factory for a week till the wind blows?” OR – burn gas at a rate equivalent to the wind power not being installed for this hypothetical week of yours, but (and this is the good bit) not burn that gas at that rate the rest of the time, dramatically cutting gas consumption and CO2 emissions. Do you see?
              I dont know of any grid where it is proposed to decommission existing fossil fuel generators in a response to renewables development. The renewables displace the fossil fuel generation, not the generator. This is not a difficult concept suggesting that your continued dancing round it (such as your comment 27/9/12 at 20:25) is disingenuous.

    1. It might come as a surprise to you that there is more than one person in the world who thinks wind energy is a bad idea

      I acknowledge that I am a sceptic about CO2AGW but at least I try to come up with energy solutions that are feasible from an economic and engineering perspective

      1. AndyS:

        ….This (need for cooling water) is only a problem for water cooled reactors. Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) and Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) designs don’t have this issue….

        …at least I try to come up with energy solutions that are feasible from an economic and engineering perspective…

        … while really you have no clue about the physics involved and even suggest that 4th gen nuclear reactors don’t need cooling water as they use molten salt….

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor

        1. while really you have no clue about the physics involved and even suggest that 4th gen nuclear reactors don’t need cooling water as they use molten salt….

          I have no clue about 4th gen nuclear reactors, possibly, that is a value judgement.
          However, the article that you cite (and I also cite in the same thread) states

          The salts are much more efficient than water at removing heat from the core, reducing the need for pumping, piping, and reducing the size of the core.

          So you say I am “clueless” because I suggested that MSR and LFTR is not primarily a water-cooled system (and doesn’t have the high pressure issues requiring a large steel containment vessel), yet all the articles that I read suggest that this is the case.

          Clearly my ignorance and puny brain is lacking something, so perhaps you could explain where I am mistaken.

          Thanks

          1. AndyS, you suggested that warming of the climate and the associated issues with sufficient cooling for nuclear plants, which in Summer sometimes can’t run at full capacity due to lack of cooling water (even Huntly coal in NZ is affected by this!) would be no issue for molten salt reactors as they are cooled by salt!
            This is what you suggested. And its of cause the most ridiculous bunkum ever…!

            1. Leaving aside the actual engineering of the cooling mechanisms of the nuclear reactor, the idea that rivers and seas will be too warm to cool the nuclear core, or whatever design, is the only bunkum around here

            2. The MSR and LFTR concepts were pioneered at Oak Ridge labs in the 1950s.

              The MSR experiment is described here

              In the MSRE, the heat from the reactor core was shed via a cooling system using air blown over radiators

            3. Don’t be too hard on poor AndyS, he is still on Page One of how electricity is produced using nuclear fuels. He hasn’t got to the bit where a nuclear reactor actually gets coupled to an electricity generating machine, aka electric generator.

              There are two main types of generators that produce electricity at the scale required, steam turbines or gas turbines. Both require water as a coolant since their efficiencies are determined by the delta T of gas/steam in versus T of gas or condensed water out.

              AndyS, let us know when you have finished the first chapter and we will give you a test to see how much you have understood. Perhaps you can write a short essay on the difference between a nuclear reactor and an electricity generating system. When you combine the two you get a “nuclear power plant”.

            4. Uh, Andy, how about you call Genesis Energy and arrang or a visit to Huntly. You know the big coal station….
              Then ask them about their problems to run this at capacity in summer. Have a chat with them about temperatures of the Waikato river and at what stage they are required to throttle back or turn off!
              Andy, the physics of thermodynamics limit the efficiency of steam turbines. And it might suprise you that 60% to 70% of the generated energy is dumed as heat into the environment at the cooling end of the steam turbine. That is so for Coal and it is the same for Nuclear. Now go an take some reading on the matter before you dig yourself an ever deeper hole….. You know some people here have physics degrees and know what they are talking about….

            5. Andy, note this line in your source:

              Maximum power, which was limited to 7.4 MW(t) by the capability of the heat-rejection system, was reached in May 1966.

              And they built a pretty large heat sink to get that.

              Let’s say you can raise the temperature of the air you use for cooling by 20ºC from the intake to the exhaust. So for every cubic meter of air per second you dissipate about 23kW of heat. To dissipate 250MW of heat using air you need to move over 10,000 cubic meters of air per second.

              With water it’s easier, because it has a higher heat capacity and density, you can cool it with 6,000-15,000 L per second (corresponding to about 10ºC to 4ºC temperature rise in the coolant water): still a lot of water to draw but manageable. If you heat it any more than that, you start pasteurizing all of the nearby aquatic life.

              Here’s what the experts say about why water cooling is preferred to dry cooling in nuclear power:

              Dry cooling is not currently used in nuclear power generation due to a combination of concerns: on the one hand, safety risks of using dry-cooled technology with nuclear reactors; and on the other, the high costs of operating large dry-cooling fans.

              That article also neatly breaks down the water use into the recirculating water, which is not required in a molten salt reactor design, and that which is taken for cooling. As you can see, the actual cooling water is the lion’s share. The recirculating water is never directly expelled; it has been in a highly radioactive environment and must be filtered for heavy water molecules before it can be drained.

            6. the idea that rivers and seas will be too warm to cool the nuclear core, or whatever design, is the only bunkum around here

              You have to remember that Andy lives in a parallel universe, one in which this hasn’t already happened.

            7. AndyS, let us know when you have finished the first chapter and we will give you a test to see how much you have understood.

              Ok Forrester, I have got to chapter 1 of your “book”. I am ready for the test

              I am particularly excited by the challenging questions that you will ask me about how a 2 or even 4 degree C rise in global mean temperature will prevent us from water cooling nuclear reactors

              I am all ears and eyes Forrester, dazzle me with your brilliance

            8. Gees, AndyS thinks he can take the test after just reading Chapter One. Is that how you are so lacking in your scientific abilities, you just read the chapter ones of your text books? Such a course of action is not likely to lead to a full understanding of any subject let alone science.

              Here is Chapter Two for you. It talks about the cooling water needs of electricity generation, note that the water needs in the electric generation part is not affected by how the steam is generated only in how it is used most efficiently for electricity generation.

              http://tinyurl.com/4rkzrtf

              So how will a “2 or even 4 degree C rise in global mean temperature” effect electricity generation? It will have 2 effects. The first is that increasing temperatures due to AGW will drastically effect the hydrological cycles, droughts will become more severe and will occur more often. This causes a lowering of river and lake levels causing disruptions to power plants using that water. See for example France in 2003 and 2006. Secondly, the temperature of the inlet water will rise, probably much more than 4 degrees C since that is an average. As you can see from the equation in the link I provided the amount of water required for cooling is proportional to Delta T, usually around 17 degrees C. Thus as the temperature of the inlet water rises, more and more will have to be pumped into the system, at the same time available water will probably be decreasing. Not a very pretty situation if you are planning to make money from your nuclear plant.

              It should be noted that these negative effects of AGW are not limited to nuclear plants but will also effect traditional fossil fuel powered plants too.

            9. Gees, AndyS thinks he can take the test after just reading Chapter One.

              But you earlier wrote

              AndyS, let us know when you have finished the first chapter and we will give you a test to see how much you have understood.

              Are you always this inconsistent?

            10. Poor AndyS, he is too embarrassed to respond to the technical challenges I put to him. He still does not understand the difference between a nuclear reactor and a power generation system. He is obviously not yet ready for any test. Go and re-read Chapter One, you are still not capable of understanding very simple concepts.

            11. Poor AndyS, he is too embarrassed to respond to the technical challenges I put to him.

              Did you provide me with technical challenges? I’m sorry I must have missed that bit.

              Can you please repeat your “technical challenges” and I would be delighted to respond

            12. AndyS is as confused as ever:

              Did you provide me with technical challenges? I’m sorry I must have missed that bit.

              Yes, I did provide you with a technical challenge, unfortunately it seems to be too technically challenging for for a technically challenged person such as yourself.

              I asked you to describe to us, in your own words and in a technically competent manner, the differences between a “nuclear reactor” and an “electricity generating system” aka power station. Try not to use such straw-man arguments as differences between molten salt reactors and water cooled reactors. Your straw-men arguments might convince your scientifically challenged mates over at Threadbare’s place but not here. We are talking about electricity generation and its requirement for water as a cooling agent.

            13. I asked you to describe to us, in your own words and in a technically competent manner, the differences between a “nuclear reactor” and an “electricity generating system” aka power station.

              An electricity generating system s a system that generates electricity.
              A nuclear reactor is a system that manages a contained nuclear fission reaction, which may be used for electricity generation, but can also be used for other applications such as hydrogen production, water desalination and medical isotope production.

              Therefore there is an intersection between the set of “electricity generation systems” and “nuclear reactors” that we can call “nuclear reactor electricity generation systems.

              Did I pass?

              Try not to use such straw-man arguments as differences between molten salt reactors and water cooled reactors

              I thought that was the start of this “massive own goal” that I supposedly created.

              This about the water cooling requirements…

              No it’s not. You asked me to state the difference between a nuclear reactor and an electricity generation system.You will have to phrase your questions more carefully
              Clearly, some electricity generation systems require water cooling, some do not. Some require less than others, such as LFTR and MSR that operate at higher thermodynamic efficiency that light water reactors

            14. AndyS is finally getting close to the real world:

              Clearly, some electricity generation systems require water cooling, some do not

              The difference between the types that you think will solve the water needs (LFTR and MSR) are so ridiculously close to other nuclear and fossil fuel powered systems that they all fall into the category where there will be massive black outs if we adopt the ones you are proposing.

              Now think (I know that is hard for you) about how we can generate electricity without using massive amounts of (soon to be in short supply) water. Hey, how about wind-power and solar power, they don’t use much water at all.

              Why do you hate wind farms so much, did someone stick a silly little propeller on your head when you were small and it frightened you? Or is there a reason based on science and not the nonsense which you continually spout here and on other blogs?

            15. So Ian, you think we should phase out all water-cooled electricity generation because we will run out of water?

              Is that your proposition?

              Why do you hate wind farms so much?

              Same as everyone else, because they generate a piddling amount of power for a massive cost, despoil the landscape, and for non-hydro backed grids require backup generation, usually in the form of gas, that increases the cost about 10 fold over gas alone (according to the Hughes report) and there is very little evidence that wind will actually reduce CO2 emissions to any degree.

              Basically, I regard the wind industry as a bunch of con artists

            16. By the way, I see that there is a link to the Lynas/Goodall article (in your tweets section) on the “myth” that wind energy doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions.

              This has been extensively critiqued by Gordon Hughes. You can find the link yourself – I won’t bother posting it

            17. AndyS responds in the only way he is capable of, unmitigated dishonest nonsense. I knew it wouldn’t take too long for him to resort to BAU:

              because they generate a piddling amount of power for a massive cost, despoil the landscape, and for non-hydro backed grids require backup generation, usually in the form of gas, that increases the cost about 10 fold over gas alone (according to the Hughes report) and there is very little evidence that wind will actually reduce CO2 emissions to any degree.

              Basically, I regard the wind industry as a bunch of con artists

              Too bad for you that the majority of sensible people are supporting these technologies which you seem to be afraid off. Or is it that your fossil fuel sugar daddies just pay you to spread your dishonest nonsense?

              If you are worried about costs of things I recommend you read some of the latest reports on the costs that will accrue from our continuing over use of fossil fuels. I wont give you any links since I am sure that some body with your self professed internet skills will be able to find them in a few micro seconds of computer time.

            18. Forrester, when you accuse me of lying, being dishonest, etc, perhaps you can use the Hughes report as a reference.

              I understand that “sensible” people think that wind energy, which currently provides around 1% of global electricity (according to some sources anyway), and often drops close to zero in places like the UK, can power an industrial economy without backup from gas.

              When you accuse me of lying, being despicable etc, how does this reconcile with my advocacy for modern nuclear power systems such as LFTR that people like Baroness Bryony Worthington are also in favour of? Is Worthington, a former FoE advocate and archtect of the UK climate change act, also a liar and despicable person?

              Are the only honest people in the world ones who want to feed off government subsidies for an energy system that produces little useful output?

              I look forward to your response Forrester

            19. AndyS doesn’t like government subsidies:

              Are the only honest people in the world ones who want to feed off government subsidies for an energy system that produces little useful output?

              See, you are being dishonest again by implying that the only subsidies are being given to wind and solar companies. You refuse to accept that by far (very, very far) the biggest subsidies go to your favourite sugar daddies, fossil fuel and nuclear companies.

              Your sugar daddies have a lot of output, unfortunately, most of it is harmful.

              Such hypocrisy.

            20. Ian Forrester
              This idea that fossil fuels receive more subsidies than renewables outside of the developing world is competently untrue. Nuclear does require subsidy but at least it provides reliable power that does not require backup from FF.

            21. Nuclear power does require constant back–up. Typically if a nuclear power station’s auxiliary power fails it will scram for safety. Such as this event where a single phase outage brought down the entire plant.

              Fossil fuels still get considerable subsidies in the US in terms of billions of dollars worth of tax breaks; historically these tax breaks are far larger than any amount to come from the public purse. I believe Gerry Brownlee was in charge of some free drilling and exploration work in New Zealand. Then there’s the risk side of things: letting plants operate with the public assuming the risk is a massive subsidy which both the FF and nuclear industry receive. What does it say when no private insurer will underwrite the risks?

            22. AndyS wonders why I call him dishonest:

              This idea that fossil fuels receive more subsidies than renewables outside of the developing world is competently untrue.

              That is one of the biggest lies put out by the fossil fuel industry. You just proved to anyone reading this that my comments about you are completely true, you are a despicable lying denier.

              Politicians in most of the world are in the pockets of these scum bags in the fossil fuel industries. Does it make you feel good to be in that group?

            23. You just proved to anyone reading this that my comments about you are completely true, you are a despicable lying denier.

              When you have stopped foaming at the mouth Ian, perhaps you could actually come up with some data to back up your case

              Of course, if what you say is true, then I’d be more than happy to end all energy subsidies. I wonder where that would leave us?

              Probably without wind and with a lot of gas I suspect

        2. Sorry Thomas, on this issue you are flat wrong and andyS is right. Water cooled reactors take river or sea water and sloosh that round the atomic pile. The steam that boils off this, like the steam out of the spout of a kettle, goes through a turbine and is then returned to the river or sea.
          The molten salt reactors dont need any water because the molten salt goes through the turbine, and sprinkles out the back end. One of the little known benefits of this salt is that it tastes delicious on chips, is a great source of iodine (important for thyroid function) and the Flouride is good for your teeth.
          I am baffled how in your response to andyS you managed to get this so wrong.

          1. The molten salt reactors dont need any water because the molten salt goes through the turbine, and sprinkles out the back end.

            The inner cycle of the reactor is salt. In a Boiling Water Reactor, it’s water. You still need to cool the system; if you look on the Molten Salt Reactor diagram on the Wikipedia page there is a “heat sink” connection: this basically means water. How else are you going to remove the useless heat from the system? I haven’t run the numbers but I’d guess 1GW of waste heat is pretty hard to push into dry air. Might work for a 20kW SLOWPOKE but I doubt it could for something hundreds of MW or higher.

            1. Current nuclear reactors are actually not very efficient thermally, only about 33%, as compared to supercritical coal plants up around 45% or higher, and combined cycle gas turbines which use waste heat from the turbine to power a secondary steam system, and can get up near 60%. Generation IV reactors- salt, gas, metal, or supercritical CO2 or water cooled, will all run much hotter, and get better thermal efficiencies; at some loss of power some could get away with air cooling.

          2. Hahaha! Beaker…..

            The molten salt reactors dont need any water because the molten salt goes through the turbine, and sprinkles out the back end. …

            I love it! I can picture this high pressure salt reactor shoving a pile of the same out the back….;-)

            1. I am still waiting to hear how an MSR reactor differs from a water cooled reactor as defined by the Wikipedia article you cited.

          3. Yeah, I think Beaker is going to have to get ‘comment of the week’! But there’s competition in SimonP’s ‘I’m afraid that the bi-polar see-sawing is elsewhere.’….

    2. Sockpuppet? Nah, last time I checked I was a real person. What we have in common is Andy ( whom I’ve never met) is an ex paraglider pilot and I’m a hang glider pilot, so we’ve both spent far too long sitting on hilltops to regard wind as a dependable power source. Otherwise Andy is a Denier and I’m an Alarmist ( to use the jargon )
      I’m not averse to wind farms in New Zealand. A report I read figured wind in New Zealand is about six times more economically justifiable than in Germany, since we have a far higher percentage of hydro available, and it’s much windier, so there’s a better capacity to start with. Beats gas any day.

  3. Beaker -‘I dont know of any grid where it is proposed to decommission existing fossil fuel generators in a response to renewables development.’
    That’s exactly the problem. The fossil generators should be dismantled within forty years, because they’re unnecessary. That should be the easy bit – replacing all the point sources in transport is much harder, so to get 90% CO2 reductions overall, a minimum would be a totally carbon free grid. Yet you seem happy even to replace some existing fossil plant at end of life. It is possible to get at least 90% replacement of fossil plant on a large scale, as demonstrated in France, Sweden and Switzerland ( even if the citizens of those countries haven’t always been supportive ). To do the same thing with solar and wind has not only not been done, it hasn’t been convincingly shown to be possible. I’m sure swingeing cuts in energy use in the richer countries are possible, but that doesn’t mean that reliability won’t matter, it will be even more important if only essential uses are left.

    1. “To do the same thing with solar and wind has not only not been done, it hasn’t been convincingly shown to be possible.” Why this apparent obsession with solar and wind having to be a standalone panacea or not used at all? It makes no sense.
      Adding wind and solar (and nuclear if you can afford to pay anyone enough for them to do this) to existing grids cuts fossil fuel consumption.
      Adding interconnectors between grids, energy storage at a variety of scales and smarter use by consumers (saving themselves money) cuts fossil fuel consumption.
      Do both together (Hint, we already are!) and CO2 emissions are further reduced.
      Throw in removing low energy lightbulbs, introducing Scandi standards of insulation, incentives for electrified transport, and we can make significant progress at the cost of the umbridge of a minority who dont like wind turbines – Boo hoo hoo.
      “…swingeing cuts in energy use …” yeah like ripple switches, heat pumps and warmer homes.

    1. A new book for you Rob:

      ” rel=”nofollow”>THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal

      From the Amazon description

      Thorium energy can help us check CO2 and global warming, cut deadly air pollution, provide inexhaustible energy, and increase human prosperity. Our world is beset by global warming, pollution, resource conflicts, and energy poverty. Millions die from coal plant emissions. We war over mideast oil. Food supplies from sea and land are threatened. Developing nations’ growth exacerbates the crises. Few nations will adopt carbon taxes or energy policies against their economic self-interests to reduce global CO2 emissions. Energy cheaper than coal will dissuade all nations from burning coal. Innovative thorium energy uses economic persuasion to end the pollution, to provide energy and prosperity to impoverished peoples, and to create energy security for all people for all time.

      1. Gee, an Amazon puff.

        And here’s something a bit more, um, disinterested. From Rob’s link –

        Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are ‘overstated’

        Thorium has theoretical advantages regarding sustainability, reducing radiotoxicity and reducing proliferation risk,” states the report, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). “While there is some justification for these benefits, they are often overstated.”

        Also, since you don’t believe AGW is real, your advocacy is even more clearly motivated entirely by ideological factors, to whit: ‘I despise anything to do with renewable energy, and will embrace any argument against it, no matter how ludicrous or hysterical, and barrack for any alternative, without the slightest trace of the ‘skepticism’ that is supposedly at the core of my world view.’

        All you’re doing here is attempting to poison the well, and you’ve already handily demonstrated your incompetence above.

        You are, indeed, a wrecker.

        1. I look for practical ways to reduce emissions that the world will embrace without destroying their economies.

          Thorium has that potential. Hydro and geothermal can for those that are lucky enough to live in countries that are blessed with these resources.

          Unless you have a hydro-backed grid, wind requires backup from gas (which is why the UK are building 20 new CCGT gas power stations)

          My solution will lead to 100% carbon neutral energy. Yours will not

          Whether I “believe” in AGW is irrelevant

          1. “Unless you have a hydro-backed grid, wind requires backup from gas (which is why the UK are building 20 new CCGT gas power stations)”
            OR – In response to the projected closure of a number of large old fossil fuel power stations (that the owners would not invest in to comply with non CO2 flue emission regulations) some new gas plants are being built. These are going to need to have a working CCS system quite soon into their working life if they are to continue as anything other than an insurance policy against renewables and nuclear deployment.
            To suggest they are being built to support wind points clearly once again to you being a twit.

            1. Whether CCGT or coal is “supporting’ wind is a moot point. The issue is that coal often supplies 50% or so of the UK grid and when this is phased out, something is going to have to take its place. If you want to keep the lights on then you need an energy source that is available for when the wind doesn’t blow, which as we have seen recently happens more often than we’d like

            2. Yes, this gas is ensuring that we retain a level of dispatchable capacity after the retiring of some old and excessively dirty plant. At the present time it is needed regardless of the presence of wind power, but with the wind power there and growing, this new gas plant will be called upon less, burn less fuel and emit less CO2 as a result.
              Another contributing factor for the promotion of these gas plants is the current worsening prospects of significant new nuclear being built in the UK – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/03/new-uk-nuclear-power-station-setback – frankly not really a surprise as for all its potential benefits, you have to guarantee someone an awful lot of cash to build and run one.

          1. I do hope Joe’s publishers have a good lawyer, given his propensity for over-egging the pudding when talking about climate scientists and the way he imagines they behave. Otherwise, I look forward to reviewing it when it finally becomes available.

  4. Avoidance of a cost that competitors face is a subsidy. Well it is in economics. So if the FF industry is avoiding paying taxes or not paying for Govt services, or not facing environmental controls that others face it is a subsidy.

    Off course the biggest subsidy is by users of FF who are not paying for the right to pollute and are in effect be subsidised by those that will bear the costs of that pollution. Note I refer to users of FF as we create the demand FF industry merely profits from that demand (and makes sure it keeps on doing so).

    1. Avoidance of a cost that competitors face is a subsidy

      Which competitors are you referring to?

      In the UK, oil companies have to pay something called the Supplementary Charge which they pay just for being Oil Companies

      When this charge gets reduced, maybe as an incentive to develop a marginal field, would you call this a subsidy? Apparently the NGOs think so.

      It is merely leveling the playing field – there are no competitors paying this charge.

      1. The only person foaming at the mouth is you AndyS, continually telling lies when you know they are lies does that to people:

        When you have stopped foaming at the mouth Ian, perhaps you could actually come up with some data to back up your case

        Funny that a supposed computer “expert” lacks the simple skills of performing a computer search:

        http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22fossil+fuel+subsidies%22&form=MOZSBR&pc=MOZI

        Subsidies include the lack of including the detrimental effects of the fossil fuels in their pricing. Subsidies to nuclear energy providers include the lack of charging for clean up costs which run into the multi-billion BPS for just two closed nuclear plants in the UK, Dounreay and Sellafield.

        http://hot-topic.co.nz/still-time-for-the-energy-revolution/#comment-32690

        1. Not to mention the insurance liability cap set and $10 billion. That is a huge subsidy to nuclear.

          AS is right the supplementary charge would appear to be an extra tax. Probably in lieu of a price on carbon which would be more economically efficient.

          By competitors I meant those in non FF energy sectors, energy management,and energy efficiency service proivders.

          The fact you see no competitors to FFs says a lot about your insight.

          1. The fact you see no competitors to FFs says a lot about your insight.

            I didn’t say that, I said

            there are no competitors paying this charge.

            which is quite a different statement

        2. Ian Forrester, I have provided one example (the supplementary charge) that shows that, in the UK, Oil companies pay more tax than other industry sectors.

          I could also mention the Renewable Obligation Certificate Scheme, which is a subsidy for wind power and other renewable schemes.

          So far, you have provided me with no concrete evidence to support your assertion that fossil fuels get subsidized more than renewables.

          Subsidies include the lack of including the detrimental effects of the fossil fuels in their pricing

          Doug says above that the supplementary charge is in lieu of a carbon charge.
          Sorry that is in addition to.

          The SC was in place long before carbon pricing via the EU ETS afaik.

          1. More rubbish from AndyS:

            shows that, in the UK, Oil companies pay more tax than other industry sectors.

            It does nothing of the sort. Subsidies are hidden in tax write-offs, tax credits, royalty reductions etc which apply after the tax rate is established.

            Are you really that stupid?

            1. Yes I understand Ian. I am not stupid.

              Oil companies pay more tax than anyone else, and sometimes that gets reduced.
              You call this a “subsidy”, but they are still paying more tax than anyone else

              Any further discussion is pointless if you can’t see this basic fact

            2. AndyS says:

              Oil companies pay more tax than anyone else

              Yes, they have been know to say that. However, when one actually looks at the fine print here is what they include in “their” taxes:

              employee payroll taxes, sales tax on products they sell and probably others. In the real world payroll taxes are paid by employees, and sales taxes are paid by customers. It is just convenient that Exxon collects them and send them on but they are not “Exxon” taxes.

              If you believe that sort of rubbish that Exxon and other oil companies put out it is hard to estimate where your dishonesty ends and your stupidity begins.

          2. Interesting AS disagrees with me when I agree with him on a point. I suspected that the SC was in lieu of carbon charge or some other social cost, but I agree it is inequitable impost on the FF industry. But the real question is whether it offsets all the other subsidies the UK FF industry receives?

            Just a quick observation the UK oil industry is allowed to expense a lot of its capital expenditures in the year incurred. Not uncommon in petroleum taxation around the world, but accelerated tax deductions are money in the bank when compared to businesses who must depreciate their capital items. In any case here are list of the UK allowance and tax incentives for petroleum and coal exploration, and production
            (PRT =Petroleum revenue tax)
            PRT Exemption for Sales to British Gas
            PRT Tariff Receipts Allowance
            PRT Uplift for Certain Capital Expenditures
            PRT Exemption for Sales to British Gas
            PRT Tariff Receipts Allowance
            PRT Uplift for Certain Capital Expenditures
            Ring-Fence Expenditure Supplement
            Field Allowance
            UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme
            The UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme
            Coal Investment Aid
            Coal Investment Aid

            Oh and the source is that bastion of left wing thinking the OECD

      2. I think it’s safe to say that andy’s grasp of economics is at least on a par with his amply-demonstrated comprehensive grasp of nuclear power generation. 😉

        It is truly remarkable that we have ended end up having to waste soooo much time debating boorish arrogance and insouciant Dunning-Krugerism.

        As Tamino points out, regarding the type:

        He really, really isn’t qualified to discuss the subject. But not only does he do so, he tries hard to influence public policy about it. This is why governments worldwide have been so effectively paralyzed — because there are so many voices, speaking so loud, whose influence (on both politicians and the general public) is way out of proportion to their qualifications even to understand, let alone advise, on the subject… The loudest voices seem to be those of the most ignorant.

  5. andyS October 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm “Well, wind power has been shown to reduce property values by over 50%, many houses are no unsaleable as a result of wind farm placement in the UK and elsewhere”
    Been shown you say, reduced by over 50%. Come on then, out with the examples where this has been shown.
    andyS October 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm “Actually Bill, I do not get my information from the Daily Mail. I get it from the large number of anti-windfarm activist groups that I belong to.”
    Perhaps some members of these groups are liars, you know the sort, making unsubstantiated alarmist claims under a variety of pseudonyms, calling people ‘brown shirts’, that sort of behaviour.

    1. People (sorry NIMBY’s) who don’t want 300 ft turbine towers with blades the size of Jumbo jet wings spinning next door to their house don’t need to lie about anything.

      1. andyS October 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm
        People… don’t need to lie about anything.

        Unlike wind opponents such as yourself, Andy, who post fake photos of bogus wind farms?

  6. I happened to post a picture of without checking its background and that makes me a liar?

    I could show you lots of photos (real ones) of ugly wind developments blighting the UK, Germany and the USA

    The fact is that you are not interested, and likewise I am not interested in you, Rob.

    We have plenty of legal reasons to object to wind development, and we will pursue every single one of them.

    1. Yeah, right, just as your mates at NZCSET did recently…

      You may like to let them know that interest on NIWA’s $100 K cost award against NZCSET is payable from the date of the judgement.

          1. Amazingly, and a week after the judgment, over at Treadgold’s RichardC hadn’t managed even to figure that much of the situation out. They were all busy rubbishing the judge who was to determine costs against their team. Clever.

        1. JUDGMENT OF VENNING J
          [186] The defendant is entitled to costs. Given the time involved and the steps taken, costs on a category 2 time band C would seem appropriate. However, if the parties are unable to agree I will receive memoranda and deal with the issue of costs on the basis of such memoranda

          1. You may like to let them know that interest on NIWA’s $100 K cost award against NZCSET is payable from the date of the judgement

            I am referring to the 100K figure in my question.

            As for Bill’s comment re wrecking the economy, see the Ofgem statement that power blackouts are likely in the UK from 2015 as the energy infrastructure fails to meet demand (mainly as a result of the large plant directive thanks to the Nobel Prize winning EU)

            1. No, blackouts in the UK might happen because the UK has not embarked on a path towards limiting its dependance on fossil fuels which are becoming ever more costly and due to the collapse of the UK production. UK’s oil and gas resources have evidently peaked. And certainly not because of Wind farms. To the contrary, if the UK had a similar contribution to power generation as Germany has from its renewable sources their fossil resources would stretch significantly further.
              Your wind farm objectionism is truly pathological.

            2. Blackouts will occur because they are shutting down big coal stations under EU directives. There is no shortage of coal and the prices are coming down thanks to shale gas.

              It is EU policy from our newly minted nobel prize winners that will end up killing people.

    2. AndyS said

      We have plenty of legal reasons to object to wind development, and we will pursue every single one of them.

      Andy, would you spell out who the “We” are? I’d think may people would like to know a bit more about your little conspiracy consortium.

      1. We, is the general public Thomas. The ones that are having their lives ruined by developers. There is no lack of transparency. It is just mr and mrs public fighting corporate and government scum.

        1. No, andy, that’s just you and a couple of other psycopaths.

          We, the actual general public, are having our lives ruined by the fossil fuel companies who insist of pumping millions of tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere, all the while denying there is any problem with doing that.

          Time for you and your cronies to shut up.

        2. It is just mr and mrs public fighting corporate and government scum.

          Snort! You’re not the first bunch of aging white male sociopaths to set out to teach the ‘undeserving’ a lesson via hysterical fits of unevidenced bullying whining, and, sadly, you won’t be the last, but, just to make you feel important, you’re certainly among the most destructive.

          ‘Pathetic’ doesn’t even come close.

  7. Incidentally, I can’t help but mention that Australia, crippled as it is by the GBNT (‘Great Big New Tax’ – the imbecilic Abbott’s own slogan), has this week become the 12th largest economy in the world, having, incidentally, overtaken Mexico, South Korea and Spain since Labor took office.

    It would appear the the genuine alarmist’s Medieval prognostications of Doom unto the Sinners have – yet again – utterly failed. Astonishing!

    Exactly the same set of geniuses who insist wind can’t somehow do it’s direct task of generating power (now 1/4 of my home state’s, and rising), but can magically make people succumb to all manner of illnesses from a distance of several kilometres.

    And the same set of geniuses who have nothing better to do with their time than attempt to wreck any chance of a low-carbon future for everyone else.

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