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First off, you can have both. Green new deal doesn't ban reactors or anything.

Second, I'm on the fence over whether I support more reactors and not because nuclear==bad. I trust the technology, but my concern is whether we can maintain a stable political environment for the decades/hundred years required to responsibly take care of nuclear.

Buying into a fission reactor means you pay billions up front, but you also promise to pay billions in upkeep, and then pay billions for decomissioning. If you aren't willing to do that upkeep or clean up after yourself then you can cause a radiological disaster.

What happens if we have a majority government that refuses to believe in the long term effects of radiation damage even as scientists explain to them over and over again what will happen? They just don't see why we should be spending that amount of money on reactor decomissioning or on upkeep and don't want to be seen as the one spending taxpayer money on something so costly. What if they decide to cut nuclear safety programs in a political stunt? I wish I could say that I know that won't happen, but on the hundred years in the future scale I'm just not sure.

Nuclear is amazing and could solve all of our short term energy needs, but it's ultimately people and our political structures that I don't trust, not the science.

> First off, you can have both. Green new deal doesn't ban reactors or anything.

Am I crazy, or did the Green New Deal have as an explicit goal the decommissioning of all nuclear plants?

EDIT: Ah, apparently that was in the initial released plan, but they changed the language to technically leave the door open for nuclear, without supporting it (and with occasional statements expressing disfavor towards nuclear as a piece of the plan)

I don't think so, at least not according to Ocasio-Cortez [1]. It is a pretty new idea though and is probably in flux, so it may have been different in the past?

[1] https://morningconsult.com/2019/05/06/ocasio-cortez-green-ne...

AOC can claim any position she wants, but the Green New Deal says (page 7, lines 6-9 as linked in another post) says "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources". That's a clear anti-nuclear stance.

Following that logic, then Solar Panels are off the table. They don't last forever and their waste is not environmentally friendly. Mining the material to produce them also creates a large amount of greenhouse gasses.

> [solar panels] creates a large amount of greenhouse gasses.

Sounds misleading to me. A quick websearch and I found that currently they seem to be 10 x better than oil and coal etc:

> Making solar or photovoltaic cells requires potentially toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. It even produces greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that contribute to global warming. Still, the researchers found that if people switched from conventional fossil fuel-burning power plants to solar cells, air pollution would be cut by roughly 90 percent. Although manufacturing solar cells requires heavy metals, the researchers noted that coal and oil also contain heavy metals, which get released during combustion


> Mining the material to produce them ...

I think everything is off the table then, also your laptop or tablet -- websearch for "minerals laptop environment" for example.

It seems you don't like solar panels?

It seems you don't like solar panels?

I never said that. I'm saying that based on AOC's 100% plan, pretty much everything is off the table, meaning that the plan needs to be revised. I plan to have 30kw of solar panels in my next home and a large collection of LifePo4 batteries that also have a dependency on strip mining. I also plan to do some of my own mining (drilling, blasting) for zinc and silver.

Sorry I misinterpreted. How interesting with mining zinc and silver -- is that possibly related to the solar panels you'll add? I never met anyone who mines zinc and silver

LiFePO4 -- that's lithium iron phosphate batteries, then, zinc and silver makes me confused. One can use zinc and silver instead?

30 kw sounds nice -- I think my oven uses about 3 kw, and I guess then that 30 kw is more than enough for your whole house :-) which I suppose is the idea, obviously.

What do your neighbors think about your plans to mine zink and silver?

Or maybe your nearest neighbors are far away? (Or maybe you'll drill & blast far away from where you and any neighbors live?)

You don’t think that’s a desirable goal?

It is desirable however impractical given currently available technology. We need significant developments in energy storage to make it work. We could have zero carbon now using nuclear with no new technologies.

Why impractical??? Whith a diversified mix, energy efficiency, a big market for demand response, thermal storage, and a bit of electrical storage, there is no problem with current technologies. Coming tech could decrease the cost and make it easier to implement.

And nuclear is much much more expensive than most renewable now (https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019/)

> thermal storage, and a bit of electrical storage

I'll acknowledge that renewable generation costs have been falling at an impressive rate. However you're understating the problem for storage. Besides cost, there are far more complex regulatory and political hurdles. Just read about the public response to "smart meters" when they were proposed a while back.

We'll likely have price-competitive storage technology by the middle of the next decade, maybe even sooner, but it will take another two or three decades to deploy it thanks to the patchwork of regulatory complexity we're left over with from the 20th century.

Sure it is not easy, but price-competitive (cheap renewable + some cost to manage intermittence) technologies are ready

Political hurdles... what is easier ? - Saying let's have reltively cheap 100% renewable energy that create a lot of job - Let's have super expensive nuclear energy, there are risk but those risk are small

Yes we are getting there but some countries are at the point of diminishing returns with current renewables. For example, Germany has to pay it's neighbours to receive peak generation.

Coming tech will improve that but we could get to carbon zero far quicker and cheaper with a mix of nuclear and renewables. One problem with nuclear is that safety concerns. However nuclear has caused less death than coal generation. It does require a huge capital investment but it pays for itself over the long run. Waste is an issue but it produces a tiny volume of waste compared to any other form of generation.

We could get rid of all current coal and gas plants and have power when it's required with nuclear. Until we have a better storage option the true can't be said of any renewables (unless you are lucky enough to have abundant geothermal options). With wind and solar you have too much during peak supply and too little during peak demand.

Even the article you linked states whole sale solar and batteries are not yet economically viable.

If there is a viable thermal storage option, I'm wrong but I've not heard about it. I would love to be wrong if that is the case.

Well the currently deployed, old nuclear plants certainly aren't as safe as the new, unbuilt ones the nuclear proponents always like to showcase. Even if you decide towards using nuclear in the future, you should build new reactors from scratch using those new safer designs.

There's that branch of minimalist environmentalism where their favorite nuclear reactor is whatever doesn't already exist. The instant it starts getting built, /somebody'll/ start protesting it.

> The instant it starts getting built, /somebody'll/ start protesting it.

Is normal when the hype does not correspond with the reality and the promises of behaving well and to be responsible are replaced by "hide under a rug and find a scapegoat" five seconds after having the green light.

Citizens have the right to ask about how their taxes had been spent, specially when the construction costs increased exponentially, the whole structure is ruinous after 50 years and there are lots of new surprises in tiny characters in an appendix of the social contract that they signed, but never received.

Nuclear plants can only make a limited amount of money in this lifetime but the cost seems almost unlimited.

Of course there will always be a better and safer design. But what about replacing the 50 year old designs currently deployed now with recent ones?

Can we afford to do that?

We have finite resources. If prevention of a disastrous change in climate is your goal does it make sense to replace the older plants?

Yes it would be safer to do so but would the cost be worth it?

They angry mob will refuse to let you build the replacement, and demand the old one be torn down since you admitted it's so unsafe.

A big problem I have with things like "the green new deal" is that they are buzzwords onto which many different policies can be mapped. I think to lots of people it implies no nuclear, and to some others it doesn't. Both are "right" because the buzzword has no implicit meaning.

I'm not sure how that can be true, given that it's a written proposal[0]. Not many have read it, and certainly both opponents and proponents have made up things that are or are not in it, but it's not just a buzzword.


A lot of the text describes the goals of, and route to, a plan. It is not, itself, actual policy.

Its existence as a buzzword predates that proposal, and thus inevitably the proposal is not the final word on how the term is defined.

It's a proposal; it can be negotiated and changed until it becomes law. The main purpose is:

a) Help give future generations a reasonably livable and enjoyable planet. b) Help Americans by creating jobs.

OK sure, but if you want words to mean something, you can't just define "green new deal" as "all the good things" instead of the current proposal.

Fair point.

You forgot its actual main purpose: Help politicians get elected.

Yeah but you can say that about anything any politician ever does.

I mean you can also say all code written by developers for for-profit companies exists to create revenue.

Both are true yet incomplete statements.

> First off, you can have both. Green new deal doesn't ban reactors or anything.

While that is true in principle, there is apparently some evidence that investing in nuclear energy causes countries to de-carbonise more slowly (perhaps because of the upfront costs of nuclear power stations, and the time it takes to build them).

"Researchers found that unlike renewables, countries around the world with larger scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions—and in poorer countries nuclear programs actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions."


Isn't there an obvious hidden random variable there? The only countries that are really actively building nuclear power are growing developing countries like India, so of course their emissions are increasing.

EDIT: So yes:

> "The study found that in countries with a high GDP per capita, nuclear electricity production does associate with a small drop in CO2 emissions."

There's also the confounding element that the CO2 emissions could have dropped faster if the money was spent on renewables instead, plus the infrastructure for large centralised power generation is not really compatible with distributed generation.

This is a biased source but seems to make a good case that that study has serious flaws:


That's a weird world view. University of Sussex researchers are "biased" but you link to the Nuclear Innovation Alliance?

I think the implication is that the Nuclear Innovation Alliance is biased but still making a good point.

It would be good to do a bit more work to justify that, then.

The NIA blog post doesn't even address the core point of the paper. It looks at a correlation of existing energy by US states, where our nuclear was largely built in the 1970s and 1980s.

In contrast, the academic paper looks at what has happened to countries , globally, that have tried to build nuclear since the 1990s.

And this is a crucial distinction, because the problem with nuclear is that economies have changed since the 1970s and we have new technologies with different costs.

So what if we look at what has happened to US states that, since 1990, have tried to build nuclear versus those that have tried to build renewables?

Nuclear has failed since the 1990s in the US, even with construction project with very strong community support and federal regulatory support from the NRC.

So when you ask the question that the paper asks: "does building new nuclear or renewables decrease carbon more with modern economies?" We see that the US recapitulates the same correlation that researchers found globally.

This huge bias of nuclear proponents, the inability to address the cost issue and very basic construction issues, is far more problematic for nuclear than a corrective analysis of what has happened to grids that have pursued different strategies.

I’m not making a statement to the validity of DennisP’s comment. Just clarifying the perceived meaning.

Sorry, didn't mean to direct that at you. But since I had been downvoted so much I wanted to at least poke at the general narrative here. I still find it odd is that an unfounded accusation of bias is supported with a link to a clearly biased source, and that's somehow acceptable here.

Um...just to be extra clear, my "unfounded accusation of bias" was directed to the source you find "clearly biased."

I can't believe it took me reading it 5 times and two corrections to understand that ! Ugh.

Yes, exactly.

> there is apparently some evidence that investing in nuclear energy causes countries to de-carbonise more slowly

Please don’t ascribe causality without evidence. Even the authors admit upfront that this is a correlational study, with strong confounding variables like GDP.

This smells like the old cliche. Correlation does not imply causation.

That author has been writing this for years and has had to do multiple retractions. A few top climate scientists are working on a rebuttal right now so we can expect this to be retracted soon as well.

We're killing our planet because we externalise cost. CO2, deforestation, habitat destruction, species extinction, overfishing, ocean pollution are proximate problems arising from that deeper ultimate problem. Nuclear is an adequate response to the proximate problem of global heating, it the worst possible response to ultimate problem of externalising cost. To advocate nuclear in good faith it is essential to acknowledge this tension, and the complex social and philosophical challenges to resolving that tension.

Nuclear also externalizes cost -- to future generations, for thousands of years.

Wave energy, wind and solar is different though.

> ... Nuclear is an adequate response to the proximate problem of global heating ...

It's not the only way -- what about heavier taxes for energy from burning oil and coal.

But I guess people like their cars and getting stuck in the daily 08:00 traffic jams too much. Who wants trains or buses or bikes or running shoes.

"Nuclear is amazing"... but much much more expensive than wind and solar https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019/

If humanity is going to survive the next few decades with a quality of life even remotely resembling what we have now, we'll need to stop looking at the pocket book for a short while.

> whether we can maintain a stable political environment for the decades/hundred years required to responsibly take care of nuclear.

And if that's not the case then what do you think will happen to the other programs critical in keeping climate change at bay? Taken to its ultimate conclusion this line of thinking leads to analysis paralysis, i.e. to shut down our government and do nothing. Which may be good thinking; especially for government policy likely full of unintended consequences. I don't think this should stop perfectly good technology from being developed and built out though. Or for the government to effectively kneecap it via regulation so restrictive it's tantamount to a ban, as the US has done with nuclear power.

> Nuclear is amazing and could solve all of our short term energy needs, but it's ultimately people and our political structures that I don't trust, not the science.

I agree yet have drawn strikingly different conclusions. Nuclear development should be encouraged to proceed. Collectively we need to figure out how to incentivize the actors to behave safely without kneecapping their ability to do something.

Define short term; I think by the time a reactor you start today comes online, we are already pretty screwed

It's trite, but it's never too late to start. Certainly starting now is better than doing nothing in this case, and nuclear may be a good option. I'm not convinced that old nuclear tech is economically viable anymore compared to batteries + renewables. New nuclear tech may be. We need investment there.

I don’t think we have time to wait for new old school plants to be built, and we certainly don’t have time for new tech to be developed, tested, regulated before we even start building it. We should start now with the tech we already have (which is renewables).

Doing one doesn't preclude doing the other, that's a false dichotomy.

It could possibly be too late to start with new nuclear plants, although I'm not totally convinced.

If we had them now, nuclear plants would be vastly superior to coal plants for baseload, at least in terms of emissions.

The question is, if a nuclear plant takes 20-30 years from project start to being online, how will it compare with what's available then and over the design lifetime (50ish years). Of course, we can't know for sure, but if storage becomes good enough in the next 30 or so years, the lifetime economics of a nuclear plant get pretty bad.

That said, maybe the economic risk isn't as important as the emissions risk. If renewable + storage doesn't work, and we are still running coal plants in 30 years, that's probably worse than if renewable + storage works and ratepayers paid for an underutilized nuclear plant.

Why 20-30 years? Russia started building of Belarus nuclear plant at 2011. It already works and will be completely finished at 2022. Is US nuclear industry significantly behind Russia?

From wikipedia, the most recent nuclear plant to enter operation in the US is Watts Bar reactor 2. It entered operation in 2016, while being under construction for a total of 17 years; 8 years between 1973 and 1985, then 9 more between 2007 and 2016.

The Vogtle plant reactor 3 and 4 project started in 2006, construction started in 2013, and planned operation is 2021; but these things are often delayed. And that was at an existing site. 20 years may be pessimistic, but not unduly so, based on recent experience.

Any US project will face many years of interruptions by protestors, court cases, etc. Given the timespan, the project will also likely face administrations that don't support nuclear and attempt to stall the project.

Unfortunately, people don't believe in climate change enough to acknowledge that nuclear is worth the risk (a risk that would be much reduced by allowing more modern plants to be built).

Yes. US construction in general takes longer and costs almost an order of magnitude more for large infrastructure. Why? Higher standards certainly. Higher pay too. But you can't tell me Russia is less corrupt with a straight face. So what accounts for the difference? I think it's disturbing that the US is forgetting how to make things in general.

It's clear that right now we should roll out wind and solar as fast as we can.

However, once those reach high penetration, costs increase rapidly as you attempt to reach 100% clean energy. At that point it helps a lot to have clean dispatchable power. Nuclear plants we start today can fill that role, in areas without available hydro.


Nuclear power isn't very "dispatchable", it takes long times to be turned on vs off. But it might be useful for seasonal use in the winter when there is less sun.


This is one of the most compelling nuclear plans I've seen. From the sound of it, these would be fine for intermittent power supply

Building a single one wouldn't be cheap, but the modular / standard design can benefit from economy of scale

No. Unless you run your nuclear power plant at high capacity factor, the cost of power from it inflates unacceptably. It's an economic issue, not a technical issue.

That's the whole point of nuclear, hydro or coal though, they need to be run at high capacity to be economically viable, have long spin up and down times and are costly to maintain. You use them as the basis of the grid and use wind and solar that are more prone to fluctuations to fill up the demand when necessary, less batteries needed as the base load can always be delivered by nuclear/hydro. Coal is basically dead in the next decade or so.

>use them as the basis of the grid and use wind and solar that are more prone to fluctuations to fill up the demand when necessary

Er, how does this work? You can't control when wind and solar produce power, so how can you use them to "fill up the demand when necessary"? If anything, using a fluctuating source on top of already fluctuating demand just increases the amount of power storage you need.

A power source that ramps up and down quickly is more convenient than one that ramps up and down slowly, but both are miles more convenient than one which ramps up and down uncontrollably.

At least with solar you know when it won't produce power. You could have enough nuclear for nighttime demand, and build enough solar for the extra daytime demand. You'd have some remaining discrepancies to make up but relatively small ones.

Well then you should ask yourself: is building this nuclear reactor cheaper than buying some batteries or converting excess energy to LNG to store it for later? If it is, then a nuclear power plant is economical, if it isn't, you should do the alternatives instead.

Well hang on, the nuclear reactor generates power while the storage only.. stores. You have to include the (lifetime!) cost of the storage plus the presumably renewable energy source you're feeding it with. (Of course you need storage with both systems to cope with demand-side fluctuations, but you'll need a lot more with wind/solar to deal with supply-side fluctuations.)

Hydrogen underground, not LNG, but yeah.

For some simulations to help answer when those two options are best:


The model doesn't support methane generation.

Hydrogen is cool, but we should also be investing in efficient methane production. AFAICT it's not too hard to make and has immense advantages - existing transport, storage and use infrastructure and market as a heavily traded good. We can use it for most of our energy or carbon needs with today's technology and existing machines with no or easy modifications.

Hydrogen can be more efficient and probably simpler when appropriate but is more finicky, still needs research and will take a lot of time to ramp up.

Sorry, the two options were nuclear vs. renewables + storage (batteries and hydrogen). I don't think very large methane storage makes much sense; where does the carbon come from?


Biogas is mostly better than fossil, but we should generate methane from H₂O + CO₂ + energy. It would be useful and quick way to achieve energy storage and decarbonization.

> where does the carbon come from?


Biomass is fundamentally limited by the very low efficiency of photosynthesis, so that it requires very large areas. It should probably be limited to providing liquid transportation fuels and feedstock for chemicals.

Perhaps that wasn't the best term for the point they're making. From the abstract:

"This paper presents a comprehensive techno-economic evaluation of two pathways: one reliant on wind, solar, and batteries, and another also including firm low-carbon options (nuclear, bioenergy, and natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration). Across all cases, the least-cost strategy to decarbonize electricity includes one or more firm low-carbon resources. Without these resources, electricity costs rise rapidly as CO2 limits approach zero. Batteries and demand flexibility do not substitute for firm resources."

A nuclear plant costs the same to run at full capacity all year round as it does to run it at partial capacity. Just run the plant at full capacity all year round, and save money by building less solar.

You have to pay off the initial construction costs. Throwing away half the energy you generate means that you're wasting the large up-front costs.

Right. If we build nuclear plants to fulfill peak energy demand (which coincides with a lack of energy production from solar) then there's not reason not to just run the nuclear plants 24/7 and skip building solar altogether. This is why nuclear power and intermittent sources end up being a dichotomy in practice.

Solar does provide a good way to mitigate carbon emissions in the meantime, even if it's role in a fully decarbonized economy is dubious. It's fast to build and makes a good complement for gas plants. Turn off the gas when the solar cells are collecting, and you can save a good deal of emissions.

Solar also has niche use cases that make sense even with nuclear power. Rooftop solar is a good way to offset air conditioning energy use. In this case, the solar energy collected by the panels are intrinsically connected to the power demand of the air conditioning unit. Plus the energy production and energy demand are co-located.

You're missing the point, which is that if you don't use a nuclear plant to 100% capacity (or run at 100% capacity and throw away most of the energy), you end up paying more for every Joule you actually use.

How much would it cost to build nuclear power generation capacity to meet peak demand, vs. building a grid with renewables, long-term transmission and storage? The levelized cost of solar and wind power is way below that of nuclear power (and that difference will become much larger if you're only fully utilizing nuclear power during the daily peak demand), so the question is how much storage and transmission add for renewables.

One of the interesting possibilities for new nuclear plants is on-site thermal storage. Store heat from the reactor in a heat sink when solar is generating, use the heat to generate power when it isn't. That handles the daily load variation and lets you trade half the required nuclear capacity for cheap solar.

It also means you have more turbines on site than the reactor needs on its own, so you can add a furnace burning whatever you like (hydrogen, biofuels, synthetic methane), and that handles the days when renewable output is below average.

+1 I wish this were further up. Reliable power is always better than unreliable power. "Base load" is a misleading concept because people conflate supply-side and demand-side fluctuations, which are generally unrelated except in "niche use cases" like you mention. You always need some sort of storage or on-demand generation to deal with demand fluctuations. With wind/solar, you need extra storage to smooth out supply fluctuations.

It's strictly better than wind and solar, which take an indeterminate and totally uncontrollable amount of time to turn on and off.

Nuclear would be utterly terrible for filling in the last part of a renewable-dominated grid. As in, ludicrously expensive, compared to other non-nuclear, non-fossil alternatives.

The article you point to talks about "firm, low carbon sources". This kind of source for this last bit would be something like hydrogen, not nuclear. A nuclear reactor operating at 10% capacity factor to "fill in" for renewables would be producing power at $1/kWh or more, which is uncompetitive vs. hydrogen by a massive margin.

You can invert this and say that solar/wind would be utterly terrible at "filling in the last part" of a nuclear-dominated grid.

The inability to generate constant, reliable power is a weakness, not a strength.

Right. It's one or the other generally (although some solar could help nuclear if demand peaks on sunny days).

However, unless nuclear gets a lot cheaper, it's looking like the nuclear dominated grid is going to be more expensive than the renewable dominated grid, even taking the cost of intermittency into account.

They specifically cited nuclear. I don't think operating it at 10% capacity factor is what they mean.

They very carefully didn't mention hydrogen at all. They compared nuclear vs. renewables + batteries. It's almost as if they were setting up renewables to fail. Imagine that, in a study where half the authors are from the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.

Yes, if you had nuclear, you'd operate it at high capacity factor. That isn't nuclear filling in for renewables, that's using nuclear instead of renewables. It's really mostly one or the other.

> costs increase rapidly as you attempt to reach 100% clean energy.

France has been running at 75%-80% nuclear for 30 years.

Heck, the State of Illinois gets over 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear and 1/8th of the entire country's nuclear generation. We can do it, even in the USA.

hey, we have been asking for 2 decades.

Somewhere in the past year or so a lot of people have started saying “too late”

Maybe you can humor the people who want nuclear while we continue to add solar and wind.

The world needs a lot of electricity.

I long for the day we get a breakthrough with some next level power source. Be it fusion or some other thing to come.

Humanity always depended on having a leap in either: transport, communication or energy. We are going through a massive change in communication, if we get a cheap and super scalable and sustainable source of energy we might find our next leap...

I don't know. The science and engineering has quietly moved quite a bit over the last 40 years.

These [0] SMRs can, for example - there are several other approaches - can be assembled on a standard assembly line, shipped in a couple of C-Containers, and stood up on a concrete pad (well, not exactly, but close enough that I don't feel like complicating the point.

[0]: https://www.nuscalepower.com/

NuScale has given up assembling their reactors in their factory.


"In answer to a question I posed to Nuscale at the town hall we have learned that the plan to save costs by fabricating the modules at a remote factory and shipping them to the Idaho site has been abandoned. The artful response to my question said that Nuscale engaged with approximately 40 … pressure vessel fabricators worldwide and … determined that Nuscale will use existing factories … in lieu of building its own factory.

The major module subcomponents will be manufactured at multiple manufacturer locations and shipped to a single location for assembly prior to installing into the facility.” This signifies the failure of one of the major cost-saving features of the Nuscale project, which was to forestall this exact scenario."

The cost of that project has already escalated 70%, btw, with three towns dropping out and the output only 30% subscribed. I think there's a good chance it will never be built.

The best time to build nuclear would have been in the 1980s.

However, when we tried to build again back in 2008, it turned to failure. In areas with highly supportive populations that want the nuclear jobs in their community, with an NRC that changed processes to try to make it easier to get approval, we are still 12 years in, way behind schedule, and 2-3x over budget, without a solid feel for when we will star pushing electrons with the new reactors.

Last I heard, NuScale is hoping to hit a cost of $55/MWh. That's about the current cost of wind/solar and the storage to make it dispatchable. Meaning that by the time they finally ship, it will be a more expensive option for firm low-carbon energy than the current options we have.

So not only is NuScale aiming at a not-so-desirable target, by the time it can deliver its first 10GW, it's quite likely that the renewables will be curtailed for much of the year, meaning that we have extra generation capacity that goes unused, which is likely to spur a huge round of economic innovation for that energy.

I would hate to get stuck with the path dependence of nuclear. Renewables are so cheap that they open up a ton more doors for society.

It’s really already too late. Even if we the developed world decarbonizes in the next 20 years, India, China, and Africa will not. That means what we really need to be looking at is technology to power carbon capture.

I guess you need energy for carbon capture too.

India is nuclear heavy, China has a serious nuclear focus and is actively decarbonising, so what are you talking about?

Various African countries can be helped to pick/prefer carbon-free energy options.

India gets about 2% of their power from nuclear. They are not "nuclear heavy."

Rosatom will sell you a floating reactor you can tow into a harbour and hook up to your grid [1]. So short term can be pretty short if you want. And don't worry about the fuel, they simply tow it back to St. Petersburg when the fuel is expired and keep the dirty stuff there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_floating_nuclear_power...

If this is a reference to the "we only have 12 years to save the planet" meme, that is just a thing that went viral.

There is no science behind it.

Because there is no clear line between saving and not saving. It's just degrees of badness the longer we wait. I heard there are some inflection points when it becomes warm enough for methane to escape from the tundra in Siberia.

It is a reference to how quickly we are depleting our carbon budget to avert certain levels of warming.

Yeah I'm a big fan of nuclear energy, but it just takes forever to get reactors online. We just don't have that kind of time. By all means, let's invest in nuclear, but we need to be building acres and acres of solar panels NOW. "We've got some reactors on the way" is not enough.

If the alternative is the end of the human species I think we might find some motivation to build them a bit faster and better. Just saying.

> my concern is whether we can maintain a stable political environment for the decades/hundred years required to responsibly take care of nuclear.

Spot on. People often ignore the political problems of nuclear power:

- Centralization of control encourages corruption and the hiding of incidents

- Power stations make excellent targets in case of war. The bigger they are, the bigger the impact

- Nuclear power stations also cause social panic if hit, even if the damage is minimal

- The last two points apply to war but also to terrorism

If we want political stability (aka no wars) we need reasonably decentralized access to food, water, energy and information.

We already have something 10000000X worse: Nuclear Weapons, that cat is out of the bag. So either we dismantle all nuclear arsenals in the world or we stop giving the "potential socio-political inestability"as a reason to not building more nuclear plants.

You are stopping the butcher to use big knives for fear he may go insane in the future and kill some customers with them, when millions of weapons are highly available.

> that cat is out of the bag

Not at all, this is a logical fallacy.

A small fraction of countries have nuclear weapons and yet they still engage in conventional warfare because they really don't want to trigger a nuclear holocaust.

On top of that, terrorist organizations, guerrilla fighters, criminal organization and so on never managed to launch an ICBM.

> Not at all, this is a logical fallacy.

I dont think you understand what a logical fallacy is. The number of nuclear weapons in the world is in the 5 figures order, that is fact. Nuclear weapons are a fact.

> and yet they still engage in conventional warfare because they really don't want to trigger a nuclear holocaust.

Most experts assessed the chance of a nuclear war during the Cuban missiles crisis at 1/3. Maybe that is a number you feel comfortable with, I dont. In +70 years of nuclear plants the 3 "big" accidents (3 Miles Island,Chernobyl, Fukushima) are nothing compared with that.

> On top of that, terrorist organizations, guerrilla fighters, criminal organization and so on never managed to launch an ICBM.

And never managed to sabotage a nuclear installation and cause an accident so your point is moot.

If nuclear is so safe then why the subsidized insurance? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear...

That's not a subsidy. It's a claim by a third party (who, coincidentally, exists to advocate for strict regulation of the nuclear industry) that the government is underestimating the risk associated with nuclear power. Differences of opinion regarding actuarial tables aren't subsidies.

The wiki article claims that CATO also supports this, but that claim does not appear to be supported in the cited material.

> First off, you can have both. Green new deal doesn't ban reactors or anything.

The FAQ AOC released after the document explicitly ruled out nuclear energy, iirc.

There is an economic reason you cannot have both: Nuclear power plants need to run near capacity to be economical. If you have a lot of intermittent power from wind and solar then nuclear plants will only be able to get a reasonable price for their output 40% of the time (at night when it's not windy).

Conversely, if the nuclear power plant is running anyway and has enough capacity to cover a windless night, you may as well get rid of the solar and wind.

This equation will change if we ever get storage to be cheap enough so we can store intermittent power, but there is nothing on the horizon that will do that.

No. It said we need to decommission our old reactors, which we do regardless. It’s linked in the first major thread in this discussion.

One thing I seldom see brought up is that different energy sources work best in different places. Solar works great in the Southwest. In the upper Midwest where it snows and is overcast a lot? Maybe not so much. Wind works better there, but wind may not be enough alone and requires even more storage as it usually peaks out of phase with peak demand.

There is also geothermal energy (Alaska, West Coast, Rockies; I assume we are talking solely the USA here) and hydroelectric power (Alaska, West Coast, South East, and more).

But we often don’t talk about the energy wasted in bad location of industries. E.g. growing water demanding crops in the Mid-West or South East instead of California where water is scarce, or energy intensive industries in Alaska (where energy is plentiful) instead of Texas where it is scarce.

Another thing not mentioned is wasted energy because of lacking infrastructure. This also applies to the rest of the world. A good example is not building high speed rail connection between high travel areas, so people use polluting air travel instead, another is lack of waste management facilities so garbage is left to rot instead of reused or recycled lowering demand for making the same thing again in a far away facility.

You can transmit power over long distances with surprisingly little energy loss with high-voltage DC. Any sane national plan for renewable energy would include a large amount of long-distance power transfer, if for no other reason than to minimize the variance in power production.

When I look at it I notice that current variation in cost per mwh is much larger than transmission line losses or storage losses.

You look on a map and you notice places where the days of sun shine aren't very conductive to solar are usually within 1500 miles of places where solar works great. Seattle to the Mojave desert is 1200 miles for instance.

And as the owner of a solar off grid home north of Seattle, I can tell you solar works fine there too. ;)

Future political generations abusing nuclear power for their own goals is something I hadn't yet considered.

Potentially extremely dangerous.

I think we don't have a good way to transport energy which makes green energy slightly impractical as the main source of energy.

If we find a way to connect the world on a common electricity grid, we might be able to skip nuclear and go full green (ofc this ignores the cost of producing/disposing those green energy generators)

With a diversified mix (with solar pannel facing different position also), energy efficiency, demand response, thermal storage and a bit of electrical storage, we definitely don't need a world grid

> you can have both

Not if the Green New Deal sucks up all the resources for "renewables" that will never provide anything close to the base load power we need.

Intermittency of renewables is less of a problem if one rids oneself of the medieval seeming idea of energy self-sufficiency. Energy does not have to be produced where it is needed. We can transfer it already. The grid would need upgrades but we can definitely transfer large amounts of energy over long distances.

Example from China: 12GW over 3300km at 1100kV DC, for others look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-high-voltage_electricity... .

Europe is also building HVDC (high-voltage direct current) links connecting windparks and consumers with e.g. norwegian pumped hydro power plants for storing excess energy ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current )

The more we do this, the more susceptible the grid will be to massive outages.

I’m not an expert, and I’m sure there’s some way in principle where it could be architected so this isn’t so, but it just seems empirically that the more interconnected the more we see unexpected and enormous outages.

All of Europe is already connected, here where I live in Sweden I don't even remember the last power outage. Happens like maybe once a year that you wake up or get home and the microwave clock has reset.

Map of the European grid: https://www.entsoe.eu/data/map/

Synchronous grid of Continental Europe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronous_grid_of_Continenta...

The thing you describe, a brief loss in power ‘about once a year’ almost never happens in my area of NYC and could actually damage sensitive equipment.

The most recent large blackout we had was IIRC specifically due to mismanaging the interconnected grid, which is part of where my concern comes from.

I feel like a broken record saying this, but every time the topic of renewables comes up, I feel like the pro-renewable camp completely forgets us.

I'm in Saskatchewan. For a good chunk of the year, everything is frozen. We currently heat our homes with natural gas but require electricity to run the furnaces. Power outages are a very big deal, and in the winter are generally correlated with terrible weather (big snowstorms and deep cold tend to have a negative effect on our infrastructure).

The province itself is quite flat as well. Ignoring the part where reservoirs freeze over for at least 5 months of the year, pumped hydro (which seems to be our best current energy storage approach) isn't going to work very well with no significant hills to pump the water over. We absolutely require continuously reliable electricity to, at a minimum, keep the water pipes in our homes from freezing. A 24h outage in the middle of winter is going to, at a minimum, cause significant widespread property damage; past around the 72h mark, there's probably going to be significant death as well.

On top of all of the other reasons why I like nuclear, that is the reason why locally-generated nuclear is at the top of my list of "ways we should produce electricity around here".

It's at least a few orders of magnitude away from ever plausibly getting there. For all intents and purposes, such a concern is imaginary.

And even then, one doesn't preclude the other. Retrofitting power distribution to have less energy loss, buildings with better insulation, more efficient logistics networks for food delivery, these are green new deal issues. None of that is anti-nuclear - they simply aren't related.

By "sucks up all the resources" you'd have to have all humans efforting to do things like this that nothing can be allocated to anything else. That is simply not how reality works.

> By "sucks up all the resources" you'd have to have all humans efforting to do things like this that nothing can be allocated to anything else.

Nonsense. Please apply some intelligence and common sense. We're not talking about shutting down all other activities and only doing Green New Deal stuff. We're talking about the limited amount of resources that can be redirected by various choices of government policy. Given the magnitude of the resources that would be required for the grandiose plans for renewables touted in the Green New Deal, there wouldn't be anything left over for nuclear.

How so? Nuclear requires certain types of expertise and I'd hope, certain certifications for construction.

Also, historically, they've each been multi-year ventures.

These are likely different humans and different companies than people doing urban gardening projects and rooftop solar.

I honestly don't see the conflict here. I don't know too much about nuclear construction and maintenance but I'd imagine it takes years of specialized training and experience to be competent. If that's true, I can't imagine someone sliding from say, retrofitting insulation to older apartment buildings to nuclear in any reasonable time. I think we have to conclude they're as different as any other sophisticated skills; you're still starting at zero if you want to switch.

The GNDs problem has been the same since Jill Stein was talking about it in 2012 - it's too grandiose for a society and time that has rejected grand visions.

We would need to fix our systemic cultural inability to be able to subscribe to a collective imaginary before a GND is broadly entertained.

However, you crack and divide GND as separate goals, such as increasing the usefulness and efficiency of mass urban transit, most people are on board. And each of these concrete goals doesn't preclude Exelon and GE from building nuclear power plants.

Once you reframe the GND as simply a basketcase of low hanging fruit of city and neighborhood level projects, then we get into nuclear's real issue in this conversation - It is the biggest project of the bunch.

Ignoring possible futures and going with historical pasts, nuclear plants are what are called "megaprojects" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaproject) and that's their main Achilles heel for our times. Americans at least, have stopped believing in them. They think "big = broken disaster". Some american may even feel obligated to respond to this, "But it's true" and then my point will be made.

The GND proponents could finally understand marketing and branding and successfully reposition their project to our collective appetites as a collection of small bite-sized community projects but nuclear cannot do this.

> These are likely different humans and different companies than people doing urban gardening projects and rooftop solar.

Humans can decide to enter different fields; more can choose to enter one field and fewer can choose to enter another. New companies can be started and old ones can go out of business. Resources are fungible; there isn't a fixed pool of resources that are suitable for nuclear but not for renewables, or the reverse.

What determines where those resources get allocated are economic incentives. If the government puts its thumb on the scale and gives lots of incentives for renewables and lots of disincentives for nuclear--which is exactly what the US government has been doing for decades, and what the Green New Deal would mean doing even more of--then resources will be available for renewables but not for nuclear.

> Ignoring possible futures and going with historical pasts, nuclear plants are what are called "megaprojects" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaproject) and that's their main Achilles heel for our times. Americans at least, have stopped believing in them.

This is a valid point as far as the type of nuclear projects that have been done in the past is concerned. However, nuclear has progressed, and many of the designs being worked on now are not megaprojects and would not require the same huge up front investment that traditional designs have.

Sure. I've been hearing that for 20 years and I sincerely, eagerly and in good faith welcome their arrival.

However, until then, we have to go off of the existing historical reality. We can't run the numbers with any kind of integrity based on what is currently vaporware.

> what is currently vaporware

Designs that are actually operating and producing power are not vaporware. The reasons those designs aren't already doing that in the US are political, not technical.

Anti-nuclear politics in the US has made people believe that every nuclear reactor is a Chernobyl waiting to happen. That was a pernicious lie even in the 1980s, and it is much, much more of a pernicious lie now. In terms of the fairest measurement, which is harm done per unit of energy generated, nuclear power, even with reactors of traditional designs, is orders of magnitude better than any other energy source, including renewables, which in turn are significantly better than oil and coal (coal is by far the worst). And with newer designs, not vaporware but actually operating today, that risk per unit of energy generated is even lower.

A sane US government policy would have had nuclear displacing oil and coal starting in the 1970s, as France and Japan did, and reprocessing the waste instead of beating ourselves over the head with a baseball bat by saying the only option was to store it for 100,000 years, which of course is not practically possible. Then we could have a meaningful conversation about how much of that nuclear base load capacity it makes sense to transition to renewables. Plus, if you really think CO2 emissions are a planetary emergency (I personally don't, but GND advocates do), there would be decades worth of CO2 emissions that the US would not have made at all. Not to mention decades worth of coal still in the ground where it belongs, and oil that could have been used for things much more productive than burning it for energy.

You say we have to go off of the "existing historical reality", and while it's true that we didn't do all those sane things in the past when we should have, that still is no argument for not doing them now. We have an obvious alternative source of base load power that would free us from oil and coal staring us in the face, and instead we're noodling about renewables that can't possibly meet the same demand requirements. That doesn't make sense to me.

Sure, you could handwave the "mass societal pushback" and change it to "cheering societal acceptance" and then fudge away the costs associated, but that's simply not what is going to happen.

You have to account for greenpeace and all the organized opposition. You have to account for the politics

That's why you need to go off of concrete material historical reality - if you're free to apply counterfactuals as you please than practically any conclusion is permissible because we can tweak and modify whatever we need.

Just like the "business as usual" advocates are hypothesizing a globally deployable massive carbon sucking technology to somehow exist in the future without a shred of evidence that it's at all plausible. It's extremely dubious gambling with the future of society.

Reality overrides counterfactual hypotheticals every time. When ambitious next-generation nuclear is ready to go, then there's a possible opening but right now it's simply not there.

> The GND proponents could finally understand marketing and branding and successfully reposition their project to our collective appetites as a collection of small bite-sized community projects but nuclear cannot do this.

The GND proponents aren't even talking about specifically how individual GND projects would be executed; they aren't talking about whether it would be a collection of small bite-sized projects or a few large ones.

What they're talking about is the government putting its thumb on the scale even more in favor of renewables. And that means even more incentive to do those projects, and less incentive to do others. That's where the conflict is.

I've been a proponent of it for 8 years and no, that's inaccurate.

Instead, many advocate for oil, gas, and nuclear to no longer get tax subsidies, government insured loans, preferential treatment with land use, or be able to freely externalize on to the community the damage and debris their products leave behind.

These companies also shouldn't have a Right to profit guaranteed by international trade treaties or be able to sue countries in tribunals when the countries decide against their wishes.

Instead, oil gas and nuclear need to stand on their own two feet, take full fiscal responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products and fund it not from government handouts but from the prices paid for their product. They should also get no preferential treatment and legal rights to their business interests.

Communities should have a right to say no without being sued in international courts.

It's the exact opposite. Take the thumb off the scale, include All the costs, remove all the special privileges and then let the market decide.

> oil, gas, and nuclear to no longer get tax subsidies, government insured loans, preferential treatment with land use, or be able to freely externalize on to the community the damage and debris their products leave behind

I'm find with that, as long as it also includes no more government subsidies, etc. to renewables. Which have been given out for decades to renewables projects that, unlike oil and gas, do not even produce any actual energy, but are just "research" that promises to produce something Real Soon Now and has been for decades.

> let the market decide

I'm fine with that too, as long as it really is a free market. I do not think an actual free market is what the GND is proposing.

It's a big tent ... there's some people that want to push social justice, living wage and political equity in the program. I think that's utter folly.

Then it just becomes the DSA agenda under a cape labeled "renewable energy" and it's a political non-starter. There's no way.

The advocates show that each of the issues separately have broad support so they think that by putting it all together you'll get the union as a coalition.

I think they'll more likely get somewhere from the intersection to practically nobody.

It'd be as if Republicans were trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, end obamacare, and ban gay marriage as a single package. Good luck!

I'd almost cynically claim it's only political theater to be leveraged in their reelection campaign. The DSA has a pretty solid ground game but you need to toss them red meat to get them to come out for you.

People like say, hamburgers and ice cream, but not on the same plate. I don't think the AOC GND is good politics. And as we've seen, the support seems to be leveling out.

That's why I side on the mostly-libertarian GND camp which was closer to what Jill Stein was advocating for 8 years ago. Remove all protections, remove all subsidies, open up a market, give consumers choice.

Then they can fight for a living wage if they please, but separately, not together.

I think it's far more politically feasible and achievable.

If your concerns are valid, perhaps we should just stay with coal and gas. Renewables amid other problems are not going to work without massive energy storage systems, which we don't and won't have anytime soon

Please please please stop repeating this. It’s an assumption about a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist yet.

As we build more renewables, we’re also building better grid connections to serve demand response. You build until most places are overproducing.

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