Thursday, April 27, 2006

Patrick Moore on the News Hour

Dr. Patrick Moore, co-chairman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, made an appearance on The News Hour on PBS last night to talk about the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl. Click here for a transcript. For the audio from the program, click here. For video, click here.

Joining Moore on the program was Paul Gunter, a regular here in our discussion strings.

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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like an anti got spanked by an environmentalist. Go figure.

David Bradish said...

Paul,

Very entertaining debate. There are a couple of numbers I would like to correct you on. The MIT study stated on page ix that 1,000 GW of nuclear would be needed to make a contribution to carbon emissions. You said 1,500 - 2,000.

There are 443 nuclear plants in operation with 27 under construction. You said 438.

I read a little bit of the North Carolina study on TMI which you referenced. Didn't understand much of the methodologies and jargon but I find it tough to go with this study as truth and not other studies such as one done by the University of Pittsburgh.

Even the one you reference stated that radiation levels detected were not higher than background radiation. By simple logic how can one claim that an increase of cancers were due to TMI then? Obviously the authors of the North Carolina study came up with a way to make that claim. I guess it shows that anyone can come up with anything to support their claim.

Too bad Moore was cut off at the end. He would have said that you don't need proliferation from recycling nuclear fuel to create a bomb. Look at Iran. As well, the technology exists to recycle the spent fuel and not extract plutonium by itself. Check out the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. It's about recycling while reducing proliferation.

David

Rod Adams said...

Gunter continues to claim that you cannot separate the issue of nuclear fuel recycling from the issue of nuclear weapons.

Even if that is true - which is questionable - why does that matter if we are talking about programs to recycle used fuel in the United States? The US has possessed nuclear weapons for more than 60 years, and has such a large stockpile of material that we have programs to turn already enriched weapons material into low enriched fuel for reactors.

That does not even include our plentiful stockpile of weapons grade plutonium since the effort to blend excess quantities of that material with uranium or thorium have been stymied by opposition from groups like Mr. Gunter's.

Paul Gunter - How would a real recycling program add any additional risk of nuclear weapons if the United States is the place where the recycle takes place?

Anonymous said...

I just read the transcript for the show, and the first commenter above was right. Paul Gunter got... you know, spanked.

gunter said...

Hey,thanks guys,

I was sure that you all would be keeping score. Why am I not surprised by your tally?

As Moore "the environmentalist" trots out nukes as the new horizon for environmentalism, he is losing whatever "environmental" credibility he had left (which is not much, since he contracts primarily with the big corporate polluters). Every article or introduction I’ve seen identifies Moore on the payroll of NEI.

He would do better to preserve the shred of environmentalist credibility he does have by sticking to his promotion of geothermal heat pumps which we can support.

As far as those corrections---

NRC NUREG-1350 for 2005-2006 states that there are 440 reactors operating in 33 countries. So I'll split the difference with you.

MIT's "The Future of Nuclear Power" report atpage 3 actually states "1000 to 1500" 1000 MWe units deployed world, so I'll split the difference with you on that one, too. We've seen studies citing 2000 units at 1000 MWe each by mid century to even get to making a dent in carbon emissions.

Again at that rate, this crap about "being part of the mix" is just that... there simply are not enough resources with that kind of construction agenda. None of you guys employers are planning on cutting back on their coal burning anyways.

Besides not knowing where Davis-Besse is (OK,so he's Canadian) he completed missed the point on the potential in energy efficiency that is available. But why does it also not surprise that NEI is focused on a production agenda and not on saving electricity and the associated emissions from all those coal fire plants that are co-owned by the companies like Dominion, Exelon, Entergy, etc. etc. etc. As it is, Moore's paycheck is as much about burning coal and fighting scrubbers as it is generating nuclear waste.

Geez,I guess I better be careful about what I wish for. The debate with Moore, brief as it unfortunately was, came like a bolt out of the blue.

By the way, Moore was not cut off, he was blurting over Ray Swarez closing remarks. Pretty rude to try to speak over your host, I thought. But, hey, what do you expect?

David Bradish said...

Paul,

While opposing nuclear energy may sound noble and just in your position it doesn't appear that you are aware of what's projected to go on in the future.

The EIA forecasts that about 370 GW of new capacity will be needed to continue to meet the U.S. electricity demand by 2030. 170 GW is projected to be coal and 140 GW for gas. CO2 emissions are going to keep increasing of course.

In the world there are currently about 2,400 GW of fossil fuels. Electricity demand in the world is projected to double by 2025. Nuclear is projected to be built up in many emerging economies to help meet the demand.

The situation is how do you meet the demand for electricity without increasing CO2 emissions. There is only one source which can be scaled up to meet the demand of electricity while not emitting CO2 and that's nuclear.

You think 1,000 GW is a lot but something will have to be built anyways. What's that going to be? If it is not nuclear it will be fossil fuels.

If you don't already know, the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona produced more electricity than all the wind and solar plants combined in the U.S. in 2005. Just that one plant.

There's a far greater situation going on here than worrying about nuclear. And that's how we are going to continue to meet electricity demand without emissions.

While we are doing something about this situation, what are you doing? Be part of the solution instead of always being opposed to something.

David

Gunter said...

David,

As I keep saying, I am promoting an efficiency and conservation revolution for residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

An aggressive efficiency campaign is going to slash current generating capacity nearly in half according to our own government labs.

Then we accelerate the phase in of renewables with hybrid solar and wind systems. When the sun is not shining the wind is blowing and vice versa.

And you still maintain the more than 50% remaining baseload capacity from conventional fuels with significant reduction in the various waste streams including greenhouse gas emissions and nuclear waste.

The emphasis is on saving energy not wasting it and adding capacity through renewables. Its alot cheaper and quicker to save that coal than to burn it and far, far more effective to displace those carbon emission with efficiency than building new nuclear capacity with the associated increase in curies.

The nukes have already demonstrated that they have not met nor can not meet the market test without more and more and more direct taxpayer subsidies. To keep the current nuclear fleet in the competition, we know that you are cutting back on all sorts of safety and security areas.

David Bradish said...

Paul,

Well I'm glad to hear some solutions. It seems that all we ever hear from you is how bad nuclear is.

What I remember from the debate between you and Moore was that since 1973 GDP has gone up 156% and energy 38%. And from now till 2030 the energy intensity of the U.S. is forecasted to decline 1.8% each year. Sounds like energy efficiency is already happening yet we are still going to need more electricity.

You say nuclear is heavily subsidized but what about wind and solar. All of wind has received a PTC since 1992. Nuclear just received it and its only for the first 6 GW for their first 8 years of operation.

Also, one of the main reasons renewables are being built is because of state renewable portfolio standards.

Subsidies exist because people want to push for new options. There is legislation to promote more nuclear being passed in many of the southern states because they want it. Just the same as wind in other states.

If you want to spin it and say nuclear can't exist without help that's fine. Wind just got in the game and solar is still on the bench even though they are both heavily subsidized as well.

I forgot what the market test was for nuclear. Is it that there are 103 units producing power everyday inexpensively?

Is it that almost every quarter, the companies who operate the plants are reporting excellent earnings due to the nukes?

Is it that electricity prices aren't as high for customers because they are using nuclear instead of gas?

Oh, I forgot that all the units are sacrificing safety for profits. Even though the industry has spent more than a billion dollars in upgrades since 9/11 which we were already earning an A+ on security before that.

Correction, in my previous comment I said that world demand would double, it will increase by half.

Your turn.

David

gunter said...

David,

Demonstrable gains are being made in efficiency at all levels. It works and it makes money. That's precisely the most immdiatethe point.

That said, it needs to be recognized as the first and foremost solution to our current energy crisis and climate change problem and more importantly aggressively pursued by a national policy. Mainly because its the most cost effective and it's rapidly implementable.

As I recall, the last nuclear power station to come on line in the US is Watts Bar. Right? 23 years to construct at more than $6 billion dollars with a cancelled Unit 2 at substantial cost. Public legal intervention was not a factor in TVA's stomic boondoogle.

The issue of failure to meet cost of completion and time to completion are two of a number of factors that regard the market test failure I reference. The ABWR under construction in Lungmen, Taiwan is showing the same warts. The ABWR in Japan came in double GEs projected cost of completion at $3000/kwh.

But these are only two of many factors. I tire of the repetiion on this blog but the fact that the nuclear industry can not cope with full liability coverage for catastrophic insurance is another, the government has to write in that artificailly low cap and continues to represent a low levee around this industry. Even these new "inherently safe" designs seek limited liability coverage and you further employ the LLC firewalls to protect parent companies. Not a vote of confidence in my view, nor the investment community. A lot of dough can go down the toilet pretty quickly, however remote the odds.Its a gamble Wall Street has refused make since 1978.

I will not argue that the industry may very well have spent more than a billion on security since 911, but we know that this is a just drop in the bucket. Security is another slippy slope for nuclear investment.

Why the NEI lobby effort to waterdown the Design Basis Threat to exclude RPGs and 50 cal. sniper rifles with armor piercing shells?
Too expensive as GAO discovered for Congressman Shays subcommittee on Emerging Threats. RPGs are pretty easy to get across our borders and this rifle that can blow holes through guard towers and fortifications is legally purchased.
NEI got its hands shamefully dirty removing these from the DBT to protect their corporate partners financial bottomlines.

Here again, just in the area of managing the security bar for nukes --- more site fortifications, weapons, guards and training, force-on-force exercises, emergency preparedness, regulatory oversight, etc.--- are simply not part of the kilowatt per hour costs for renewables and efficiency and all the more reason for an accelerated program for a legitimately secure energy system.

Which brings us to the point that nuclear power is not compatible with an open society. We can pick this up in a later discussion but if its not already obvious it will be more so.

All the more reason to realize the real cost of nuclear versus distributed generation with renewables and aggressive energy efficiency/conservation.

gotta go,

David Bradish said...

Paul,

Watts Bar is one plant. One plant is not a measure for an industry of 103 units. There were other plants though that did have higher costs as well which we know.

Construction costs are not the only measure of costs. Watts Bar has the highest lifetime capacity factor of any other nuke plant. TVA is getting its costs back from the investment by running it 90% of the time. As well, nuclear has some of the lowest operating costs of other fuel types. TVA will definetly get its money back during the 60 years of Watts Bar's operation.

We believe we have solved many of the cost factors that were problems with the current fleet. Standardized designs and a single construction and operating license should reduce costs substantially to make it competitive with other sources of generation. We're going to test it out over the next decade and if it doesn't work you won't see many new nuke plants. But we're confident in this new process and believe it will work.

Security is a judgment call. You can criticize all you want but there has to be a point where we say enough is enough. We're not going to defend against every possible thing there is out there. Nuclear plants are not military bases. They are civilian generating stations.

Nukes are already number one in security! You really can't get much better than that.

It's the same old arguments going on here. Unless you have anything new have a good week and I'll see you in the next article.

David

Gunter said...

David,

Watts Bar was just the last one, not the only one by a long shot.

A check of NEI's own historical account will show as many cancellations as commercially operable units.

Cost is your tar baby, and for more than just construction. I grant you it will be real interesting to see who, if any, ventures capital to get stuck with you all again.

I'll bet along with Thomas Capps, former CEO/Dominion Nuclear, that it will not be the hedge funds.

NEI thinks it has the last word on how much security is enough. This part of the debate is only beginning. I'd say that NEI's PO'd a bunch of NRC staffers along with members of congress on this one.
I find it pretty shameful.

Since this is a Patrick Moore segment let me close these notes by saying that I've learned more about Moore in the past couple of months than I ever wanted to know (unless it was for briefing to debate him on Howard Stern's show.)

You may or may not know it, but you have more of a liability on your hands than an asset---but then again, that's true about nuclear power, in general, so perhaps you all are only being consistent.

As for this "environmentalist," good ridance.

Gunter, NIRS

David Bradish said...

Paul,

Again, I'm going to have to brush you up on some stats. Between 1974 and 1990 about 100 nuke plants were canceled. During that same period almost 100 fossil fired plants were canceled.

The primary reason for the cancellations was due to the oil embargo in '73 which "led to high interest rates and low economic growth - and in turn halved electricity demand from 7% to less than 3%."

http://www.nei.org/documents/
Fact%20Sheet_Three%20Mile%20
Island%20Myths%20and%
20Facts_0304.pdf

Since 1990, about 300 GW of new gas capacity has come online. You know how much gas capacity has been canceled during that same period? About 310 GW.

You know what I find shameful? How you and any other anti group treats one of your former buddies. You don't have to like Moore, but to go and attack him is unprofessional. But I guess that's how you get your messages across. When you can't debate the issues anymore, you resort to putdown the other person.

David

gunter said...

David,

It was more considerably more than 100 cancelled units. I'll have to look that up later.

Oil embargo!? You're joking, of course.

I don't seem to recall this is in the Forbes February '85 cover story "Nuclear Follies" that described nuclear power as the "largest managerial disaster in business history."

You could have also provided the comparison of sunk cost in those cancelled nukes vs. coal fire plants.

Substantially more was flushed down the toilet with cancelled nukes. Shoreham alone was around $6 billion, Seabrook 2 was nearly $1 billion, etc. etc.

Aside from getting hammered with failure to meet cost and completion time, a key reason for all those cancellations (including fossil units) is inflated demand.

With regard to this ongoing Moore debate, it is Moore who attacked the environmental movement as "anti-human" among other choice slurs. I was actually relieved that the Lehrer NewsHour debate stayed above the belt. The fact that he gets his paychecks from polluters and clearcutters is enough.

Gunter, NIRS

David Bradish said...

Paul,

Check out page 113 of NRC's Information Digest. You'll find 97 units were canceled.

These canceled units will probably prove beneficial to us later. Many of the reactors canceled were going to be additional reactors at existing sites anyways. The space is still there and the majority of the next set of new reactors will be on existing sites.

There were sunk costs and it was unfortunate these reactors didn't get built because there would be much less emissions in our air today.

I am going to say it again. We believe we've reduced the costs, risk and time in building new plants. And we're going to test it out over the next decade.

Contrary to what you may think, we learn from our mistakes. We know what works and doesn't work and we've improved substantially in every way over the past 20-30 years.

I find it comical how you say Moore only represents the industry because he is paid by "polluters." But when it comes to the environmental movement, you are all saints and your views and actions are for real. I forgot, what did some of the anti movement do to Miss. Nevada last year?

You don't think there are people here who have the same passions for nuclear as you do against it?

You think back in 1986 when Moore rethought his position on nuclear his primary motive was that in 2006 he would receive money from the industry to promote nuclear? Pretty far reach there.

David