Monday, July 28, 2008

T. Boone Pickens Energy Plan

Pickens Energy PlanThe Washington Times editorial board weighs in on the Pickens Plan,

At minimum, it is good to see an oil magnate thinking big thoughts about petroleum overdependency. All the real alternatives - nuclear, natural gas, wind and more - should be on the table. For that reason it is disappointing that Mr. Pickens is not beating the drum more loudly on nuclear energy. Mr. Pickens says he is for all the energy options. That is well and good. But why not expend a comparable effort to push this clean and efficient technology?
It's a Wash Times nuclear energy twofer today - syndicated columnist Jack Kelly also writes about the Pickens plan in "Right Idea, Wrong Fuel."
Mr. Pickens has the right idea, but the wrong fuel. A tenfold increase in wind power would meet only about 7 percent of our electricity needs. But nuclear power could both supply rising demand for electricity, and substitute for natural gas in its production.
(h/t to Notes reader Mitch for passing along the Kelly link.)

14 comments:

Ray Lightning said...

Pickens argues for where he can get better bucks.

He is not going to gain anything out if nuclear gets bigger. Why would he blow the trumpets for nuclear ?

He puts on his eco evangelist coat just when he figures out his oil wells are running dry. So what does he do, tries to get into the next biggest monopoly, which is natural gas (btw, he continues to support drilling more oil as well)

We are not kids, let's stop behaving like tweety or hello kitty. Why would an oil man talk with reason ?

KevinM said...

I agree with Ray's sentiment about where the money is for TBP.

There seems to be a confederacy of disparate groups advocating wind and solar as short- or mid- term solutions despite evidence they are likely aware of.

On a napkin calculation, it looks like we would need about one windmill per 100-400 people (including residential and industrial electricity use, ignoring concept of base load) to go all wind. The cost of each large mill sounds small next to the cost of a Nuclear plant, but whats the reactor-to-rotor ratio?

The power companies want to shift capex onto cities and towns with an easier (no toxic waste) sell, the oil companies want to stop effective alternatives to support prices, the environmentalists want to prevent industrial expansion in general.

Plus electric power generation is a nearly monopolistic venture, with the clasic strengths (stability) and weaknesses (underinvestment). Small ineffective gestures are too tempting.

So small government guys like me get shifted into an equally ill fitted big government position: I keep hoping the federal government will get involved with incentives. Is this how environmentalists feel bout teaming up with oil speculators to destroy demand?

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. Pickens is big into windfarms in Texas. He isn't into nuclear, so he doesn't push it. It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is, conversation.

Francis H. Woods said...

You guys are all on the right track. T. Boone is looking out for T. Boone. He's heavily invested in petroleum and natural gas with Mesa Petroleum and Clean Energy (the largest supplier of vehicular natural gas in N. America).

And while the Pickens Plan may be in apolitical plea, he is anything but apolitical. He has contributed almost exclusively to Republican campaigns and contributed $3 million dollars to the Swift Vets in 2004 that attacked Kerry's military record.

I do like his idea of investing in wind energy to reduce America's oil imports, but I would like to see diversification in America's energy plan. Invest in Solar, Wind, Hydro-electric, and Nuclear.

Why just one?

Anonymous said...

But, according to his commercials, he is interested in alternative energy because he wants energy security for the country.

It was on TV, so it must be true.

Seriously though, I really hate his commercials: "It's our problem and we can fix it". Hey Pickens, ever take an ethics course? Know what conflict of interest means?

Rod Adams said...

Have you ever considered the possibility that T. Boone Pickens has not yet shared his whole plan? After all, the man is a very sharp operator and he is from Texas, the land of poker players.

Here is a link to an article that I wrote about his plan that might give you some food for thought:

T. Boone Pickens Knows Energy - So Does George Chapman, His Amarillo Neighbor

reunionpi said...

Since we could not find a vehicle registered for T. Boone Pickens, the oil man on television, see what vehicle his wife drives

http://webofdeception.com/#pickensauto

Starvid said...

Pickens have said that he thinks nuclear can do the same job as wind in his plan. He's definetly on the right track.

Wind and nuclear are very much alike:

* Very high capital costs

* Very low fuel, operation and maintenance costs

* Inflexible power generation

* Stable long term costs

KenG said...

Wind and nuclear do have similarities in cost structure but they are not the same relative to flexibility of power generation.

There seems to be a misconception that nuclear is not capable of load following. Economics have pushed current nuclear designs to optimize for baseload operation but all types of reactors can be designed for load follow service.

Wind can be characterized as a technology that normally operates far below it's peak capability and intermittantly and unpredictably (uncontrollably) rises to it's maximum capacity. On the other hand, nuclear plants continuously operate at maximum capacity and can be controllably and predictably reduced in power when required.

Soylent said...

Why would you want a load following nuclear plant? The only thing you save is fuel, which is a small part of operating costs and a tiny part of total amortized cost per kWh. You'd have to design for increased wear and tear and there's probably regulatory hassles as well.

KenG said...

When nuclear power expands to exceed base load (as it has done in France) load following is necessary. Also, if nuclear is to co-exist with extensive renewable "opportunity" sources (wind, solar) nuclear will probably be required to throttle back to fully utilize the renewables because, as low as nuclear fuel cost is, it is higher than renewables.

Ray Lightning said...

Thanks to Rod Adams for the link.

About load following for nuclear, I think it is a better idea to use excess nuclear energy for producing fuels such as Hydrogen, compressed air etc.

These fuels will be of vital use in a future transport sector. Also, they might be useful for cogeneration of renewable electricity.

There might be some losses during energy conversion, but I suspect it will be less of a hassle than the bother of shutting down nuclear reactors.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, all of the currently operating reactors were originally designed to accomodate daily load following. Since they are not operated this way, the owners have mostly neglected / abandoned/removed the equipment necessary to support that kind of operation. By that, I mean the boric acid evaporators, etc. that were intended to recycle the boron used to control the reactivity transients (xenon decay, etc) that are induced by load following.

The decision to load follow or not is a strictly economic one, based on the self-interested judgement of the utility owning the plant. I'd be surprised if they are interested in operating a hydrogen production facility (its nottheir core business). But if you want to build one, and buy your power from them, I'm sure they'd like to talk.

Falstaff said...

"Why would an oil man talk with reason?"
Why would you Ray?

The rotor count/reactor count doesn't matter, the cost does. Nuclear is $7/Watt installed (Progress - Levy Fla), today, it takes 4-6 years (if you are lucky) to bring online, and thats doesnt account for fuel or storing waste. On shore wind, worst case _today_ is $2/W installed and you can get online in a year. Thats not the cost of what somebody wishes or believes it should be 'if things were different', thats what it is.