Friday, October 01, 2010

Terminating the Alien Abyss: A Titanic Endorsement of Nuclear Energy – True, No Lies

james-cameron James Cameron, the world’s most money making film director, was visiting the Canadian tar sands (which the Canadians call oilsands – I guess we should join them in that, shouldn’t we?) the other day:

Peter Mansbridge has a Canadian broadcast exclusive interview with director James Cameron, who visited Alberta to see the oilsands for himself. A native-born Canadian, Cameron has said that he is concerned with the criticisms leveled at Alberta's oilsands operation and is eager to learn whether they are true or not. Tonight, we find out what he learned on his fact-finding trip.

And here’s what Cameron said to Mansbridge (our transcript):

They [the Canadian government] kept coming back and mentioning nuclear as a possible way to input energy into the system. I personally – this is a little controversial in the environmental world – personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that because we’re not Russia. We’re not going to have a Chernobyl. We’re smarter than that. And it’s actually one of the cleanest sources of energy out there. There’s no carbon footprint to it at all, other than building the plant in the first place.

So you’re pro-nuclear?

I’m pro-nuclear, yeah, in this particular context, as a bridge to a fully sustainable future. I think the waste problem is a 500 year horizon, I think the warming problem is a 10 to 15 year horizon.

Might have to pop Avatar into the DVD player again.

James Cameron. What’s the point in being a movie director if you can’t have dramatic shots taken of yourself?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

There’s no carbon footprint to it at all, other than building the plant in the first place.

Not quite right ... you still need to enrich and manufacture the fuel. But the broader point remains.

GRLCowan said...

Enrichment is optional.

(How fire can be domesticated)

Joffan said...

Anon, there's no carbon footprint to the enrichment (if reqd), fuel manufacture, etc, if the energy to undertake these processes is from nuclear.

Steel manufacture has an intrinsic carbon footprint though.

GRLCowan said...

"... Steel manufacture has an intrinsic carbon footprint though."

Even that isn't guaranteed.

(Strong illumination can take Fe3O4 down to Fe3O3 or thereabouts, aka FeO, and then, if cooled slowly, the ferrous oxide disproportionates, i.e., some of the iron oxidizes other iron, yielding a solid mixture of metallic iron and regenerated Fe3O4.)

(How fire can be domesticated)

crf said...

A lot of the talk about nuclear in Canada is to make a nuclear power plant to supply either heat or electricity to oil sands production processes. A very limited and ironic use.

Little of the talk is to make nuclear a cornerstone for providing clean electricity instead of using coal and natural gas, or for electrifying transportation to reduce the need for oil worldwide.

The nuclear industry in Canada will, on its current course, at best be subservient to the oil and gas industry in Alberta, and cement that province as forever dominant in deciding Canada's whole industrial energy policy, and as our international positions on energy and climate.

Nuclear is the best and probably only technology capable of ending the world's dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. Canada's current government will never allow nuclear to assume that role.

gunter said...

howdy folks,

Speaking of sinking ships, Cameron apparently missed the spurtering noises coming from plans for Alberta's nuclear-powered tarsands?

The Albertan govt. in past few years has lifted a previously self imposed ceiling on its tremendous prairie wind development.

As far as carbon foot prints go, studies I've seen put the nuclear fuel chain's at a mean average of 66 grams CO2 per kwh. Wind is 8 grams CO2 per kwh, minus the nuclear waste, the emergency plans and the security zones.

Anonymous said...

Gunter,

It would be great to get the citations for these studies. Wind consumes about 10 times as much steel and concrete in construction as nuclear, and both have very low carbon fuel sources (when one uses nuclear electricity for enrichment). So it's very surprising to see wind estimated to have lower carbon emissions than nuclear.

Of course, both wind and nuclear are much lower than coal plant emissions, so the big question is which can most effectively displace coal baseload electricity plants.

Anonymous said...

One of the main motivations for building nuclear plants to provide heat for the Canadian oil sands is to increase the amount of Canadian natural gas available for export to the U.S..

Since it takes significant energy and infrastructure to transport this gas, the more efficient solution could be to build more nuclear electricity generation in the U.S., so we don't need to import so much Canadian natural gas.

Brian Mays said...

"Gunter, It would be great to get the citations for these studies. "

Gunter is citing the exercise in garbage-in-garbage-out analysis put together by Ben Sovacool and his colleagues. Sovacool's nonsense has not been well-accepted in the academic literature and has been almost completely debunked on the web (e.g., see here, here, and here).

Many estimates of carbon footprints have been done by many different groups, and Sovacool's estimate is a clear outlier, to put it mildly. Mr. Gunter, however, specializes in cherry-picking results that favor his predetermined anti-nuclear conclusion, a belief that he has held religiously for the last four decades. (It also has helped to pay his mortgage.) Thus, it's no wonder this flawed example is the only "study he's seen."

Anonymous said...

It also has helped to pay his mortgage

And nuclear power pays the mortgages of most of the industry posters on this blog. Certainly those who work at NEI.

So what's your point?

Someone's disqualified from having an informed opinion on nuclear power if they work on nuclear issues professionally? That's nonsensical on its face.

Brian Mays said...

"So what's your point?"

My point? Well, it's that Mr. Gunter cherry picks which studies he chooses to cite. In this case, he's nowhere near the average. He has cherry picked an outlier as his one statistic.

The NEI is a nuclear trade group, and it sponsors this blog. Nobody is unaware of that. I just like to remind folks that Mr. Gunter here is no random member of the public who dropped by to give his two cents. He's a life-long anti-nuclear advocate, and he is paid to post here. It's part of his job. I think that its only fair that readers of this blog should be made aware of that.

DocForesight said...

Bryan Mays shoots ... he SCORES!!

Wind and solar don't even qualify under the definition of POWER as explained by Kent Hawkins at www.masterresource.org in a 3 part series 9/8, 9/9, 9/10 of 2010.

gunter said...

Maybe Cameron is screenwriting for his next disaster film on nuclear power.

Anybody sent him the Financial Times story on Constellation pulling the plug on Calvert Cliffs 3?

Now that's heroism in my book.

gunter said...

P.S.

As far as "mortgages" go, I'll be damned if I pay the mortage for the nuclear industry with federal loan guarantees backed by my tax dollars.

As it turns out, an 11+% interest payment is too high for the down payment for an ridiculously expensive nuke.

Brian Mays said...

Mr. Gunter must be getting senile. He is getting on in years, after all. Perhaps he should retire from the anti-nuking business, because his last attempt at a retort leaves much to be desired.

Geez, Gunter, don't you know the difference between a mortgage, a loan guarantee, an interest payment, a down payment, and a fee?

Apparently not. Or maybe he's just drunk.

gunter said...

Well, cheers to you too, Brian.

tsk...tsk...tsk...I understand you're upset. You really blame me?
Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?

And I'll admit to having one very cold and dry vodka martini tonight for the occasion. But, you gotta believe me, not in spite---in relief.

And speaking of relief, if anybody is up for a financial lesson, how about the first day back on the stock market after Constellation's decision to drop Calvert Cliffs 3---guess what?---their stock goes up. Wow! How's that for an economic indicator? Some will say that's a relief.

But really, amidst all this name calling--didn't we already blog on this a few years back with the S&P, Fitch Financial and Moody's writing on wall. You got to admit that this is one hellva game of fiancial chicken. Who can blame Constellation for blinking? Sarkozy? Oui?

Let's see if there are other US takers for a French remake of the Titanic?

Anonymous said...

Gunter,

Too bad there's no such "relief" in sight for future customers of offshore wind!

Look at Rhode Island's demonstration project: 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour! If that's not "ridiculously expensive" I don't know what is.

The project was rejected because the price of electricity was too high to be "commercially reasonable". So what happened? Well to take away this protection of the ratepayer, Rhode Island ammended the law:

The PUC must now approve the contract if it is deemed to be “commercially reasonable for a small offshore wind-demonstration project that is limited to eight wind turbines, even if there may be other energy alternatives in the region that could produce electricity at a lower unit cost.”

http://www.projo.com/economy/NEW_WIND_LAW_06-16-10_IKISB44_v35.175ed3a.html

Is BeyondNuclear fighting this project, too? It only makes sense if you want to protect ratepayers from high prices.

---
Anyway Gunter, your facts are, as usual, incorrect and your ramblings nonsensical.

The 11.6% is an upfront fee for the loan guarantee. 20% is the down payment which was equity Constellation/EdF would have in the project. The interest rate is something altogether different.

Brian Mays said...

Mr. Gunter,

When you rant incoherently, what am I supposed to do? Praise your confusion? Marvel at the wisdom of your mistakes?

You still work for Beyond Nuclear, do you not? Then why can't you act like a professional and at least have the courtesy of getting your facts straight?

Talk about "an 11+% interest payment" that you then claim is a "down payment" is nothing more than rambling. It's something that I could expect if I were visiting an insane asylum, but it doesn't contribute anything to an honest, intelligent discussion of nuclear plant financing.

It just demonstrates that desperation is driving you over the edge.