Because 33% efficient windmills only have 20-year lifespans, they must be rebuilt two times after initial construction to match the 60-year lifespan of 90% efficient nuclear power plants.
Here’s what an anonymous wind technician from North Dakota said about the usefulness of windmills:”Yeah, we all want to think we’re making a difference, but we know it’s bullshit. If it’s too windy, they run like sh , if it’s too hot, they run like sh , too cold, they run like sh . I just checked the forecast, and it’s supposed to be calm this weekend so hopefully not very many will break down, but hell man, they break even when they aren’t running. I’ve given up on the idea that what I’m doing makes a difference in the big picture. Wind just isn’t good enough.”
Organizations like the Sierra Club wear blinders that exclude wind’s defects, and when I or my associates offer presentations on the safety records and costs of the various forms of power generation, including nuclear, we rarely get a reply, and my Minnesota chapter provides a case in point.
Because of those blinders, they apparently don’t know that It will take 9,500 1-MW windmills running their entire life spans to equal the life-cycle output of just one average nuclear plant. Perhaps they don’t realize that those windmills, which last just 20 years, require far more steel and concrete than just one nuclear plant with a lifespan of at least 60 years.
As a result, the carbon footprint of inefficient windmills is much larger than that of a 90% efficient nuclear power plant.
Furthermore, the wind industry doesn’t know what to do with these 170-foot, 22,000-pound, fiberglass blades that last just 20 years and are so difficult to recycle that many facilities won’t take them.
A 1-GW windfarm needs 1300 tons of new blades per year, and because they cost USD100k each, that’s USD200 million every 18 years, or USD33.6 million per year per gigawatt created just for the blades – all this for a fraud that primarily relies on carbon-burning generators to supply the majority of their rated power that they don’t supply.
Those who guide the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, etc., should know that windmills require magnets made from neodymium, which comes primarily from China, where mining and refining the ore has created immense toxic dumps and lakes that are causing skin and respiratory diseases, cancer and osteoporosis. If they know this, why are they silent? If they don’t, they should.
Unlike windmill generators, ground-based generators use electromagnets, which are much heavier than permanent magnets, but do not contain rare-earth elements.
Here’s the problem: Accessing just those two elements produces tons of arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. And because the U.S. added about 13,000 MW of wind generating capacity in 2012, that means that some 5.5 million pounds [2.5 million kg] of rare earths were refined just for windmills, which created 2,800 tons of toxic waste, and it’s worse now.
For perspective, our nuclear industry, which creates 20% of our electricity, produces only about 2.35 tons of spent nuclear fuel (commonly called “waste”), per year, which they strictly contain, but the wind industry, while creating just 3.5% of our electricity, is making much more radioactive waste where rare- earths are being mined and processed – and its disposal is virtually unrestricted.
Windmills also use 80 gallons [300 litres] of synthetic oil per year, and because there are at least 60,000 US windmills, this means that the windmill industry requires 500,000 gallons [1.9 million litres] per year plus even more crude oil from which synthetics are derived.
We know that it takes several thousand windmills to equal the output of one run-of-the-mill nuclear reactor, but to be more precise, let’s tally up all of the materials that will be needed to replace the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant with renewables.
Dr. Tim Maloney has done just that, writing, “Here are numbers for wind and solar replacement of Vermont Yankee.
Let’s assume a 50/50 split between wind and solar, and for the solar a 50/50 split of photovoltaic (PV) and CSP concentrated solar power, which uses mirrors.
Amount of steel required to build wind and solar;
CO2 emitted in making the steel and concrete;
Land taken out of crop production or habitat.
To replace Vermont Yankee’s 620 MW, we will need 310 MW (average) for wind, 155 MW (average) for PV solar, and 155 MW (average) for CSP… Using solar and wind would require:
Steel: 450,000 tons. That’s 0.6% of our U.S. total annual production, just to replace one smallish plant.
Concrete: 1.4 million tons; 0.2% of our production/yr.
CO2 emitted: 2.5 million tons
Cost: about 12 Billion dollars
Land: 73 square miles, which is larger than Washington DC, just to replace one small nuclear plant with solar/wind….
Offshore windmills use up to 8 tons of copper per mW.
The Nuclear Alternative
a.) Replace Vermont Yankee with a Westinghouse /Toshiba model AP1000 that produces 1070 MW baseload, about 2 x the output of Yankee.
Normalizing 1070 MW to Vermont Yankee’s 620 MW, the AP1000 uses:
Steel: 5800 tons – 1 % as much as wind and solar.
Concrete: 93,000 tons – about 7% as much.
CO2 emitted: 115,000 tons [from making the concrete and steel] – about 5% as much.
Cost: We won’t know until the Chinese finish their units. But it should be less than our “levelized” cost. [Perhaps $4-5 billion]
Land: The AP1000 reactor needs less than ¼ square mile for the plant site. Smaller than CSP by a factor of 2000. Smaller than PV by a factor of 4,000. Smaller than wind by 13,000.
b.) Better yet, we could get on the Thorium energy bandwagon. Thorium units will beat even the new AP1000 by wide margins in all 5 aspects – steel, concrete, CO2, dollar cost, and land.“
Ten, 3 MW wind generators’ use as much raw material as a 1-Gigawatt nuclear plant (Think of their carbon footprints.)
PV electricity generation requires 10,000 pounds of copper per megawatt. Wind needs 6,000, but highly efficient, CO2-free nuclear power needs only 175, which provides a huge financial saving and the smallest impact on the environment.
This was the last episode in our series Unintended Consequences. It’s been a wonderful experience and thanks to everyone in our team. Everyone has done a tremendous effort to put it all together. 30 weeks has gone by too fast.
A special warm thanks goes out to Dr. George Erickson for creating all of this wonderful material in the first place.
Thank you Dr. Erickson.
Stay tuned for the next series where we promote key, factual information relevant to a world focused on producing clean, green, safe energy from Molten Salt Fission Technology powered by Thorium.
In their excellent Wind and Solar’s Achilles Heel: The Methane Meltdown at Porter Ranch, Mike Conley and Tim Maloney reported:
“Even a tiny methane leak can make a gas-backed wind or solar farm just as bad – or worse – than a coal plant when it comes to global warming. And the leaks don’t just come from operating wells. They can happen anywhere in the infrastructure… In the U.S., these fugitive methane leaks can range up to 9%.
“If the fugitive methane rate of the infrastructure… exceeds 3.8 %, then you might as well burn coal for all the “good” it’ll do you. All in all, the numbers are pathetic – some of the most recent measurements of fugitive methane in the U.S. are up to 10%. But the gas industry predictably reports a low 1.6%.”
The sediments in many of the world’s shallow oceans and lakes also release vast amounts of methane from frozen organic matter as it thaws and decomposes. When a Russian scientist searched the Arctic shores for methane, he found hundreds of yard-wide craters, but when he returned a few years later, they were 100 yards in diameter.
In 2014, N. Nadir, of the Energy Collective wrote, “The most serious environmental problem that renewable energy has is that even if it reached 50% capacity somewhere, this huge waste of money and resources would still be dependent on natural gas, which any serious environmentalist with a long-term view sees as disastrous.
“Natural gas is not safe – even if we ignore the frequent news when a gas line blows up, killing people. It is not clean, since there is no place to dump its CO2; it is not sustainable; and the practice of mining it – fracking – is a crime against all future generations who will need to live with shattered, metal-leaching rock beneath their feet, and huge amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere.”
Burning just 1 gallon of gasoline creates about 170 cubic feet of CO2.
Tim Maloney of the Thorium Energy Alliance argues that we should be conserving natural gas because methane is the primary feed stock for ammonia, and ammonia is used to produce nitrogen-based fertilizers, a shortage of which could cause starvation. In addition, closing nuclear plants and expanding “renewables” that require natural gas will substantially increase CO2 and methane emissions.
From THINKPROGRESS, Nov. 2017, “A shocking newstudy concludes that the methane emissions escaping from New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.”
Are you a journalist – or a student – looking for the inside on Molten Salt Fission Energy powered by Thorium? Well this page is for you.
We’ve been asked many times for a summary of resources or key people to speak with.
Are we biased? Of course we are. Read on and you’ll know why. You’ll probably want to Join Us too.
A Future Powered by Thorium is our objective. We are leveraging the billions of USD in today’s value and millions of hours invested over 50 years ago in a technology that is demonstrably superior to anything else we have today.
See this chart of energy density from an Australian government website. Everything else pales into insignificance when compared to MSR (Molten Salt Reactors)
Here’s a recent article from Germany we translated into Japanese. It contains a lot of information on China’s progress also. China is replicating the 1960’s USA program, publicly announcing 2011 investing USD 3,3 billion and 700 engineers for the work. This is not about reinventing the wheel, it’s just remembering what we’ve done before. Remember also China and Australia worked together to create a replacement for the super alloy metal “Hastelloy”. This super metal was created in the 1950’s in the USA for their advanced nuclear programs and is only made today by two companies in the world – one in the USA and Mitsubishi. Now China has an alternative.
The article also includes information on Japan’s molten salt project – FUJI.
Here’s a list of must-do-interviews for background on Thorium Molten Salt Fission Energy or subjects related, such as radiation safety, the effects of Chernobyl and Linear No Threshold theory.
Professor Geraldine Thomas Director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, the world’s preeminent knowledge base for all things related to the real effects of that industrial accident. Prof. Thomas is became staunchly pro-nuclear due to her directorship. George Monbiot – a former Greenpeace anti-nuc activist, and now no longer in Greenpeace and strongly pro nuclear – after an interview he also had with Prof Thomas he had as a writer for the UK’s Guardian.
Mr. Daniel Roderick Former President and CEO of Westinghouse and then Toshiba Energy Systems. Danny steered the sale of Westinghouse for Toshiba, securing a positive, multi billion USD outcome for Japan. Danny was also the leader of negotiations to secure USD 50 billion in funding for a new nuclear build in Turkey (derailed by the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey). Mitsubishi subsequently submitted (and withdrew) a nuclear build in Northern Turkey (Sinop). Rosatom (Russia) is now building a nuclear power station in the south of Turkey (Akkuyu).
Dr. Adi Paterson Dr. Paterson is the former head of ANSTO and an advocate of Molten Salt Technology. During his 9 year tenure at ANSTO, Dr. Paterson steered Australia to membership of the Generation IV forum, kind of the United Nationals for advanced reactor designs. This is no mean feat given Australia’s lack of much to do with nuclear energy.
Dr. Resat Uzman Director of nuclear energy systems at Figes AS, of Turkey. Dr. Uzman has more than 40 years experience in all things nuclear, Turkey and rare earths – the materials where Thorium is often found bound with.
Professor Berrin Erbay Senior lecturer and former dean of mechanical engineering at Osmangazi University, Turkey Prof. Erbay has been liaising with the professors in Japan for several decades. You can see one of her presentations on the status of molten salt technology in Japan here on Youtube:
Mr. Phumzile Tshelane Mr. Tshelane is a former CEO of NECSA South Africa, now holds various directorships across a wide range of industrial sectors. His position as head of a state owned nuclear technology development company gives him a particular view point on commercialisation of nuclear energy technologies.
Ms. Rana Önem President of the Thorium Student Guild. You should hear from someone who is dedicating their life to Thorium Molten Salt and who is just starting out in their career. You can see Rana interviewing Dr. Uzman here. Follow the links at the end of the article to see her role as president of the Guild:
An important subject to cover is linear no threshold theory – a fraudulent model of radiation management that, unfortunately, has spawned an industry of radiation protection and radiation safety keen on maintaining its own survival. This results in massive, unnecessary overspending on nuclear builds. Professor Edward Calabrese is a leading expert on this subject and you can watch a series of interviews with Ed here:
Together with Professor Jerry Cuttler, Ed presents clearly, laying out how LNT has demonstrably been proven false. (And consequently those that died at Fukushima died unnecessarily, as a direct result of inappropriately applying that theory).
Here’s the background on the Turkey Japan University (TJU). Our CEOs meeting with the Japanese Ambassador to Turkey in 2021 confirmed Japanese support for technology development of Molten Salt is easier should such work be included in the curriculum of the TJU. Early planning stages of the TJU can be seen here below. The vice president of TJU is a senior professor at the Tokyo University responsible for nuclear engineering.
The “only” obstacle to adoption of Molten Salt Fission Energy powered by Thorium is the incumbent energy industries. It’s a significant obstacle, and it would be naive to think otherwise. Operating much like the tobacco industry has done in the past, lobbyists and funding at all levels occurs to stymie any potential competitors.
It is predicted that the 7 Trillion USD per year fossil fuel energy market would shrink to only 1 Trillion per year with a society powered by Thorium. This is an obvious disincentive for incumbents to do anything but to obfuscate and delay.
You can see that obfuscation at work here with both Wired and the Bulletin in 2019 on USA presidential candidate Andrew Yang:
The half truths and lies are difficult, if not impossible, for the layperson to identify. We contacted one of Andrew’s advisory team members and confirmed Andrew supports Thorium Molten Salt, and was committing several billion USD to have USA’s energy footprint 100% on the technology by 2030. Technically very doable. Politically, not.
It is important to recognise the ecological and economic footprint of energy from Thorium (a substance as common as lead) as being much smaller than even Uranium. In the article link above (the Japanese translation one) there are three slides that demonstrate the significant benefits Thorium has over Uranium. These slides are repeated below.
The IAEA report TE1450 from 2005 is an excellent read. It says Thorium is not an issue and is a good prospect for energy – back in 2005. Once the physics is proven it doesn’t need to be “upgraded” every 6 months like an iPhone.
And yes, Thorium doesn’t explode. “Walk away safe” is a suitable term for Molten Salt Technology.
Attached below is a brief summary of “Why Thorium didn’t take off” by Bruce Hoglund, 5 November 2010. It’s an excellent starting point for data gathering and research – and not “Wikipedia”. Wikipedia was used as partial evidence why the United Kingdom should’t use Thorium for energy. Some 10 years ago in a UK government 1.5m GBP funded “study”, rubbished Thorium and directly contradicted the advice of the IAEA’s TE1450 report.
The information here is but the tip of the iceberg, however it gives an excellent starting point. There are of course, many, many others who can contribute considerably for a balanced and objective article or articles on Thorium for our energy future. And with today’s communications technology, such conversations are only but a few key strokes away.
Burning stuff is old tech. Star Trek technology is where we have to be now. Fission does that, especially Molten Salt Fission Energy powered by Thorium
Because windmills generate just 1/3 of their rated capacity, the rest is supplied by plants that primarily burn coal or natural gas – which is 90% methane, which makes more CO2. I repeat: methane, over its lifetime, is 20 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, but during its youth, it is 80 times worse – and the next ten to twenty years are years of deep concern. Gas companies love “renewables”.
Ground and satellite surveys reveal that huge volumes of “fugitive” methane are leaking from our wells and distribution system. According to WSJ and the pre-Trump EPA, “Natural gas explosions cause death and/or property damage every other day, and U S ”leakage” is equivalent to the emissions from 70 million cars.” (CNN 9-13-18: “1 dead, 24 injured in 30 natural gas explosions in three Boston area towns.”)
While we pollute our aquifers by fracking for methane in Texas and elsewhere to assist inefficient wind and solar farms, we are simultaneously flaring (burning) huge volumes of natural gas across much of the Bakken “field” in North Dakota because it’s “too costly” to pipe it to market.
Windmills are, in effect, glorified, heavily subsidized carbon-burners that needlessly create more of the carbon dioxide that we seek to avoid. Were it not for our misguided passion for inefficient renewables, we’d have less need for fracking and less of the environmental damage they cause.
Satellite images of oil and gas basins reveal staggering 9-10% leakage rates of heat-trapping methane. Because of these leaks, fracking accelerates climate change even before the methane it extracts is turned into CO2.
In 2015, thanks to a “discovered” email message from Lenny Bernstein, a thirty-year oil industry veteran and ExxonMobil’s former in-house climate expert, we learned that Exxon accepted the reality of climate change in 1981, long before it became a public issue – but then, Exxon spent at least $30 million on decades of Climate Change denial.
In addition, despite studies from Johns Hopkins that reveal an associate fracking and premature births and asthma, Pennsylvania health workers were told by their Department of Health to ignore inquiries that used fracking “buzzwords.”
And according to a 2014 UN report, atmospheric methane levels have never exceeded 700 parts per billion in the last 400,000 years, but they reached 1850 ppb by 2013.
In 2015, a Duke University study reported: “Thousands of oil and gas industry wastewater spills in North Dakota have caused “widespread” contamination by radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts, putting the health of people and wildlife at risk.”
When wind advocates promote the glories of wind power, they use numbers based on the windmill’s nameplate rating, its maximum capacity – as in a February 20, 2015 Earth Watch article, which said, “…the total amount of wind power available… has grown to 318,137 megawatts in 2013.”
But because wind power is intermittent, windfarms usually generate an average output of about 33% of their capacity, which is why 318,137 megawatts is very misleading, and 95,000 would be more accurate, perhaps even generous. Thus, when they say that windmills can supply xxxxxxx homes, they are usually talking about the cumulative plate ratings on the generators – the output under ideal conditions, not the average amount of electricity they really produce.
Neither solar nor wind can deliver the 24/7 “baseload” power that is provided by nuclear plants plus hydropower, natural gas, oil and coal. Of those five, only nuclear power plants (despite Chernobyl, a plant deemed to be “illegal” everywhere else in the world), have been safely delivering carbon dioxide-free power for more than fifty years. (Wind also can’t handle cold weather.)
Great Britain, faced with building 12 nuclear plants or the 30,000 1-MW windmills needed to provide an equal amount of power, chose nuclear. And Japan, which closed its nuclear plants due to post-Fukushima panic, has begun to reactivate them, which will reduce the thousands of tons of CO2 they’ve been dumping into our atmosphere by burning methane [‘Natural’ Gas].
Germany, which over-reacted by closing nuclear plants in favour of wind and solar, is paying almost four times more for electricity than nuclear France. And with its industries hurting, the Merkel government has begun to rethink nuclear power. While they debate, they are creating more CO2 by burning lignite, the dirtiest member of the coal family.
Germany “paid” for the top line of the following graph, but only got the dark blue spikes. The light blue area is primarily supplied by burning carbon, which worsens Climate Change. (Every megawatt of wind generation capacity requires at least another MW of natural gas or coal generation for backup.)
I understand why power companies cooperated with the rush to wind power. For one thing, renewables were demanded by a misinformed public led by many of the “green” organisations whose goals I support, but not their methods.
33% efficient windmills have received subsidies of USD 56 per Megawatt hour. In comparison, 90% efficient nuclear power, which critics say is “too expensive,” receives just USD 3 per Megawatt hour.
Even the wind companies and Warren Buffett admit that without the subsidies, they’d be losers: “…on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” (2014)
“Most cost estimates for wind power disregard the heavy burden of these subsidies on US taxpayers. But if Americans realised the full cost of generating energy from wind power, they would be less willing to foot the bill – because it’s more than most people think.
“Over the past 35 years, wind energy – which supplied just 4.4% of US electricity in 2014 – has received USD 30 billion in federal subsidies and various grants. These subsidies shield people from the truth of just how much wind power actually costs and transfer money from average taxpayers to wealthy wind farm owners, many of which are units of foreign companies….”
“Nuclear’s production tax credit (PTC) of 1.8 cents/kWhr is not indexed for inflation. PTCs for other low carbon energies are indexed. The PTC for wind is 2.3 cents/kWhr.
“Plants must be placed in service before January 1, 2021. Thanks to Nuclear Regulatory Comm. slowness, that practically eliminates any PTC for new nuclear power.
“Do you know about “renewable portfolio standards”? If government cares about young people and nature, why are these not “carbon-free portfolio standards”?
“This is a huge hidden subsidy, reaped by only renewables. There is a complex array of financial incentives for renewables. Incentives include the possibility of a 30% investment tax credit in lieu of the PTC, which provides a large “time-value-of-money” advantage over a PTC spread over 8-10 years, accelerated 5-year depreciation, state and local tax incentives, loan guarantees with federal appropriation for the “credit subsidy cost.
“Nuclear power, in contrast, must pay the full cost of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license review, at a current rate of USD 272 per professional staff hour, with no limit on the number of review hours. The cost is at least USD 100-200 million. The NRC takes a minimum of 42 months for its review, and the uncertainty in the length of that review period is a major disincentive.”
We are all paying hidden costs to prop up these inefficient, deadly “alternatives” that depend on methane [Natural Gas] to produce 70% of their rated power, even though the methane [Natural Gas] leakage from fracking and the distribution system are erasing any benefits we hoped to get by avoiding coal. Furthermore, the price quoted for a nuclear plant includes the cost of decommissioning, but it isn’t for the thousands of windmills or solar farms that only last about 20 years.
In fact, the deck has been stacked against nuclear power by “green” profiteers and carbon lobbyists who know they cannot compete with 90% efficient, CO2-free nuclear power. Still, despite the bureaucratic handicaps on nuclear power and the support given to renewables, nuclear power is financially competitive, as the following chart reveals.
It’s not just birds and bats that suffer. According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, “Just in England, there were 163 wind turbine accidents that killed 14 people in 2011, which translates to about 1000 deaths per billion kilowatt-hours.
“In contrast, during 2011 nuclear energy produced 90 billion kWhrs in England with NO deaths and America produced 800 billion kWhrs via nuclear with NO deaths.”
Why is it almost sacrilegious for the Sierra Club and its clones to rethink windmills, and why do they refuse to watch presentations that compare the records of their “green” alternative energy sources to the record of CO2-free nuclear power? Could $$$ be involved? (In 2012, TIME magazine reported that the Sierra Club secretly accepted USD 26 million from Chesapeake Energy – an oil company.)
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh report that 117 of world’s 200,000 windmills burn every year – far more than the 12 reported by wind farm companies. Even more throw their blades or have them torn off by climate change storms.
U. S. Insurance claims for 2018 reveal that blade damage and gearbox failures cost the industry USD 340,000 and USD 480,000 respectively. Claims associated with windmill foundations have averaged USD 1,800,000 per year, reaching USD 3,200,000 in 2018 due to extreme circumstances.
For examples of the opposition we encounter from many “greens” please see these excellent articles:
As mentioned near the end of Chapter seven – and repeated here for emphasis – when we include the positive medical data that was accumulated over thirty years from Pripyat and the region around Chernobyl, the worldwide death print for wind is 115 times worse than the death print or nuclear power, 340 times worse for solar, 3,000 times worse for natural gas and 27,000 times worse for oil.
Nuclear power is even safer than ‘benign” hydropower, which has a huge carbon footprint because of the energy needed to manufacture the cement in its concrete, and because reservoirs create large amounts of methane. (See Hydro’s Dirty Secret Revealed by Duncan Graham-Rowe.)
Furthermore, people who are forced to live close to windmills have complained of severe sleep deprivation, chronic stress, dizziness and vertigo caused by low frequency noise and inaudible noise below 20 Hz, known as infrasound.
Despite these problems, those who profit from selling, repairing and building short-lived, inefficient, wind and solar farms have no interest in replacing coal-burning power plants with highly efficient, environment- friendly, ultra-safe, Generation III+ reactors or Molten Salt Reactors that cannot melt down, cannot generate the hydrogen that exploded at Chernobyl and Fukushima – and can even consume much of our stored nuclear “waste” as fuel.
With these facts in mind, how can “environmentalists” support wind farms that require carbon-burning backup generators, have only a 20-year lifespan, are difficult to recycle and have larger death prints than nuclear power, which operates 24/7, has a much smaller carbon footprint, a 60-year lifespan, is 90% efficient, requires very little land, and kills no birds or bats?
Coming up next week, Episode 26 – Tilted Economics – Public Fund Pillaging
I was thrilled when the first windmills appeared on the Laurentian Divide near my hometown of Virginia, Minnesota, but a few years later, having noticed a significant amount of “down time,” I checked on wind power’s record with the help of my new associates in the Thorium Energy Alliance and discovered that the windmill industry had been selling more sizzle than steak.
During the “green” search for energy alternatives, which was guided by an “anything but nuclear” bias, the Sierra Club and others to which I once belonged took pains to define what was “renewable” and what was not. In so doing, they deliberately (and ironically), excluded CO2-free nuclear power, even though we have enough uranium and thorium to last 100,000 years.
Because those who profit from wind and solar said nothing about their carbon footprints, environmental damage, resource use, inefficiency, bird, bat and human deaths (death prints) and the need for huge subsidies, we drank their Kool-Aid, and now wonder why it’s making us sick. Well, here’s why, from many points of view.
Number 1 – Safety
Windmills kill 1 million birds and 1 million bats per year, even as insect borne diseases like Zika, dengue fever and malaria are increasing. (Bats can be killed by just getting too close to the low pressure area that accompanies each blade, which ruptures their lungs) How “green” is that?
Don’t these “environmentalists” care that, according to Science magazine, a “single colony of 150 brown bats has been estimated to eat nearly 1.3 million disease-carrying insects each year”? Shouldn’t they know that, according to the US Geological Survey, bats consume harmful pests that feed on crops, providing about USD 23 billion in benefits to America’s agricultural industry every year?
“North America lost 3 billion birds between 1970 and 2019” [ WSJ] but no one mentions windmills for contributing to this disaster!
A modern, 1 GW LWR generates 9,000,000 kWhrs per year which, at 10 cents per kWhr, creates revenue of USD 900,400,000 per year. Deduct USD 220 million for operating expenses for a profit of USD 680 million per year. California’s Diablo nuclear plant generates electricity for about 3 cents per kWhr.
If the plant’s two reactors cost USD 7 billion, their combined profit will repay the 7 billion in 5.7 years, after which they will net USD 1.3 billion/year while employing about 1,000 well-paid workers.
While we temporise, Russia and South Korea are building modular reactors (conventional and MSRs), for sale abroad, some of which will be mounted on barges that can be towed to coastal cities, thus making long transmission lines, with their 10% power loss, unnecessary. In 2020, the first of these barges began operation in Pevek, a town in eastern Siberia. (China makes a 1 GWe reactor for USD 3B in less than 5 years – Dr. Alex Cannara.)
In 2016, Russia inaugurated a commercial Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) that extracts nearly 100% of the energy value of uranium. (LWRs utilize less than 5%.) The FBR creates close to zero waste and guarantees that we will never run out of thorium, uranium and plutonium, which yield 1.7 million times more energy per kilogram than crude oil.
Instead of pursuing these profitable programs, we [USA] have spent USD 400 billion on worthless F-35 jet fighters plus USD 2 billion PER WEEK in Afghanistan – AND there’s that missing USD 8.5 TRILLION that the Pentagon can’t find. [The Pentagon’s $35 Trillion Accounting Black Hole, by Michael Rainey, January 23, 2020]
Meanwhile, according to the GUARDIAN, “in 2013, coal, oil and gas companies spent USD 670 billion searching for more fossil fuels, investments that could be worthless if action on global warming slashes allowed emissions.”
California plans a USD 100 billion high speed train to serve impatient commuters between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and in 2014, Wall Street paid over USD 28 billion in bonuses to needy executives. If you include greedy sports team owners and players who, between 2000 and 2010, received 12 billion tax dollars to help pay for their arenas, the total could exceed USD 1 trillion.
With that money, we could easily build enough MSRs to end the burning of fossil fuels for generating electricity while drastically cutting carbon dioxide production.
According to WORLD NUCLEAR NEWS, Russia’s Rosatom Overseas intends to sell desalination facilities powered by nuclear power plants to its export markets: Dzhomart Aliyev, the head of Rosatom Overseas, says that the company sees ‘a significant potential in foreign markets,’ and is offering two LWRs producing 1200 MW each to Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity as part of a combined power and desalination plant.
“Desalination units can produce 170,000 cubic meters of potable water/day with 850 MWh of electricity per day. This would use only about 3% of the output of a 1200 MWe nuclear plant. In addition, two desalination units are also being considered for inclusion in Iran’s plan to expand the Bushehr power plant with Russian technology, and another agreement between Argentina and Russia also includes desalination with nuclear power.” Dzhomart Aliyev, chief executive officer of Rusatom Overseas.
In 2016, the Vice President of Rosatom reported that the company plans to build more than 90 plants in the pipeline worth some USD 110 Billion, with the aim of delivering 1000 GW by 2050.
Stratfor Global Intelligence reported in an October, 2015 article titled Russia: Exporting Influence, One Nuclear Reactor at a Timethat “Rosatom estimated that the value of orders has reached USD 300 billion, with 30 plants in 12 countries. From South Africa to Argentina to Vietnam to… Saudi Arabia, there appears to be no region where Russia does not seek to send its nuclear exports.”
However, our [USA] nuclear industry, opposed by Climate deniers like Donald J Trump, fervent “greens” and powerful carbon companies that put profit before planet, struggles to stay alive.
In Why Not Nuclear?Brian Kingdescribed our failure to build Generation IV nuclear plants that, unlike LWRs, take advantage of high-temperature coolants such as liquid metals or liquid salts that improve efficiency.
“Argonne National Laboratory held the major responsibility for developing nuclear power in the U.S. By 1980, there were two main goals: Develop a nuclear plant that can’t melt down, then build a reactor that can run on waste from nuclear power plants…
“In the early 80’s Argonne opened a site for an experimental breeder reactor in Idaho. About five years later [two weeks before Chernobyl], they were ready for a demonstration. Scientists from around the globe were invited to watch what would happen if there was a loss of coolant to the reactor, a condition similar to the event at Fukushima where the cores of three reactors overheated and melted.
“Dr. C. Till, the director of the Generation IV project, calmly watched the gauges on the panel as core temperature briefly increased, then rapidly dropped as the reactor shut down without any intervention!
“The Argonne Generation IV project was a success, but it couldn’t get past the anti-nuke politics of the 1990’s, so it was shut down by the Clinton administration because they said we didn’t need it.
“One can only imagine what the world would look like today, with a fleet of Generation IV nuclear plants that would run safely for centuries on all of the waste at storage sites around the globe. No heat-trapping carbon dioxide would have been created – only ever increasing amounts of clean, reliable power. So why not nuclear power?
“Unfortunately, most environmentalists oppose nuclear power, as do many liberals. The Democratic Party is afraid of anti-nuclear sentiment… like the Nation Magazine, the Sierra Club and others. Why are all these people against such a safe and promising source of energy?
“… nuclear power has been tarred with the same brush as nuclear weapons. Nuclear power plants can’t explode like bombs, but people still think that way….
“There is also a matter of group prejudice, not unlike a fervently religious group or an audience at a sports event of great importance to local fans. People are afraid to go against the beliefs of their peers, no matter how unsubstantiated those beliefs may be.
”Finally, some good news: In July, 2018, Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) and Canada’s New Brunswick Power agreed to build a sodium-cooled, small modular reactor (SMR) – and thereafter at other sites worldwide.
“The ARC-100 includes a passive, “walk away-safe” design that ensures the reactor cannot melt down – even if the plant loses all electrical power. The ARC-100 can consume the nuclear waste produced by LWRs and operate for 20 years without refuelling. Ontario approves nuclear.
Produce only a small amount of low radioactivity waste that is benign in 350 years.
The liquid fuel, besides being at 700-1000 degrees C, contains isotopes fatal to saboteurs.
Do not require water cooling, so hydrogen and steam explosions are eliminated.
Don’t need periodic refuelling shutdowns because the fuel is supplied as needed and the by-products are constantly removed. (LWRs are shut down every 2-3 years to replace about ¼ of the fuel rods, but, LFTRs can run much longer.)
Thorium 232 is far more abundant than U-235. Well suited to areas where water is scarce.
Do not need huge containment domes because they operate at atmospheric pressure. Breed their own fuel.
Can’t “melt down” because the fuel/coolant is already liquid, and the reactor can handle high temperatures.
Fluoride salts are less dangerous than the super-heated water used by conventional reactors, and they could replace the world’s coal-powered plants by 2050.
Are suitable for modular factory production, truck transport and on-site assembly.
Create the Plutonium-238 that powers NASA’s deep space exploration vehicles.
Are intrinsically safe: Overheating expands the fuel/salt, decreasing its density, which lowers the fission rate.
Although our current LWRs are very safe and highly efficient, LFTRS are even more productive, and they cannot melt down.
Data from the Australian Nuclear Society and Technological Organization of the Australian government: + Thorium fuelled molten salt reactors have an energy return ratio of 2,000 to 1. [Also called Energy Density] + Our current LWRs that are fuelled with uranium have an energy return ratio of 75 to 1. + Coal and gas have an energy return ratio of about 30 to 1. Wind has an energy return ratio of 4 to 1. + Solar has an energy return ratio of 1.6 to 1.