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View Diary: New German Data Shows No End in Sight for Coal (230 comments)

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  •  What does this mean??? (7+ / 0-)

    A massive push to renewables hasn't shaken the hold coal has over their economy

    Obviously, coal isn't the problem here.  "Coal" doesn't have a hold over the economy, energy demand does.  Coal was brought in in this case as a bailout, a saviour, after it was determined that solar and wind couldn't get the job done.  The problem is abandoning the best, cleanest high-output energy source man has ever harnessed - nuclear.

    I dismiss any "environmentalist" who proposes phasing out coal, oil, and natural gas without massive investment (both financial and practical) in nuclear as either an idiot or a totally unserious ideologue.

    As for Appalachia, build a few factories there that produce parts and materials for nuclear reactors.  Those jobs pay much better than coal miner.

    •  That means we should question their approach (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, Odysseus

      Coal is the enemy both in terms of public health and long-term climate change.  Germany has made more out of pushing to renewables than any other nation and the results... more coal with no end in sight to fossil fuel emissions.  

      So, what this means is that maybe this in not how we do it and we should be thinking long and hard about going all-in for wind and solar when the objective is to eliminate Big Fossil from primary energy production.  

      The fact their increase in coal use mirrors their reduction in  nuclear generation highlights a key point: coal and nuclear are interchangeable baseload sources as far as the grid is concerned, except nuclear emits zero GHG and coal is the worst possible emitter of GHG.

      The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

      by mojo workin on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 12:32:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You confuse coal for baseload generation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        Yes Germany should have kept its nukes, but coal is not the only other option.  Concentrated solar with thermal storage, hydro, etc are all better options than coal

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 02:19:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  coal appears to be part of the option (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara

          they're using though.

          just a little bit bored.

          by terrypinder on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:26:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Definitely that (0+ / 0-)

            The headlong rush out of nuclear was ill  advised I'm afraid

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:58:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think your assessment is a bit premature. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              splashy

              It's too early, and Germany is a pioneer. The experts know themselves there will be mistakes along the way, but that will only benefit those who follow - learning from the mistakes and doing things better.

              „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

              by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:18:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  It's not. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            translatorpro, Lawrence, splashy

            Assuming by "option" you mean "baseload".  I'll leave it up to the diarist to clarify whether they deliberately lied or simply didn't read or understand their own links, but the new plants are replacing baseload coal with far more efficient coal peakers.  Replacing with a more efficient version = reducing CO2, not adding, != consuming more coal.  Peakers = gap filling for when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, aka, supporting ever-growing wind and solar penetration.  

            They'll probably function as baseload in the early days (they are replacing plants that are currently running as baseload, after all), but they're clear design intent peakers, taking only 15 minutes to ramp up or down - a role that will become increasingly important as solar and wind penetration keep rising.

            •  i'm referring to the fuelsource (0+ / 0-)

              not the baseload.

              Yes, I am of the opinion that coal, as a fuel source, is not a good thing period.

              I don't understand the hate for this diary. It really wasn't that bad, and it isn't explictly pro-nuclear, and actually has praise for renewables.

              just a little bit bored.

              by terrypinder on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:48:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  it's not the environmentalists who killed nukes (6+ / 0-)

      It's the electric companies. They haven't wanted them since the 70's, and don't want them now.  Mostly because the economics of nuclear is crippling, even with massive government subsidies and insurance welfare.

      •  Isn't a lot of that due to the massive amount (0+ / 0-)

        of regulation?

        Heck, things are getting bad enough where we should seriously considering having the Government build and operate nuclear reactors...

      •  Um, no. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Capt Morgan

        Two new reactors are currently under construction (Vogtle 3 and 4) and a partially completed reactor (Bellefonte) is being completed. There are several other applications for new reactors with the NRC but I suspect many are waiting to see how Vogtle fairs and are factoring in the costs of cheap natural gas as an alternative.

        The "nuclear is subsidized" meme is repeated often but never put in its most relevant context. The facts are that for every MWh of electricity produced by nuclear power there are a little over $3 in subsidies, and most of that is in the form of federal R&D...very little is direct subsidies to the producer. In contrast, a MWh of wind gets on the order of $56 in subsidies all told. Natural gas and hydro get about $.60 and $.80 respectively.

        •  that's pretty funny, since Progress Energy here in (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, Egalitare, Lawrence

          Florida wants to build two nukes that are already triple their initial budget--and still haven't been permitted yet.  Oh, and they broke the nuke they already have (while trying to do their own work on it) and that'll cost at least $5 billion to fix.

          Oh, and guess what----thanks to the state legislature, Progress Energy gets to charge its customers NOW for the cost of both repairing the nuke they broke and building the two over-budget nukes they haven't even broken ground for yet----and if they never fix the broken one OR build the new ones, they don't have to give any of the money back.

          Not to mention that the government picks up the insurance tab because no private insurer wants to write a policy for a nuke plant.

          If it weren't for the massive welfare the nuke industry gets, they'd have died years ago.

          Oh wait--they DID die years ago.  (shrug)

          •  So what's your solution? (0+ / 0-)

            Seriously... what's the realistic answer?

            Nuclear is not perfect, but it's pretty clean and orders of magnitude better than coal.

            What other option is there to build us a bridge to renewables or maybe even fusion?

            Generating our baseline load is feasible with nuclear and I see no other option we can use that won't destroy the planet

            •  you're griping at the wrong person (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BYw, Egalitare

              As I noted before, it's not environmentalists who killed nukes---it was the electric industry itself. Economically, nukes are a nonstarter. They can't get any private investors to finance them, and they can't get any private insurance companies to cover their liability. If it weren't for all the corporate welfare, the game would have ended decades ago.

              Oh, and for those of us who are in love with the thorium vaporware, I simply point out that no electric company, anywhere, is even asking to build a thorium plant.  None.  Not a one. Once again it is the electric companies who are shooting you down, not the environmentalists.

              (BTW, uranium mining is one of the most destructive activities that humans do.)

              •  Wrong yet again. (0+ / 0-)

                Roughly a third of uranium world wide is mined in conjunction with other operations whose primary focus is extracting minerals like copper and gold such as the Olympic Dam mine in Australia. The incremental environmental effects of extracting the uranium (versus leaving it in the tailings) is all but nonexistent. Roughly a third is extracted through a technique called in situ leaching that involves drilling small wells to dissolve and extract the ore. Compared to conventional mining techniques used to obtain other minerals it is fairly benign. It is the primary method used in the US. Only about a third is mined conventionally world wide and it isn't any more damaging than equivalent operations used to mine copper or other ores.

            •  a big part of the solution would be for the US to (0+ / 0-)

              reduce its per capita electricity usage to the levels in Japan, France, Germany or the UK.

              As in everything else, the US is fat, wasteful, profligate and bloated.

            •  Clean coal-IGCC has the CO2 emissions of natural (0+ / 0-)

              gas by EPA fiat. Nuclear is a nightmare waiting to happen,
              not to mention the radioactive waste which Reagan thought you could put under a desk. The decommisioning cost of nuclear are huge.

          •  So you admit you are wrong. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            You said utilities didn't want them yet you bring up an sample of a utility that does and apparently continues to despite the current price of natural gas.

            You said "the" nuke in Florida is broke but there are in fact five reactors in the state (Crystal River 3 and two each at St. Lucie and  Turkey Point). That the utility tried so hard to try to fix it implies it was a profitable plant for the company.

            It used to be common practice for utilities to be allowed to charge ratepayers while large capital projects like power plants and transmission lines were being built to lower the costs and save the customers in the long run. In my state local taxes have gone up to finance a new professional sports stadium whose construction hasn't begun yet.

            The government does't pay a dime in insurance for nuclear plants. It in fact passed a law requiring utilities to purchase the maximum amount of private insurance available (currently around $375 million through a consortium of the largest insurance companies in the US) and requires utilities enter into indemnity agreements that provide an additional $12 billion in coverage.

            You are just a fountain of misinformation aren't you?

            •  um, no . . . . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              splashy
              You said utilities didn't want them yet you bring up an sample of a utility that does and apparently continues to despite the current price of natural gas.
              As noted, Progress Energy wants the money.  Under Florida law, they are already charging their customers, and they get to keep the money whether the nukes get built or not (the widespread expectation being that the nukes will never be built, since they are already triple over-budget).
              You said "the" nuke in Florida is broke but there are in fact five reactors in the state (Crystal River 3 and two each at St. Lucie and  Turkey Point).
              Those we all built in the 70's. The industry is currently trying to extend their lifespan for another 40 years because they were so over-budget and expensive to run that the companies didn't make any money from them, and want to extend their planned lifespan to try and make up for some of that expense.  (That's how Progress Energy broke the nuke at Crystal River---they tried on their own to replace some of the equipment, and damaged the containment walls. That nuke will likely never be repaired or restarted)
              It used to be common practice for utilities to be allowed to charge ratepayers while large capital projects like power plants and transmission lines were being built to lower the costs and save the customers in the long run. In my state local taxes have gone up to finance a new professional sports stadium whose construction hasn't begun yet.
              The difference of course is that the nukes will probably never be built, and if they're not, the company doesn't have to give the money back.  The other difference is that Progress Energy is a privately-owned for-profit company with a legal monopoly. It's not a public utility.
              The government does't pay a dime in insurance for nuclear plants. It in fact passed a law requiring utilities to purchase the maximum amount of private insurance available (currently around $375 million through a consortium of the largest insurance companies in the US) and requires utilities enter into indemnity agreements that provide an additional $12 billion in coverage.
              Wrong.  First of all, there are NO private insurers anywhere who are willing to take liability for a nuke.  None.  The "consortium" you refer to is the nuclear companies themselves, who were forced to form their OWN insurance company after no private insurer would touch them. You brag about "they have to purchase the maximum insurance available" without noting that in the event of an accident, $375 million is an insignificant drop in the bucket--and the Federal government has stepped in to assume liability for anything above that amount (because, as noted, NO private insurance company anywhere will insure a nuke for full liability).
              •  That's a pretty dumb and cynical analysis. (0+ / 0-)

                Progress Energy would be incredibly stupid and short sighted to try to string the state public utilities commission and public along about building the plant. It would generate a lot of bad blood if it didn't voluntarily refund all money that wasn't prudently spent to obtain a NRC COL license. There would be a backlash.

                Is it part of the standard anti-nuclear activist handbook to obfuscate and blather in an attempt to distract from the fact that you are caught being wrong or did you just forget to take your Ritalin? What do the dates when the plants were built have to do with anything? You made a statement implying there is a single reactor in Florida. You are wrong. Admit it.

                Progress doesn't operate in Florida as a merchant electricity provider. It is a regulated utility which means the state sets the rates. Transmission lines are not publicly held either. There is no difference.

                As to whether there are private insurers willing to underwrite nuclear liability insurance, I would refer you to

                http://www.amnucins.com/

                It says prominently on its web site:

                "American Nuclear Insurers (ANI) is a joint underwriting association created by some of the largest insurance companies in the United States. Our purpose is to pool the financial assets pledged by our member companies to provide the significant amount of property and liability insurance required for nuclear power plants and related facilities throughout the world."

                The indemnification you are referring to provided by the utilities themselves is the secondary insurance. The primary insurance provided by ANI is underwritten by a pool of insurance companies that issue actual insurance policies providing $375 million in coverage and that the utilities pay annual premiums to just like anybody paying for their car or homeowners insurance. To date the primary insurance provided by these very real insurance companies has paid all liability claims associated with nuclear plants and incidents, including Three Mile Island. The secondary indemnity coverage provided by the utilities themselves has never been tapped into. Not even close. If your level of reading comprehension is up to it you might try the Wiki entry for the Price-Anderson Act, although to date you haven't given me reason to expect that you would get it.

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