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Last week here at Daily Kos, the Nuclear Information Resource Service published an ill-informed essay composed of inaccuracies and wild assumptions about the Calvert Cliffs 3 (CC3) nuclear project. The NIRS essay argues that the CC3 project suffers from a flawed economic model and concludes that all U.S. nuclear power projects and others worldwide are therefore also doomed to failure.

Unfortunately, much of what the essay lacked is a basic understanding that building and operating power plants is a business that depends on a number of wide-ranging market forces.

From the NIRS essay:

The [Calvert Cliffs 3] flagship project to build a new nuclear power reactor in the United States—the one that provided the economic model for most new reactor proposals since—is in serious trouble and likely will collapse of its own weight before construction could even begin.

What this means for the much-hyped nuclear "renaissance" is clear: there will be no large-scale nuclear revival in the United States, and probably not in the rest of the world either, since the pressures on this project are international in scope, and affect just about every nation not named China.

Calvert Cliffs is a vital asset in the mid-Atlantic electric grid and is reputable, but is it reasonable to suggest, as the NIRS essay does in its opening thesis, that it is "the flagship project ... that provided the economic model for most new reactor proposals"? Not quite.

There are 61 reactors under construction in 15 countries. Only four are of the same design as CC3. Therefore, claiming that one project not yet under construction will affect and stop all of the reactors in the US and world clearly misrepresents new nuclear expansion. Below is a graph showing the number of reactors under construction and planned worldwide by country. This expansion is clearly not dependent on any one company, project or country.

Nuclear units under construction and planned worldwide

Loan Guarantees

If there’s any facet on new reactor development the NIRS essay couldn’t get correct (or deliberately twisted), it was loan guarantees. Throughout much of the essay, NIRS referred to the financing of the CC3 project as 100% taxpayer guaranteed. This is a distortion. In order to receive a loan guarantee, a company has to contribute at least 20 percent of its own cash (equity) to the project. Therefore, if a reactor costs $10B, then the company applying for the loan guarantee has to contribute at least $2B to the project. If the project defaults, then the $2B of equity is lost first. Few companies are in a position to easily weather that kind of a loss and this is one of the reasons why new nuclear build will move at a measured pace. Like the federal government, the nuclear companies wish to avoid default at all costs. (For the benefits and reasons why loan guarantees are a useful self-financing tool for electric utilities, see our Issues in Focus (pop-up pdf)).

In the case of CC3’s financing, the terms of a loan guarantee have not been finalized. It is clear, however, that the 20% equity must be supplied by the owners, but the debt financing could come from a combination of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program and COFACE (French export credit agency). The NIRS essay is wrong in claiming this as a 100% taxpayer guaranteed project. Further, the addition of the COFACE financing reduces the amount of the DOE loan guarantee thereby reducing the risk to the U.S. government. The fact that other countries want to invest in a US project is a good thing, not bad.

After all that background, the issue that ignited the NIRS essay is that Constellation announced in its quarterly investor’s call that it is reducing spending on the project because of uncertainty with receiving a federal loan guarantee. The South Texas Project announced a similar change in spending levels due to the same issue. Much of the reason for the uncertainty is because there currently is not enough budget authority allocated to the DOE program to support all four of the leading nuclear projects (only one of them has a conditional commitment so far).

Other Energy Technologies

It is disingenuous to think Congress’ actions don’t affect other clean energy industries, though. If NIRS researched other technologies, they would find similar stories of ebb and flow. Take for instance the wind industry’s press releases over the past couple of weeks:

Without strong, supportive policy like an RES to spur demand, investment, and jobs, manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesn’t act now - before time runs out this session.

Here’s the solar industry from last week:

Some members of the US Congress are proposing to remove $1.5 billion in funding from the DOE Loan Guarantee Program to offset other federal spending unrelated to renewable energy. SEIA is very concerned that this will adversely affect solar companies that have already applied for loan guarantees ... SEIA is requesting more information to fully articulate just how damaging this could be to the solar industry.

More on the same solar story.

Bipartisan Support

While the NIRS essay claims that spending changes at CC3 mean the end of nuclear, here’s something their essay didn’t mention: additional loan guarantee funding for nuclear projects has public and bipartisan policymaker support.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration requested a $36B increase in loan guarantee authority for nuclear in its budget for 2011. Here is one of the Department of Energy’s slides detailing the figures. Note that efficiency and renewables have more than twice as much authority than nuclear energy.

Total and Proposed Loan Guarantee Authority

Last month, a Senate Committee approved $10B and the House’s markup approved $25B for nuclear loan guarantees. Not only that, there were a number of bills considered this year where additional loan guarantee volume was included. As another example of broad support, the Western Governors Association came out last month urging Congress to support further loan guarantee funding.

EPR Design Issues

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asked Areva for more information on the EPR’s computer systems. Based on this, the NIRS essay claimed that because the NRC has unresolved questions about the design of the EPR, the reactor is unsafe. This is a textbook example of a flawed argument known as jumping to conclusions. Questions from the regulator are all part of the licensing process and contribute to ironing out reactor design issues before construction begins.

One of the reasons why nuclear construction costs increased during the late 1970s and 1980s was because designs were being modified during the middle of construction. The new licensing process seeks to ensure that all issues are worked out ahead of time so a company building a plant has regulatory certainty.

Uncertainty All Around

The energy markets for all technologies are uncertain right now due to many factors: lower electricity demand, tighter cash flows, tougher credit markets, and so forth. But in a few years, the lagging economy and energy markets could look different. Congress is also moving closer to enacting some sort of climate/energy bill that should provide greater certainty for the markets.

Progress on CC3 and STP 3&4 could be slowed for awhile. But if the timing isn’t right for those projects, then perhaps it will be better in two years, five years, ten years or in 20 years time. It’s highly unlikely the two projects will ever go away. They’re in large deregulated markets where nuclear plants already operate profitably.

In the meantime...

Vogtle

Here in the US, one unit is under construction at Watts Bar in TN and two projects (four reactors) are in the pre-construction phase at the Summer and Vogtle sites in SC and GA (Vogtle picture to the right). Further, the NRC is reviewing 13 combined license applications for 22 new reactors. Keep in mind, the NRC isn’t scheduled to license new projects for at least another year at the earliest. A lot could happen between now and then.

As we’ve said for a number of years, utilities will plan and build new nuclear plants at a measured pace. The US most likely will not see a dramatic increase in new nuclear plants until the 2020s. Nevertheless, predictions of doom in the NIRS essay aren't credible. The electricity markets will change over the years as they have in the past. Fortunately, nuclear plants are 60+ year assets with very stable operating and fuel costs that provide consumers the benefits of a wonderful commodity - electricity.

(Background: I work at the Nuclear Energy Institute crunching numbers and blogging. This is my first post here but I've been a frequent reader of Kos diaries and an occasional commenter on nuclear issues for a number of years now.)

Originally posted to David Bradish on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:06 AM PDT.

Poll

Will new nuclear in the US happen in the future?

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8%10 votes
86%107 votes

| 124 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  "Nuclear exceptionalism" (9+ / 0-)

      The NIRS diary, unsurprisingly, was an exercise in what some call "nuclear exceptionalism":

      If renewables are delayed in their entrepreneurs' quest to supply all our electricity because of lack of funding, it means they're being punished by short-sighted politicians and big corporations.  (Never mind that GE and Siemens are the biggest manufacturers of wind turbines.)

      If nuclear power plants are delayed in construction, it means it serves them right for being based on such a poor and unreliable technology.

      I'm glad you explained something about the back and forth between a new nuclear project and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  No other major industry has to deal with such strict oversight.  

      If BP had been asked to do probablistic risk assessment for deep-drilling and it had been required to comply with the minute and big demands of a knowledgeable regulator, the terrible accident would not have occurred in the Gulf. People have been comparing the Deep Water incident to Three Mile Island.  But, as about a dozen gold-standard studies have shown, no one died as the result of the partial core meltdown and no one became ill, and plants and animals and habitat were unaffected.  This was because the containment dictated by risk assessment worked.

      Thanks for posting this science-based, fact-based diary.  I hope you'll do more of them as an antidote to the ideologically-based ones that NIRS keeps doing.

      The power to save our world does not lie in rocks, rivers, wind, or sunshine. It lies in each of us.--"Power to Save the World"

      by Gwyneth Cravens on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:47:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear and the role of government (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, kbman, bryfry, David Bradish

      In the US, we are focused on the DOE loan guarantee program for nuclear power plants.  This programme needs to be placed in context.  

      In the US, a new nuclear power plant will be developed by a commercial entity that takes on a signficant amount of risk.  The EPAct of 2005 put the loan guarantees in place to help the first wave of new nuclear power plants get through the first-of-a-kind issues associated with the new NRC licensing process, new Generation III+ reactor designs, and other issues.

      Some US nuclear power projects are located in regions that did not restructure the electricity industry.  In these regions, the nuclear plant sponsors must undergo a detailed and rigorous intgrated resource planning process in order to get state regulators to approve the nuclear power plant and provide some certainty of future revenue.  This is the situation for the Vogtle plant in Georgia and the Summer plant in South Carolina. These projects have regulatory approval and represent a pretty good credit risk (for DOE as the administrator of the loan guarantee program and also for the capital markets).  For these projects, the DOE loan guarantees represent an option, as the market may be a lower-cost source of financing.

      Other US nuclear power projects are located in regions with electricity markets.  These so-called merchant nuclear projects will make the huge investment in a new nuclear power plant and earn revenue from the market.  The projections of revenue and profits for these merchant nuclear power plants (including the Constellation/Unistar Calvert Cliffs 3 project and the NRG South Texas Project) are down, the result of low natural gas prices, low demand, no real cost for CO2 emissions, and mandates to add renewables at any cost.  For these merchant nuclear projects, a DOE loan guarantee is essential, although David correctly notes that some Export Credit Agency money may be included.  No new nuclear power plant has ever been developed as a merchant project.

      Compare this to the situation in China, where all the entities involved in the nuclear power plant development process are owned by the government.  Ths government regulates, owns, finances, and builds nuclear power plants in China, with the nuclear plants a key part of the 10-year plan. This vertically-integrated effort is aimed at achieving a high penetration of nuclear energy as fast as possible, while also building a national nuclear power plant industrial capability.

      When the Chinese nuclear capability is applied to the export market, the large experience base in China (i.e., many operating units, signficant experience with construction, well down the learning curve) will mean that nuclear plant vendors operating on the western commercial mode will have a very hard time competing.

      Compared to the national efforts in China, Russia, South Korea, and even France, the US loan guarantee program is small help to the industry.  It is time to re-think the role of the US government in the nuclear power industry, unless we want to end up buying Chinese reactors.

    •  Thanks David (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, kbman

      For your thoughtful and informative diary.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 10:11:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd love to see more nuke power, but what (0+ / 0-)

    is the industry doing about trying to develop disposal methods?

    Too big to fail = too big to exist.

    by Liberaltarianish on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:08:02 AM PDT

    •  Disposal a political issue, not a technical one (14+ / 0-)

      Used commercial nuclear fuel is being safely stored around the country in underground spent fuel pools (within concrete walls many feet thick) and, after the rods have cooled down, in dry cask storage (thick-walled concrete cylinders on concrete pads at the nuclear plant).  

      Because uranium is the densest energy source around, the fuel assemblies are small in volume. All of the ones ever used in the US, some 60,000 tons, could fit in one football field stacked 15 feet high.  The fuel from one reactor producing 1,000 MW for forty years could fit in a swimming pool.

      Used fuel is too valuable to be consigned to the trash heap.  It retains over 95% of its energy and can be recycled again and again. This is being done in France. No other power source that I know of can make that claim.  The final residue is tiny in volume and can be bonded, and therefore immobilized, in glass.

      Few members of the public know that a federal nuclear waste repository has been successfully operating in the US since 1999.  The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, half a mile underground, proves that nuclear materials can be safely sealed away from the biosphere.  The geological formation, is extremely stable and will remain so for millions of years.

      The Finns, the Swedes, and the French have their own versions of deep geologic disposal.

      People are working on ways to extract precious metals and medical isotopes from used fuel.  It's a resource.

      Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

      by Plan9 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:28:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Awesome. thanks. nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, kbman

        Too big to fail = too big to exist.

        by Liberaltarianish on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 09:29:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Spent Fuel (6+ / 0-)

        Spent fuel is probably the most valuable future energy resource on the planet. Even with current commercial technology, up to 60% of spent fuel could be utilized for energy production.

        However, in the next generation of nuclear breeder technologies (perhaps 20 or 30 years from now), depleted uranium and spent fuel could produce more than 100 times more energy. So,potentially, spent fuel in the US alone could not only supply all of the energy needed for the production electricity, carbon-neutral synfuels, and industrial chemicals for the US but also for the entire planet for several thousand years.

        50 years from now, most people are going to laugh at the idea that some folks back in the old days actually wanted to throw away extremely precious spent nuclear fuel!

        Marcel F. Williams

        New Papyrus Magazine  

        •  5 - 10 years for 4th generation in the US (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, kbman, bryfry

          and I believe some russian designed 4th gen being built in Russia and China.

          The US/Japan design:

          S-PRISM, also called PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module), is the name of a nuclear power plant design by General Electric-Hitachi based on a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor[1]. The design utilizes reactor modules, each having a power output of 311 MWe, to enable factory fabrication at low cost. The design is based on the Integral Fast Reactor. The Integral Fast Reactor was developed at the West Campus of the Argonne National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho and was the intended successor to the Experimental Breeder Reactor II. The Integral Fast Reactor project was shut down by the U.S. Congress in 1994. The S-PRISM represents General Electric-Hitachi's Generation IV reactor solution to closing the nuclear fuel cycle and is also part of its Advanced Recycling Center proposition[2] to U.S. Congress to deal with nuclear waste.

          Republican marriage is between one man and one woman....plus another woman on the side.

          by Alan Arizona on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 11:16:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You have a good style . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, Dauphin, SpamNunn, Jevons

    "He who owns little is little owned." HDT

    by indycam on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:17:57 AM PDT

  •  That the United States is not a leader in the (10+ / 0-)

    design and construction of new and improved nuclear power plants is one of the most shameful indictments of the past six Presidents.  

    We went to the moon on a short schedule and we have safely run nuclear reactors in our submarines and aircraft carriers for close to fifty years, but we can't expedite the generation our own clean power using nuclear reactors?  Shame

    Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Clausewitz

    by SpamNunn on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 08:23:22 AM PDT

  •  This really proves why a carbon tax is the only (0+ / 0-)

    real viable solution to our fossil fuel problem.

    Government is not smart enough, and further way too political, to choose the best energy technologies.

    Crank up the tax on carbon fuels, give the proceeds back to the people in the form of dividends which will make the tax politically palatable, and then let the market decide the best alternatives.

    And perhaps there should be a tax on nuclear also, since it clearly is not as safe as the other alternatives to fossil fuels.

    •  Nuclear safety tax??? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, bryfry, David Bradish, HoosierBama

      You said:

      And perhaps there should be a tax on nuclear also, since it clearly is not as safe as the other alternatives to fossil fuels.

      If you are talking about industrial safety, there is no issue here.  The nuclear power industry has perhaps the best safety record of any industry.  Compared to natural gas industry or coal industry, there is no comparison.

      If you are trying to make a point about nuclear safety, you are also off the mark.  The exceedingly stringent (and expensive) requirements placed on nuclear power plants in the form of licensing reviews, capital equipment, site requirements, security, operating procedures, NRC oversight, and other things is a HUGE tax on the nuclear industry.  If similar safety requirements were imposed on other combustion-based generation technologies, the cost of skyrocket.  Likewise for the upstream oil and gas industry.

      •  Despite this it's still cheaper than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, bryfry
        alternatives to nuclear. The big issue is climate change and nuclear is the best way to phase out natural gas and coal.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 01:29:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Plutonium is the most dangerous substance on (0+ / 0-)

        earth, so nuclear at best is s bit risky.

        •  You can hold plutonium in your hand (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry, David Bradish, Mcrab, brodgers

          Its alpha particles are stopped by skin, paper, a leaf.

          People directly exposed to it due to glove-box accidents at weapons labs have survived for decades afterward without any harmful effects.  

          You can read the responses of an eminent nuclear scientist to questions about plutonium here.

          Commercial plants have been operating in the United States for more than 50 years, and collectively have amassed more than 3,000 reactor years of operations. No member of the public has died or suffered negative health effects linked to the nuclear power plants. There's never been a radiation-caused death of any of the workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s safer to work at a nuclear power plant than it is to work at a bank or a grocery store or in real estate. The industry’s record shows that it has performed very safely and reliably for decades.

          Perhaps someone who was misinformed told you that there is no safe dose of radiation. From conception on every human being is continuously exposed to different forms of radiation, from outer space, the Earth, water, food and air. The risk associated with low doses of radiation from natural sources and manmade sources is extremely low.  In fact, there is evidence that low-dose radiation stimulates the immune system.

          Medical radiation, sometimes at very high doses, has extended or saved the lives of millions of Americans.

          The only plutonium the public has been exposed to comes from fallout from atmospheric tests of atomic bombs.  

          A small amount of it is created in uranium fuel during its 54 months in a reactor making carbon-free electricity.  That fuel is always isolated and shielded.  In France the used fuel is recycled into new fuel and the plutonium is used up to make electricity.

          You are highly unlikely in your lifetime ever to be exposed to plutonium from nuclear power plants. If you want to worry about exposure to toxins from power plants, just learn what fossil fuels put into the environment on a daily basis.  That waste is not shielded or isolated.  And since coal combustion concentrates heavy metals, the fly ash contains uranium-235, radium, and thorium.  So it's somewhat radioactive.  But the really toxic stuff from coal emissions is mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc.

          Personally, as someone in the environmental field concerned about species extinction, I consider fossil fuel combustion emissions one of the greatest dangers to the planet.  It kills about a million people a year--in the US, around 30,000.  It causes huge environmental damage and its gases are causing climate change and ocean acidification.

          Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

          by Plan9 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 02:24:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The MOST dangerous? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, David Bradish, Mcrab

          I'll tell you what ... I'll ingest a gram of plutonium if you agree to ingest a gram of sarin.

          We'll see what is the most dangerous. ;-)

          An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
          -- H. L. Mencken

          by bryfry on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 02:48:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Someone challenged Ralph Nader (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry

            on a talk show.  I forget who the challenger was, but he proposed that he would eat a gram of plutonium if Ralph Nader would ingest a gram of caffeine. Ralph passed on that one.

            Oxygen is quite deadly. Oxidizing processes in the body can have a negative outcome.

            Air injected into a blood vessel can kill someone.

            A person can drown in a bathtub full of water under the right conditions.  So you can imagine how many people would drown in, say, Lake Mead.  So dams ought to be banned.  And swimming pools too.

            Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

            by Plan9 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 07:46:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's one cultural meme that will live forever. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, bryfry, David Bradish, Mcrab

          Ralph Nader blurted that out decades ago on TV and it has stuck in the public mindset ever since. When pushed to put up or shutup with scientific evidence  he backpedalled, claiming he was just being "rhetorical" not literal. But the lie lives on.

          Don't get me wrong, Plutonium should not be treated casually. But as radiation sources goes, Plutonium is actually relatively tame. People get much stronger radiation doses during routine medical procedures like what they get from some cardiac stress tests. As a toxic metal it is on par with lead or mercury.

          It is, in short, an urban legend, like the claim that railroad tracks were orignally spaced to be the same as the wheelbase of ancient Roman chariots or that the tryptophan in turkey is responsible for the "food coma" people experience after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner.  

  •  You want jobs that cannot be outsourced... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, bryfry, David Bradish, Jevons

    build about 500 nuclear plants in the US...high paying union jobs...let the environmental vs labor pie fights begin.../snark

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 09:38:16 AM PDT

  •  this is a wonderful fact filled response (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, bryfry

    to NIRS recent post. Hopefully we'll see more from David Bradish in the fugure.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 01:31:15 PM PDT

  •  Information best antidote to misinformation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, David Bradish, Mcrab

    David:

    Thank you for taking the time to produce this response to the misinformation that Michael Marriott posted about CC3. As a Maryland resident who has attended public meetings on the project - one held as part for the project's state economic review and one to review the EPA/Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement - I can tell you that there are a number of people in the area who are extremely supportive of the project.

    They recognize the need for more power in the still growing Washington DC and Chesapeake Bay area. They believe that it makes sense to add more capacity at a well run, existing facility. They like the fact that the new plant is being designed with great care to use much lower than usual cooling towers so that it does not produce a vision impact, but still has little effect on the valuable waters of the Chesapeake Bay. They think it is great that the power will be able to be delivered to the market via already existing transmission corridors - though more lines will be required within those corridors.

    There are some local people who are legitimately concerned about the impact of increased traffic and heavy vehicles on local roads, but the company has offered some mitigation plans that will reduce that impact a bit. Others in the area are excited about the plant's projected employee needs and happy that the project will provide a needed economic boost. After construction is completed and the plant begins operating, it will provide a strong pillar of the local property tax base as well as several hundred jobs paying wages that can sustain families. Those jobs can never leave the area and will last for two full generations. Those jobs will exist because the plant will produce massive quantities of clean, reliable electricity - one of the most important commodities in our current and future economy.

    It bothers me to think that there are people like Michael Marriott who have been professionally employed for decades for the sole purpose of fighting such beneficial development. I keep asking myself - who is so adamantly opposed to nuclear energy that they would continue providing financial support to organizations like NIRS? There might have been a time when the questions about nuclear energy were legitimate - when we did not fully understand how safely and reliably the plants could be operated. At the time that NIRS was founded, we also did not fully understand the hazards of continuing to increase the rate at which we were burning fossil fuel and dumping its waste products. We might even have had some legitimate optimism that we could figure out how to produce enough power from the wind and sun to provide human needs and desires.

    All those legitimate raisons d'etre for NIRS should have been overcome by learned knowledge and experience. The only reason I can think of for anyone to give enough money to NIRS to pay for full time employees and other expenses is that they believe they can get a return on their investment. You see, nuclear energy is not only the only viable alternative to fossil fuel for reliable power, it is also the only viable COMPETITOR to fossil fuel. It takes markets away, leaving lower fossil fuel sales demand and lower fossil fuel prices as a result of shifting the supply and demand balance in favor of the consumers.

    If you like high energy prices because you sell energy fuels, you probably have a logical and legitimate purpose for supporting NIRS. Of course, that does not mean that the 95% or so of the population that does not like being addicted to fossil fuel should agree with that investment.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

  •  Info vs misinfo (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9, bryfry, David Bradish

    David, nice work. For me, the most amusing part of the NIRS piece was its author's claim that there's no market for the power that CC3 would provide.

    I mean, here we have Constellation willing to put $2 billion of its own money into a project to build a new nuclear unit, and the NIRS tries to make it look like Constellation's real aim is just to get the feds to co-sign on a big fat loan.

    NIRS can't be that stupid. Surely they must realize there is a market for that power -- in fact, they say there is, because they say that market should be supplied by renewables and not nuclear.

    Which leads me to suspect their true motive. Anybody with basic arithmetic and observational skills knows renewables do not, cannot, and will not ever provide baseload power. Only nuclear, gas, and coal can do that.

    The NIRS is against nuclear and coal. Which means they are either de facto or outright gas salesmen. Somebody should look into where they get their funding.

    •  You can ask (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, brodgers

      but NIRS won't release that information. The best that you can determine is that roughly half (plus or minus 10%) comes from individuals, which means that the rest comes from companies or organizations.

      This doesn't matter, however, because even if you did have a complete list of organizations on their donor roll, almost all of it is laundered through various foundations and trusts, so there is no way to tell the original source of the money.

      Environmental activist groups figured out long ago how to obfuscate whence their funding comes.

      An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
      -- H. L. Mencken

      by bryfry on Thu Aug 12, 2010 at 05:53:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except...not with NG. NG is openly being (0+ / 0-)

        proclaimed as "green" so they, the NG Assn. is quite open about who THEY fund as they want what they consider, and with the help of anti-nuclear activsts, to be good PR.

        David

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Thu Aug 12, 2010 at 11:14:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am actually disappointed that the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plan9

    anti-nuke crowd on the DK didn't show up. We could STILL have had a civil dicsussion about this.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Thu Aug 12, 2010 at 11:14:56 AM PDT

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