Friday, April 14, 2017

A response to John Quiggin - his misinterpretation of "the burden of proof"

John Quiggin, mentalist extraordinaire produced a rather meek rebuttal to the peer-reviewed scientific paper by Ben Heard

Ted Trainer, with whom I’ve had a number of debates in the past, has sent me an interesting piece claiming that “no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that [100 per cent renewables” systems are in fact feasible”. The authors, at least those of whom I’m aware, are “pro-nuclear environmentalists” (Ben Heard, Barry Brook, Tom Wigley and CJ Bradshaw)

Feasibility can only be determined if all the factors are weighed correctly. Are you in favor of omitting determining factors? It seems so, let's see what John Quiggin thinks is good science.

The central premise is that, given that renewables won’t work, and reductions in energy demand are unrealistic, we need to get cracking on nuclear (and also carbon capture and sequestration).

The statement that "renewables won't work" is false, and is not a claim from the authors of the article. As 100% Renewable scenarios are proposed and gain popularity, it is necessary to demand better substantiation. At this moment the hypotheses presented in favor of 100% renewable scenarios are insufficiently substantiated and we shouldn't be using them as guidelines for a carbon-free future. Especially when they espouse an anti-sentiment. In this case anti-nuclear energy.

I assert that the anti-nuclear sentiment in these documents stands in the way of deep decarbonization paths and serves to influence the general public against credible all-inclusive solutions against the worrying prospect of climate change and its negative effects.

It’s paywalled, but the abstract is sufficient to get the main point. In fact, the whole piece is summarized by its title “Burden of Proof”. To give the shorter version: Unless every possible detail of a 100 per cent renewable system can be proved to be workable decades in advance, we must go nuclear.

This is a non-sequitur. The article speaks of an all-inclusive low-carbon energy mix. I.E. a mix comprising of nuclear, geothermal, hydro, wind and Solar. As long as we cannot substantiate that we can do 100% Renewable, we shouldn't be discounting nuclear. Too much is at stake.

This list is mostly notable for what’s not in it: adequate year-round power supplies, at an economically feasible cost. That’s because it’s now obvious that solar PV and wind, combined with one of a number of storage technologies (solar thermal, batteries, pumped hydro) and a bit of smart pricing, can deliver these goals. So, instead we get demands for the precise details in the list above. To lift the burden of proof a bit more, it’s not good enough to address them separately, they all have to be done at once in a single study. Unsurprisingly, no one has yet produced a study that meets all of these demands at once.*

This is called a Strawman, you are implying that the authors of the article are moving the goalposts.  And yes, scientific studies should be held to a very high standard. If you think that cutting corners is a wise thing, I wonder why you are in this business in the first place? Is it because you value that science is done right? Or do you just like to hear your kind of science?

Take me, for instance, I wanted the 100% Renewable future to be true. I was overjoyed when I first read "The Solutions Project" by Mark Z. Jacobson, and I even used it as an argument to convince friends and family to buy solar panels. But something didn't feel right... As an empiricist I want to see that something is possible. If no practical demonstration is possible, a theoretical one is required.

Even in theory, I still cannot make 100% Renewable scenarios work. And this is not a matter of being unqualified to do so. But of simple Mathematics in conjunction with data from the USGS, NREL, EIA and IPCC.

And this is where the burden of proof works so brilliantly. Renewable technologies are well established, with annual installations of 100 GW a year a more

This should ring a bell. John, if you add 100GW of solar and wind each year, with a combined annual generation capacity of 220TWh, and you need 250,000 TWh by the 2040's (as predicted by the EIA) then you should admit that it is hard to maintain that it is feasible to face this challenge with wind/solar and some hydro and geothermal alone. At this rate we won't make the 100% Renewable before the year 3150... Even if we would speed up things, and increase production capacity of PV panels and CSP and Wind Turbines by a factor of ten, we'd still not make it before the year 2100.

As you say, Renewable technologies are well established. Can you show me that a tenfold / twentyfold increase in production capabilities is feasible? Do we mine enough resources?

And again I posit that it is unwise to discount nuclear. Even if we would be capable of increasing production capabilities to those proportions, we'd need every other technology we could find to help mitigate the damage from fossil fuel usage. Nuclear is the only well established technology which can do that. Additionally, generation IV nuclear Molten Salt Reactors and the suchlike should be pursued as they can augment decarbonization pathways significantly.

, and a record of steadily falling costs. But, according to our authors, they haven’t met the burden of proof, so we have to put tens of billions of dollars into technologies that are either purely conceptual (Gen IV nuclear) or hopelessly uneconomic on the basis of current experience (CCS and generation II/III nuclear).

Just as conceptual as your smart-grids, super-storage-solutions etc. Aside from that the Russian BN-800 is a GenIII+ / Gen IV Sodium Cooled Fast Breeder reactor which is in operation. The Molten Salt Reactors which are currently being designed and built (China) are derivatives of a reactor that ran for four years straight in Oak-Ridge, Tennessee. So this argument is moot as well.

Aside from that, EIA, UN, and the IPCC all acnowledge that we need nuclear energy in a future energy mix. Additionally the cost argument is moot, as it is entirely dependent on where the technology is built. Aside from that, the benefits of nuclear energy haven't been considered. Millions upon millions of lives saved because of the coal-plants they've offset for more than 50 years. This benefit alone should be quantified in the hundreds of billions of dollars. But you don't hear John Quiggin talking about that.

To be fair, this use of the burden of proof, while more blatant than usual, is very common. One any policy issue, most of us would like to compare an idealized model of our preferred solution with the worst case scenario (or, at best, the messy and unsatisfactory reality) for the alternatives. But it’s important to avoid this temptation as much as possible. On any realistic assessment, renewables + storage (with the path to 100 per cent smoothed by gas) offer a far more plausible way of decarbonizing electricity generation than nuclear or CCS>

This statement is a blatant falsehood. The plausibility of decarbonizing electricity by using renewables + storage + Natural Gas cannot possibly be better than nuclear + renewables. That's a practical impossibility. One that cannot possibly be substantiated. And I dare John Quiggin to produce figures which would suggest that his false dichotomy is true.

Do note that it is a false dicotomy. It is not Renewables + Storage + Gas versus Nuclear + CCS. It's Renewables + Storage + Gas versus Nuclear + Renewables + Storage + CCS...

And that's how these silly blogposts are born. By employing false logic... And by doing mental gymnastics, merely to avoid having to add nuclear to an energy mix. Even if that would make deep decarbonization more plausible.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

GOP madness (years) in the making

With all the talk about Trump, some people seem to be kept out of the wind. I want to talk about someone else for a change. And I've found someone worthy of a polemic.

Meet Thomas Massie. Thomas is a Republican from Kentucky. Thomas likes to sponsor and co-sponsor bills. These bills are stupid. What I say is true, from a certain point of view. Thomas likes to end the Department of Education. I kid you not.

The website of the United States Congress is a treasure trove for those who are interested in bills put forward to enact legislation. The other day I was sharing this picture with my good friends and some of the most intelligent allies one could wish for.

What do we have here? HR 899 is sponsored by Thomas. For those who don't know what a Sponsor is, this is the first definition I encounter when I google the term: 

A sponsor in the United States Congress is the first member of the House or Senate to be listed among the potentially numerous lawmakers who introduce a bill for consideration. Committees are occasionally identified as sponsors of legislation as well. A sponsor is also sometimes called a "primary sponsor."

the entire text of the bill has been highlighted in the red box :

We have now determined that Thomas likes the idea of terminating the Department of Education. Has he gone completely mad? We know that Republicans don't like government agencies, but this is complete and utter idiocy. The truth is that Republicans want cut federalism and give back as much freedom to individual states. Is this a good thing? I doubt it. Why is this so important? When you allow all states to run their own curriculums, you may get unwanted influences in there, such as the pervasive anti-science sentiments in certain parts of the country. For instance, there are states where people believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago. This is complete and utter nonsense. However, if we grant them the power to completely adjust the school curriculums according to their beliefs, you create a new form of science-illiteracy. Essential scientific subjects such as Biology, Geology and Cosmology will be taught wrong, and students from those particular states will become poorer because of it. There needs to be an umbrella to shield students from theological anti-scientific nonsense. The Department of Education is essential in keeping certain standards and to make sure that education remains as secular as need be.

What else has this person been up to?


It's the safe students act, and it will keep students safe because it will repeal provisions that keep guns out of school, or keep guns from being fired at schools. Wait, WHAT? Yes that's right! This man thinks that Students will be safer if there are more guns in schools. Everybody knows that Kinder Garten Cop is real, right? John Wayneism is alive and kicking.

Let's see what else Thomas has been up to by co-sponsoring other bills.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (01/24/2017)

Life at Conception Act
This bill declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being. Nothing in this bill shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.

Fortunately, Sponsor Alexander Mooney, added this final sentence keeping women safe from prosecution when their unborn child dies. These kinds of bills give credence to the theocratic nature of the GOP. What about getting tax exempt churches back into the political debate, de-secularising American Politics and government.

Little do Republicans and Conservatives know about the benefits of having the possibility of getting an abortion. And let's be honest about it, abortions are only a very small part of the activities organisations like Planned Parenthood deploy. In fact, Planned Parenthood is far better at educating young people about pregnancies, sexuality, safe sex, etc. A well funded Planned Parenthood will actually help combat teen-pregnancies by helping young people to prevent to become pregnant in the first place, and by providing vital aid and education. But here we go, if "Life at Conception" isn't enough there's always HR 354 - Defund Planned Parenthood i.e. put more stress on American Youths by taking away one of the safeguards that keeps them from getting pregnant at an early age.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (02/01/2017)

Free Speech Fairness Act
This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit a tax-exempt organization to make certain statements related to a political campaign without losing its tax-exempt status. An organization may not lose its tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) or be deemed to have participated in, or intervened in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, solely because of the content of any statement that: (1) is made in the ordinary course of the organization's regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose, and (2) results in the organization incurring not more than de minimis incremental expenses.

Everybody knows that "Life at Conception Acts" are proposed to pander to the Protestant base of the Grand Old Party. And what would be better than to gain another army of constituents who have been indoctrinated by their religious ministers in their mega-churches? This bill does exactly that, it frees churches from their mouthpiece and helps them shape the tax haven they want. They help elect legislators, which will help the churches keep their tax exempt status.

We'll be watching the GOP in the coming months, for they have a lot of destructive bills in the making. Who knows, there may not be a federal department left when they are finished swinging their sledgehammers about.

Let's not be surprised that members of the Tea-Party, Like Thomas Massie, come up with all this tripe. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, lad! Don't have any bootstraps? Too bad...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Trump built the Wall of Shame

Did Donald Trump build a wall? Yes he did! Is it on the Border with Mexico? No. This wall is one that exists within the confines of the White House and it's ancillary executive buildings, and it is called the wall of shame. The wall of shame is a big wall. It's huge! And Americans can see it Big-League. It is so big, in fact, that people from all around the world can see it.

Once seen, cannot be unseen.

Keywords upon which this wall has been built are insanity, corruption, antagonism, and pseudoscience. Since these words constitute the foundation of the wall, we cannot see the words directly. However, the stones that have been placed upon it are evidence to show that it's there. This foundation wouldn't support any other stones. A fair stone would fail to hold the other stones, as it at its core is incompatible with the foundation. 

Let's dissect this wall because we've been beating around the bush for too long, no more metaphors. What are you talking about Mathijs?

The trail of broken promises starts with the election of Trump himself. He is on record saying that he would take on Wall-Street; keep the minimum wage where it is, while simultaneously promising to raise it (which is breaking a promise before you can ever enact any action); Wouldn't take vacations and time off; Drain the swamp and kick out the establishment; Lock Hillary Clinton up; Fix the rigged system; etc. ad infinitem. Trump has already made so many-often times conflicting-promises that he can't possibly fulfil them all. In fact he is breaking them at break-neck pace.

Let's take a brief look at the Cabinet of Donald Trump.

Steven Mnuchin - Secretary of the Treasury.

One thing cannot be said about Secretary Mnuchin, and that is that he cannot count his beans. In fact, he is so good in counting beans that he has worked at Goldman Sachs  for seventeen years (yes, that big Wall street firm). He also owned an investment company called Dune Capital Management, which invested in some of Trump's building projects, and strangely enough this firm actually got sued by Trump. How awkward that must be. Or is it? Subsequently, in 2009, he bought IndyMac-a residential lender-and renamed it to OneWest, which he subsequently sold to the CIT Bank (not to be confused with CITI Bank), of which he became a board member, until his designation as Secretary of the Treasure.

Now something about this tells me that those who voted for trump have been duped. Didn't Trump promise to empty the swamp, and rid it from the establishment? And didn't he promise to be hard on Wall Street? Then how is it possible that an established banker/investor from wall-street ends up as head of the Treasury Department?

Who else could qualify for this job? At this moment the answer is: Anyone who is put forward as a candidate by Donald Trump. No matter how-or good-your qualifications are, the Republican side of the Senate will put you into office, no matter how much you were grilled by Senators Warren, Sanders or Franken. Why? because narrative now trumps facts. It's not a question of who is being put forward to fill a certain position, it's about the proverbial colour of his tie, the promises he made, whether he can fulfil them or not. Qualifications? Shmalifications...

Tom Price - Secretary of Health and Human Services

In a country where the Measles have actually almost been eradicated thanks to vaccines, Tom Price is a former physician who is opposed to mandatory vaccinations. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has something interesting to say about the Measles, and I quote :

Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, we estimate that about 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of those people, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles.

I would say that the vaccination program against the measles was effective. Do note that according to the CDC Measles Data and Statistics document roughly 146,000 people die from the measles each year, worldwide. In the same document the CDC postulates that thanks to vaccines from 2000 to 2013 there was a 75% decrease in Measles mortality, which equates to 15.6 Million deaths prevented. Despite heavy vaccination efforts, in 2015 people died from the Measles in the US. This man was part of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, of which some believed that Vaccines caused Autism, which isn't strange because the AAPS is a highly politicized organisation, which has-according to their own website-openly campaigned against Obamacare...

Also note that Trump himself is on record in claiming that vaccines cause autism...

Additionally, and potentially worse, Price is a staunch advocate of repealing Obamacare. Trump has already signed an order which makes it possible to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and Price is the man with the sledgehammer. 

I suppose that this is contrary to what Americans truly want? Is it safe to assume that there will be government financial aid left to those in need of it for medical reasons? Even 10% of Republican leaning US citizens are in favour of a program that pays their medical bills according to PEW. And it seems to be fair to assume that there are groups of people in the US who cannot participate in private schemes to insure their health / secure their medical costs. These are the people who should be protected.

Besty DeVoss - Secretary of Education

Now this one cuts the cake! According to the ethics report of January 20th, 2017, She actually owns a stake in a Student Loan Debt Collecting firm called Performant Financial Corporation. This is a business that gets awarded debt collection contracts by the Department of Education!!!

Why would she be in favour of expensive schools? I could call them charter schools, private schools or whatever-else-than-public schools. I think expensive schools will do. Is it because they are more expensive, and cause more debt? What about the tuition costs for college and university programs? She knows their value in terms of debt collection profitability. This very dubious indeed, and I wouldn't entrust my education department to such a person. My pick would be someone from the world of education, someone with experience in moulding a public school system to create higher value for their students. It doesn't seem like Betsy DeVoss is the ticket.

Qualifications? Schmalifications! Right!?!

Rick Perry - Secretary of Energy

Gunning with Rick Perry from Texas may be one of the strangest picks of them all. He wants the "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. Yes he thinks wind turbines are cute, even though they kill the occasional bald Eagle or two; and yes he thinks shiny solar panels could make him some money; but he really loves Fracking for oil and gas. And why the hell not? He's from Texas, isn't he? He doesn't believe in climate change, so why the hell would he put a stop to the exploitation of natural gas and oil? It gets worse since he is on record telling the Senate Committee that he wants to be investing his time and energy in developing and expanding "clean coal". We all know that there's no such thing as clean coal. But since coal-country bob had to keep working, coal is the election buzzword.

Yes, I said coal-country bob, and I think that the US should invest in coal-country bob. Not because I want them to live from mining and burning coal. No, those are out. We should've stopped burning coal somewhere in the 70's, long after John F. Kennedy found out hat nuclear energy should've become the clean power source of the future. No coal-country bob is an excellent, hard-working, rural American with essential skills. We could use them in a plethora of different jobs. What about becoming a forester? Or a technician in a nuclear power plant? Or a builder? Or a factory worker? Or a policeman? Or a mail man? Or a nurse? Or a farmer?

Rick Perry will keep coal-country bob stuck in the mine for another decade... Ask yourself if that's a good thing.

We've now had a series of executives whose questionable track-records have been laid barely bare. We haven't had all the bricks in the wall of shame yet. Consider the biblical literalist and creationist Mike Pence as VP; Too racist to be federal judge Jeff Sessions as attorney general (I shit you not...); or Exxon's (the climate change science obfuscators) Rex Tillerson as secretary of state; Or Wall Street Establishment Wilbur Ross; Or anti-abortion lawyer Andrew Puzder; Or establishment politician and lawyer Robert Lighthizer as trade representative; Or climate change denier Scott Priutt as head of the EPA; and so on and so forth...

One of the most important promises that Trump made has been shown to be broken is the one where he promised to be harsh on Wall Street, and to be anti-establishment. We may note that he meant anti-democratic or anti-federal establishment. Not his kind of conservative / Christian establishment. You see what I did there? I merely added some qualifications and adjectives. The ones Trump left out when he was making promises he couldn't keep. Or did he?

So how did the citizens of the US and their country end up in this imbroglio? 

It all comes down to gullibility. Even smart friends of mine, whom I hold in high regard, came out and said that Trump might be a good leader, and that the nation would benefit from his leadership.I haven't spoken to them since, but I suspect that their opinions may have change for the lies and failed promises of Donald Trump are slowly but surely stacking so high that they will even trump the Wall of Shame.

I think that the outrage that is taking hold of US Citizens is entirely justified. For this cabinet is a disgrace. I sincerely hope that the damage Trump's administration might wreak will be mitigated by fierce and successful opposition.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Response to : The dream of cheap nuclear power is over.

  Submitted to Bloomberg Editor James Greiff :

Mr. Greiff,

I would like to respond to the following article : The Dream of Cheap Nuclear Power Is Over - Januari 31st.
Please see documents attached.

With kind regards,
Mathijs Beckers

In the introductory paragraphs of The Dream of Cheap Nuclear Power Is Over, author Smith speaks about fantasies of  futuristic and complicated nuclear power plants and how France and Finland are becoming better at storing spent fuel. However, he seems to have become disenthralled, partly because of the 2011 Fukushima accident. The cost of the subsequent evacuation and the progress of solar are considerations for Smith to convince himself that "a nuclear world won't come true anytime soon." Could anyone explain to me why the title is so definitive? Especially because the author concludes that this paradigm may not be true if certain conditions are met i.e. nuclear fusion & small cheap fission reactors.

I agree with Smith that nuclear energy is a far better option over fossil fuels, especially because it causes no detrimental effects to health and environment. So far so good. 

Smith, however, decides to base his conclusion on a metric at which nuclear energy goes off on a tangent compared to fracking and solar power, namely CAPEX (Capital Expenditure). CAPEX is what it costs to build something like a fracking well or a solar power plant or a nuclear power plant. CAPEX however should be placed in a different context, and this is something practically everyone does before investing in said energy source. The question is : "How long can we reliably expect to profit from this investment?"

A fracking well lasts as long until it depletes; A solar power plant will be viable for Roughly 25 to 30 years; and we may contrast this with 60 to 80 years for a nuclear power plant. 

Suppose that we're still on the low end of the spectrum in terms of longevity and we spend roughly $2.4 billion on 550 Megawatt similar to the Topaz PV plant in California. Note that we have to account for stranded assets in the form of capacity factor. Solar has a capacity factor of roughly 25.8% according to the EIA. If we account for capacity factor and a lifespan of 25 years we get the following figures :  $676.5 thousand per effective Megawatt per year.  

Let's compare this to the $9 billion nuclear power station. From the documentation shared by Smith we may account for a 2,000 Megawatt reactor facility.  The capacity of nuclear, according to the EIA, is roughly 92.3%. This gives us the following figure for a 60 year lifespan : $81.3 thousand per effective Megawatt per year. 

Now we have uncovered the actual capital costs of solar and nuclear. The discrepancy is telling. Solar is 8 times more expensive than nuclear energy in terms of capital costs. If we have to account for the backup which is required by solar we will probably end up in the double digits if a discrepancy between nuclear and solar is concerned. Also note that even if we would double Solar's longevity we would still reach $338.3 thousand per effective Megawatt per year. This means that this argument comes down to efficiency, and in terms of efficiency, nothing beats nuclear energy.

True costs are measured in Levelized Cost of electricity or LCOE. And LCOE comprises all costs associated to a plant, including decommissioning costs. LCOE is pretty much in flux. As of yet LCOE for solar, and wind are on par with nuclear. But this depends entirely on where the technology has been implemented. 

There are two important metrics which are omitted and should be considered. The first being the ancillary benefits of nuclear in terms of the production of essential isotopes for medical and safety purposes. The second being the input of materials required per unit of energy produced. From my own analyses it turns out that nuclear, again, is vastly superior to any other power source when it comes to putting materials to effective use, which means that we are also minimizing the amount of materials required.  

As it stands, the argument that Nuclear's capital costs are "gargantuan" is moot, as it has to be put into the correct context. In terms of CAPEX you buy more bang for your buck when you invest in nuclear rather than solar, and the disparity is quite large.

It is my contention, in contrast to Smith's, that nuclear energy is the power of tomorrow. Consider for instance Terrestrial Energy's licensing plans for a 400 MWth liquid fuel reactor, called the IMSR400, which can be used for industrial heat and electricity. And this is something solar cannot do, it cannot cogenerate, or provide the essential heat required for heavy industrial processes, which would otherwise be fuelled with gas and coal. There are dozens of startups just like Terrestrial Energy which are edging closer to commercializing their designs, most notably Bill Gates's Terrapower. And all of these startups aim to make nuclear significantly safer, cheaper and easier to build than contemporary reactors upon which Smith's argumentation rests. We may therefore conclude that the title should be "we may dream a little longer about cheap nuclear power."

It is entirely possible that this mail has been sucked into the void of e-mail filters, and therefore I will publish this letter on my blog as well.

Thies out...


Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Warren, Dear Elizabeth,

I watch US politics from afar, and I've become a great admirer. My name is Mathijs Beckers and I live in the Netherlands, and I specialize in energy analyses. Particularly from a materials invested per unit of energy produced viewpoint.

If we are serious about mitigating our damaging influence on the climate we're going to need advanced nuclear energy working together with all the possible renewable energy sources at our disposal.

Evidence suggests that current production rates of essential materials are well below required levels and this means that in order for a 100% renewable energy portfolio to work, we need to start increasing mining operations exponentially, subsequently causing more greenhouse gas emissions and thus causing more environmental damage.

Contemporary nuclear energy is significantly more efficient in terms of materials used. Advanced nuclear opens up possibilities to include Thorium (which is now a waste material from mining activities) and bomb-grade plutonium - hence making sure that we start dismantling the nuclear weapons stockpile and turning the fissile material into energy, rather than keeping people hostage with them.

Additionally, advanced reactors will be able to produce essential isotopes required for medical applications and space exploration.

Finally, it could be a tremendous force in the jobs sector, as advanced reactors are being developed with modularity in mind. Building them on the principles introduced by Henry Ford. These, compact, liquid fuelled, reactors could be one of the new export products of the United States, thus helping to bring jobs to many people.

I hope you don't think that it is unbecoming for a Dutchman to comment on US legislation, but do remember that climate change doesn't care about borders. It is a worldwide problem. Since the US leads, if you enact the right kind of policies, the world will follow. And we've been kicking the can down the road on advanced nuclear reactors, and therefore catalyzing this development has now become more necessary than ever before.

With kind regards,
Mathijs Beckers

Author of Highway to Dystopia, Science a la carte, the non-solutions project

Response to : The Incredible Shrinking Nuclear Offset to Climate Change

Recently Sharon Squassoni,  Director and Senior Fellow of the Center of Strategic International Studies, wrote an article in which she tries to show us why nuclear energy is becoming obsolete in the face of "impressive" economic developments of renewables. She aluded to nuclear as being "A climate cure worse than the disease"

I beg to differ, and therefore have written this brief response.

Dear Sharon,

I've read your article, and I think that you're applying the wrong metrics to your line of reasoning.

You should try: Materials invested per unit of energy produced over the lifetime of technology X.

Subsequently you should look at material production rates and try to determine the likelihood of said material production rates to be increased so that they can accommodate the required growth in wind and solar.

Only then can feasibility really be weighed. The question should be, what can we do to mitigate man-made carbon emissions? And the answer should be : create an all-inclusive energy mix in which there is an emphasis on R&D on technologies which can be scaled up quicker and more effectively —especially in terms of material usage efficiency.

You might think that "China’s ambitious nuclear power plant construction, which is the envy of the global industry, is dwarfed by China’s accomplishments in the renewables sector." But this growth is insignificant contrasted with what ought to be done i.e. decarbonizing somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 TWh on a global scale. Good luck doing that on RE alone.

Besides, the discrepancy between projected primary energy demand, and subsequent required end-use efficiencies is grossly overestimated (especially by 100% RE / WWS proponents).

Attached you will find my most recent work on this issue.

In CC you will find guides of mine, simply to help them keep track of my activities : Dr. Alexander Cannara, Dr. Ken Caldeira, Dr. James Hansen.

With kind regards,
Mathijs Beckers

It is entirely possible that this mail has been sucked into the void of e-mail filters, and therefore I will publish this letter on my blog as well.

Thies out...