back to article 'Turn to nuclear power to save planetary ecology from renewable BLIGHT'

Sixty-six heavyweight boffins active in the field of biodiversity conservation have pleaded with the world's greens to get over their objections to nuclear power, pointing out that renewable energy means terrible losses of endangered animals and plants. "Biodiversity is not only threatened by climate disruption arising largely …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Dunno about warming

    There is another reason here too. It just does not work if nature goes haywire.

    Let's see how renewables fare against the backdrop of what we have this year in continental Europe. Let's take Southern and South Eastern Europe, shall we? Sunshine for 6+ months a year, perfect for solar, nice steady breeze along coasts, perfect for wind, etc. Some agricultural surplus for renewable fuels too.

    So how does this look this year as an example of climate change. This year the rain started in March and stopped last week. There was one sunny week - in August. Rain every day, every second day an inch of rain, every week at least one deluge with several inches at a time.

    Solar - you gotta be kidding.

    Biofuels - you gotta be kidding too. Last week I drove on a road between what used to be two sunflower fields for the last 20 years (used for biofuel in the last 10). The water was draining off one paddy field (looking like Vietnam) into another across the road in a nice steady 5 cm sheet. That was on a hill by the way, the ones further down looked like a lake.

    Wind - well, that may produce something, maybe. But that is just one reneweable and a flimsy one too. Goes to show - if nature decides to start toys out of the pram ALL of our renewable strategy is immediately OUT of the window.

    There _IS_ a renewable that can be made to work and one which has enough energy to run the whole Earth civilization for the foreseable future - it is the world oceans thermal gradient. However, we do not have a clue on how to exploit it and we are not investing into figuring out how to exploit it. So as long as we are not doing it, we might as well stick with something we can build to withstand Nature being pissed off - Nuclear (do not point Fukushima at me, that was _NOT_ built properly, other Japan nuclear stations with correct designs shrugged off the tsunami).

    1. ToddR

      Re: Dunno about warming

      "This year the rain started in March and stopped last week. "

      where do you live? Obviously not the UK.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Dunno about warming

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/actualmonthly

        Looks like it was indeed a wetter than average summer, and also warmer.

        Dunno why people presume that hot means dry when we all know that if you want to get water into the air you heat it up.

        1. Mark Price

          Re: Dunno about warming

          These figures show that for England we've had above average sunshine for 3 of the 4 seasons

          Scotland not so lucky.

      2. sawatts
        Thumb Up

        Rain Power!

        Problem sorted.

      3. plrndl
        FAIL

        Re: Dunno about warming

        @ToddR

        Can you read English? "Let's take Southern and South Eastern Europe, shall we? "

      4. Terry 14

        Re: Dunno about warming

        Quote ""This year the rain started in March and stopped last week. "

        where do you live? Obviously not the UK."

        What part of " Let's take Southern and South Eastern Europe" did you not understand?

        1. Stuart 22

          Re: Dunno about warming

          What part of " Let's take Southern and South Eastern Europe" did you not understand?

          All of it, 'cos I didn't get wet in 12 consecutive days but got a great tan cycling in southern Europe during June/July. Must have been the wrong bit. Will try harder next year!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dunno about warming

            September was good too, cycling across Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.

            Plenty of lovely, sunny, warm days for swimming in Switzerland in the main Summer months as well. Perhaps you are like my wife - could make it rain in the Sahara by your mere presence.

      5. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Dunno about warming

        "This year the rain started in March and stopped last week. "

        "where do you live? Obviously not the UK."

        No, south eastern Europe from his second paragraph.

        The last time I was in the UK it was rather obviously not in south eastern Europe. If it had been the weather would have been better, the prices lower and the inhabitants less of a pack of miserable twats. Admittedly, I was stuck in London and crossing the M25 always makes me like England a whole lot more...

      6. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Dunno about warming

        I bet on Ireland or Holland^H^H^H^H^H^H^HThe Netherlands, sorry Brabant.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Dunno about warming

      In amongst your damning of renewables you include solar. Wind is almost a disaster as an alternative power-source and biofuels totally are. But Solar actually has a very positive role to play. It has been middling so far but it's a very immature technology. Unlike wind and biofuels there are a lot of good reasons to expect it to improve rapidly over the next decade.

      What solar cannot do is provide a good baseline. We don't have the energy storage technology and even if we did, we'd need huge areas of land to generate enough energy. But what it can do is provide an excellent compliment to nuclear power. Nuclear is by far the best power technology for a number of reasons (until Fusion comes along, maybe!) but it doesn't ramp up and down quickly / efficiently. So pair it with Solar which ramps up in the day when our usage rises and down in the evening when it falls, and you have a pretty nice pairing with nuclear. There are also regions where solar can be much better too - deserts of North Africa and parts of the Middle East. These are areas where there is little ecosystem and consistent daylight hours all year round. Build some large solar farms in the Sahara or wherever and you have a nice source of power where it's not going to bother anyone. At scale, this could be pretty effective.

      1. Andydaws

        Re: Dunno about warming

        Except, of course than in most cases peak demand isn't coinicident with maximum solar output - in the UK and western Europe the demand peak is typically in the early evening (7pm or so) in January/February.

        Even in the Middle East demand isn't particularly well aligned to solar peak - aircon demand tends to peak also in early evening, and sundown is normally about 6-6:30 pm

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about warming

        "deserts of North Africa and parts of the Middle East."

        Although I've often thought of areas like that too as being suitable for generating solar electrickery, the downside is that there is little demand in those areas so we need mahoosively long and expensive power lines to get the power to where it is needed. And in the current political climate, some way to protect those cables from being switched off by local governments (See Russian/Ukraine gas pipelines) and/or protect from terrorist attack.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Dunno about warming

          >>"the downside is that there is little demand in those areas so we need mahoosively long and expensive power lines to get the power to where it is needed."

          Oddly enough, that's actually feasible and cost-effective. At least from the study I read on the idea. But it doesn't need to be done that way, either. I'm actually very in favour of using hydrogen fuel-cells to power vehicles. Middle East states could go from being main exporters of petrol to main exporters of hydrogen quite comfortably, if they wanted to. Toyota have a commercial hydrogen fuel cell car that has great range and power, far better than battery-power. So transmission by powerline is not the only way this can be hugely useful.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Dunno about warming

            hydrogen fuel cells

            There's also the option of building various hydrocarbons (for which we already have the distribution infrastructure) out of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and energy.

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: Dunno about warming

              >>"There's also the option of building various hydrocarbons (for which we already have the distribution infrastructure) out of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and energy."

              True and if the numbers work out, that would definitely have the advantage you say - existing infrastructure. However, I would like to see a move to hydrogen fuel cells because it leads to much cleaner air and is a lot more pleasant to be around. Converting petrol to hydrogen for the sake of that would not make sense. But if it's a choice between turning your electricity into hydrocarbons or hydrogen, then long-term hydrogen would be preferable.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Dunno about warming @H4rmony

                Please stop speaking about "hydrogen" It is the biggest fallacy there is. Hydrogen cannot be contained for lengthy periods, is VERY dangerous and takes more energy to produce than it will give back. Useless!

                If you are opposed to Nuclear, we have Natural Gas. CNG or LNG doesn't matter. It is as clean as any alternative because the percursors for all the "Alternative" energy sources create more CO2 than it does to EFFICIENTLY burn Natural Gas or use it in Fuel Cells.

                Much Sturm und Drang about nothing. The fluctuations in solar output have more to do with the climate than these so called "scientists" will admit. Liars every one! Follow their source of money and you'll understand.

                1. h4rm0ny

                  Re: Dunno about warming @H4rmony

                  >>"Please stop speaking about "hydrogen" It is the biggest fallacy there is. Hydrogen cannot be contained for lengthy periods, is VERY dangerous and takes more energy to produce than it will give back. Useless!"

                  Let's take this in order of easiest first. Hydrogen isn't a source of energy, it's a means of storing it. And no means of storing energy we have is 100% efficient. You could as easily say "batteries - we get less energy out of them as we do charging them up" and it would be just as true and just as useless as an argument for or against them. All that your statement proves is that you either don't understand that it's about storing energy rather than producing it, or you're trying to pull a fast one with things that sound Truthy. If the latter then you pick a forum with a bit less technical knowledge floating around it than an IT news site.

                  Let's talk about storage next. There is the oft-bandied around fact that Hydrogen can leak through steel. 'Goodness!' think most people - how can you ever contain it? Well the answer is that the "leaking through steel" is true but critics keep seeming to ask the question the rate at which it leaks through steel. It's not that fast. Fill up a tank with hydrogen and by the end of the year, you'll have a bit less hydrogen in it. It's not the big deal people make it out to be. The rate also obviously depends on the pressure which drops over time as well so the rate decreases. A bigger issue is hydrogren embrittlement but you know what? We have ways of dealing with that.

                  Finally, let's deal with "VERY dangerous" (your capitals). It's actually not that dangerous. People die from electric shocks every year - are you against mains electricity too? One nice thing about hydrogen, btw, is that it rises. VERY fast. You know all those Hollywood car explosions which are a giant ball of flame (not that realistic, but that's Hollywood for you). Instead picture a tall candle of flame that vanishes rapidly upwards. That's hydrogen. Nice, eh?

                  >>If you are opposed to Nuclear, we have Natural Gas

                  Wait, weren't you just attacking Hydrogen for being "VERY dangerous". And now you're in favour of something that explodes far more dangerously? I'm confused. Or you are. Let's go with you.

                  And I'm not opposed to Nuclear - that's pretty much the point of my posts here: Nuclear is great but it doesn't ramp up or down very quickly so to deal with fluctuations in demand run high and put the excess during dips into hydrogen to power our vehicles. Beautiful.

                  >>"CNG or LNG doesn't matter. It is as clean as any alternative because the percursors for all the "Alternative" energy sources create more CO2 than it does to EFFICIENTLY burn Natural Gas or use it in Fuel Cells."

                  CNG / LNG certainly aren't as clean as a hydrogen fuel cell at the end stage because hydrogen fuel cells waste product is water. And they're not cleaner to produce because your "Precursor" you seem to care so much about can be nuclear power. How anyone can compare the "EFFICIENT" burning of anything at all (your caps again) with nuclear power, I can't fathom. Combustion verses atoms splitting? You think the former could ever be more efficient than that? (Sorry - EFFICIENT). Several billions of tonnes of waste into the atmosphere versus a few hundred tonnes of easily collected and containable dense metals? And you talk about "clean" ?

                  >>"Much Sturm und Drang about nothing. The fluctuations in solar output have more to do with the climate than these so called "scientists" will admit. Liars every one! Follow their source of money and you'll understand."

                  You're mixing your messages badly here. You know that Lewis Page is actually quite the critic of AGW? One of the main points is that Nuclear makes sense regardless of which side of the debate you fall on (or even if you try to avoid picking one). Fossil fuels are running out sooner or later, they pollute the atmosphere with all sorts of things and they make us (speaking as a resident of a Western country) highly dependent on some very nasty and vicious regimes. Whereas we can get Uranium from Australians. Okay - they've inflicted some bad soap operas on us and their mice look funny and are seven foot tall, but they're generally pretty nice and I'd far rather buy a small amount of Uranium from them than endless tonnes from the Saudi and Qatar regimes.

                  Your post is ill-informed and all over the place as regards its point. But as you took the time to single me out in your topic title, enjoy my reply.

                  1. Dan Paul

                    Re: Dunno about warming @H4rmony

                    Hydrogen is not a method to store energy H4rmony and I never said it was, it is a gas that burns with an almost invisible flame and has no odor.

                    You continually offer the use of hydrogen as a "solution" to our energy needs, when it does not work. The only method of creating enough electricity, cheaply enough to make Hydrogen is Fusion and that isn't happening anytime soon and we would be better served to use the electricity directly if it were.

                    It leaks easily across even solid metal, especially the kind of metal tubing that would be used in any transportation device. It is the smallest atom in the table, so small that it penetrates metal seals and metals tanks right though the grain structure. Since you mention Hydrogen Embrittlement you should know that the only metals (Monel & Hastelloy) that help prevent it are daftly expensive, hard to machine, immpossible to weld and are jokingly called "unobtanium" by those who use it.

                    Now where would you store H2 in an auto? A tank in the trunk most likely. Let that tank sit in the sun in a Texas parking lot all day and climb in and start the car. Since H2 requires a Class 1 Div 1 Group B, electrical rating there will not be a car in the world that will meet the explosion proof rating for Hydrogen gas and only a few dozen transport truck that could do it. Go find insurance.

                    At room temperature, liquid hydrogen tanks must be vented or they will explode. Otherwise they must be refrigerated at an excessive energy cost and the liquifaction temperature is -423 F. Go find a chiller system to produce that temperature. You can't afford it or the energy costs.

                    The Hydrogen trucks you see leaving an Air Liquide, Praxair, or Linde gas liquifaction facility all have one thing in common, a trail of leaking gas. You do not want to light a cigarette around those trucks.

                    If you "break" the atomic bonds of water to make H2 and O (Electrolysis), the electrical energy it takes to do so, is enormous compared to the process of combustion. It takes more energy to produce Hydrogen than you can ever get in return.

                    Since you OBVIOUSLY can't understand, check the following link. They (Praxair) are the experts on the subject and I have only got 24 years of industry experience and training on the selection and use of equipment for just such a Hydrogen application as electrical turbines, reduction furnaces, the control valves that direct the H2 in a chemical or power plant, the tubing that is acceptable to transport the H2 from the storage tank, the pressure relief valves that prevent the h2 from blowing up the tanks, the regulators that control the gas pressure being delivered, the analyzers that check the gas for purity (CO or CO2 contamination at less than 1 PPM in pure H2 is a difficult measurement)

                    http://h2bestpractices.org/h2properties/

                    As Hydrogen is not the best choice, then the only alternative gas is CNG or LNG. Both are being used as fuel right now and are far cleaner and safer than hydrocarbon liquid fuels like gasoline or kerosene.

                    1. h4rm0ny

                      Re: Dunno about warming @H4rmony

                      >>"Hydrogen is not a method to store energy H4rmony and I never said it was, it is a gas that burns with an almost invisible flame and has no odor."

                      So did you just out yourself as the AC I replied to? Well anyway, they or you wrote that Hydrogen gives back less energy than it takes to "produce" it. I pointed out that this is true of all the methods of storing energy that we have. And yes, Hydrogen is a method of storing energy. You can't be that dense. Unless you think that a battery is not a means of storing energy but just lithium, a silvery-white metal with a high reactivity.

                      You're also aware, since you bring up "burning", that Hydrogen Fuel Cells don't use combustion, I hope. No hydrogen is "burned".

                      >>"You continually offer the use of hydrogen as a "solution" to our energy needs,

                      I haven't done that even once. Your comprehension of my post is dreadful. Hydrogen is not a source of energy. It is a way of storing it. Use electricity to produce it, instead of charging up a heavy battery with a very limited lifespan or pumping water uphill or whatever other means of storing energy you care to name. And then use a fuel cell to get the energy back later.

                      I have proposed nuclear as the "solution" (your extreme interpretation of my position, btw), possibly with solar alongside. These are the ways to meet our energy needs and replace fossil fuels. I'll repeat, since you got it wrong in the very first line of your post - hydrogen is a way of storing energy.

                      Most of the rest of your post is various facts you seem to have Google'd up but don't have the familiarity with to understand the context. For example your confident assertions about how hydrogen couldn't be stored in a car or how it would explode in Texas. You realize that Toyota are mass-producing a hydrogen car, yes? And that this is a road-legal vehicle in the USA (including Texas, you know). You dig up random bits of information to try and prove something can't be done even whilst it's happening! Example: you confidently assert "At room temperature, liquid hydrogen tanks must be vented or they will explode". What, any tank? Regardless of thickness / material / manufacturing process? Have you any idea how stupid what you've just said is? I'll tell you exactly what has happened here. Of course you know, but I want you to know how obvious it is to everyone else as well - you have gone to a search engine and typed in phrases like "hydrogen tank" and "temperature" and "explode" and found someone who makes hydrogen tanks that have to be refrigerated and then come back saying "Ah ha! Hydrogen tanks explode if they're not vented!". You'd better go and tell engineers who have built cars that run on hydrogen that their cars can only run in sub-zero temperatures. Because apparently you know better than them.

                      >>"the electrical energy it takes to do so, is enormous compared to the process of combustion. It takes more energy to produce Hydrogen than you can ever get in return.

                      Ah, I knew you thought hydrogen vehicles worked on combustion. You have no idea what you're talking about. In fact there are two things wrong with the above. Firstly, the obvious fact that you're talking about combustion which has - let me emphasize this - NOTHING to do with what we're talking about. Secondly, that your objection is that you get less energy out than you put in. It is a STORAGE medium. You get less energy out than you put in with any energy storage mechanism whether that be even the best batteries, pumping water up hill or anything else. You're condemning hydrogen for not breaking the laws of physics!

                      >>"Since you OBVIOUSLY can't understand, check the following link"

                      I think I've figured out the search terms you used - you just typed in "hydrogen safety" didn't you? Your link is one of the first results for this. You might have copied selected parts from this link for your post but you plainly haven't understood it yourself (whilst asserting that I "can't understand"). For example, you talk about how you couldn't have a car in Texas that uses hydrogen because when it got hot it would explode. Your own link shows that hydrogen has an autocombust temperature over twice that of gasoline vapour.. It gets better. You use an argument about how you wouldn't want to smoke around a hydrogen truck. Well no, that would be a safety violation but again, your own link shows that hydrogen has a vapour density of less than 3% that of gasoline vapour. In fact it's about 7% that of air. You know what that means? It means smoking around a hydrogen truck is safer than smoking around a propane tank or a gasoline tank. Because whilst both of those are denser than air and will linger, hydrogen will disperse faster than any other gas. I mean smoking around either is silly but your own argument is shot down by your own link because you have not understood what you are saying.

                      >>"As Hydrogen is not the best choice, then the only alternative gas is CNG or LNG. Both are being used as fuel right now and are far cleaner and safer than hydrocarbon liquid fuels like gasoline or kerosene."

                      They're not cleaner - the output of a hydrogen fuel cell is water. Safer is a relative thing - both are combustible materials but there are strong reasons why hydrogen can actually be safer, e.g. you never need to deliberately burn it and it disperses upwards immediately. In either case, both require sensible safety measures but the point is that hydrogen is no more dangerous than natural gas and in some ways safer. But the simple fact that you call the gas cleaner shows how very little you understand.

                      I honestly prefer arguing with Trevor Potts as at least he makes factual arguments and valid points even if accompanied by violent threats. You however, reach depths of ignorance I did not know existed. How you can know so little and yet not be aware of your own ignorance is a mystery that may never be solved. Go and inhale some hydrogen - it might increase the density of your head a little.

              2. Denarius Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: Dunno about warming

                dunno Harmony. Liquid hydrocarbons have a safe well established infrastructure in place, established stuffup/failure procedures and fixups. Hydrogen has to start from scratch and is hard to handle and transport in bulk. Liquid H2 is not nice to have around a hot environment, like Earth.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Dunno about warming

              There's also the option of building various hydrocarbons (for which we already have the distribution infrastructure) out of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and energy.

              The last time I suggested that, someone pointed out that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is so low that it really doesn't make sense to use it as feedstock for producing hydrocarbons. Garbage might be a more practical carbon source for that purpose - finding somewhere to put our organic waste is already a big problem. So cook it down, separate out the carbon, combine with hydrogen and oxygen (obtained by electrolysis of seawater), and crank out propane.

              Burning that propane obviously converts carbon in the feedstock into atmospheric CO2, but at lot of that - and, worse, methane - would have been produced from the garbage by bacterial decomposition anyway. (Methane particularly because capped landfills are mostly going to undergo anaerobic decomp.) And since this whole scenario presumes we're generating a lot more electricity, and that mostly from nuclear, there should be an overall reduction in CO2 emissions and equivalents.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: protect those cables from being switched off by local governments

          Sod that. Before you get there you have to solve the problem of the non-government locals stealing the live cables for its scrap value.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Dunno about warming

          So make it a point to cover all roofs with PV, and all those shiny tower blocks - might help a bit

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about warming

        @h4m0ny

        Solar is nice in a stable climate in a location where you have sunshine at a good angle 300 days a year. Solar sucks brick sidewize through a very thin straw the moment mother nature decides to throw toys out of the pram.

        Solar did not produce even 10% of its projected capacity in any of the installations around Southern/South Eastern Europe this year because the rain started in March and stopped last week - on the 12 of December. This is in a region which is supposedly optimal for solar (up to 300 days of sunshine in some locations).

        So the idea that solar will rescue us if climate change (warming or not) continues is a delusion because we do not know where to put it. We put it in a location which was supposed to deliver and it "delivered" this year. Nicely. A NIL by ZILCH squared worth of electricity.

        @ToddR

        I live in the UK. I just happened to be in Southern Europe in summer and last week and frankly, the Somerset levels winter of 2013/2014 pales compared to what is going on there at the moment. You have flooding even on hills. The underground water level everywhere is equal to surface level including places that usually see 250-300 sunny days a year.

      4. Tom 13

        Re: Dunno about warming

        It has been middling so far but it's a very immature technology. Unlike wind and biofuels there are a lot of good reasons to expect it to improve rapidly over the next decade.

        The 1970s called. Your license to use their mantra has expired.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dunno about warming

        The only problem with that is those fun loving inhabitants of North Africa and parts of the Middle East would then be threatening to cut the power lines instead embargo oil.

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Dunno about warming

      " Nonetheless there are many reasons to be sceptical about the idea that humanity faces a disastrous 21st century of hugely accelerated sea level rises, crop failures etc if carbon emissions aren't massively cut."

      No - there really are not. That isn't in scientific doubt. The only things in question are the exact timescale, and how bad it's going to get. The sea level keeps rising, the CO2 levels keeps rising, the average temperatures keep rising, etc. etc. We have just had the warmest 12 consecutive months globally since records began.

      Lewis - take a free lesson from people who actually know the subject:

      http://www.exeter.ac.uk/climatechangecourse/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=metoffice2

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dunno about warming

        We have just had the warmest 12 consecutive months globally since records began.

        Sorry Vogon but that doesn't cut any ice, they are talking about a 0.01 degree difference which is total crap, their instrument don't measure to that accuracy.

        The Met office has been caught out fudging figures to do with climate change too many times to have something like this taken seriously.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dunno about warming

          Ivan, they are measured with at least the same degree of accuracy as the historical records, and are made up of thousands of individual measurements. The clear fact is that the world is warming and continues to do so. We also know this from sea level measurements - the sea keeps on rising.

          A quick search shows that this was from NASA by the way:

          The past 12 months—October 2013–September 2014—was the warmest 12-month period among all months since records began in 1880, at 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average. This breaks the previous record of +0.68°C (+1.22°F) set for the periods September 1998–August 1998, August 2009–July 2010; and September 2013–August 2014.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dunno about warming

            Also of note on the current warmest 12 months in recorded history:

            On Monday, the NOAA also announced that global oceans are again record-warm—the third time this year that ocean temperatures have soared to new heights. The most recent record was set just last month. Ocean warming has implications for the health of coral reefs, sea level rise, and weather patterns worldwide.

            What’s most shocking about our planet’s current warm stretch is that the heat records are being broken without an El Niño—the periodic oscillation that warms the Pacific Ocean. But, one of those is on the way, too—and it might stick around for a while. If it happens, it would virtually guarantee a new global heat record in 2015 and could help usher in a decade or more of accelerated warming.

            1. Sacioz

              Re: Dunno about warming

              I´ve been following the Dundee Satellite Receiving Station pix for the last 12 years , Oceania , South America and the Caribbean , and last southern hemisphere summer and this (2014)summer are virtually repeating themselves ,so far . Apparently the jet stream ,(thnx pollution) is not on its natural path , but curved all over the place . So , be ready Albion, for some nasty weather ,if nothing plays otherwise . Lets hope not . Also the drought that Sao Paulo and environs is suffering is very odd .

              Nuclear seems to be the answer, for the time being at least .

              1. Marcelo Rodrigues

                Re: Dunno about warming

                "Also the drought that Sao Paulo and environs is suffering is very odd ."

                Not dismissing the climate change, but the São Paulo draught was caused by deforestation. Well, most of it. The government authorized the cut of about 75% of the trees at the... the... head of the river? Sorry, english is not my mother english. The point where the river starts.

                It played merry hell with the water cycle. Hence the draught.

                But yes. The weather is quite crazy - and getting worse.

            2. Fluffy Bunny

              Re: Dunno about warming

              "If [an El Niño] happens, it would virtually guarantee a new global heat record in 2015 and could help usher in a decade or more of accelerated warming"

              Do you mean a real "warmest 12 months in recorded history" and not the fake one our press are making up. Look at the temperature records. Not even 5th warmest.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dunno about warming

              That global warming is happening and is at least significantly anthropomorphic hasn't been in any scientific doubt whatsoever for at least a decade now. It's going to be global a record warm calendar 12 months this year too. And more of the same is on the way for 2015.

              http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2014/2015-global-temp-forecast?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

              17 December 2014 - The global mean temperature for 2015 is expected to be between 0.52 °C and 0.76 °C* above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C, with a central estimate of 0.64 °C, according to the Met Office annual global temperature forecast.

              Using the 1981-2010 long-term average of 14.3 °C, the range is between 0.22 °C and 0.46 °C, with a central estimate of 0.34 °C.

              Taking into account the range of uncertainty in the forecast, it is very likely that 2015 will be one of the warmest years in a series dating back to 1880.

              The outlook for 2015 is warmer than the Met Office's forecast for 2014, which had a range of 0.43 °C to 0.71 °C with a central estimate of 0.57 °C (using the 1961-1990 long-term average).

              The forecast for 2014 agrees with data from Jan-Oct, which shows the mean global temperature for 2014 so far is 0.57 °C** (+/- 0.1 °C). This currently places 2014 as one of the warmest years on record***, although the final number for the year may change.

              As the table below indicates, the forecast for 2015 - including the range of uncertainties - will also place the coming year among the warmest on record.

              The potential increase in global mean temperature in 2015 is expected to be based on the ongoing warmth of the tropical Pacific Ocean, weak El Nino conditions, the warmth of the Arctic and the ongoing increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

          2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

            Re: Dunno about warming

            The basic problem with a lot of historical temperature records is not the recording instrument accuracy, but the renormalisation of the records. As an example, take the weather thermometer at what is now Heathrow Airport.

            The records there began in 1930 or thereabouts, when it was a grass strip in open countryside. It is now situated in the middle of a huge expanse of concrete, in the Greater London heat island. To get an accurate record of temperatures, you clearly need a fiddle-factor to take the temperatures of each time and transpose them back to what they would be if the site was a grassy field in the middle of nowhere.

            It is therefore dead easy to slip in a little nudge so the renormalised figures go the "right" way by playing with the renormalisation formula.

            This is the fault with almost all long-term man-made temperature records, and quite a few supposedly accurate natural ones.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dunno about warming

              "As an example, take the weather thermometer at what is now Heathrow Airport."

              As a representative example?

        2. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Dunno about warming

          Ok, you know what, go to Brittany coast, or down south to Biaritz, south east to Gard, Herault, Aude .... so many places in France ... and tell the locals what you just wrote here ... you will not come back alive.

          There's this guy in the Gard (French departement), in his late forties, bought a house in the 90's, lived in it since. Now, since 2010, each and every year, he has floodings ... none between 1992 and 2010, not one, and ... they are getting worse each and every year.

          Biaritz beaches have shrunken so much they do not quite know what to do with seafront buildings, the casino, for example. In Brittany they spent Xmas to March with1.5m of water in the lounge.

          In the Gard, their house was an aquarium from August to late September, same for Aude, Pyrenees Orientales ... you name it.

          All these massive events never seen before in France. 2014 was the hottest and rainiest year on record. I agree it is not only climate change that is causing this. Although climate change is the prime suspect for heavy rains, the catastrophes were partly caused by deforestation and the soil being heavily chemically fertilized, which basically kills the earth (too long to explain, suffice to say it kills a central actor in the earth soil biosphere) and thus prevents water from being properly absorbed.

      2. Fluffy Bunny
        Devil

        Re: Dunno about warming

        "That isn't in scientific doubt"

        Okay...., so you're going to give back all that lovely money your climate scientists have been taking in from our gullible pollies, are you? After all, if "the science is settled", we don't need to pay for scientists anymore.

      3. JGT

        Re: Dunno about warming

        In science there is ALWAYS doubt, or skepticism. Consensus is not a valid scientific statement, it is a political one. Peer review is good, but it is not the gold standard. Replication of results by ANYONE is the gold standard. Go look at the cold fusion excitement of the late 80s.

        If we are seeing records high temperatures, why are we NOT seeing new high temperature records being set? 90% of record high temperatures in the US were set before 1950.

        The need for change to stop, or reduce "climate change" has been based on the 1992 treaty "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/background/items/1349.php In the opening page is the following statement.

        "Concerned that human activities have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, that these increases enhance the natural greenhouse effect, and that this will result on average in an additional warming of the Earth's surface and atmosphere and may adversely affect natural ecosystems and humankind,"

        In Article 1: Definitions, is this definition.

        ""Climate change" means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."

        The idea from the start (1992) was that anthroporgenic CO2 was THE problem, period. The duty of the IPCC was (and is) to confirm CO2 as the problem. Go read the "Mandate" in the assesment reports. Very similar wording to the above. The bias was towards CO2 as the cause, period.

        If you want a good look at the Earth's climate, go read John Kehr's book "the inconvenient skeptic" Yes, it is lower case.

      4. Mark Pawelek

        Re: Dunno about warming

        "The sea level keeps rising"

        - by a little. IPCC expect the sea to rise between 0.2m and 0.6m by the end of the century.

        I'd say Lewis is right to be "sceptical about ... hugely accelerated sea level rises"

    4. leaway2

      Re: Dunno about warming

      Yes I will point Fukushima at you, because it happened. If we could rely on all the nuclear station to be built properly, but we can not. Fukushima proves the point, and from one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Dunno about warming

        >>"Fukushima proves the point, and from one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet."

        Perhaps not the point you think it proves, though. To me it's an example of how multiple reactors from 1960's designs, built over four decades ago not only survived one of the worlds most powerful recorded earthquakes without melting down or leaking significant radiation, but also survived the following tsunami still without significant leakage.

        Add on four decades of improvements and safety features, I'm pretty happy about it. Is that the point you were thinking it proved?

        1. baseh

          Re: About the Fukushima case

          Just to reiterate: 24 thousand lives were lost in the tsunami v/s 0 (zero) due to the reactors.

      2. Fluffy Bunny
        Holmes

        Re: Dunno about warming

        "from one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet"

        Japan is far from being one of themost technologically advanced countries on the planet, when it comes to nuclear power. Since they had a couple of atom bombs dropped on them to end WWII, they have been quite pathological about radiation. Witness the massive over-reaction by the then PM to every bit of news about radiation from the plant.

      3. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

        Fukushima

        The plant at was hit by a tidal wave almost twice the design worst case.

        If the Japanese government had the slightest competence then the plant could still have been rescued after the tsunami. There was a window of about 12 hours in which if they had flown in (via helicopter) a 1MW generator then the plant could have been saved.

        Even with the problems - the death toll at the Fukushima plant - 3 - 2 people were drowned and one was knocked off a ladder. Observed radiation deaths - zero.

        The radiation level 1km from the plant is lower than the normal background level in Cornwall (where the average radiation dose is 7.8 mSv/year).

      4. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about warming

        Fukushima is the reason we need more nuclear power.

        Best we evolve and develop nuclear power gently now, and work through these problems, the alternative is a point in the future when we run out of other options and have to rush in a lot of nuclear capacity. Our descendants won't thank us for faffing around and leaving them in the sh!t because a few of us can't handle the idea.

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Solar - price per tonne-year of averted CO2

      A recently opened solar farm in California has a peak (noon) power of 550MW. It cost $2.5B and averts the emission of 377,000 tonnes-per-year of CO2.

      That's about $6,600 per tonne-per-year of averted CO2.

      Some sources state that we need to avert as many as 30 billion tonnes-per-year of CO2.

      $6,600 x 30,000,000,000 = $200,000,000,000,000 ($200 Trillion).

      All the Money in the World (world wealth) is about $240 Trillion.

      So if solar is used to avert CO2, then we'll get some change back from All the Money in the World.

      I think that innumeracy is a greater menace than 'denial'.

      We need to find cheaper solutions. The keyword is "need". It's *not* optional.

      1. slidders

        Re: Solar - price per tonne-year of averted CO2

        Look up velocity of money.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dunno about warming

      You are wrong about not having a clue about using the ocean's thermal gradient. In 1930 a working generator was built and there are some experimental rigs around the world. See Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_thermal_energy_conversion

      An interesting side effect of a generator like this is the upswelling of nutrition rich water from the deep. This can act as food for marine life, increasing the fish stock.

    7. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: Dunno about warming

      "do not point Fukushima at me"

      Yeah, this annoys me too when it gets cited as a reason we shouldn't use nuclear power.

      Fukushima is an example of success, not failure:

      The six reactors were built to withstand massive earthquakes and are marvels of modern engineering and architecture. The tsunami and earthquake that they experienced were unheard of in terms of magnitude for that area. Three reactors suffered a meltdown the cause of which is attributed to failings in the manual shutdown process that the operators used. Only one reactor suffered a crack, and the amount of radiation that leaked was phenomenally low....

      ....oh yeah, and no one, to date, is listed as a casualty of the meltdown.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster

      1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about warming

        A downvote? Someone doesn't like evidence.

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Dunno about warming

          Go read up on the no-man's land around the compound. If it is as safe as you say, you can get free milk delivered to your doorstep from the place, yes, they will even pay the transport of said milk from Fukushima prefecture, Japan, to anywhere on the planet, for you, if you wanna drink it. You should drink it, the world will then become a better place, no, I think all nuclear power backers should drink that shit.

          The WHO/IAEA duo will sponsor it, you might even get a free t-shirt.

          Fond memories of Erin Brockovich, the movie.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dunno about warming

        Fukushima harmless?

        1. Bit early to say as radiation induced illnesses are ot like some virus, hitting everyone immediately (except for those worst exposed to heaviest doses).

        2. So, all that money,people, homes evacuated .... That's all costless, is it?

        3. Long term storage of the waste products in an increasingly unstable world (politically).

        4. So, no cooling water (that becomes rather warm) is discharged, no land used and irrecoverable in our lifetime, not even as a theme park. No cables, nothing.

        Actually, I am not absolutely opposed. But it is far better to accept and deal with the problems than just claim it to be better than the alternatives without facing those problems.

        In fact, wind parks, for example, do not require that the land under them be left fallow. Crops and animals can use the land between windmills and do.

        The problem with hydro and solar is the monolithic scale adopted by states and firms with a monopoly mindset. Small, local schemes can be and in many places are a robust and effective provider of local needs. The real problem is improving storage and networks. I read recently that, in Britain, recently, when several nuclear plants had to go offline for maintenance or investigation, wind power provided more electricty than nuclear.

        Clever people know that few things are either/or and down-voting comments does not negate the point fo view, it just shows the down-voters discomfort with views or facts that do not fit his ideas.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Dunno about warming

          >>Fukushima harmless?

          Well if you're going to take positions to extreme absurds then no. Very few accidents are completely harmless. But in the history of power generation (any type), it's down there.

          >>1. Bit early to say as radiation induced illnesses are ot like some virus, hitting everyone immediately (except for those worst exposed to heaviest doses).

          If it's a "bit early" to say that it isn't harmful then it's a "bit early" to say that it is. You're basically just taking a Russell's Teapot approach here - you haven't been able to show harm so you're invoking the spectre that maybe we'll find out later that it is. We actually have an extremely good idea of how much radiation was leaked and precisely what contaminants. And we're able to compare the quantities with other nuclear accidents and - importantly - everyday "natural" radiation and activities like being a pilot. And you know what? It's not that high.

          >>2. So, all that money,people, homes evacuated .... That's all costless, is it?

          The real question is, is it necessary or is it an overreaction. Actually, there are two questions here - the other one being why are you holding nuclear to a standard that it must be completely harmless and there can never be any cost? Because if you apply the same standard to other power industries, nuclear looks pretty good. Do you know more people have been killed building and maintaining wind turbines than have died as a result of nuclear accidents? True fact.

          >>3. Long term storage of the waste products in an increasingly unstable world (politically).

          Why do you think the ever smaller amount of waste is so insurmountable a problem? The USA has an entire facility under a mountain where it can be stored. You seem to be conflating nuclear waste with nuclear weapons, btw.

          >>4. So, no cooling water (that becomes rather warm) is discharged, no land used and irrecoverable in our lifetime, not even as a theme park. No cables, nothing.

          I genuinely have no idea what you are babbling about.

          >>it just shows the down-voters discomfort with views or facts that do not fit his ideas.

          Seriously? The old pre-emptive "people who downvote me are biased" attack? In this day and age?

        2. Mark Pawelek

          Re: Fukushima harmless?

          Throughout Japan, no one died nor suffered illness due to radiation from the plant.

          In Fukushima prefecture, 1599 died due to the Tsunami, over 1600 died since due to the stress or other effects from evacuation [suicide, alcoholism, degraded health care, ...]. The radiation doom-mongers were responsible for that; for over-egging the effects of radiation. Radiation has not been shown to be harmful at low levels. The contamination in over 99% of the evacuated areas is a low levels. Green organizations pontificate over global warming but their main remedy is to close down power plants. At grid-level, their favoured alternatives: solar and wind are not viable.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Dunno about warming

        The six reactors ... are marvels of modern engineering and architecture

        While I agree with the overall sentiment that Fukushima was not a "disaster", and in fact quite the opposite, I can't agree with this bit. The old Westinghouse fail-hot reactor design is substantially inferior to more modern passively-safe designs like CANDU and pebble-bed.

        If someone produced a commercially-successful traveling-wave design, that would arguably be even better (particularly since, as a breeder reactor, it could consume low-level waste), though I understand there are issues with eventually decommissioning TWRs.

        The Fukushima reactors are good examples of solid engineering shoring up a less-than-ideal design under harsh conditions.

        1. Mark Pawelek

          Re: Dunno about warming

          The Fukushima reactors could've been retrofitted with better safety measures. TEPCO, the management there, are at fault for not doing so. The real fault was in Japan's nuclear power regulation being run by industry. They really needed an independent regulator with teeth, which they now have. So the Fukushima reactors were bad examples, because this accident should never have happened - even with that Tsunami.

    8. Alan Denman

      Re: not built properly

      there is a new bonus scheme for chaps running the build of our new one.

      It goes right off the Richter scale so obviously we can all 'bank on' something being done good and proper.

      Any bets on it being us getting 'done' ?

    9. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Dunno about warming

      Doesn't matter whether you do or not it is a question about where do we go next. Fosil fuel is just about dead and renewables will not do it especially when electricity will replace most present fosil consumption. Nuclear is the only way. And big time as well. This means we will have to get into Thorium or we are dead.

  2. Charles Smith

    Thorium

    Thorium based nuclear energy is the way to go, get the research going now or do we want to end up licensing such technology from the Chinese?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Thorium

      A number of countries are actively involved in thorium research, but none yet has a reactor operating - not even a small prototype - India's PFBR has been delayed many times now. Attractive as thorium looks on paper, it remains an unproven technology. Until someone has a reactor operating, it would be far too optimistic to depend on it eventually working. We've all heard the joke about fusion power - perpetually fifty years away.

      1. ToddR

        Re: Thorium

        I thought Hitachi had built a 10Megawatt prototype Flouride salt reactor, but could be wrong?

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Thorium

        "A number of countries are actively involved in thorium research, but none yet has a reactor operating - not even a small prototype"

        Maybe they don't have one NOW, but they definitely DID already have a WORKING one long ago:

        "The reactor, built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated critical for roughly 15000 hours from 1965 to 1969. In 1968, Nobel laureate and discoverer of Plutonium, Glenn Seaborg, publicly announced to the Atomic Energy Commission, of which he was chairman, that the thorium-based reactor had been successfully developed and tested"

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Fusion (Re: Thorium)

        the joke about fusion power - perpetually fifty years away.

        The latest IEEE Spectrum actually has some encouraging info about fusion, not so much technical progress but the number of private companies investigating alternative ways to do it, with suggestions that working prototype reactors are 5-10 years away. See the "Fusion Alternatives" sidebar at the end of this article:

        http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/inside-the-dynomak-a-fusion-technology-cheaper-than-coal

        It might just be hype, but if even one of these works...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thorium

      The UK did have one operating between 1964 and 1973, the Dragon HTR 20MW at Winfrith in Dorset. It was partly decommissioned in 2005.

      The reason it was never fully implemented was because it couldn't produce plutonium that was required for weapons in the cold war period.

  3. imanidiot Silver badge

    Could it be

    That people are finally starting to actually THINK about solutions?

    1. choleric

      Re: Could it be

      Yep. Did anyone else catch this morning's BBC piece on the dock off National Grid battery they've installed near Leighton Buzzard?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Could it be

        Isn't there only the one current source in South America producing Lithium though? I wonder what the worlds supply is like? Is it economical in the long run or are we still looking at a limited resource?

        Where's the Reg Precious Elements Desk when we need it?

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Where's the Reg Precious Elements Desk when we need it?

          That's Tim Worstall's beat, he often writes about mineral supplies. TL;DR version: if there's a demand the price will go up, causing more mines to come on stream, so the supply goes up and the price comes down a bit.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Where's the Reg Precious Elements Desk when we need it?

            "if there's a demand the price will go up, causing more mines to come on stream, so the supply goes up and the price comes down a bit."

            Yes, this seems to confirm that statement.

    2. Turtle

      @imanidiot

      If the upshot of the global warming panic-mongering turns out to be the rehabilitation of nuclear power, it will have been a very good thing overall.

  4. blueprint

    How convenient...

    to miss out the main problem with nuclear - the ridiculously high costs.

    See e.g. Hinkley C, and Sellafield or whatever they call it these days.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: How convenient...

      The primary reason the costs are so high these days is that the nuclear industry is being regulated out of existence by the ecomentalist movement.

      1. JJSmith1950

        Re: How convenient...

        Nonsense.

        The nuclear energy industry is not "regulated out of existence", if it wasn't for Government intervention there would be no nuclear energy industry at all: it's the most heavily subsidised industry in the history of all subsidised industries.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: How convenient...

          >>"it's the most heavily subsidised industry in the history of all subsidised industries."

          In the field of power generation, I think that honour would go to Wind power. In the vast sweeping context of "all subsidised industries", I'm not even going to touch such a ridiculous statement.

          Nuclear "subsidies" are primarily the government providing the insurance since you can't get that privately. But the State absorbing the risk is not really the same sort of "subsidy" as say wind power. The latter is a definite and ongoing cost. The former is a chance of having to pay out but if all is well, not a cost at all. Calling it a subsidy is not really conveying to people what it is as people assume that means money is being handed over.

        2. arrbee

          Re: How convenient...

          I think you'll find that banking and the financial sector in general are the most heavily subsidised industry in history.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: How convenient...

        "The primary reason the costs are so high these days is that the nuclear industry is being regulated out of existence by the ecomentalist movement."

        Its not even a movement any more - its a religion. Any science or technology that doesn't fit with their beliefs is dismissed out of hand and the people involved villified. Greenpeace in particular - especially after their recent Peru adventure - is a pompous bunch of scientifically uneducated self important fools. The only people who don't realise it is themselves.

    2. ToddR

      Re: How convenient...

      Its because for PWRs Areva is the only game in town. Thorium much cheaper in comparison, but try explaining it to a politician!

      1. John Hughes

        Re: How convenient...

        Its because for PWRs Areva is the only game in town.
        Really? APR1000 doesn't exist?

        It's true that the EPR is the only new reactor type-approved for the UK, but that's just because Areva decided to do the work and spend the money.

      2. Andydaws

        Re: How convenient...

        You mean, apart from Westinghouse, Mitsubishi, CNNPC, Atomstroyexport, Kepco/Doosan - and if you include BWRs there are the Toshiba and Hitachi BWR variants, Kerena (although that's also and Areva design), and the ESBWR.

      3. cray74 Silver badge

        Re: How convenient...

        I like the thorium fuel cycle, but statements like, "Thorium much cheaper in comparison, but try explaining it to a politician!" don't help. The easiest, fastest way to implement the thorium fuel cycle would be to use existing and/or somewhat modified reactors, as was done at Shippingport and could be done with CANDU reactors. Since you're using the same basic reactors as currently in service, there's no particular grand cost savings in switching to U-233 bred out of thorium.

        The great advantages of the thorium fuel cycle are 1) greater availability of fuel, and 2) reduced trans-uranic, long-lived waste. If you start attributing magical features to thorium like huge cost savings, then you're just setting up the thorium cycle for a grand disappointment.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: How convenient...

          "The easiest, fastest way to implement the thorium fuel cycle would be to use existing and/or somewhat modified reactors, as was done at Shippingport and could be done with CANDU reactors."

          Dear lord, have an up vote.

          Sad to note that in 1978 the folks at Ontario Hydro actually made the point that MkIV could be dual fuel with little to no modifications. OPG however don't seem to know this.

    3. localzuk

      Re: How convenient...

      The cost per MWh for Hinkley C, even with the agreed strike price of £92.5 per MWh is still below the price paid for wind power (which is between £95 and £155 per MWh). Its actually cheaper even than modern "carbon capture" coal stations.

      1. gbru2606

        Re: How convenient...

        The cost of nuclear (per MWh) never includes the massive expense of cleaning up the mass afterwards though, does it?

        Sellafield is going to cost way more than the current £70 Billion alloted by the Government and taxpayers.

        The true cost of energy can't be calculated unless you include ALL future cleanup and waste storage operations. Renewables could then start to look a lot more cost effecvtive. Countries that never went down the nuclear road don't have the stored up problems that the UK and other countries face. £70 Billion would have fully retrofitted every single pre-1930's home in the North of England to tackle the main problem: energy consumption to heat cold, old housing stock.

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          FAIL

          "Sellafield is going to cost way more than the current £70 Billion alloted "

          Really?

          citations needed

          or to put it in Commentard - Put up or shut up.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: "Sellafield is going to cost way more than the current £70 Billion alloted "

            I should think Sellafield is a poor example for the decommissioning cost of generating plants, anyway. It's significantly older than most nuclear power stations, and in its early days it was called Windscale Plutonium Factory (!) before they decided to sanitise the name.

          2. breakfast
            WTF?

            Re: "Sellafield is going to cost way more than the current £70 Billion alloted "

            I scrolled past that several times and did a double-take each time because my brain was determined to read "Sellafield" as "Seinfeld".

        2. cray74 Silver badge

          Re: How convenient...

          "The cost of nuclear (per MWh) never includes the massive expense of cleaning up the mass afterwards though, does it?"

          This seems to be a popular objection against nuclear power but - at least for the US - it is false. Since 1983, the US's nuclear industry has been paying into the US's Nuclear Waste Fund on a per-kilowatt-hour basis. If you generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity from nuclear power, then you pay into the waste disposal fund.

          The Fund paid for long-term waste disposal like Yucca Mountain (torpedoed by environmentalists who apparently preferred their nuclear waste to be less secure); contributed funds to the Integral Fast Reactor, which could've burned long-lived waste (torpedoed by environmentalists who apparently preferred large amounts of waste to accumulate); and has funds budgeted to decommission US nuclear power plants. I'm sure environmentalists will also torpedo nuclear power plant decommissioning (diverting the money to underwater basket weaving or something), and then come up with a claim like, "Well, the nuclear power industry never set aside money to do this. Big Nukes were all about greed!"

          Reviewing environmentalism's track record on nuclear power reminds me of a line in Frezza's novel, "VMR Theory." "You can predict the actions of an organization by assuming it is run by a cabal of enemies bent on destroying it."

          1. Tom 13

            Re: How convenient...

            I'm not a crazy environmentalist, and I think Yucca was a bad option. I'd much rather we kept it in places we need to monitor and maintain than somewhere the pols can forget about it because out of sight, out of mind.

            Granted you're spot on about them objecting simply because it's nuclear and they want all that techie nonsense stopped the day before yesterday. I wasn't aware of the IFR. Killing that was just plain stupid.

            Full disclosure: I lived close enough to Three Mile Island at the time of the accident that my mother was worried we should evacuate. At about the age of 12 I was the one with the sense to ask "But how do you know which way the wind will carry the cloud if it does escape? You could be driving right into it instead of away from it." As events turned out, we were about 5 hours past the critical point in the incident when she was worried about packing us up and driving away.

        3. squizzar
          FAIL

          Re: How convenient...

          Sellafield is a site dealing with a huge legacy of waste produced during hasty research, a lot of which was generated as part of the race to develop nuclear weapons. It is a huge mess.

          It is also completely irrelevant in relation to new nuclear power plants which are constructed with a plan and budget for decommissioning, are operated with oversight and tracing of all nuclear materials, and have the benefit of the knowledge gained from the mistakes of the past.

          Bringing it up in such a way as to suggest that all nuclear plants will have similar spiralling costs is hyperbole worthy of the Daily Mail - or a Greenpeace press release.

      2. blueprint

        Re: How convenient...

        People never think these things through. Do the sums.

        Wind, solar etc. are decreasing in price. By the time Hinckley C comes online they'll all be cheaper, and that's not even taking into account Hinckley C's built-in yearly inflation hike.

        1. BigFire

          Re: How convenient...

          They're only cheap due to government subsidy. Hey, I got an great idea, Unicorn Fart power. 100% all natural, 100% renewable. Where do I get my subsidy?

          1. Mark Pawelek

            Re: How convenient...

            If you prefer to keep government regulation out of this, bring on global warming. The UK nuclear fleet is not subsidised.

        2. Mark Pawelek

          Re: How convenient...

          Wind and solar are not truly non-carbon because they are intermittent. They are only non-carbon for 80% of the time. They rely on fossil fuel support. Consider these LCA values (measuring carbon emissions). The two values for wind show the LCA with intermittency ignored (wind 1); with intermittency taken into account and fossil fuel support factored in (wind 2).

          Nuclear .... 12

          Wind (1) ... 11

          Wind (2) .. 100

          Gas ........ 470

          Coal ...... 1000

          Nor can this problem be overcome using energy storage. To reduce fossil fuel support to nothing would cost so much storage that wind and solar will be uneconomical.

          Wind and solar are two renewables for people who want to bring global warming on.

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/27/1339061/-GETTING-TO-ZERO-The-hidden-CO2-emissions-from-renewables

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/08/1221552/-GETTING-TO-ZERO-Is-renewable-energy-economically-viable

    4. Ged T

      Re: How convenient...

      Well, what would be a better legacy for the UK - £50bn spent on a vanity rail project between Birmingham and London to save 25 minutes (which will need electricity to run, btw, already in short supply...) or would it be better spent on FIVE, modern (not compromised to produce weapons grade materials) nuclear stations to benefit the entire country?

      1. Mark Pawelek

        Re: How convenient...

        There's no reason a modern, modular, nuclear reactor design such as the AP1000, ABWR, ESBWR should cost more than £4bn to make in the UK. The Chinese think they can make reactors for $2bn each. It should not cost the UK more than twice that.

    5. Steve I

      Re: How convenient...

      Big deal. If a closed financial system (the Earth) is facing collapse, who cares how many little bits of green paper move around to secure a solution?

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: How convenient...

      The biggest problem is the disposal of nuclear waste - just look at the mess that is Gorleben.

      I've always thought nuclear could be a good solution - if we can find a way of disposing of it, without poluting the planet in the process.

      1. cray74 Silver badge

        Re: How convenient...

        "I've always thought nuclear could be a good solution - if we can find a way of disposing of it, without poluting the planet in the process."

        Fast reactors are one option, and extensively tested. They can use many nuclear reactor wastes as fuel. The key step is to re-process nuclear fuel. You want to pull out a few types of waste from 'spent fuel' (like fission fragments: cesium, strontium, etc.), but the remainder can be good fuel for a fast-spectrum reactor.

        Accelerator-boosted reactors are another means of destroying long-lived wastes like the transuranics. While they're very interesting, they aren't proven to the extent of fast reactors.

        The thorium fuel cycle is another option. Thorium breeds nicely into U-233, which is a couple of neutrons further away from transuranic wastes than conventional U-235-based fuels. Used properly, your waste stream from a U233-fueled reactor is only dangerous for 300 years, not 80,000 years.

      2. Mark Pawelek

        Re: How convenient...

        It's not nuclear waste. It's partly used fuel. Only about 0.4% of the potential fuel is used (including depleted uranium as potential fuel). If we moved to fast breeder, or converter reactors: 99% of that uranium could be used. Potential breeder solutions are the Hitachi-GE PRISM, or one of a number molten salt reactors designs.

  5. friet

    Nuclear expensive? Are you joking?

    I live in Belgium.. we only have 7 Nuclear reactors; of whom 3 are now temporary out of operation. The electricity company claims that every reactor not running costs them a whopping 40million € of profit per month (not revenue !, profit)..or in this case around 1.5 billion Euro of profit a year.. (about 1.3Billion pounds or 2 billion$ !). don't come and tell us that nuclear is expensive...

    1. John Hughes

      Re: Nuclear expensive? Are you joking?

      Of those 3 two were scheduled to be taken out of service in 2015 and one was sabotaged.

      Belgium possibly even more fucked up in its long term power planning than the UK. Maybe governments are sometimes useful?

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Nuclear expensive? Are you joking?

      Nuclear reactors actually have a lifetime 'ON' duty cycle of about 70%. Many people claim that they're "100% available", etc. That's just false.

      1. AndyC

        Re: Nuclear expensive? Are you joking?

        Hmmm, 70%? Where did you get that 'information' from?

        I agree, the AGRs are probably that efficient, but if we look at the one modern reactor in this country, Sizewell, I think you'll find that it has a greater than 85% load factor.

        1. Mark Pawelek

          Re: Nuclear expensive? Are you joking?

          UK nuclear capacity will be down this year to 74% due to the AGR outages. The maximum rated capacity of the UK fleet is 9.19GW. Last year the UK reactors achieved 82%. In comparison, each year US reactors achieve about 90%.

          After safety checks and coming back into service (Nov 22 and 26), 3 of the reactors are de-rated to only 70%. This will be for the foreseeable future.

  6. codejunky Silver badge

    yeah right

    Clear, objective and green in the same sentence! I would love to see that venn diagram.

    1. choleric

      Re: yeah right

      Take a blank piece of paper...

  7. R.

    Nuclear = electricity. Petrol = plastic, energy, road... Whatever.

    Renewable can't be taken into account without drastic change in consumption and energy savings.

    Petrol will not last. 20, 50 or 100 years does it really matter, are your searching a gas station when your fuel gauge is low, when the red alert is shining or when the motor stopped working.

    Same for uranium, the supply won't support our energy consumption at is current pace.

    And replacing both by other technics like bio-fuel or algae isn't very sensible. In term of thermodynamics, petrol can't be match in term of compactness and efficiency (and see the poor efficiency of our usages). Thing of the time an energy which were spend to create a litre or a gallon of petrol and how fast and how ineffectively we are spending it (motor efficiency for exemple).

    Same for nuclear energy, nuclear plant are just big kettle...

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      So, are we all gonna die?

      Not sure what are you proposing then?

      Anyway, you are wrong on nuclear. The uranium reserves we know of now will be sufficient for hundreds of years and electricity actually = petrol, as you can make hydrocarbons to your heart's content if you have enough electricity, carbon and water.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Seriously WTF?

      "Same for uranium, the supply won't support our energy consumption at is current pace."

      Uhm... don't know about you but there's a lot of untapped sources in the US and other countries. The issue is mining and refining it to fuel grade. If you had the power plants then you can get the fuel.

  8. Richard Jones 1

    There Are No Real 'Renewable'

    Weather driven energy capture devices are not renewable sources. They simply capture the effects of a rather large nuclear reactor situated a bit down the street . We call it the sun. What we capture today we either capture or lose since it will be transformed into something else. The problem is that as we set up capture systems we lose something else, we chop up birds, disturb bats, stress other animals including humans with the noise of windmills. We blight land with other daft flights of fancy. We could and should do a little more to capture some pathetic amounts of solar light and heat by roof panels and perhaps solar capture walls. Though at the moment few if any are cost effective without costly subsidies, so are hugely unattractive to many.

    In truth everyone of our usually pathetic attempts to move forward has been driven by a less than genuine agenda. First there are the subsidy farmers who only aim to farm subsidies - these are in no way related to real farmers who grow things to eat. Then there are the so called Greens, many of whom simply wish to have an additional reason to raise taxes and promote their own unsustainable dream of a worse tomorrow. It agree with 'Could it be', from imanidiot, if at last people are staring to think it might be we can look forward to some better times.

    OK the Tsunami killed a number of unfortunate souls and broke Fukushima, though to date I have seen no figures confirming that anyone died due to Fukushima in spite of the now acknowledged faults and errors with that plant's design and management.

    There are problems with almost any endeavour, we used to kill thousands of miners and many are still dying. The burning of coal kills a number more but so does the entirely natural; cold and illness of winter or are the 30,000 deaths in the UK alone not enough for some people? If so, don't worry it might be a colder than average winter and kill off a few more.

    I hope at least some people are realising I am arguing for a lot more balance and sensible consideration. Progress is built on the back of errors and mistakes. Some people die through car accidents sad but true, but many more live because we are not using horses - just look at the facts from the early part of the 20th century.

    Thorium might yet be the answer, knee jerk stupidity will not answer anything. Fermenting waste, river power, some solar and wind - neither of which are in any way renewable and other sound ideas may ALL contribute a little each but let us get away from special pleading groups who assure us that they and only they have all the answers.

  9. Mark Pawelek

    The high costs of Hinkley C are due to three main factors:

    1. There was only one bidder. Although the project started off with two bidders one quickly dropped out leaving the EDF consortium with a monopoly.

    2. The reactor, the AREVA EPR, is the most expensive possible design. This EPR reactor has no modular features, so takes longer to build because it's made onsite rather than in the factory. It doesn't take advantage of economies of scale and safety compliance takes longer. The EPR has over-elaborate safety systems, which simply cost more. For comparison, on a per-megawatt basis it uses 20% to 25% more concrete and steel than the modular AP1000 design. An AP1000 will clearly be more competitive. Worldwide comparison shows AP1000 designs being built with far les problems than EPRs.

    3. The EPR is the only post-9/11 reactor design approved by our regulator: ONR. Alternative designs (AP1000, ABWR) undergoing approval will take years to fully pass approval; e.g. the ABWR will take 3 more years.

    Considering the three points above, we would normally have a good argument for dropping the Hinkley C deal. Unfortunately, since 2005 when Labour gave the green light for new nuclear builds Britain has dithered and dothered. Our main reactor fleet of AGRs are due to retire by 2023. Our last Magnox will close next year. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_the_United_Kingdom#Operating> 71% of our AGRs are 1970 vintage or earlier, and their graphite moderator is cracking under the strain. It may be risky trying to extend the life of all these AGRs past 2023.

    We recently closed at lot of coal plants that failed the EC Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD). Many more coal plants are due to close in the next 10 years. Even our gas-fired plants will begin to feel their age too. Baseload electricity has to come from somewhere. This electrical capacity crunch is getting more serious the longer it lasts. Winter blackouts anyone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When people are faced with a cold winter, power blackouts and rising fuel prices, I can pretty much guarantee that 'the people' will not give a flying fuck about 'green' or 'cost' or 'regulatory' issues - they will want power and they will want it asap (whatever form that can be delivered in the quickest).

      Perhaps that is the agenda - wait until things start going tits up and people de-prioritise their concerns about the planet/economy and upgrade their concerns about grandpa and grandma freezing their asses off next winter.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      "Winter blackouts anyone?"

      If there's an "emergency" requirement for power they'll just fire up some old oil fired plant and throw some deisal gennys into the mix. Energency, innit. And it simply must be cleaner to run oil and diesal for a few hours rather than all that dirty coal and dangerous nooklear.on all day long.

      Coat. The fur lined one. With coal in the pockets.

    3. AndyC

      Have to say, when I was comparing the two reactor designs a number of years ago, I was very impressed with the AP1000.

      I still think BNFL should have kept hold of Westinghouse!

    4. localzuk

      Cost per MWh to the end user is still cheaper than current wind, far cheaper than solar and tidal, and even cheaper than "clean coal" stations (in their various guises).

      The government aren't spending anything on the nuclear plant themselves, they are just insuring the project, and guaranteeing the return for the investors via the strike price. The strike price is up to 50% lower than the strike price agreed with many wind farms.

      So, even after all the issues you list about the cause of the expense, it is still not *that* expensive, long term.

  10. Seanmon

    Interesting to see

    If this gets any coverage in the mainstream press.

  11. jake Silver badge

    There is no such thing as "renewable" energy.

    In the game of entropy, you can't even break even. You always lose.

    The entire "green" movement needs to get the "renewable" meme out of their collective heads. Until they do, scientific minded folks will point and laugh.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: There is no such thing as "renewable" energy.

      We don't live in a closed system you nit-picking fool.

      No, of course there is no such thing as renewable energy -- the sun will run out of fuel one day.

      But we won't be around to see that, so who gives a fuck?

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: There is no such thing as "renewable" energy.

        If humanity still exists in 4 billion odd years and we're still earthbound we deserve to die in a supernova.

      2. jake Silver badge

        @ John Hughes (was:Re: There is no such thing as "renewable" energy.)

        I give a fuck, John Hughes. Folks with fuzzy thinking bamboozling TheGreatUnwashed are a large portion of why the world is as screwed up as it is. Using loaded terms incorrectly, just to scare the prols, is a sad reflection on the people using them.

        There is science, and there is religion. Religion sucks.

  12. Prof Null

    What? Have these people learned nothing?

    Never mind the military aspects of nuclear power, just consider the mess running nuclear reactors creates, then take a look at the energy cost of mining and refining uranium (or thorium) and then add to that the cost of getting rid of all the nasty radioactive waste. Renewable energy is the only way that we can keep our technology going (at a reduced rate of consuption) without turning even more of the world into Chernobyl - type areas.

    Where are the Geothermal power stations? At least solar stations are being built on a bigger scale nowalthough nobody has yet tried to store large amounts of power from one to cover the night hours - but Geothermal seems to me to be the only viable 24 hour power source that does not pollute (apart from the heat released, of course) - is it because the drilling technology required is owned by big oil, or is that just conspiracy rumour?

    1. D@v3
      Facepalm

      Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

      Yes, we have learned absolutely nothing. Nuclear power hasn't developed at all since the days of Chernobyl. There have been no improvements, what so ever. Every new plant we build will be guaranteed sooner or later to explode in a nice big mushroomy cloud.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

      Where are the Geothermal power stations? They're in the same place as all the geothermal activity of course - New Zealand and Iceland for starters.

      1. GrantB

        Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

        You are right about New Zealand of course, geothermal is now the second biggest source of power after hydro:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11372220

        Note - no subsidies, competitive market and yet re-newables have almost entirely replaced coal, and well on there way to replacing gas for baseline load generation, Right now, adding solar panels to houses is almost at a tipping point where it will become a no-brainer to install solar panels at least in new builds.

        With Iceland, they don't need to turn the geothermal energy into electricity so much, as they have a small population with limited baseline power needs vs much higher demand for district heating. So they tend to tap geothermal for heating rather than generating power to run electric heating.

        I have some experience in Geothermal, and can also say that makes a lot of sense outside of NZ and Iceland as well; pretty much all the ring of fire countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Japan and California etc., Even outside of those countries, some other areas such as Kenya, Ethiopia etc could benefit far more than big, expensive nuclear plants, when the current solutions are generally burning oil.

        Basically there is no single silver bullet for power demand; nuclear should be in the mix but not for all countries and not the only answer.

        1. FlyingPhil

          Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

          Geothermal is a great option for countries like New Zealand. One thing to remember is that while it is a renewable source (well, from the perspective of the specific field that the station is built over, it can be if the fluid is directed back underground after use, so as not to deplete the field), geothermal is NOT quite zero-emission. I don't think anyone has pointed the out in this thread yet.

          Significant carbon dioxide and small amounts of other greenhouse gases are released when the geothermal fluid is brought up from underground and used as a source of heat to generate power. However, geothermal typically releases only one quarter the CO2 per kWh of electricity generated that natural gas fired stations release, and just one tenth of oil- or coal-fired stations. So it really is very much more efficient.

          For a bit more information about this, and the sources of this information, see the brief blog entry I wrote about this very topic last week: http://segwaynz.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/renewables-now-79-of-nz-electricity-generation/

    3. Andydaws

      Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

      You need to learn how to do the numbers...

      For power generation, even with specialised turbines, you'll need a steam source at about 180-200C minimum. The typical rate of increase of temperature as you drill down is around 20C/km. That means you need bores of the order of 10km/33,000 feet - the record for vertical drilling is a small fraction of that (for example, the bottom of the Bowland Shale formation is about 8,000 feet down).

      Even were you able to economically drill that deep, you still need more complexity - the old Cambourne "Hot Rocks" project relied on drilling two bores a few metres apart and explosive fracturing the rocks between them (it's far too deep, and hence ground pressures too high for hydraulic fractuturing), pumping water down one bore and getting steam up the other. They found it wasn't viable - the fractures tend to close up, and even if they don't you fairly quickly deplete heat in the area between the bores.

      Even if you restrict yourself to volcanic areas, the potential's not that big. The Icelanders reckon their total generation potential is about 2,000 to 2,500 MW - about 2/3rds that of Hnkley C.

      1. GrantB

        Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

        >You need to learn how to do the numbers...

        Actually I just spent two minutes on Wikipedia to check your numbers, and you are quite wrong.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

        (for the records I used to work in the Geothermal industry, but just wanted to check my facts were up to date)

        >For power generation, even with specialised turbines, you'll need a steam source at about 180-200C >minimum.

        With binary / closed cycle plants, you can generate power from about 120C up (remember you can boil a number of fluids with relatively low grade heat sources; and with geothermal needing no fuel, and no emssions, you can afford to have low efficiency levels)

        >The typical rate of increase of temperature as you drill down is around 20C/km.

        References I have say 25 to 30C per KM. But there are many places around the world including in Europe which have localised spots such as hot springs with much greater heat at shallow depths.

        >That means you need bores of the order of 10km/33,000 feet

        No, not unless you are drilling somewhere dumb, and need to get 200C flows.

        > the record for vertical drilling is a small fraction of that (for example, the bottom of the Bowland >Shale formation is about 8,000 feet down).

        Wrong - the record is the Kola superdeep borehole which is 12 kilometres down. Typical deep wells are only about 3km (not what I would call a 'small fraction') but in the search of oil, companies are getting experience in drilling deeper. Not that you need to go more than 1 or 2 KM down if you select

        your drill site well.

        >Even were you able to economically drill that deep, you still need more complexity - the old >Cambourne "Hot Rocks" project relied on drilling two bores a few metres apart and explosive >fracturing the rocks between them (it's far too deep, and hence ground pressures too high for >hydraulic fractuturing), pumping water down one bore and getting steam up the other. They found it >wasn't viable - the fractures tend to close up, and even if they don't you fairly quickly deplete heat in >the area between the bores.

        Wrong again. Rosemanowes Quarry dates back to the 1970's and pretty much proved the process works, but the site was experimental not commercial (the data helped feed into a well bore simulator I worked on).It lead on to Soultz and other 'Hot Dry Rock' sites.

        >Even if you restrict yourself to volcanic areas, the potential's not that big. The Icelanders reckon >their total generation potential is about 2,000 to 2,500 MW - about 2/3rds that of Hnkley C.

        Pretty silly example as Iceland currently has a total generation capacity of under 3000.MW, and that is more than enough; average consumption per person is very high compared with the rest of Europe and most power goes to smelters. They could probably actually power the entire island with geothermal, so potential is pretty significant, but no need to when they have plentiful hydro resources. And nuclear would be silly in the Icelandic case.

        Not to derail that nukes make more sense in the UK case, but spend a few minutes to understand the real numbers and you see that geothermal has a part to play in many countries, along with hydro, wind, solar and nuclear.

    4. localzuk

      Re: What? Have these people learned nothing?

      Solar is not cost effective yet in many countries. In the UK, it is heavily subsidised (it has the highest strike price of all the renewable technologies). Introducing it en-mass in the UK would cause yet more rises to electricity bills, which would not be acceptable to many.

      No, we need nuclear in our mix. We could have 20% of our energy provided by geothermal, at most, according to the last surveys done, which is great, but we'd have to dig very deep to achieve that. However, for heating, we could very much use geothermal, only problem would be the cost and disruption of installing such a system.

  13. JJSmith1950

    This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

    The critics of "green" energy seem to be missing the point by a country mile. Yes, only nuclear energy can maintain our current form of industrial Capitalism, we ALL KNOW THIS. And, that's precisely why it's resisted. Our Neoliberal economic system is unsustainable, it chews through resources and the environment at a frightening rate, energy consumption is the break on this system. By making energy expensive we are starving this pernicious system, it enables us to move to another more sustainable economic and social model: a less rapacious form of market organisation.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

      Wow.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

      Why whenever I read the word "Neoliberal" in some text on the Internet do I imagine the writer frothing at the mouth and dribbling a bit?

      On the other hand, some bits of the current economic system are truly unstainable or just mythical: "perpetual growth" being the most stupid where all countries, industries, markets and everything else must be seen to be growing continually or are judged to be a failure.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      20 loony greens in a room with 19 bullets

      I was looking for the productivity ratio for modern chemical fuelled agriculture compared to dark age rotation of crops. The closest I could find are the number of man hours required to make a chicken for the last hundred years, and wheat yields in developing countries over fifty years.

      IIRC, agriculture backed by a modern technology is 20 times more efficient than peasant power. (The graphs I found are 5 or 6 to 1, but do not measure a switch to 'sustainable' agriculture.) If 20 loony greens can agree on which 19 of them are going to commit suicide then I am happy for the last man standing to inherit the resources of the others so he can lead a tech free life style. This is to include manky fruit during the winter (no refrigeration or intercontinental shipping), no modern medicine and a good risk of starving to death if the crops fail.

      1. fruitoftheloon

        @Flocke: Re: 20 loony greens in a room with 19 bullets

        Flocke,

        I'd vote for you!

        j

    4. itzman

      Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

      Actually it is sustainable.

      Materials - elements - dont vanish: they are infinitely recyclable. With energy.

      Energy is the critical path item. And energy is not recyclable. Entropy sees to that.

      The Green fallacy is that there is a 'balance' to Nature, and that man is not natural.

      The reality is that since the big bang, existence has changed over the aeons to reflect the entropy and in earth terms, the ecosphere has been characterised by the rise and fall of millions of species, the majority of which are now extinct. That is not 'balance'.

      The latest most successful species on the planet is homo sapiens. If he fails to harness nuclear energy, he will fade out. If he succeeds in harnessing nuclear energy, he may survive and propagate beyond this planet.

      Nothing is guaranteed of course. But if we fail to take up the challenge, and fall into a new dark age, there will be no fossil fuel to bootstrap us back into a technological civilisation again.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology. @itzman

        You nailed it.

        Man is the seed of the Earth, quite literally. It is the Earthly version of life's means of propagating itself throughout the Universe and having a chance at competing with what's out there and, hopefully, proving that the good Gaia did a credible job of evolving a viable form of self-organising matter.

        The Greens just don't get it. Through their ignorance they just can't see that life on Earth without man is an infertile fruit - not good for anything other than being eaten and it's not likely to get even that honour, what, in this backwater, on the outskirts of Milky Way...

        What the Greens want is the equivalent of killing the children so as to help the mother. Most mothers would not like to be helped like that. In fact, most would kill in order to avoid being assisted in such way.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

      You are, of course, completely right. It is all about ideology - that of the "greens" and that anything even remotely smelling of technology is BAD.

      Wind Power? Solar Power? What could be more natural than the sun and wind, mkay? And maybe that would work for a few technological elite able to generate enough power from solar/wind. But for everyone else it means starvation on a massive scale or entire civilisations condemned to living in mud-huts for the rest of eternity.

      Technology isn't neccessarily bad and the sooner the ideology of the greens accepts that the better.

    6. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology. @JJSmith1950

      Aaaaaand yet you're here posting on an electronic message board, using electricity?

      Guess the irony is lost on you.

      Or, is it your ideals don't apply where they inconvenience you?

    7. fruitoftheloon
      FAIL

      @JJSmith Re: This isn't about energy, it's about ideology.

      JJSMith,

      so I presume you bring your animals inside for the winter, spin/weave/knit your own clothes and have a [suitably large mammal] to pull your plough across your wheat field?

      Which animal do find you get the best yield prior to preserving the meat, as of course you wouldn't want to have a fridge I presume?

      Just wondered...

      J

  14. Matthew 17

    Long overdue

    Nuclear power stations were designed to create weapons grade components for arms, the electricity was simply a byproduct. If you build power stations specifically designed to be as efficient at producing electricity then they're no good if you want to blow people up. They're cheaper to run also.

    China is putting big money into developing Thorium based reactors, I think it's clear that we'll see a paradigm shift in our power generation in the not too distant future where the West adopts this technology in order to stay competitive with them.

    1. Andydaws

      Re: Long overdue

      But then again, China is putting much bigger money stll into other reactors technologies - what it's spending on even prototypes like its Pebble Bed HTR, or a pair of BN800 fast reactors from Russia are at least òorder of magnitude more than what they plan to spend on the molten salt demonstrator (which, by the way is only molten salt-cooled -it uses triso solid fuel).

      But then you get to the REAL money - 60 or so AP1000/CAP1400 reactors by 2020 - at about $3bn/reactor.

  15. Graham Marsden

    Exaggerating much?

    > "flooded areas for hydro-electricity, agricultural areas needed for biofuels and large spaces needed for wind and solar farms"

    Yes, on a local scale, flooding a valley for hydro may seem a big area, but on a country-wide basis it's really tiny. Biofuels are a nonsense, taking food and turning it into petrol equivalent is just stupid.

    As for the "large spaces" needed for wind, there's large amounts of *empty* space around every turbine, so that's hardly going to devastate the local environment and solar farms tend to be built in areas where there's damn all life anyway.

    PS FYI I have no ideological objections to nuclear, but that doesn't preclude other forms of generation too.

    PS "Analysis"? ITYM "Opinion"...

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Exaggerating much?

      Agreed. Wind power has its place, but shouldn't be seen as the solution to anything in its entirity, more a possibly useful component or supplement to power generation.

      As for how evil these things supposedly are, the sensible organisations have a rational, well thought out policy and approach to the matter. For example, here's the RSPB's take on wind farms: http://www.rspb.org.uk/forprofessionals/policy/windfarms/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Exaggerating much?

        Nick, I assume the RSPB no longer cares about birds or they haven't, or don't want to, seen the number of birds killed by the blades of wind farms. Those birds include some hawks that they released.

        Maybe they are just interested in the very large subsidies they receive for each turbine on the property they control/own.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Exaggerating much?

          @ Ivan 4 - I'm not sure you read the RSPB article...

          They clearly stated that there are gaps in their knowledge regarding placement, that there will always be some trade offs but that they are committed to ensuring that the adverse effects are minimal. They even state where there have been some complete failures of placement that have had a serious impact on the local bird population and while there have been a few bad cases in the UK, they are very minor compared to the ones that they cited.

          As to the effect of the RSPB's objections and whether or not they are overruled or ignored, that's a different matter.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Trollface

          Re: Exaggerating much?

          Dead Birds? Its just Evolution in Action

      2. itzman

        Re: Exaggerating much?

        make that a useless component or supplement

        If you have the nukes already why spend money on wind farms - to save uranium? Purlease!

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Exaggerating much?

      flooding a valley for hydro may seem a big area, but on a country-wide basis it's really tiny.

      Hardly. take a look at:

      http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

      where they've done the calculations. The figures are huge, such as the need for 2500 dams, with 19m m³ of concrete in each. Just for the US. It would take the total energy consumption of the US for three years just to pour that much concrete. 25,000 km² of lake area if this were a 7-day pumped-storage installation storing energy from other sources, in El Reg units that's 1¼ Wales. Perhaps small compared to the area of the USA, but not really tiny. Certainly not negligeable on the environmental scale.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Exaggerating much?

        "25,000 km² of lake area"

        And, of course, not forgetting the local weather pattern changes this brings.

      2. lucki bstard

        Re: Exaggerating much?

        'Certainly not negligeable on the environmental scale.' - Your forgetting the environmental assessment that would have to take place first. The project would not get green lighted due to the damage to the environment caused by the creation of the dams.

      3. Graham Marsden

        @Phil O'Sophical - Re: Exaggerating much?

        I started to read that piece, then I got to the bit where it mentions the 7-day pumped storage which you refer to and laughed derisively at another ridiculous exaggeration because it's predicated on "replac[ing] our heat engines with direct electricity and electrified transport" and "Americans insist[ing] on not changing any of their habits".

        The point is that such systems provide an *alternative* to current generation methods such that, when excess power is available from renewable sources, it can be stored and then used to supplement the current system, not replace it entirely as that article argues.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: @Phil O'Sophical - Exaggerating much?

          The article certainly goes off at tangents from time to time, but the figures are still valid when applied to different scenarios.

          For example, it quotes figures for 7-day pumped storage reserve under certain circumstances. Clearly if this were hydro being used as a primary source, and not as a buffer for temporary storage, things would be different. There would be no need for the lower reservoir, for example, so lake storage would reduce. On the other hand 7-day reserve would be insufficient. It would need a reserve able to last through a 'dry' season, and which could be refilled during the 'wet' season, which could mean months, not 7 days. This could mean a 10x increase in required reservoir capacity. Clearly the actual numbers would vary depending on whether this was in California or Cumbria, but nonetheless the numbers do show that "just use hydro" isn't an environmentally benign, or practically achieveable, approach on a worldwide scale.

  16. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Boffin

    Sigh

    A long time ago, I said that if there really was a problem with CC and CO2 specifically, then the greens would be clamouring for nuclear.

    Maybe that time has finally arrived?

    1. Wilseus
      1. Wilseus

        Re: Sigh

        I'm not sure why I've been down voted for sharing a link to an article stating that one of the founders of Greenpeace is now strongly pro-nuclear. It's simply a fact.

        1. Salts

          Re: Sigh

          @Wilseus,

          Don't worry, some people get a bit down vote happy have an up vote to compensate, you watch I will get loads of down votes for this :-)

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

            Re: Sigh

            Hell, you're not the only one.

            Revel in the joy knowing you made some sad individual froth at the mouth.

  17. John Thorn

    All electric?

    My house uses about 4000 KWh of electricity and 15000kWh of gas each year. If we no longer have gas - and even with heroic levels of insulation - the capacity of the electricity distribution system will need to double. This applies whether the source is nuclear, wind or solar. Is anyone planning for this?

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: All electric?

      ...and the car of course.

    2. Jabber 44
      Unhappy

      Re: All electric?

      If you added a heat pump - you'd only be looking at about one quarter of the # of gas KWH to add to your electricity load ...

      You'd still need to think about the car.

      But in my ideal world of near infinite nuclear electricity from Thorium (or whatever !)..

      I think making liquid fuels from electricity makes more sense - since the distribution network for liquid hydrocarbon fuels is extant.

      Sad Face - 'coz we've got brilliant ideas and debate on this forum - but I feel no one with power to effect change is listening.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        Re: All electric?

        Actually, you don't need to fret nearly so much about vehicle fuels. Whilst hydrogen is pretty useless as a vehicle fuel (poor energy density, hard to store etc) ammonia is much easier to store, and can be catalytically decomposed into hydrogen and nitrogen quite easily.

        Ammonia is relatively easy to store, doesn't need cryogenic temperatures, and is easily synthesised using the Haber Process. It contains no carbon, and if generated using nuclear power, is as near to carbon neutral as anything is likely to get. Finally, all this can be done with existing technology, no near-future magic required.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: All electric?

      How much of your electrical use is for cooling? I'll assume you're from the UK, so as you're in a cooling dominated but rather moderate climate, if you use a geothermal heat pump, heating and cooling power requirements are cut by 50-70%.

      Solar panels on the roof can take up whatever remaining slack there is in the grid. In a heating dominated climate where peak electrical loads will occur at night in winter (if everyone is on electric) you'd probably want some batteries to buffer that load. They could be in the home, or in the grid (maybe of the "pump water uphill" variety than actual batteries)

      You can also do like the US does for peak electrical loads (which occur in the summer here) and give discounted rates to those who are willing to have their AC shut off for an hour or two during peak load - give a discount for those who are willing to have their thermostat lowered to 60F during peak periods. Most people are sleeping then, so 60 is fine then since you can always add a couple blankets.

  18. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Centralisation?

    I'm willing to accept that current and future nuclear may possibly be made safe, and not produce waste that's dangerous for 10000 years, and come in at a less than insane multi-billion pound cost per reactor, and in that case nuclear may appear to help reduce CC effects.

    BUT there are other problems with nuclear - centralisation. Many renewable technologies, particularly PV, can generate power locally at the point of use, or have hundreds of individual generators (windfarms). One bit of kit breaks down, and there is a 1% reduction in output or one house loses power. One nuclear power station breaks down and the grid loses 5% of capacity, possibly for a long time. Not good during winter. Centralisation is really not a good idea - one computer throws a wobbly for half an hour and tens of thousands of people have their travel plans thrown into chaos.

    'Act locally' is a very good green principle.

    1. cray74 Silver badge

      Re: Centralisation?

      "One nuclear power station breaks down and the grid loses 5% of capacity, possibly for a long time."

      Or you end up burning a lot of gas to make up the short fall. See: Crystal River Nuclear Cluster Fuck in Florida. (There are some lead engineers on that project that need to be lynched by the local Professional Engineers society.)

      That said, there are alternatives to the Giant Central Nuclear Station: modular, smaller plants. As you said, the UK's modest electricity needs of ~55GW peak means that a few dozen giant, French-style ~1.5GWe reactors would meet the requirements. Each reactor idled for maintenance is about 3% of the nation's peak needs, and taking an entire 2- to 4-reactor power plant off the grid could be 10% out of commission.

      On the other hand, a number of companies (like industry veteran Babcock & Wilcox) are examining reactors with 10 to 330 MW of electrical output. This avoids severe centralization on a handful of big plants and big reactors. The disadvantage is, of course, price: you're duplicating a lot of facilities and personnel to maintain a larger number of reactors. Which leads to this issue...

      "'Act locally' is a very good green principle."

      ...if you don't mind the price. Lots of small, scattered renewable systems are less cost-efficient than even centralized, large renewable facilities. Utilities don't build large, central power plants because it stokes the ego of their profit-driven owners. They build big, central because they churn out the most money for the least cost. The moment it becomes cheaper for your local Power & Light firm to install a Mr. Fusion in your garage than to operate a big coal or wind facility, you're going to find yourself tied to multi-year service contracts and have a humming fusion reactor in your garage.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Centralisation?

      Meanwhile in the real world everyone knows the basic fact: local, small-scale electricity generation is incredibly inefficient*, moreso in the case of a "solidarity" low-voltage grid that many greenies dream about (low-voltage 'leccy transport is like carrying water in a handbasket). If you need big amounts of juice the only viable way is a big centralized generation center and high-tension (ie low loss) distribution grid.

      Now that's not necessarily true for other forms of energy; you can lower a house's need for 'leccy by locally installing a geothermal heat pump and water-heating rooftop panels for example, both of which are relatively cheap and non-polluting (compared with photovoltaic panels for example). Then you buy the 'leccy you still need from the vastly more efficient grid, but you buy a much smaller amount.

      *and the gear is hugely more expensive, proportionately to the output.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Centralisation?

        Small scale generation does not work due to the efficiency losses; (1) from converting Direct Current into Alternating Current (Inverter losses), (2) from line and transformer losses from transmitting the electricity back into the grid.

        DC is what is being directly produced by Solar. Wind could produce either DC or AC depending on the generator type. If you generate AC, the line losses are minimal, any step up transformer will have some losses.

        If you simply use what you create on site then there are no major issues, just don't think it can be tied together with the main grid easily, cheaply or efficiently.

      2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        Re: Centralisation?

        Nuclear reactors are heat engines. If you're using small, local reactor units, then the cold end of the heat engine need not be a cooling system, but instead can be district heating of some sort.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Centralisation?

      "'Act locally' is a very good green principle."

      On the other hand, economies of scale and reduction in duplication of effort and resources is also a good thing. And there's already a national gas and electric distibution system in place. Thanks to cross border interconnects, there pretty much a european (and further afield) electric grid

  19. itzman
    FAIL

    Greenpeace is the marketing arm

    Of big gas, wind and solar power manufacturers.

    Greenpeace has nothing to do with saving the planet, or its people.

    It is a money making organisation that sold out years ago to the highest bidder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Greenpeace is the marketing arm

      Really then wouldn't you call them "GreenThief"

  20. JLV Silver badge

    and that is the problem with global warming and ecology

    Way too much of the agenda is driven by ideology and emotional issues, as exemplified by Greenpeace.

    This gets us strange results such as a Germany that actually emits more CO2 after 100B Euro of renewable subsidies (in their sunny climate). It gets us scientific advisers who get fired, albeit for daring to question GMO hysteria. It gets us policy being set by people who I not trust to run a small company, let alone spend untold billions of our money. It gets us people who reject projects that do not fit 100% within their narrow worldview - an example being a high capacity transmission line being blocked in the SW USA because it could carry "fossil electricity".

    There are reasons to support a shift of energy policy, even for those who are skeptics. Oil will not last forever, even if the peak oil scaremongering is likely overblown in the short term and intended for the hippie faithful. And a fair bit of its reserves are in countries that, frankly, I would rather see getting considerably less of our money.

    Choosing to sit on the fence is not without risks, because idiots are currently in the driver's seat.

  21. Osgard Leach

    "advanced nuclear power systems with complete fuel recycling ..."

    Job done, take the issue of waste seriously and a lot of opposition will vanish, simple.

    New reactor planned in UK, their solution for the waste? Leave it onsite in ponds for 60 years and let the grandchildren deal with it. Not good enough.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: "advanced nuclear power systems with complete fuel recycling ..."

      not good enough

      it may not be; however, the only way to find a good way to recycle waste is to invest in research on the topic -which we're told is unacceptable as it "sponsors" nuclear power which is not good enough at recycling its waste products. See the problem there?

  22. John Savard Silver badge

    Solution Aversion

    Because going to the renewable options greens like would make energy supplies more expensive and limited, people are reluctant to acknowledge that global warming is real. While the greens don't like nuclear power, ordinary people to whom jobs and living standards are major concerns would be less likely to have a problem.

    I recently read an interesting article about how "solution aversion", making people less likely to accept a problem is real, is operating in the global warming debate. Nuclear power is the option that would make that largely go away.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. nuclear waste.

    "New reactor planned in UK, their solution for the waste? Leave it onsite in ponds for 60 years and let the grandchildren deal with it. Not good enough."

    One idea that might work is using a variant of FLiBE but modify it to burn long lived isotopes.

    The problem is that it is quite hard to get permission for new reactors thanks to all the NIMBYs and anti-nuclear tree huggers.

    Perhaps the simplest solution given what a mess a certain group made of the Nazca lines recently is to create a new front on the "War on Terror" and add them to the watchlist. Thus preventing the tree huggers from dragging us back to the 1700s.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about France ?

    It is already 75 percent Nuclearified for its leccy. And no one seems to mind it or object . Been that way for many years.

    Surely, they must have thought about the wastes too? They even have the expertise worldwide now and make a pretty penny by selling /building for the UK.

    No green movement there?

    Frogs (pun intended) live happily in the nuclear environment and provide good food (non-radiated) too. (That would satisfy the environmentalists too).

    Dilemma, What Dilemma?

    Oh, the British disease.

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: What about France ?

      "What about France ?

      "It is already 75 percent Nuclearified for its leccy. And no one seems to mind it or object . Been that way for many years."

      France has an admirable dedication to energy self-sufficiency as a matter of national security and nuclear is a huge part of that but to suggest that no one objects when they build nuclear plants is way off the mark.

      Apart from anything this is France and people object to almost everything almost all the time.

      Nuclear gets the same sort of objections as it does anywhere,it just has greater government support and so a) there are better incentives (/bribes if you are that way inclined) for areas that accept the plants and b) it will happen anyway whatever anyone says

      Sarkozy flat out refused to discuss the matter - the UK gives more of an ear to the NIMBYs and Green activists / nutters. Cameron did sign up for cooperation with France on nuclear power though so that may change.

    2. Toufman
      Paris Hilton

      Re: What about France ?

      The burial and/or export of the wastes to other countries is a regular feature in the debate over the sustained dependence of France on Nuclear Power for electricity... The question is raised often and the replies one gets from Areva are far from convincing. Nuclear Power might provide cheap electricity to the masses and might help the fight against global warming but the legacy of wastes to future generations is concerning. Of course recycling technologies have improved over time but when one talks of 300 years minimum for nuclear wastes, it begs the question: what are we leaving to our great great great grand kids to deal with ?

      Paris, cos it's in France.

  25. JJSmith1950

    The uncomfortable elephant...

    You guys are absolutely adorable.

    Of course "green" energy isn't supposed to replace fossil fuels or nuclear energy. The adoption of "green" energy generation will require the radical transformation of our system of production and consumption. This is the whole point of "green" energy, it's a tool to dismantle neoliberal Capitalism; it's not a life support system for an outdated ideology.

    A few years from now you will all be wearing sandals...

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Re: The uncomfortable elephant...

      A masterful mix of truth and sarcasm! I'm extremely jealous.

  26. Martin Budden
    Pint

    Never say never!

    That's the first Lewis Page climate change article I actually agree with. Have a virtual beer LP!

    1. Amorphous

      Re: Never say never!

      Not clear from article what LP distrusts more: renewables or climate change.

      One size fits all pronouncements are simply unhelpful. In the medium term outlook there will be a mix of energy technologies of all kinds, from renewables, to coal and nuclear.

      Rooftop solar is easily price competitive with grid power (in Oz at least, even without feed-in tarrifs) and getting more so as grid suffers death spiral (i.e. as less grid power is used, prices rise to cover fixed network costs, prompting more rooftop solar, repeat).

      Nuclear will suffer from the NIMBY effect and take decades if ever to get built. Needs to be beside a good deal of water for cooling, and in Oz that's were all the people live, or food is grown. So not likely to happen.

      Wind generates 27% of South Australian electricity (and growing). Some days it generates 100% of SA power. Takes up almost no space in a paddock so the farmer can earn some extra dough. Most bird deaths due to humans (apart from hunting) occur due to buildings (I've seen this happen many times). Wind turbines are well down the list of hazards.

      Coal prices will drop as the rest of the world leaves it behind. Australia will be burning coal for a long time to come.

  27. Faux Science Slayer

    "Nobody doubts Carbon climate forcing"....REALLY ? ? ?

    Carbon climate forcing is the worst 'science' since the world was flat....speaking of flat Earth....

    "Greenhouse Gas Ptolemaic Model" explains the REAL science @ Faux Science Slayer....

    as for nuclear, see "The Thorium Problem" on youtube by the Thorium Alliance.

    and see Wiki/world_nuclear_accidents

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: "Nobody doubts Carbon climate forcing"....REALLY ? ? ?

      Yeah, deleting this post was a smart move methink; although it did make for a nice read, it was almost completely unrelated to the (to me, completely abstruse) post it was supposed to answer to.

      I hope you fare well in you new pasture (no doubt more appleish).

  28. andy67

    Record Antarctic Ice Volumes

    The most important energy projects at the moment are carbon sequestration.

    Having all that spare CO2 underground will be really handy to release into the atmosphere when we start to enter an ice age in a few years time.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Sooo

    If it turns chilly this Winter in the UK we will have power cut, is that right? Who will be blamed, the current Gov as the past is past. What will they do? Doesn't matter it will be a temp solution and they will not solve the long term problem(s).

    See above for a mix of power generation options, I say we use 'em all in our mix, diversity is always good.

    Any change in society that the Greens suppose is necessary will be a disaster for the little people - but its one way to reduce overpopulation by the enforceing of a malthus solution - so not all bad eh!.

  30. Stretch

    The arguement against renewables here seems to be that they are not a 100% solution to the problem, and so we shouldn't bother. This is just idiotic. People who say "oh but you need gas anyway for when its not windy, so lets not bother at all" are just idiots. I mean how dumb do you have to be? Fuck it, lets just burn sliced dolphins soaked in rum if that's your arguement. Or Coal. Just as bad.

    Complaints about "using lots of space" are also idiotic. We have fuckloads of waste space. Most of Africa for example.

    Certainly we need fusion power, and asap. Fission is a dead end. Renewables will always have a place and micro-generation is the way to go. DIVERSE micro-generation (and no, don't give me silly arguements about how this will "damage" the grid, do me a favour, you believe the energy monopoly now?) is what's needed. Solar, Wind, Pumped Storage, and the Dog in a bloody Wheel. So what if just one of these can't solve everything? Since when did the world work like that? A HYBRID solution is always best.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      The argument is not that the renewables are an incomplete solution.

      The argument is that pursuing them is a fools errand - only making things worse by diverting resources, attention and political will from implementing a real solution, while on its own, having no chance of success.

      1. JJSmith1950

        "...no chance of success"?

        Er... if by "success" you mean delivering power to the grid, then renewables are already a "success". Most countries are aiming for a mix of power generation, renewables are a part of that mix. Investment has lead to rapid progress in technology; for example, IBM's new solar tech is now 80% efficient (a remarkable achievement).

        Investment in renewables hasn't starved other areas of research and development of funding; the fusion project remains fully funded and the new clean coal burning plants will give new lease of life to fossil fuels (without the environmental impact). Cost remains an issue, but can be reduced by economies of scale if widely adopted.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Micro generation? Having a larf are we?

      The problem is not that renewables are not a complete solution. The problem is nutters who spout nonsense such as "micro generation is the way to go". Hey, let's solve malnutrition in the world, quick, everyone start growing lentils on a piece of damp cotton, that'll take care of it!

      The problem is that people pushing "renewables" are fighting very hard to cut every other possible power source, despite the very obvious fact that, as you say, said renewables just can't cover more than ~10% of the energy need in densely populated areas such as western Europe (and I'm being generous). At a huge cost, at least for now. I'm not against experimentation with wind power and the like, but let's not get ahead of ourselves and discard the actual power sources, shall we? (to that regard the UK has acted as a warning for other european countries such as France that has slowed down the planned deployment of windfarms considerably after the overchannel results were published... and kept nuclear plants open that had been earmaket for shutdown after Fukushima. SOmeone has to provide that energy the UK is not self-producing anymore, heh?)

    3. h4rm0ny

      >>Certainly we need fusion power, and asap. Fission is a dead end.

      Want to support that? Not the part about fusion power, that would be lovely. No, the part about Fission being a dead end. The principles of Physics are unlikely to alter any time soon and there's enough fuel to keep us warm and toasty for centuries to come, so what makes it a "dead end" ?

  31. Yugguy

    Don't panic!

    We just need to ring the top of Scotland with wave power machines.

    It's only the Scottish and they're as whingy as anyway.

    Job done.

  32. sisk Silver badge
    Joke

    Here's an idea

    Let's find a way to harness all the hot air generated by people discussing climate change and green energy. That should be enough energy for the next cosmological era or two.

  33. Rocketscience

    Renewables are NOT a Blight, stupid thinking is.

    I am fully in favor of pursuing safe nuclear energy to divert our course away from fossil fuels but let us not argue nonsense with regard to implementing renewable energy sources. Yes, it will cost lots in money and materials and have an initial substantial negative impact on CO2 levels; implementing any technology to offset the fossil beast will, in the near term. Frankly, I consider the argument being put forward against renewables because of their upfront cost is bad science and bad economics! The cost of doing nothing is even greater with no future benefit whatsoever (unless you are the next species waiting in line to do dumb things to your world). We, above all should not forget that the cost of implementing a fossil fuel economy has put us at this juncture in the first place and that cost is not small, or this would be a moot discussion...

    What is most important is to implement technologies at a rate and in a manner where their impact can be OFFSET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and almost all renewable technologies are capable of this. In fact it is important to note that all of the various technologies, wind, solar, geothermal, bio-energy and even hydro are continuously evolving at a rate far greater then seen in the fossil fuel world. Arguments against efficacy and effectiveness of renewables should account for this trend, not ignore it. Oh, and the fact is that storage technologies are catching up fast too, making renewables even more effective.

    And the arguments put forward by many people (engineers and scientists who should know better, shame on them for being so blindsided) regarding the environmental impact of renewables is absurd. Those impacts are NOTHING compared to the impacts of oil, gas and coal on our world today. The simple fact is that all of these renewable technologies can be implemented on the existing footprint of current infrastructure in our cities and on our roads today. We do not need to use one square foot of new wilderness to develop the renewable resources to power tomorrow, we can easily make our current footprint do double (or treble) duty. As a bonus we get rid of some infrastructure that would no longer be needed to transport energy from far away to near at home. The real key is NOT to get locked into one technological solution, so we can evolve and improve continuously, rather than get locked into a singular paradigm, again.

    I am beginning to see humanity's major obstacle is between it's ears...

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Renewables are NOT a Blight, stupid thinking is.

      The simple fact is that all of these renewable technologies can be implemented on the existing footprint of current infrastructure in our cities and on our roads today.[citation needed]

  34. craigh
    Mushroom

    So we have limitless sun, very low value land in the Sahara but no one there to use it. So we need a store of energy that can be easily (relative term with energy) transported to where it has more value.

    Could we not build large solar farms generating hydrogen from sea water that is then transported to Europe and used to power large electricity generators, cars and maybe even homes? I would really appreciate an intelligent challenge to this.

    Issues:

    Cost of building and maintaining solar farm - I think this is mostly solved

    Getting sea water inland - canals, there is no real loss to evaporation

    Desalination - the solar plant should enable this or large solar evaporators

    Hydrogen transport - pipe back to the coast (built alongside/in canal) and load on to ships

    1. lucki bstard

      'I would really appreciate an intelligent challenge to this.' - Ok how about starting with an intelligent question?

      Limitless sun - Great in theory but it has to travel 8 light minutes to the earth and then it has to have the correct conditions to allow it to be collected.

      Objections:

      The regions that are best for this are not politically stable

      The increased hazardous waste in the creation of the solar panels, solar panels become more popular, then so will rare earth extraction, sea bed mining etc. How much of an environmental impact do you think is acceptable to build your solar panel? Impact is created even if it is predominately in the manufacturing process.

      Environmental impact, especially the creation of the local infrastructure. Just because it is not in your back yard doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

      How to get the power out? (see politically unstable area mention).

      I could start quoting figures and publications but I can easily find scientific opinions that express support for both factions. The science is not clear, the science is influenced by vested interests on every side. The position is based on ideology not science, if indeed it ever was based on science. Data is open to interpretation, and the human factor is always an issue. You really expect a 'scientist' to write a paper that disagrees with the sponsor of the paper and will prevent that scientist getting funding from that sponsor again?

      Would nuclear solve all issues, nope but it might give a breathing room to allow other technologies to mature; it will certainly assist.

  35. lucki bstard
    Joke

    Actually if you really want a scientific result in the need for more power, you could just shoot half the worlds population.

  36. Alistair Silver badge

    Big picture views

    There are massive influences on the debates involved. Some are vested (Oil companies, Companies involved in producing "green energy sources" etc) Some are indirectly vested (construction firms (putting up a wind tower generally involves cheaper overall labour costs) transport firms, utility corporations (where they are no longer government managed) etc)

    1) The climate *is* changing. That is not in dispute.

    2) Humans are producing huge amounts of CO2 and dumping it into the atmosphere. That is not in dispute

    3) Humans are massively altering the natural structures that keep our ecosystem functioning (cutting down trees, building dams, building cities on land that was greensward etc etc), building farms on land that was timberlot or otherwise wild, adding shipping lanes on what was previously untravelled open ocean. No dispute there.

    4) Humans are spreading out, increasing in numbers and consuming energy faster than ever before. Not in dispute.

    What **is** in dispute are the following factors:

    a) what relative change we as a species will experience in the next x to y years. (i.e. how MUCH higher are temps going to go, how MUCH higher will water levels go etc) The science has been horribly wrong in the past, likely due to missing input data, incorrect projections or just plain not using scientific method. There is no guarantee that any of the current models are more or less accurate or have more or fewer correct factors included in the calculations.

    b) which factors are the largest or most affective elements of the changes above. The models used keep changing and they all appear to point to all that CO2. Even scientists involved question wether or not we have all of the required factors in the models we have now. Perhaps the state of our primary source of energy is having a larger influence than we thought. Old Sol is definitely not in the same state it was in 40 years ago.

    c) which aspects of our energy use we need to change to make the greatest reduction in our CO2 output. The Next BIG target appears to be meat consumption. It appears that agriculture may be the biggest influence on overall energy consumption - but thats just one study ...(/<sarcasm> Oh --wait what??? food is part of our energy costs???? damn /<sarcasm>)

    d) just what form(s) of energy we can replace our current energy sources with to reduce the CO2 output.

    Personally - my take - and just my take.

    1) fossil fuels have to go - perhaps long range diesel (Trains not trucks) will stay -- but perhaps it can also be replaced, given enough infrastructure. Planes might do well running on current fuels, perhaps we can fiddle out some form of Hydrogen fuel that wont leak out of everything and wont blow up at the flick of a switch (literally).

    2) electricity transmission infrastructures have to be improved. NOW. if we're going to dump fossil fuels. Thats an enourmous increase in transmission volume even if we have a 40% increase in use of public transit, powered by electricity. If we all want to keep our personal transport - its an even larger volume. Heating -- same thing. Rural transmisson of electricity is a joke. We'll need to bring rural transmission forms up to current urban transmission volumes to go this route. Current urban transmission forms will have to be capable of carrying 3 to 5 times the volume they move now.

    3) Wind and Solar at this point in time have no hope of filling that gap in generation capacity. We need nuclear, and a damned good bit of it, and soon. Wind and Solar *might* provide a largish chunk in the future *if* the technologies improve sufficiently -- nuclear we understand, and it *can* substantially fill the gap, right now. Yes the build time seems too long. Solar tech has not demonstrated the improvement curve needed. Wind is very very old tech. The question in my mind is - can FUSION be developed sufficiently to replace all other methods of energy generation BEFORE wind and solar get to a level where they can replace more than 20% of our requirements?

    4) the only reason that these answers have not been laid down at our feet and provided as a single, straight coherent path is that the amount of money to be made in hyping the issue and radicalizing the public's perspective is so staggeringly large that, once again, greed rules.

    Long and short - you need to do your research, you need to read up on things, you need to discard the hype and fabrications that have been manufactured by vested interests in *any* direction and follow logic. You also need to take a *damned* good look at what you do that consumes energy and figure out if you are willing to give up that consumption and believe you me, when you really think about it, there are a staggering number of places where you waste energy, or at the very least can substantially reduce the amount you use simply by changing little things.

    OR

    You need to find a quiet space, a long way from the rest of the people, learn to grow your own food, meat, coffee, tea, silicon, trees, plastic, cars and pram toys. Then you can bury your head in the sand or follow the lemmings off the cliff if you want.

  37. scatter

    How many errors can you fit in one paragraph?

    "An illustration of this fact was given last week, when UK government figures (which the Department for Energy and Climate Change had endeavoured to keep secret) revealed that even the paltry amounts of renewable energy now generated and to be generated in Britain...."

    In 2014 renewables are going to have contributed somewhere in the region of 15% of UK electricity supply. How is this paltry?

    "...are having very severe effects on household and business utility bills, to the tune of 60, 70 or even 100+ per cent increases in the near future."

    As you well know, energy price increases <> energy bill increases because energy consumption is not static. Average household electricity demand is down about 15% since 2005 and average gas demand is down more than a quarter. I'd like to see electricity demand coming down faster but the government has not grabbed the energy efficiency nettle to a sufficient degree so we'll have to make do with 2% reductions per annum for now. Undoubtedly higher electricity prices will drive further reductions.

    "British renewables policies have already caused very severe price rises..."

    Costs of support for renewable energy amounts to 5% of energy bills and about 5% of the increase in bills since 2010.

    "...for very little carbon reduction."

    15% of electricity supply isn't far behind nuclear. So do you believe that nuclear is also giving us very little in the way of carbon reductions?

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: How many errors can you fit in one paragraph?

      >>"In 2014 renewables are going to have contributed somewhere in the region of 15% of UK electricity supply. How is this paltry?"

      Primarily because it's relative to the amount of the resource that has been put into it. Yes, it wouldn't be paltry if we were talking about people peddling bicycles to generate it. But for the amount of money and environmental impact that has been put into Wind power, you could be seeing many times that amount of electricity from other sources.

      >>"As you well know, energy price increases <> energy bill increases because energy consumption is not static. Average household electricity demand is down about 15% since 2005 and average gas demand is down more than a quarter."

      The article is stating that actual bills have risen. So if you're stating that usage is actually down then that makes the situation worse, not better. And what are the reasons for electricity usage being down? If it's better insulation or similar, then that's no credit to wind power, it's something that is independent of energy source. If it's down to rising energy costs however (which surely is a factor), well then that's not a good thing, it means people are being driven to use less by the increased costs of which renewables are a very large part.

      >>"Costs of support for renewable energy amounts to 5% of energy bills and about 5% of the increase in bills since 2010."

      Those are actually pretty big sums of money. You got angry at 15% being called "paltry" despite the huge cost of that 15%, but you want to dismiss 5% surcharge on energy bills. And in reality, the cost is much higher because investment and development of the renewables has taken the place of other more economic means of energy production. It has displaced better technologies.

      >>"15% of electricity supply isn't far behind nuclear. So do you believe that nuclear is also giving us very little in the way of carbon reductions?"

      They both do offer much reduced carbon. The difference is that Nuclear is viable by itself and you still get that reduction. Wind power relies on the reduced carbon argument to sell itself. As you have just admitted, carbon reduction is comparable between the two, so why go with the hideously inefficient and expensive one?

      1. scatter

        Re: How many errors can you fit in one paragraph?

        "But for the amount of money and environmental impact that has been put into Wind power, you could be seeing many times that amount of electricity from other sources."

        What environmental impact are you referring to exactly? Wind turbines pay back their energy investment very rapidly.

        "The article is stating that actual bills have risen. So if you're stating that usage is actually down then that makes the situation worse, not better. And what are the reasons for electricity usage being down? If it's better insulation or similar, then that's no credit to wind power, it's something that is independent of energy source. If it's down to rising energy costs however (which surely is a factor), well then that's not a good thing, it means people are being driven to use less by the increased costs of which renewables are a very large part."

        But they're not a large part! Their impact is quite small (see next comment).

        Reductions in demand are down to a combination of energy efficiency measures (mostly driven by legislation and energy efficiency programmes) and behaviour change (mostly driven by prices).

        Historically energy bills have risen overwhelmingly because of non-environmental reasons. But the thrust of the paragraph is actually looking forwards as Lewis states "even the paltry amounts of renewable energy now generated and to be generated in Britain are having very severe effects on household and business utility bills, to the tune of 60, 70 or even 100+ per cent increases in the near future". He's probably basing it on a recent REF-sourced Telegraph article "Green policies to add up to 40pc to cost of household electricity" but that's refering to prices not bills. If your prices go up (say) 40% and your consumption goes down (say) 20% then your bills go up by 12%. Of course as the source of that article was REF they assumed energy consumption would stay constant so that they could make the numbers look scary.

        "Those are actually pretty big sums of money. You got angry at 15% being called "paltry" despite the huge cost of that 15%, but you want to dismiss 5% surcharge on energy bills. And in reality, the cost is much higher because investment and development of the renewables has taken the place of other more economic means of energy production. It has displaced better technologies."

        I didn't get angry. I'm just calling out Lewis's usual flawed propaganda. And yes I consider the 5% of energy price rises attributable to renewables to be small beer up against the remaining 95% which is attributable to everything else. Don't you? Saying that "renewables policies have already caused very severe price rises" is completely unsupportable however desperate you are to spin it.

        My view is that energy prices are going up whatever route we take and that steadily increasing energy prices are ultimately a good thing. The low prices we've enjoyed historically thanks to the fossil fuel bonanza have been the anomaly and we've built this hugely inefficient society around those low prices. Now we're moving to a new state where energy prices will remain high for the forseeable. It undoubtedly presents challenges for the less affluent and for businesses, but the fact is that it also drives down energy demand across the board. We need to be much more aggressive in enabling those reductions in demand: product standards should be ratcheted up as a matter of urgency, far better support for the fuel poor should be deployed and businesses need to start investing in energy efficiency now because they are very late to the party. Even if we go down a high nuclear route, getting demand as low as possible is a really good idea because we'll need to build fewer powerplants.

  38. grumpy-old-person

    Nuclear ANYTHING is disastrous!

    Nuclear ANYTHING has such serious dangers that to even contemplate using the technology is insane!

    Even ignoring the dangers of operating any sort of nuclear facility leaves the problem of nuclear "waste".

    For those that believe that there is a safe, reasonable solution to the storage of nuclear waste I suggest you volunteer to have some of this stored in your garage - in the same sort of "safe" containers that are routinely used. Once you glow in the dark you can apologise for being wrong!

    But operation of nuclear facilities has been dogged by disaster and "coverup" since the first commercial reactor went in the US. This was considered to be ultra-safe as it was based on the technology used in nuclear-powered submarines. Sadly, the consequences of the release of gas from the site containing radioactive material was disastrous.

    The evidence is there for anyone to ignore while they make more money!

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Nuclear ANYTHING is disastrous!

      >>"For those that believe that there is a safe, reasonable solution to the storage of nuclear waste I suggest you volunteer to have some of this stored in your garage "

      Why is it some people think that unless someone is willing to bathe in nuclear waste they're not allowed to discuss how to dispose of it? I think gas is relatively safe as well but I'm not going to fill my house with it.

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