A European Revelation on Climate Change

YouSayPotato

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A European Revelation on Climate​

The EU admits nuclear and natural gas are part of the energy solution.​

By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

im-461003

Cooling towers release water vapor beyond high tension electricity lines at the Nogent nuclear power plant in Nogent-sur-Seine, France, Dec. 21, 2021.​

Could this winter’s energy crisis be shocking Europe into climate realism? Believe it or not, the European Union is set to include nuclear and natural gas on the list of industries eligible for “green” investments. Someone please pass the smelling salts to the Sierra Club.

At issue is the so-called taxonomy for classifying environmentally sustainable investments. This new list is intended to create a uniform definition of activities that qualify as green for corporate disclosures, climate-oriented investing, and carbon-related government spending. The Brussels green list represents the largest regulatory effort to date to pin down what “sustainable” means in relation to finance.

Wonder of wonders, nuclear and natural gas make the cut. The draft taxonomy released late on New Year’s Eve deems investment in nuclear power sustainable as long as the investment is made before 2045 and a plan is in place to dispose of the waste. The draft also includes natural-gas power plants built by 2030, subject to emissions limits and as long as they replace heavier-emitting plants.

The usual suspects are furious for the usual reasons. Berlin lobbied hard against including nuclear energy on the permitted list. That’s the same Germany where households and businesses pay some of Europe’s highest power prices while the government shuts down the country’s remaining nuclear plants, pursues expensive renewable boondoggles, and burns more coal. Some greens bristle at including any fossil fuel on the list.

The critics are partly right that politics is at play. France, which relies heavily on nuclear energy and where the nuclear industry is an important employer, lobbied Brussels to include that power source. Other European countries lobbied Brussels so they could continue investing in natural-gas power.

This is that rarest of cases in climate policy where the politics aligns with energy reality. If environmentalists mean what they say about the urgency of cutting CO2 emissions, nuclear is the only widely available power source that’s zero-emitting and more reliable than wind or solar. In a world far from ready to wean itself off fossil fuels, natural gas stands out as much lower emitting than others. The growth in natural gas to account for about one-third of United States electricity generation in 2019 helps explain the roughly 14% decline in gross CO2 emissions since the mid-2000s.

In a smarter world, the market would have been allowed to figure this out. The new EU taxonomy still represents a destructive form of winner-picking industrial policy and has flaws. A big one is the arbitrary time limit on investments in nuclear and gas plants.

But at least Europe is correcting some of the errors of its last generation of green industrial policy. Ending the regulatory bias against natural gas in particular will balance the scales after subsidies and mandates for renewables made natural gas uneconomical and steered investment toward cheaper but dirtier coal.
All of this has implications for the U.S., where the Biden Administration is still fantasizing that solar and wind power can soon replace all fossil fuels. If Europe can admit the truth, how about the White House?
 

BoilerJS

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A European Revelation on Climate​

The EU admits nuclear and natural gas are part of the energy solution.​

By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

im-461003

Cooling towers release water vapor beyond high tension electricity lines at the Nogent nuclear power plant in Nogent-sur-Seine, France, Dec. 21, 2021.​

Could this winter’s energy crisis be shocking Europe into climate realism? Believe it or not, the European Union is set to include nuclear and natural gas on the list of industries eligible for “green” investments. Someone please pass the smelling salts to the Sierra Club.

At issue is the so-called taxonomy for classifying environmentally sustainable investments. This new list is intended to create a uniform definition of activities that qualify as green for corporate disclosures, climate-oriented investing, and carbon-related government spending. The Brussels green list represents the largest regulatory effort to date to pin down what “sustainable” means in relation to finance.

Wonder of wonders, nuclear and natural gas make the cut. The draft taxonomy released late on New Year’s Eve deems investment in nuclear power sustainable as long as the investment is made before 2045 and a plan is in place to dispose of the waste. The draft also includes natural-gas power plants built by 2030, subject to emissions limits and as long as they replace heavier-emitting plants.

The usual suspects are furious for the usual reasons. Berlin lobbied hard against including nuclear energy on the permitted list. That’s the same Germany where households and businesses pay some of Europe’s highest power prices while the government shuts down the country’s remaining nuclear plants, pursues expensive renewable boondoggles, and burns more coal. Some greens bristle at including any fossil fuel on the list.

The critics are partly right that politics is at play. France, which relies heavily on nuclear energy and where the nuclear industry is an important employer, lobbied Brussels to include that power source. Other European countries lobbied Brussels so they could continue investing in natural-gas power.

This is that rarest of cases in climate policy where the politics aligns with energy reality. If environmentalists mean what they say about the urgency of cutting CO2 emissions, nuclear is the only widely available power source that’s zero-emitting and more reliable than wind or solar. In a world far from ready to wean itself off fossil fuels, natural gas stands out as much lower emitting than others. The growth in natural gas to account for about one-third of United States electricity generation in 2019 helps explain the roughly 14% decline in gross CO2 emissions since the mid-2000s.

In a smarter world, the market would have been allowed to figure this out. The new EU taxonomy still represents a destructive form of winner-picking industrial policy and has flaws. A big one is the arbitrary time limit on investments in nuclear and gas plants.

But at least Europe is correcting some of the errors of its last generation of green industrial policy. Ending the regulatory bias against natural gas in particular will balance the scales after subsidies and mandates for renewables made natural gas uneconomical and steered investment toward cheaper but dirtier coal.
All of this has implications for the U.S., where the Biden Administration is still fantasizing that solar and wind power can soon replace all fossil fuels. If Europe can admit the truth, how about the White House?
Great public relations timing. Biden says yes to EU-Russian NG pipeline. Now NG is a form of green energy.
I bet if France and Germany had massive supplies of coal, coal would be a source of green energy.
 

YouSayPotato

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I am 50. We will burn more oil in the year that I die than we did this year. Does not matter what year I die in.
Gasoline-fueled cars have become the bogeymen of climate change folklore. They are highly visible on a daily basis but the average automobile is not running 94% of the time. The atmospheric CO2 is overwhelmingly coming from coal-fired power plants. The obvious solution is nuclear energy, not windmills and solar panels.
 

Mandeville LA

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Gasoline-fueled cars have become the bogeymen of climate change folklore. They are highly visible on a daily basis but the average automobile is not running 94% of the time. The atmospheric CO2 is overwhelmingly coming from coal-fired power plants. The obvious solution is nuclear energy, not windmills and solar panels.
So I have some background here. I work in the energy sector. I agree coal is very expensive to burn it cleanly. Nuclear should always on the table in any meaningful conversation. Forget wind and solar. Long story here, but if we can agree they are just not viable options at this point I am fine with that. When you look at Alt fuels it takes 4-10 x the volume of these fuels when compared to diesel fuel. Methanol comes the closest at 2 to 1. Methanol is carbon neutral, but it’s not free to make. We have the technology to burn oil based fuels very cleanly. I am talking minuscule amounts of green house gases out the stack compared to just 15 years ago.
 

Mandeville LA

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Gasoline-fueled cars have become the bogeymen of climate change folklore. They are highly visible on a daily basis but the average automobile is not running 94% of the time. The atmospheric CO2 is overwhelmingly coming from coal-fired power plants. The obvious solution is nuclear energy, not windmills and solar panels.
I did not touch on gas. It’s fine and we have loads of it. Very clean. The power conversion is big issue is big. I just don’t think people understand the amount of power you can get out of a gallon of fuel oil compared to the alternatives. How are you going to fly planes, build roads extra.
 
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YouSayPotato

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So I have some background here.
I too have some background here. Purdue has developed genetically modified yeasts that can now degrade cellulose into all five of its basic sugars. It isn't cheap but it can break down the rubble now left to decay in the field - corn cobs, stalks, roots, leaves, whatever - into cellulosic ethanol.

Brazil now has an entire society using flex-fuel. True, it is sugarcane based but if we switch to flex-fuel made from corn waste, wheat waste, lawn trimmings, etc, the cost of that production is entirely within our country.
 
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Mandeville LA

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I too have some background here. Purdue has developed genetically modified yeasts that can now degrade cellulose into all five of its basic sugars. It isn't cheap but it can break down the rubble now left to decay in the field - corn cobs, stalks, roots, leaves, whatever - into cellulosic ethanol.

Brazil now has an entire society using flex-fuel. True, it is sugarcane based but if we switch to flex-fuel made from corn waste, wheat waste, lawn trimmings, etc, the cost of that production is entirely within our country.
I get what you are saying and I am all for it, but it still comes down to heating value of the chosen fuel and its economic impact on the current standard.
 

YouSayPotato

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I get what you are saying and I am all for it, but it still comes down to heating value of the chosen fuel and its economic impact on the current standard.
Among climate change activists, it comes down to sustainability and carbon neutrality. Cellulosic ethanol provides both.
 

BoilerJS

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I did not touch on gas. It’s fine and we have loads of it. Very clean. The power conversion is big issue is big. I just don’t think people understand the amount of power you can get out of a gallon of fuel oil compared to the alternatives. How are you going to fly planes, build roads extra.
Here is something to think about.
I owned a 1987 Ford Ranger 4x4 with the 2.3 NA engine and a 5 speed manual transmission. I got 32 mpg.
Today the Ford Ranger 4x4 with a sophisticated fuel injected turbo engine gets 20 mpg.
BUT the emission test, sitting in an enclosed test booth, measuring exhaust pollution shows a 15% decrease in emissions per gallon of fuel burned.
Do the math. On a 500 mile trip which vehicle puts out less pollution?
Also figure the increase in transportation costs and production costs of the increase in fuel usage.
Taking lead out of fuel in the late 70's was a huge deal for pollution control.
Since than IMO things have gotten ridiculous.
 
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guidelinesa2

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I did not touch on gas. It’s fine and we have loads of it. Very clean. The power conversion is big issue is big. I just don’t think people understand the amount of power you can get out of a gallon of fuel oil compared to the alternatives. How are you going to fly planes, build roads extra.

They will get theirs no matter what, environmentalism is about control, who gets prosperity and who doesn't
 
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Boiler Buck

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I too have some background here. Purdue has developed genetically modified yeasts that can now degrade cellulose into all five of its basic sugars. It isn't cheap but it can break down the rubble now left to decay in the field - corn cobs, stalks, roots, leaves, whatever - into cellulosic ethanol.

Brazil now has an entire society using flex-fuel. True, it is sugarcane based but if we switch to flex-fuel made from corn waste, wheat waste, lawn trimmings, etc, the cost of that production is entirely within our country.

If it was crop waste - fine.

(Heck why stop there?....burn garbage to make energy, and increase scruber greatly technology to clean amy smoke.)

However, they are burning the actual corn though...that could be used for food, livestock feed etc. In doing so they use alot of NG. Kinda defeats the purpose.
 

bonefish1

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Climate change is definitely real and I believe in it, but, the climate is always changing. It's not humans fault.

There's a million things that could be happening in the atmosphere that could cause the miniscule increase in temps over some random period of time.
This was happening before we were here and will happen long after we're gone.
So, drive your gas guzzling SUV, fire up that lawn mower, take the kids on the boat and raise a toast to combustion engines.
 
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SKYDOG

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Here is something to think about.
I owned a 1987 Ford Ranger 4x4 with the 2.3 NA engine and a 5 speed manual transmission. I got 32 mpg.
Today the Ford Ranger 4x4 with a sophisticated fuel injected turbo engine gets 20 mpg.
BUT the emission test, sitting in an enclosed test booth, measuring exhaust pollution shows a 15% decrease in emissions per gallon of fuel burned.
Do the math. On a 500 mile trip which vehicle puts out less pollution?
Also figure the increase in transportation costs and production costs of the increase in fuel usage.
Taking lead out of fuel in the late 70's was a huge deal for pollution control.
Since than IMO things have gotten ridiculous.
I had a 6 cylinder Pontiac with a 4 speed automatic transmission and now have a Buick with a 6 speed automatic with a turbo. The Pontiac got better mileage on the road than the Buick. Both about the same in city driving. So much for all this technology and gear shifting. Now we have 8 and 9 speed automatic transmissions with starting and stopping engines. How much worse mileage does that equate to? Lol
 

YouSayPotato

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If it was crop waste - fine.

(Heck why stop there?....burn garbage to make energy, and increase scruber greatly technology to clean amy smoke.)

However, they are burning the actual corn though...that could be used for food, livestock feed etc. In doing so they use alot of NG. Kinda defeats the purpose.
I guess you don't understand the proposal. We should continue using the corn kernels for livestock feed. Cellulosic ethanol can be made from corn waste, lawn trimmings, sawgrass, autumn leaves, weeds, kudzu, virtually any plant material.
 
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Boiler Buck

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I guess you don't understand the proposal. We should continue using the corn kernels for livestock feed. Cellulosic ethanol can be made from corn waste, lawn trimmings, sawgrass, autumn leaves, weeds, kudzu, virtually any plant material.
I do understand and I am for burning waste. All for it with improved tech.

I was just telling you what is being done now, or has been done at functioning ethanol plants, including one within 30 miles from my house.
 

purduepat1969

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So I have some background here. I work in the energy sector. I agree coal is very expensive to burn it cleanly. Nuclear should always on the table in any meaningful conversation. Forget wind and solar. Long story here, but if we can agree they are just not viable options at this point I am fine with that. When you look at Alt fuels it takes 4-10 x the volume of these fuels when compared to diesel fuel. Methanol comes the closest at 2 to 1. Methanol is carbon neutral, but it’s not free to make. We have the technology to burn oil based fuels very cleanly. I am talking minuscule amounts of green house gases out the stack compared to just 15 years ago.
Nuclear is the most feasible choice for the near future. Wind and solar aren't going to provide the means.

The funny part is that Germany is shutting down nuclear facilities, claiming they're not safe, and running a natural gas pipeline from Russia, which will eventually cause a war. But hey, I don't see the mainstream media screaming about that. Because, you know, Germany is so well led...
 

Crayfish57

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Here is something to think about.
I owned a 1987 Ford Ranger 4x4 with the 2.3 NA engine and a 5 speed manual transmission. I got 32 mpg.
Today the Ford Ranger 4x4 with a sophisticated fuel injected turbo engine gets 20 mpg.
BUT the emission test, sitting in an enclosed test booth, measuring exhaust pollution shows a 15% decrease in emissions per gallon of fuel burned.
Do the math. On a 500 mile trip which vehicle puts out less pollution?
Also figure the increase in transportation costs and production costs of the increase in fuel usage.
Taking lead out of fuel in the late 70's was a huge deal for pollution control.
Since than IMO things have gotten ridiculous.
I have an 03 VW diesel 5 speed, still getting 45-50 mpg. I had a 99 before that and got 56 on pure interstate drive once with no aftermarket tune. It would take more carbon to generate electricity, add in the battery waste than just burning diesel directly . There are people that run VW diesels and others on waste cooking oil etc. This was before too much ''technology'' got involved. First diesel engines ran on peanut oil.
 

SqueakyClean

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My father was a nuclear engineer for 40 years and worked in several different plants over the years, so while I know more than the average Joe, I will bow to his knowledge on the subject.

According to him, one of the big "problems" with nuclear right now is security. Ever since 9/11, security costs at nuclear plants have gone through the roof. As in, to the point where it is almost cost prohibitive for the profit margin of a plant. Nuclear power plants are MASSIVE up-front costs for construction and the rate of return for the investment is decades later. The additional costs for increased security have pushed those returns even further down the road enough that nobody wants to build new plants (and our existing ones are getting critically old).

And it's stupid. Because, frankly, nuclear plants are somewhat similar to airplanes: Extremely safe and controlled (in this country) and have a much better safety record than the public's perception of them. On the rare occasion where they do fail though, it is usually in a fairly catastrophic manner with a massive loss of life.

Nuclear is REALLY safe though. They are designed to the point where it is extremely difficult to make a nuclear power plant suffer a catastrophic failure. If you were a terrorist and wanted to try and make a nuclear plant melt down, you would have to have EXTREMELY specific knowledge of how to do it. It's not like you can go into the control room and press a button that says "commence meltdown". It would take a large team to do it that would know specific pipes / valves to sabotage, back-up systems to disable, and someone who knows exactly what they are doing in the control room preventing the system from going into automatic shutdown.

It's possible, but highly improbably. Yet we still have to have a SWAT team on standby at the facility at all times.
 

TopSecretBoiler

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If it was crop waste - fine.

(Heck why stop there?....burn garbage to make energy, and increase scruber greatly technology to clean amy smoke.)

However, they are burning the actual corn though...that could be used for food, livestock feed etc. In doing so they use alot of NG. Kinda defeats the purpose.
What? How does it defeat the purpose? It's renewable. Unlike all the crap we mine out of the ground to make batteries and gasoline. This line about requiring energy to make ethanol is oil company FUD. Gas and batteries also require tons of energy to be manufactured. The war against ethanol is nothing but oil company garbage. I have converted several LS engines to run it. It's fine. New injectors and a little hp tuners work and she's off. On the newer ECUs I can even run blends of gas and ethanol. This idea that everything will run off X energy source is a pipe dream. Not everything will be electric or solar or nuclear. Not for a loooooong time if ever. Ethanol is a fantastic alternative fuel, particularly for vehicles because it requires very little change to the supply chain to be viable and we don't have to buy it from muslim terrorists.
 

Mandeville LA

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What? How does it defeat the purpose? It's renewable. Unlike all the crap we mine out of the ground to make batteries and gasoline. This line about requiring energy to make ethanol is oil company FUD. Gas and batteries also require tons of energy to be manufactured. The war against ethanol is nothing but oil company garbage. I have converted several LS engines to run it. It's fine. New injectors and a little hp tuners work and she's off. On the newer ECUs I can even run blends of gas and ethanol. This idea that everything will run off X energy source is a pipe dream. Not everything will be electric or solar or nuclear. Not for a loooooong time if ever. Ethanol is a fantastic alternative fuel, particularly for vehicles because it requires very little change to the supply chain to be viable and we don't have to buy it from muslim terrorists.
I agree. Ethanol/methanol is the fuel of tomorrow at least for the short-medium term.
 

Crayfish57

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What? How does it defeat the purpose? It's renewable. Unlike all the crap we mine out of the ground to make batteries and gasoline. This line about requiring energy to make ethanol is oil company FUD. Gas and batteries also require tons of energy to be manufactured. The war against ethanol is nothing but oil company garbage. I have converted several LS engines to run it. It's fine. New injectors and a little hp tuners work and she's off. On the newer ECUs I can even run blends of gas and ethanol. This idea that everything will run off X energy source is a pipe dream. Not everything will be electric or solar or nuclear. Not for a loooooong time if ever. Ethanol is a fantastic alternative fuel, particularly for vehicles because it requires very little change to the supply chain to be viable and we don't have to buy it from muslim terrorists.
We have land that can grow crops just sitting and the quality of grain is likely less important in some places that arent ideal vs grain for feed and cereal. And again diesel will burn almost anything
 

YouSayPotato

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According to him, one of the big "problems" with nuclear right now is security. Ever since 9/11, security costs at nuclear plants have gone through the roof.
Actually two issues here.

(1) As you said, plant security is a major concern.

(2) Every nuclear plant disaster that we have experienced on planet earth - Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, whatever, has had the same root cause. For one reason or another there was a lack of cooling water.

The solution to both concerns is floating power plants. There cannot be a lack of cooling water because the nuclear reactor is in the water. And for security, our Nuclear Navy has been operating floating nuclear reactors for 75 years without a single reactor accident or security incident. And they really don't have to float. Obviously, they can be submerged.

Floating Nuclear Power Plants
 
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Mandeville LA

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At some point the generations of the future can take care of themselves. Why do I care about 2-300 years in the future?
understood. The only reason I care at all is because my income is provided by a company that sells power. For another 8 years anyway. The next auto I buy for myself will be a diesel.
 
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Boiler Buck

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What? How does it defeat the purpose? It's renewable. Unlike all the crap we mine out of the ground to make batteries and gasoline. This line about requiring energy to make ethanol is oil company FUD. Gas and batteries also require tons of energy to be manufactured. The war against ethanol is nothing but oil company garbage. I have converted several LS engines to run it. It's fine. New injectors and a little hp tuners work and she's off. On the newer ECUs I can even run blends of gas and ethanol. This idea that everything will run off X energy source is a pipe dream. Not everything will be electric or solar or nuclear. Not for a loooooong time if ever. Ethanol is a fantastic alternative fuel, particularly for vehicles because it requires very little change to the supply chain to be viable and we don't have to buy it from muslim terrorists.

Because they are burning one energy, natural gas, when they burn expensive corn, to make another energy.....ethanol
 

Crayfish57

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understood. The only reason I care at all is because my income is provided by a company that sells power. For another 8 years anyway. The next auto I buy for myself will be a diesel.
Problem is all the regs which dont factor in how many more gallons it takes to do the same thing. Diesel is so much more efficent. Why aren't pick up trucks for light duty and fuel efficency being made vs Diesel PU's to pull like a semi truck? Aside from cold and gelling which today here is a slight issue, a diesel engine is so efficient. Even in cold once started they just run and so much simplier before all the EPA BS
 

Crayfish57

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I had a 6 cylinder Pontiac with a 4 speed automatic transmission and now have a Buick with a 6 speed automatic with a turbo. The Pontiac got better mileage on the road than the Buick. Both about the same in city driving. So much for all this technology and gear shifting. Now we have 8 and 9 speed automatic transmissions with starting and stopping engines. How much worse mileage does that equate to? Lol
They arent designed to run for long miles
 

Mandeville LA

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Problem is all the regs which dont factor in how many more gallons it takes to do the same thing. Diesel is so much more efficent. Why aren't pick up trucks for light duty and fuel efficency being made vs Diesel PU's to pull like a semi truck? Aside from cold and gelling which today here is a slight issue, a diesel engine is so efficient. Even in cold once started they just run and so much simplier before all the EPA BS
in today's world there is not much money in sticking to the tried and true. Don't get me started on the EPA. I have lived through hell for the last 20 years dealing with these morons. I will say this, the regulations did push us to improve the diesel engine and how it operates. I would call it refinement.
 

TopSecretBoiler

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Because they are burning one energy, natural gas, when they burn expensive corn, to make another energy.....ethanol
But that's a nonsense argument. Oil doesn't come out of the ground ready to be pumped into your car. Batteries require huge energy investments before they are useful. Processing corn could be done by solar or other means. There's no free lunch.
 

SqueakyClean

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Actually two issues here.

(1) As you said, plant security is a major concern.

(2) Every nuclear plant disaster that we have experienced on planet earth - Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, whatever, has had the same root cause. For one reason or another there was a lack of cooling water.

The solution to both concerns is floating power plants. There cannot be a lack of cooling water because the nuclear reactor is in the water. And for security, our Nuclear Navy has been operating floating nuclear reactors for 75 years without a single reactor accident or security incident. And they really don't have to float. Obviously, they can be submerged.

Floating Nuclear Power Plants
It's an interesting idea. I'd have to look more deeply into it (more than just the wikipedia page supplied) to get a better informed opinion about it, but I can definitely see some advantages.

Couple of nit-picking items:

1) Chernobyl was not due to lack of cooling water. It was a concept / design flaw that happened when they tried to run a test of the system. A power spike began so they commenced an emergency shutdown of the system (scram), which unfortunately resulted in a spike of power output (the design flaw) and a resulting explosion of the vessel top from radioactive steam. A secondary explosion from there sent radioactive graphite and nuclear fuel out the top of the facility. The power spike / resulting explosion happened so fast that no amount of cooling water would have prevented the meltdown. Now, these floating NPP's would not have that design flaw (....I would hope.....), but again, just being nitpicky.

2) As a clarification to the "cannot be a lack of cooling water", that is kinda true. You can't use direct sea water for cooling water. It has to be desalinized first. So there are conditions that can happen that still result in the reactor not getting cooling water (ie. some breakdown in the process of pumping the water from the sea, through the desalinization process, and then into the reactor). Fukushima had a back-up system that could run for 24 hours (rixie system, IIRC) and pump in water, and that is why it didn't melt down until the following day after the tsunami. Once that system failed, they decided to use direct sea water to cool the reactor (which was the "nail in the coffin" of ever possibly salvaging the reactor to be used again. Since then, they have been pumping in the sea water to cool it and then storing it afterward in tanks for it to be either (eventually) scrubbed, or just letting it naturally decay down through several half-lives over 40 years. Now, it is correct that if something goes wrong, you can just scuttle the ship and let the sea water naturally cool it, but it will still take decades to become "safe" in that area. Lots of potential for that stuff to leak out into the ocean.

3) Something to bear in mind is that there is a significant difference in power output between a ship mounted unit and a land based one. Probably about 10x more at minimum.

4) As noted in the wikipedia article linked, there are some safety concerns. The sea based units would be much more susceptible to natural disasters (hurricanes / tsunamis). Part of the reason that nuclear plants are so expensive up front is how fortified those designs are. I know that most nuclear plants in America are designed to withstand about an 8.0 earthquake (depending on location). They are also designed to have a 747 crash into them. The foundation of concrete used literally takes two years to pour (or at least it did back in the '60s when we were making them).

I'm not saying it's not feasible to use them. It just means alot of thought needs to go into it before deciding to go that way for local power generation.
 

YouSayPotato

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It's an interesting idea. I'd have to look more deeply into it (more than just the wikipedia page supplied) to get a better informed opinion about it, but I can definitely see some advantages.

Couple of nit-picking items:

1) Chernobyl was not due to lack of cooling water. It was a concept / design flaw that happened when they tried to run a test of the system. A power spike began so they commenced an emergency shutdown of the system (scram), which unfortunately resulted in a spike of power output (the design flaw) and a resulting explosion of the vessel top from radioactive steam. A secondary explosion from there sent radioactive graphite and nuclear fuel out the top of the facility. The power spike / resulting explosion happened so fast that no amount of cooling water would have prevented the meltdown. Now, these floating NPP's would not have that design flaw (....I would hope.....), but again, just being nitpicky.

2) As a clarification to the "cannot be a lack of cooling water", that is kinda true. You can't use direct sea water for cooling water. It has to be desalinized first. So there are conditions that can happen that still result in the reactor not getting cooling water (ie. some breakdown in the process of pumping the water from the sea, through the desalinization process, and then into the reactor). Fukushima had a back-up system that could run for 24 hours (rixie system, IIRC) and pump in water, and that is why it didn't melt down until the following day after the tsunami. Once that system failed, they decided to use direct sea water to cool the reactor (which was the "nail in the coffin" of ever possibly salvaging the reactor to be used again. Since then, they have been pumping in the sea water to cool it and then storing it afterward in tanks for it to be either (eventually) scrubbed, or just letting it naturally decay down through several half-lives over 40 years. Now, it is correct that if something goes wrong, you can just scuttle the ship and let the sea water naturally cool it, but it will still take decades to become "safe" in that area. Lots of potential for that stuff to leak out into the ocean.

3) Something to bear in mind is that there is a significant difference in power output between a ship mounted unit and a land based one. Probably about 10x more at minimum.

4) As noted in the wikipedia article linked, there are some safety concerns. The sea based units would be much more susceptible to natural disasters (hurricanes / tsunamis). Part of the reason that nuclear plants are so expensive up front is how fortified those designs are. I know that most nuclear plants in America are designed to withstand about an 8.0 earthquake (depending on location). They are also designed to have a 747 crash into them. The foundation of concrete used literally takes two years to pour (or at least it did back in the '60s when we were making them).

I'm not saying it's not feasible to use them. It just means alot of thought needs to go into it before deciding to go that way for local power generation.
Nit-picking your nit-picking:

(1) The steam explosion at Chernobyl was a 'loss of cooling water'. Yeah, that's kinda lame but there is more than a germ of truth to it.

(2) True that you can't use sea water as regular cooling water during normal operations but in an emergency you could continuously flood the reactor with seawater to prevent a "China Syndrome".

(3) There is indeed a significant difference in power output between a ship mounted unit and a land based one. However, an aircraft carrier has lots of other thing to do other than operate a nuclear reactor. If you had a carrier-sized ship with nothing on board but nuclear reactor(s) to generate power, you could certainly have power production equivalant to a land-based reactor.

(4) I'll disagree here. The sea based units would NOT be more susceptible to natural disasters (hurricanes / tsunamis). With today's satellite forecasting, any incoming hurricane could be detected days in advance and the floating nuke could simply sail out of its path. And while tsunamis are disasterous on the shore, at sea they are nothing more than a gentle rise in the ocean. If the floating nuclear plant is just half a mile out, a tsunami is a nothingburger.
 
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Boiler Buck

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But that's a nonsense argument. Oil doesn't come out of the ground ready to be pumped into your car. Batteries require huge energy investments before they are useful. Processing corn could be done by solar or other means. There's no free lunch.
Some ethanol corn plants have shut down in the last 2 years ....so the math must be not there in some instances..
 
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YouSayPotato

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Some ethanol corn plants have shut down in the last 2 years ....so the math must be not there in some instances..
On a cost basis, ethanol cannot compete with oil pumped out of the ground. You need to compare ethanol with pie-in-the-sky electric vehicles powered by windmills and solar panels and compute their carbon output with the coal needed to power them.
 

WMichBoiler

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So I have some background here. I work in the energy sector. I agree coal is very expensive to burn it cleanly. Nuclear should always on the table in any meaningful conversation. Forget wind and solar. Long story here, but if we can agree they are just not viable options at this point I am fine with that. When you look at Alt fuels it takes 4-10 x the volume of these fuels when compared to diesel fuel. Methanol comes the closest at 2 to 1. Methanol is carbon neutral, but it’s not free to make. We have the technology to burn oil based fuels very cleanly. I am talking minuscule amounts of green house gases out the stack compared to just 15 years ago.
But windmills are so romantic tic.
 

Boiler Buck

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Sure for now. But what happens when there's no oil left?

Haven't you heard we are all driving electric vehicles. 😎

(Never mind the fact that our current grid can't handle the demands of the addition of a 1/8th of population driving them, let alone everyone)🤔🤔🤔
 
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