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Minnesota should join the nuclear renaissance and lift its ban on new plants

It was 52 years ago, in August of 1958, that the nuclear powered submarine USS Nautilus passed directly under the North Pole. Two days later, the Nautilus emerged, completing a four day 1,830-mile voyage under the Arctic ice cap.

The Nautilus relied solely on power from its nuclear reactor, which propelled the big sub at a steady 20 knots. The design of the Nautilus pressurized water nuclear reactor, supervised by Adm. Hyman Rickover and his team, was the prototype for most of our current fleet of 104 civilian nuclear power plants.

Whether at sea or on land, those nuclear reactors provide clean, safe power with the highest reliability and availability factor of any fuel source. U.S. nuclear plants generate 800 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, 20 percent of our electric needs.

With its consumer bills during 1Q 2010, Xcel Energy included an insert titled “Your Electricity,” which listed all of its power plant fuel sources by cost and reliability. Nuclear power led both lists as the lowest-cost and most-reliable power source for our largest utility.
   
High capacity
Minnesota’s nuclear reactors at Prairie Island and Monticello have a capacity factor (uptime percent) of 90 percent, stopping only every 20 months or so for refueling and maintenance. By contrast, all U.S. wind farms in 2009 produced 72 billion kWh, which is 1.75 percent of total U.S. electric power at a capacity factor of about 27 percent.

Like Minnesota, Canada’s Ontario Province had a warm July. On July 8, 2010, the City of Ottawa hit 95 degrees and the province was using 25,000 megawatts (MW) of electric power. Gas and coal plants furnished 10,200 MW; nuclear 9,200 MW; and hydro 3,600 MW. Ontario’s 1,100 MW of wind capacity managed just 107 MW on that day.

Wind tends to be lowest on those hot summer days when there isn’t a “breath of air,” and air conditioners run hard. For July as a whole, Ontario wind averaged output at 10-20 percent of name plate capacity.

It’s probably time for the Minnesota Legislature to join the world nuclear renaissance and lift our state’s ban on new nuclear power plants. Like the postman, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor other vagaries of weather stays those plants from the swift completion of their obligations.
 
Rolf Westgard is a professional member of the Geological Society of America and American Nuclear Society. He is a guest lecturer on energy subjects for the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education.

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Comments (43)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/10/2010 - 06:51 am.

    I certainly would also be in favor of greater nuclear investments for electrical generation. However, no matter how much *more* power we generate, there’s an additional issue: We still need to improve the grid for transmission, or we will continue to waste as much as 60% (according to one estimate I read) of electrical power in rotting infrastructure. We tend to focus a lot on the source, and sometimes forget the method of delivery.

  2. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 07:45 am.

    Mr. Westgard has an axe to grind. He has published another piece on this very topic in the Minnesota Daily where it has already been exposed to some scrutiny. Please see the Daily article and especially comments at:

    http://bit.ly/d4l83F

    Here again Mr. Westgard totally ignores the safety issues and smugly disregards the wind and solar options. The only ones favoring nukes are the present traditional power companies.

    He also sets himself up as some sort of expert on the subject, bragging about credentials that are less than impressive. He disses the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Long on concern and short on science” is the way he put it. Have a look at the Union’s web site and let me know who is more credible, the Union or Mr. Westgard.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/

    In his other article, cited above, he first claimed that wind and solar accounted for ~2% of power generation. Did not say where. Upon being pushed he finally admitted that in Minnesota the actual number is 8%. And it is growing.

    Look beneath the surface and consider his jingoistic Nautilus piece. Ah, Mr. Westgard haven’t there been some problems with nuclear submarines? Aren’t they floating bombs that have the potential to not only kill their sailors, but also contaminate the sea. But of course that is not important, is it? Just ask BP.

    “World renaissance?” Ha.

  3. Submitted by John Farrell on 09/10/2010 - 07:46 am.

    Weather might not stop a nuclear plant, but how about corroding steel plates, meltdowns, or massive cost overruns? Nuclear can only be built with massive liability coverage and loan guarantees by the government. Wind turbines and solar panels can be put up with some small cash incentives. Let’s stick with renewables.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 08:56 am.

    Since I am an expert, I quote accurate numbers, not the nonsense that Mr Gleason has misquoted. The 2% number is the total contribution of wind and solar to the US electric supply in 2009, the number that I always use. I have NEVER admitted that Minnesota gets 8% of its electric energy from wind, because it doesn’t. Wind is the fastest growing power source, and by next year it could contribute 8% in Minnesota which gets more power as a % from wind than any state.
    Texas had close to 9000MW of wind capacity in 2009, but low utilization meant that wind provided 706MW out Texas total of 72000MW last summer. That’s a 1% contribution from wind.

  5. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 08:59 am.

    I am also grateful to our nuclear submarine fleet which assures the mutual destruction that has prevented world war III. The men and women of our navy are safe in those submarines and nuclear surface ships in part because of the reliability and safety of those nuclear reactors.
    How would you like to travel 1900 miles under the Arctic ice cap with a wind farm as your sole power source?

  6. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 09:07 am.

    Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman wrote an editorial trashing nuclear power as a glowing “Pig in a Poke”. His article was full of inaccuracies including claiming Monticello was ready to close when it has recently been granted a 20 year operating extension.
    I wrote a response destroying Coleman’s nonsense which the Star Tribune declined to publish.
    The Minnesota Daily did publish it and you can find it on their website today with the heading “Coleman burns finger on the nuclear issue”.
    Nick Coleman is a respected columnist. But when a lay person starts writing on technical issues, it is easy to get those typewriter fingers burned from the kind of heat produced from those nuclear fuel pellets.

  7. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 09:24 am.

    According to the 2008 US Energy Administration Annual report:

    2008 energy percentage generated by wind power for Minesota is 7.94%. That’s 8% isn’t it Rolf?

    Rolf,

    You are in denial if you think that I don’t have any knowledge or data to present. Ignore my comments above at your own risk. People don’t like to be told: I know better than you, do it my way. You aren’t doing a very good job of selling nuclear unless you face the issues raised – safety among others. Ignore them at your peril. You actually hurt your cause by doing this.

    Bye.

  8. Submitted by myles spicer on 09/10/2010 - 09:26 am.

    Interestingly, this may be an area where liberals and conservitaives can find some agreement.

    When it comes to energy, the world is choosing between a menu of “bad” choices; thus the least bad choice is the one we should consider.

    Nuclear certainly trumps coal and oil. Possibly even natural gas — although it is a clean burner and plentiful.

    The other options that (from and environmental approach) are better than nuclear are clearly solar and wind — but both are years away, have limited capabilities, and have thier own downsides (wind turbines are especially invasive on the landscape).

    In the end, I see no reason why (taking the very long term view) we cannot add nuclear into our energy mix…continue to increase solar and wind, plus new technologies — and sequi into a slow but continuous reduction of fossil fuels.

    The important thing is to have a plan, and a committment — and start NOW to make that transition, if we are to live in a better and cleaner world. Unfortuantely, there are forces (primarily the oil and gas industry) who are lobbying hard to retard that progress; and only committed leaders who are willing to fight those fossilf fuel lobbyists can take us forward in this important issue.

  9. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 09:27 am.

    “I wrote a response destroying Coleman’s nonsense which the Star Tribune declined to publish.”

    Maybe there is a reason for that Rolf…

  10. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 09:30 am.

    I am also grateful to our nuclear submarine fleet which assures the mutual destruction that has prevented world war III. The men and women of our navy are safe in those submarines and nuclear surface ships in part because of the reliability and safety of those nuclear reactors.

    How would you like to travel 1900 miles under the Arctic ice cap with a wind farm as your sole power source?

    ________

    Totally irrelevant to the question at hand, Rolf. On its face. You are aware that you need neither nuclear nor wind to put a submarine under the North pole. And nuclear submarines as tactical weapons, nowadays, are a joke. Ever heard of ICBMs?

  11. Submitted by Tim Walker on 09/10/2010 - 09:36 am.

    Mr. Westgard:

    Nice introduction using the Nautilus story.

    Where is the radioactive waste from that 1958 trip now?

    Where is the radioactive waste from these 104 U.S. civilian nuclear plants?

    And where will they be safely stored for the next 10,000 years or so?

    Did Excel include the cost of 10,000 years of waste storage in the figure it gave to customers?

    (Let me answer this one: No, it did not. Because if it did, even an unreasonably conservative estimate of that cost (how does one accurately predict costs for 10,000 YEARS?), the cost of nuclear energy would be astronomically expensive.)

    Perhaps you could have used fewer words waxing eloquent on the Nautilus trip and more on the complete inability of the nuclear industry to safely store its highly toxic waste.

    No single government on Earth has existed continuously for even a thousand years. Two hundred years is average. How can one even begin to assume that there can ever be adequate, continuous, and stable control of tons of toxic waste for 10,000 years?

    Calling nuclear energy clean, as you do, is in vogue now because it produces little greenhouse gasses. But not producing greenhouse gasses is not equal to being clean.

    That’s like saying that a toilet is clean if it’s been scrubbed to remove stains on the side of the bowl. That’s a very narrow definition of clean, and it sure does look shiny … but would you drink the water from that bowl?

    There’s a huge elephant in the room that nuclear energy proponents NEVER acknowledge, and that’s the toxic radioactive waste that remains poisonous for 10,000 years.

    But of course, maybe you’re different from every other nuclear energy proponent I’ve ever encountered, and you’ve planned to address that issue in your next essay.

    Am I right?

  12. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/10/2010 - 09:50 am.

    I second Mr. Walker. The fly in the “nuclear energy will save the world” ointment, which is actually larger than the ointment jar and threatens to swallow that jar whole, is nuclear waste.

    I don’t want another nuclear plant built, or any existing plant expanded or even refueled until we have a secure site identified, built, and ready to accept the waste from existing plants, let alone any newly-constructed ones.

    How about burying the waste deep in Northern Minnesota’s iron range – perhaps an ore pit or some unused mines? If that thought just made you shudder, then YOU don’t want nuclear power to be expanded, either. The people who live near every other proposed waste disposal site feel the same way you do about their own backyards.

    NOBODY wants nuclear waste stored near where they live. Until we can find a PLACE to store the waste, let alone figure out how to store it safely, we can’t build new plants!

  13. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 09:53 am.

    Forget elephants and toilet scrubbing, Tim. The French recycle spent fuel pellets at La Hague. The 5% in the pellet that needs to be stored is vitrified in glass cylinders. That ‘waste’ from 58 reactors is stored in the floor of one large room at La Hague. The other 95% is entered into the new fuel process extending fuel supplies.
    Storage of spent fuel is a major, but manageable, challenge. Here we just store the whole rack; first for years in deep water pools, then in big steel and concrete casks at the plant sites. Those casks should go to Yucca Mountain, where revenue from nuclear fuel plants has provided $10 billion to construct that facility.
    The only thjng really “huge” about this whole issue is the amount of electric power we can get from the fission miracle of nature that is quantified in Einstein’s famous formula. That’s power that doesn’t produce sulfur, mercury, or CO2.

  14. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 11:40 am.

    Forget elephants, Tim. The French reprocess spent fuel capsules, recovering the 5% that needs to be stored, vitrifying it into glass cylinders. That ‘waste’ from 58 reactors is stored in the floor of one large room at La Hague. The other 95% is returned to the new fuel cycle.
    We store the whole rack in deep water pools at the reactor site. After a few years the spent fuel is sealed in large steel and concrete casks, also stored at the reactor site. They should go to Yucca Mountain, built with $10 billion from that one tenth of a cent fee on all nuclear power.

  15. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 11:42 am.

    Mr Gleason refers to my support for the US Navy to be jingoistic. That’s beginning to tell us something more about him.

  16. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/10/2010 - 12:27 pm.

    It’s hard to give credence to any opinion on this issue which does not at least mention disposal issues, regardless of the author’s opinion on that point.

    The fact that we’ve had 50 years of nuclear power and still have no plan or place for disposal does not inspire confidence in our ability to develop them if the moratorium is lifted. Those who would point to the relatively good storage record in that time should bear in mind that 50 years is a very small percentage of the time in which safe storage will be required, by even the most optimistic studies.

  17. Submitted by Tim Walker on 09/10/2010 - 12:37 pm.

    Mr. Westgard:

    Yabbut, we don’t do what the French do, because it creates plutonium that can be used in weaponry. Thus, our national security concerns rule out that process.

    You neglected to mention that fact.

    Yucca Mountain ain’t open yet, and is years overdue from opening due to legal battles and technical issues (such as the discovery that it’s not as suitable a site as previously thought).

    You neglected to mention that fact.

    Regardless of how much radioactive waste we can reprocess (and therefore reduce), a heck of a lot still has to be stored for 10,000 years. We put that in glass containers, as you point out, but no studies have been done to determine whether such glass containers can last 10,000 years.

    You neglected to mention that fact.

    Sure, $10 billion has been generated already to BUILD the Yucca Mountain facility. But not a single bit of waste is actually stored there yet, so the cost is sure to grow. But more important, that’s just the upfront costs, not the costs for a 10,000-year maintenance plan, which will dwarf that $10 billion figure.

    You neglected to mention that fact.

    Care to start telling the whole story?

  18. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 12:39 pm.

    “Mr Gleason refers to my support for the US Navy to be jingoistic. That’s beginning to tell us something more about him.”

    You know, Rolf, this is starting to be almost funny. What you’ve got here is simply not what I said and you know it. I’m a bad guy because I made fun of you for supporting the US Navy? No, I mad fun of you for blindly supporting nuclear power in a stupid fashion.

    This isn’t talk radio, my boy.

    Yucca Mountain?

    Sure, and why IS it that they “should” go there and don’t. You know darned well that it is because people don’t want nuclear waste dragged from your state to Yucca going though their state.

    And of course you have dismissed the guys point about the time length…

    Keep it up. This sort of denial of problems is not going to sell and it is easy enough to poke holes in so that the public can understand. You are still acting like some sort of arrogant expert because we simpletons can’t understand this complicated technical stuff.

    Bill Gleason (I don’t ordinarily do this but…)
    PhD, Chemistry

    Talk “nucular” to me Rolf?

  19. Submitted by Dan Endreson on 09/10/2010 - 12:52 pm.

    Many of Mr. Peterson’s claims are misleading. He starts by confusing the transportation sector with electricity generation. These are completely different sectors. Coal is not used to power cars and oil is not used to fuel power plants (to a significant degree). What the military uses to fuel its submarines and how Minnesota generates electricity are two completely different discussions. An “expert” like Mr. Peterson should know better.

    Many have commented on the safety of nuclear reactors, but there are more issues than just safety. Reactors can cost over $10 billion to build and can take decades to complete. Wind power is cheaper to generate compared to nuclear. A recent New York Times article revealed that solar is also cheaper than nuclear. In addition these reactors cannot run forever. At some point these facilities will need to be decommissioned, which increases the long-term costs.

    Nuclear reactors also require access to large amounts of water. As a whole, the three reactors here in Minnesota (one at Monticello and two at Prairie Island) are permitted to withdraw almost 390 billion gallons of surface and groundwater annually. This is more than the water allotted to Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth for drinking, combined.

    Lastly, there still no long-term solution to the storage of nuclear waste. Waste is currently stored on-site in casks which cannot store waste indefinitely. Plans to store waste at Yucca Mountain has ended and the Department of Energy (DOE) will now need to find a new site. In 1985, when the DOE initially performed a search for storage sites, eight sites in Minnesota were found to be adequate secondary storage sites. Now that Yucca Mountain is off the table, does this mean Minnesota could be a dumping ground for waste?

    And don’t be fooled about the talk regarding reprocessing. According to a 2008 report from the DOE, once you account for the chemicals, materials and facilities needed to reprocess spent fuel, you end up with 6-times more waste.

    Nuclear reactors have too many negatives to be a part of Minnesota’s future energy mix.

  20. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 01:19 pm.

    Dan, I assume you meant Westgard above? I want to use this and don’t want to misquote you.

    Thanks, Bill

  21. Submitted by Dan Endreson on 09/10/2010 - 01:24 pm.

    Bill, that is correct. Apologies for the typo.

  22. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 01:55 pm.

    That bit about 6 times more waste is not from DOE but from the IEER, and it’s nonsense. Again all the waste from 58 French reactors is stored in the floor of one room. The IEER claims that North Carolina can get 70% of its electric power by clearing mountain ridges and erecting wind mills. They have as much chance of reaching 70% as I have of winning the Power Ball.
    The rest of Endreson’s post is misquotes and errors. Sputh Korea and Russia are both marketing 1300MWe reactors for $5 billion – the UAE bought 4 of them. Over 60 years minimum life those reactors produce 600 billion kwh of predictable power. thats less than a penny per kwh for the plant.
    In 1Q 2010 Xcel Energy included an insert with all of its bills stating that nuclear was its LOWEST cost and most reliable of all of its fuel sources.
    Once again if you would ask questions instead of spouting ignorance, you would learn something.
    Rolf

  23. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 02:04 pm.

    Since neither of you knows the difference between a proton and a baseball, or what pu240 does to plutonium’s grade, try asking questions to learn something.
    Rolf

  24. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 02:12 pm.

    Your chance to really learn something:

    2189 Global Warming: Real or Myth? We will study the chemistry of green-house gases and their energy sources and review data sources, climate science and the atmosphere, long-term climate trends, plus climate legislation and conferences.
    We may tour the Allen King coal plant in Bayport, Minn. Limit: 50
    Instructor: Rolf Westgard, professional member Geological Society of America and American Nuclear Society.
    $5 materials fee due with registration
    Tuesdays 10–11:30 a.m. St. Paul Jewish Community Center, 1375 St. Paul Ave, St.
    Paul

    For information: http://www.cce.umn.edu/olli 612-624-7847  

  25. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 02:39 pm.

    “Your chance to really learn something?”

    LOL

    #22 -> spam

    Has NOTHING to do with topic under discussion which is nuclear power.

    (I will note that in addition to misinformation about nuclear power, Googling will reveal that Mr. Westgard is an espouser of “clean” coal. I am aware that is an oxymoron)

  26. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 04:34 pm.

    Clean coal is a myth which I frequently write about. Carbon capture simply is not feasible. That’s why we need nuclear energy.

  27. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 05:45 pm.

    We cover nuclear on October 12. You will learn all about mass deficit and why terrorists can’t use the plutonium separated in the recycle process.
    Rolf

  28. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/10/2010 - 06:00 pm.

    Special for Mr Gleason from the latest DOE/EIA report:

    “Minnesota has numerous wind farms, particularly in the southwest, and is a major producer of wind power. Wind contributes nearly 5 percent of Minnesota’s electricity production. The State generates electricity from other renewable sources, as well, including hydroelectric dams, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, and wood waste, which together contribute minimally to the State’s total electricity production.”

    Goodnight all.

  29. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 08:38 pm.

    Rolf and coal have a checkered past.

    Please see: http://www.camp-site.info/uploads/cu10-17-07.pdf

    What’s this all about Rolf?

  30. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/10/2010 - 09:09 pm.

    Fairly straight forward economics. Ugly politics.

    All of the blogger’s complaints come from not being able to put a price on carbon. This is what happens when we confuse government with a doting aunt.

  31. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/10/2010 - 09:58 pm.

    Mr Westgard already got this message at his other site, so I am surprised he’d tout the 5% number at this late moment. So, I’ll just repeat what I said on the other site.

    ___

    Wow Mr. Energy expert, what took you so long? I asked you for sources and numbers a long time ago and you blew me off, even after I made a good faith reference to data from 2008 that you never challenged at 8%.

    You are way more than a day late and a dollar short, Mr. Westgard.

    Remember you started out the discussion at – what was it 2%? And you continue to ignore safety and other legitimate issues that I and others have raised.

    And this is all you can come up with at this late hour in the day – pitiful, just pitiful.

    And your mewling above: “Take the class. You will feel less like abusing a fellow poster.”

    It will be a cold day in hell, with no wind farm, when I would take a class from an intellectually dishonest person like you, Rolf.

    You are sticky like tar.

    Good night.

  32. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/11/2010 - 07:47 am.

    Some times, even a doting aunt needs to rap knuckles.

    It would be so simple if it were just a matter of putting a price on carbon.

    Unfortunately what goes on in the real world is a little more complicated.

    BP, Bhopal, Three Mile Island…

    But thanks for your comments, Mr. Schulze, they are always worth reading.

  33. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/11/2010 - 08:53 am.

    Just so this will sink in:

    REAL DOE: Coal-fired power plants typically account for roughly three-fifths of Minnesota’s electricity generation. Minnesota receives most of its coal supply by rail from Montana and Wyoming. Two nuclear plants near the Twin Cities typically account for nearly one-fourth of the State’s electricity production. Recent legislation permits the Prairie Island Plant to store additional nuclear waste onsite, extending the plant’s operation through 2014. After receiving approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license renewal in 2006, the smaller Monticello nuclear plant is now licensed through September 2030.

    Minnesota has numerous wind farms, particularly in the southwest, and is a major producer of wind power. Wind contributes nearly 5 percent of Minnesota’s electricity production. The State generates electricity from other renewable sources, as well, including hydroelectric dams, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, and wood waste, which together contribute minimally to the State’s total electricity production.

  34. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/11/2010 - 09:06 am.

    FROM MR GLEASON;
    And your mewling above: “Take the class. You will feel less like abusing a fellow poster.”
    It will be a cold day in hell, with no wind farm, when I would take a class from an intellectually dishonest person like you, Rolf.
    You are sticky like tar.<<<< You can see why he needs the lesson about abusing fellow posters. Although I like these insults better than the earlier ones. Rolf Westgard

  35. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/12/2010 - 09:26 am.

    Although I rarely use Russia’s Putin as a reference, his latest comment is of interest – and a reason Russia is one of several countries rapidly building new nuclear plants.

    RUSSIA”S PUTIN SHOOTS THE BREEZE
    The Russian prime minister has said that nuclear energy is the only alternative to traditional energy sources.  As energy demand increases, energy consumption patterns will only undergo minor changes, he said.  “You couldn’t transfer large electric power stations to wind energy, however much you wanted to.  In the next few decades, it will be impossible.”  Nuclear energy is the only “real and powerful alternative” he asserted, calling other approaches to meeting future electricity demand simply “claptrap.”
    Russia relies on gas for half of its electricity and has a policy of replacing gas-fired generating plant with nuclear as fast as possible so as to be able to export more gas to Europe.  Its latest projection is to increase nuclear capacity from 24 to 43 GWe by 2020, and is on track for that.
    WNN 7/9/10.

  36. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/12/2010 - 02:13 pm.

    Mother-goosing the Nuclear

    It wa a dark, dark night,
    not one bright star in sight…
    fog and clouds tried to cover the Moon.

    But one overtly, indulgent committee
    had unadvisedly dumped
    with one horrible thump
    all nuclear waste on the Moon.

    “Out of sight, out of mind”
    was the exploited conclusion;
    foolish dreamer’s illusion…
    without even consulting Moon.

    “High Diddle Diddle” sang
    Cat with his Fiddle;
    his music sounding more like a dirge

    …and Cow left the scene
    when Moon glowed obscene
    and wise Fork appalled by the Moon’s
    ugly glow ran far, far away with the Spoon.

  37. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/12/2010 - 03:43 pm.

    Wow, Rolf.

    Vlad, the impaler, I’m impressed.

    “It will be impossible.”

    My God, Rolf, I’m completely overwhelmed by your (and Putin’s) arguments.

    Let’s just go take down all those wind farms in the US.

    Everyone knows that Putin (and Rolf) are the nuclear energy experts…

    Get a life, Rolf!

  38. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/12/2010 - 09:55 pm.

    I’ll use these same numbers again for you, Bill.
    2%(that’s two) is the total contribution of wind and solar combined to the U.S. electric grid today.
    5-6% is the total contribution of wind to Minnesota’s electric supply, which is the highest percent from wind of any state.
    Texas with the largest total wind capacity of any state gets 1%(that’s one) of its grid supply from wind. In 2009 its more than 8000MW actually produced 706MW on average. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is forecasting 1.2% from wind in 2015 for Texas.

    Our largest wind project is those 130 Siemens turbines planned for the sea off Cape Cod. It’s in trouble because only one utility is willing to buy the high cost erratic power that Cape Wind is expected to provide. My guess is that many of those turbines won’t ever get planted on the sea bottom. For that, New England rate payers can breath sighs of relief.

  39. Submitted by Dan Endreson on 09/13/2010 - 09:42 am.

    “Once again if you would ask questions instead of spouting ignorance, you would learn something.”

    Wow, that’s an insulting thing to say Mr. Westgard considering you know nothing about my experience or background. You may have a leg up on me on geology and physics, but don’t insult me by acting like you know everything. Building NEW nuclear plants involves public policy and not just scientists sitting around trying to discover the most efficient way to split an atom.

    As for waste, it’s more than just the high level waste which which concerns me. What about all the associated low and medium level waste (clothing, machinery, etc) associated with uranium mining, fuel fabrication, electricity generation and waste disposal? And now you want to add in reprocessing to the mix? This technology has a persistent radioactive waste stream from cradle to grave.

    And for every plant success you want to quote me from South Korea and Russia, I can counter with colossal failures such as Olkiluoto in Finland (3 years behind schedule, billions of dollars in overruns) and Superphenix (a decade of malfunctions and large expenditures).

    Lastly costs. Of course Xcel Energy will claim nuclear was its lowest cost source. The only cost to Xcel is fuel and maintenance costs. My concerns about cost are NEW plants. Approximately $10 billion per plant. And who pays for those costs? Taxpayers in terms of federal loan guarantees and ratepayers from increased rates. Or you can be like the citizens in Florida who were asked to pay increased rates for a plant that wasn’t even built.

    Unlike other states, Minnesota is fortunate to have an abundance of solar and wind resources. Our mix of renewables may be small now, but if we give them over 50 years to develop (like nuclear) and use all the money we would spend on NEW construction of nuclear reactors for R&D, I think you’ll find renewables and efficiency measures will suit our needs.

  40. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/13/2010 - 09:48 am.

    P.S. Bill. Check out my picture by clicking on “Rolf And Roxanne” in the upper left corner of the Minnpost main page. The bright sun prevents you from seeing that I glow in the dark.
    Rolf

  41. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/13/2010 - 11:05 am.

    Good points again, Dan.

    It should be obvious to anyone that Mr. Westgard is not really interested in safety, or anything else for that matter, when it comes to nuclear power.

    Insult away, Mr. Westgard. You do not know all the answers. And your arguments don’t make sense to the average person who ultimately will have to decide on these matters.

    You quote Putin? Get a life.

    You rant on an on with non sequiturs like: “New England rate payers can breathe a sigh of relief…”

    As Mr. Endresen points out, correctly, the only reason nuclear power is “cheap” is because someone was willing to absorb the cost of $10 bil/plant.

    Give it a rest, Rolf. You are only doing your cause damage by continuing to rant on. I don’t need to see your picture in order to know that you glow in the dark.

    By the way, if you read, have a look at the article in the latest New Yorker about “nuclear widows…”

    Now I have a lot of work to do this week – lecturing in a real class about real science. So I am going to have to finish this little discussion. It’s (not) been fun.

  42. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/15/2010 - 03:33 am.

    South Korea, France, and Russia are selling turn key 1300MWe new nuclear plants for $5 billion. The UAE just bought four of them from south Korea. Over a 60 year minimum life they produce 600 billion kwh. That’s less than a penny per kwh for the plant cost.
    South Korea and China are building them internally for about $3.5 billion.

  43. Submitted by rolf westgard on 09/17/2010 - 09:29 am.

    >>>>So I am going to have to finish this little discussion. It’s (not) been fun.<<<< It's not fun to have phoney data torn to shreds like the ones also offered by Nick Coleman in the Star Trib.

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