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merci jerome. i've been trying to follow all the twists and turns of french politics from a renewable energy perspective.

Paul Gipe
by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 10:37:12 AM EST
I'll probably do a specific article on energy policy at some point.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:08:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, basically the green party is in favor of at a minimum doubling the CO2 emissions of france. Great. head->desk
by Thomas on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:22:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should I not troll-rate this comment?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 05:55:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i can't figure it out either. Perhaps we should, perhaps not. Messianism is not my favored mode of communication.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:56:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Find me an example of nuclear power plants being shut down and actually replaced by equivalently low carbon power, as opposed to coal and gas. One example will do. Then troll rate all you like.
If their stance had been to build green capacity first, and then shut plants down as they become unnessesary, my attitude would be less hostile, but a policy that simply has a timeline for turning them off is certainly going to be extremely, nightmarishly, bad for the enviorment, and calling themselves green while espousing it is an abuse of language.
by Thomas on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:50:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's going to be really difficult, since I can't actually find an example where nuclear has declined in absolute terms. Except maybe Japan, but I don't have numbers for that, and in any event it remains to be seen how the aftermath of Fukushima shakes out.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your examples of a planned net reduction of nuclear output replaced by coal and gas?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:55:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Germany's Renewable Output Beats Nuclear, Hard Coal in Power Mix

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Germany produced more energy from renewable sources than from nuclear, hard-coal or gas-fired plants this year after boosting investments in projects from wind to biomass.

Renewables accounted for a fifth of the generation mix in 2011, up from 16.4 percent last year, the BDEW utility association said today in a website statement. Only lignite- fired output, with 24.6 percent, had a greater share this year.

Atomic power sank to 17.4 percent from 22.4 percent after Chancellor Angela Merkel shuttered the country's eight oldest reactors in March in the wake of the Fukushima crisis in Japan. She plans a complete exit from the nuclear industry by 2022.

I tend to agree with you that Germany should have focused on eliminating coal before nuclear, but at least most of the change is happening through the increase in the share of renewables rather than fossil-fuel plants. and that's before the large scale investment in offshore wind shows up in the numbers.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The numbers of AG Energiebilanzen e.V. are also interesting. In their preliminary report on primary energy use in 2011, they say hard coal use fell 0.7%, which masks a 2% drop of coal consuption of power plants and a 4% rise of use in the steel industry. 'Brown coal' (in German terminology, low-grade bituminous or high-grade sub-bituminous coal) however rose 4%, and this is mostly power plant related. Gas use fell 10%, but most of that is explained with lower use for heating due to mild weather. As for renewables, an overall 4.1% growth masks a 9% drop for hydro and 8% drop for biofuels on one hand and 22% rise for wind, 67% rise for PV and 21% rise for biogas on the other hand. Net export fell to 5 TWh, but still positive. As for oil, use fell by 3%, to the lowest level since 1990 according to the report, but considering the mild weather, maybe the percentage drop is less spectacular. Overall CO2 emissions fell 3%. Cleaned of the weather effect, they say energy use would have dropped 1% and CO2 emissions would have risen 1%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:22:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the original BDEW press report in German. 2011 numbers (with percentage point changes), with feed-in-law-supported renewables – overall 19.9% (+3.5) – broken up individually:

  • 'brown coal' 24.6% (+1.4)
  • hard coal 18.7% (+0.1)
  • nuclear 17.7% (-4.7)
  • gas 13.6% (-0.2)
  • wind 7.6% (+1.6)
  • biomass 5.2% (+0.8)
  • pumped storage, home waste & other outside the feed-in-law 4.2% (-0.1)
  • PV 3.2% (+1.3)
  • hydro 3.1% (-0.2)
  • waste-burning 0.8% (no change)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:36:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is far too charitable reading of german energy policy. From a strict point of view any phaseout of nuclear in a not 100% low carbon grid is bad, because phasing out coal instead is always an option. However, even taking a less hardline viewpoint, every bit of renewable energy added to the german grid lately was in the pipeline before the nuclear shutdown was decided on, so you cannot credit it against the loss of capacity. Merkel put the shutdown schedule into law with no replacement clean capacity added not already in the works, so it is in fact a perfect example of nuclear phaseout helping to fry the planet - every megawatthour lost from reactors is replaced by less electricity exports (consequences depends on what the former importer replaces that power with) or dirty power.  

Italy: Direct substition of dirty power upon the abandonment of their nuclear programme.

Barsebeck: Replaced by fossile fuels in the short run, swedes cleaned up the shortfall via.. uprating the remaining reactors.

by Thomas on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:47:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough - but then we'll need to revisit the topic in 2-3 years, when all the new offshore wind farms which have been financed thanks to the KfW programme, announced after (and as part of) the phaseout, get built.

Data from this year are also skewed by the unusually warm weather, so consumption was down anyway, and there was no need for actual replacement of all the nuke capacity. Question, of course, is whether the "unusual" is so unusual...

But again, you will get no disagreement from me that coal should be phased out before nukes - but since it's harder to phase out nukes (full base load), if that can be done we'll know it's easy to do the same to coal...

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
Direct substition of dirty power

how, after fukushima et al, you can still cling to a belief that nukes are clean in any way shape or form is as mysteriously wrong-headed as are your claims that PV, wind etc are delusional.

impasse? look at the economic forces pushing for more nukes, look at those like Jerome pushing for really clean solutions. which camp do you belong in?

it's not 1950, we are not fooled by the pseudo-promise of nuclear, we have a quarter of the world's nukes here in Europe already, you want more, lots more, when the ones they are building already are always astronomically over budget, there is no agreed safe way to dispose of the waste, and the sheer energy/risk needs for the next hundreds of thousands of years keeping them chilled will probably outweigh the needs people have for other things.

more new nukes to power the chilling of the old nukes.

redefines the term 'vicious cycle', what could possibly go wrong(er)?

every penny spent on nukes takes us farther away from the world we could create, where citizens can marry their needs with those of their environment.

we are already indebting our descendents economically in our insanely entitled profligacy and denial about our consumption patterns, but economic debt pales before the debt of suffering we will bequeath to them sprinkling more nukes around their landscape.

i agree with your loathing of coal, but the rest, no matter how sincerely you may feel what you do, rings as off-the-map self-destructive a strategy as building more coal plants.

i can't understand how anyone can still believe nuke propaganda, after all the lies and cover-ups, unless they are contrarian-for-its-own-sake, or have some financial investment in pushing this nightmarish technology which may present well on paper, but it should be patently obvious by now to all but the wilfully blind that we all-too-fallible humans are nowhere near the level of carefulness or responsibility to make happen right here.

the EROI is unquantifiable seeing how long these beasts take to die, and how much it costs to embalm them, so no nuke advocate should ever dare to describe this technology as economically justifiable, the data just isn't there!

"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned." - Richard Feynman

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:43:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when they are State-owned, State-financed and independently supervised - something that France, despite a few shortcomings, has managed to do.

The problem is that this model is dead - it's actually even illegal in the EU as it would amount to State aid... and let's not talk about the general weakening of regulators over the past 30 years, not in energy in particular but in general.

So today, nuclear electricity (from new plants) will cost 8c/kWh instead of the 3-4c/kWh France achieved for the past 20 years - so more than wind, with even more controversy...

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's time, as Europhiles, to start opposing the ways in which the EU is pushing wrong-headed policies in many aspects?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've tried to do this whenever I have an opportunity to speak publicly. Last year I was invited to speak at various EU events (including one to all national regulators) and made this presentation: The financing of new energy infrastructure in the EU (as discussed here on ET).

I've been asked to contribute to the Hollande campaign on these issues and am passing on some of these ideas as well.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't even need state financing and ownership (though it certainly doesn't hurt) as long as you have a culture of excellence and a focus of safety first. Which is quite hard to do in a deregulated power market or where nuclear is seen as a sunset technology, however.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 08:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for several reasons:

  1. nuclear is a capital intensive technology, and is thus cheaper if financed at low rates over the very long term. Nobody can beat the State to do that

  2. nuclear does have residual risks  which will always be borne by the public - safety, cleanup in case of accident (as they are uninsurable) and long term waste management. One can argue that these costs are more or less measurable, but as they are always - always - for the State, it is only fair the public should get the upside of nuclear power in the form of State ownership of the assets and/or lower prices for electricity.


Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 09:08:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. true of course, and I don't disagree. But in a regulated environment, solid private power companies get cheap enough rates as well so as to finance nukes in a reasonable way. This is not a hypothesis - it is the historical experience in eg Finland and Sweden.

  2. that argument also requires that airlines, chemical plants, hydro plants, natgas infrastructure and so on is owned by the state. Of course, the public does get the upside in the form of lower electricity prices as well, if the market is regulated. Which is more or less needed to make nuclear possible for private owners. Even if some exotic ways of financing are possible even in a deregulated market (plants owned directly by a consortium of big power consumers, Mankala model, and so on).


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 09:33:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm with you on this issue melo. Nukes (in the long term anyway) are far too risky. Just because there hasn't been a major accident so far in Europe, doesn't mean there never will be. I doubt seriously Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima were planned events. Nobody's got a crystal ball. Who knows for sure what will happen in the future? The nuke technology certainly hasn't proved to be fail safe. And then there is the huge dilemma of where to safely store the nuclear waste produced by this type of energy, which I don't believe has been fully or satisfactorily addressed either.

The saving grace is that there are alternatives, namely wind, solar, geothermal, etc. Should it be that TPTB decide that the incentives are ripe to switch to these alternative energies and move forward full throttle, both coal and nukes could be phased out.

While there's always been known knowns and unknown knowns, it's the unknown knowns that concern me most. And the possible ramifications of nuclear power use fall squarely in the latter category imo.

by sgr2 on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A civilization which produces a significant portion of its sustenance from a factory farm system which has more adverse effect on climate change than transportation or power, which produces hugely polluting unchecked waste, which produces the conditions for advanced mutations of diseases, which has to use so much antibiotics that resistant strains are becoming the norm, and which allows no effective monitoring or regulation...

is not mature enough to split the atom with respect for the entire cycle.

You are what you eat. The technocratic view of the nuclear cycle, that it's manageable, may well be true, but it is not manageable by this civilization.

Technocrats always view nuclear power in isolation, which just can't be done.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could a mod please delete this comment. it does not belong here in this French election diary.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:44:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as nuclear energy is likely going to continue to be a real part of the election debate, this whole thread is not really so off-topic.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, ok.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:49:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Factory farms: A perfect example of what's gone wrong and why we find ourselves in the situation we're in. But when the players/TPTB are Monsanto and the like, what else can be expected? Round-Up to the rescue. GMO seeds for everybody.

What is manageable (in a good way I mean) by this civilization? Sometimes one wonders.

by sgr2 on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far TPTB have managed to refrain from turning the planet into a radioactive cinder, something I wouldn't have bet a large amount of money on in the 1960s.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When thought of from that point of view you're right, AT. And that's good news for all of us.
by sgr2 on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have bet a large amount of money on that in the 1960s, had I had the option. If the planet is covered in a shallow layer of radioactive glass, then the bet is void by virtue of me, my bookie or both being dead anyway, so such a bet would be all upside.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 07:42:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. Speaking of lies, if greenpeace tells you the sun will rise, ask for their sources.

In order: nuclear waste does not need longterm cooling. LWR waste needs short term cooling while the shortest-lived isotopes decay. Long term storage, of the kind the finns and swedes are actually building has an ongoing energy consumption of zero, being a gold(well, glass, copper and clay)-plated hole into bedrock. The energy cost of building them compared to the energy extracted from the fuel before deposition is also zero. Nuclear waste quantities are very small, and the energetic costs of blasting bedrock arent that high.
The energy cost of construction and decomissioning any given reactor are also neglible. Nuclear reactors are very expensive, but that is because they require enormous quantities of skilled manhours to build, not because they are resource hogs.

The error you are making is that it is very easy to construct a very long list of steps in the production of nuclear energy that consumes energy, and then claim that the EROI must be bad, but that is not how you do EROI. You need to run the numbers, and for nuclear fission, the numbers are very, very good, and can easily be dramatically improved by moving to more advanced fuel cycles.

As for pseudo-promises - Renewable advocates have promised a future powered by sun and wind since 1970, using the exact same retoric, the same images and the same arguments. This has given us 40 years of dominance by coal, and global warming. If the enviormental movement had backed nukes in 1970 global warming would basically not exist
The same advocacy groups are currently signing us up for thirty+ years of natural gas, fracking and earthquakes. -
You can loadbalance a wind grid with sufficient HVDC interconnections on a continental scale, or with gas turbines. Pay attention to which of those utilities are actually building....

.. BTW, can anyone explain to me why HVDC lines are not being laid more than they are? Because just looking at electricty prices in various markets, investors are passing up serious arbritage possibilities.

As for fukushima. That was a disaster beyond what I had reckoned plausible. A very expensive disaster. And the radiation killed noone. Mostly, that disaster is an argument that it is worth it to invest a heck of a lot in smaller designs with passive safeties, because heck, yes, LWR's are white elephants.

by Thomas on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, I follow you largely in the defense of nuclear, but not in the silly attacks on renewable that follow.


Renewable advocates have promised a future powered by sun and wind since 1970, using the exact same retoric, the same images and the same arguments. This has given us 40 years of dominance by coal, and global warming.

Renewables (along with energy efficiency and savings) were on the right path until they were killed in the 80s by the combination of the oil price collapse and the neolib revolution (remember Reagan tearing down the solar panels on the White House?). I don't think there have been a lot of coal plants built in the Western worlds in the past 25 years - but gas-fired plants have indeed been built, and they are the logical consequence of energy deregulation and investment driven by short term returns rather than long term considerations - a policy issue unrelated to renewables or their advocates.


You can loadbalance a wind grid with sufficient HVDC interconnections on a continental scale, or with gas turbines. Pay attention to which of those utilities are actually building....

Can you make the difference between a lot of gas-fired MWs, and a lot of gas-fired MWh? Balancing requires a lot of gas-fired plants but not a lot of gas to be burnt? Gas peakers are profitable with a utilization rate of 2-10%. I don't see anything wrong with having lots of little-used gas-fired power plants.

As to utilities building gas-fired plants, see my comment above about deregulation, and my various posts about how it is so much easier to be profitable with a price-making technology (high magical costs) than with a price taking technology (high fixed costs)...


BTW, can anyone explain to me why HVDC lines are not being laid more than they are? Because just looking at electricty prices in various markets, investors are passing up serious arbritage possibilities.

It's mainly a NIMBY issue, unfortunately.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:41:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
should read "marginal cost" of course...

The wonders of OSX Lion auto-correct... maybe not so inappropriate here!

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This does need its own diary, give me a few hours. But basically: In order for wind to be a high fraction of the total kwh produced, you need either vast ability to shift electricity consumption in time, (not hours. Days, weeks) or a really large geograpical area interconnected. Without one of those - and either one will do - you end up with 2/3s of actual kwh being gas.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas, besides that your description of renewables since the 70's is so far off base as to provoke wonder at your reality...

could we take this discussion to a diary of yours on nuclear power, and not hijack a diary on the French presidential election?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:47:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what you mean about "lies." I stated my opinion. That no one knows what will happen in the future and that nuclear power plants are scary because when things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong. Such as creating a disaster 'beyond what you had reckoned plausible.' It is this precise unpredictable quality of getting power this way that causes me concern. It has nothing to do with seeking advice from Greenpeace on whether or not the sun also rises.

As far as cost effectiveness of EROI for nukes, I have no reason to doubt what you say. However, with respect to 'why' alternative renewable energy has only been a promise since the 1970s, my point here was that up until relatively recently (and still not to a great extent) TPTB have chosen to go the nuke route instead. Perhaps not only because it's cleaner, but probably mostly because of ROI.

by sgr2 on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:03:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas was responding to melo's comment, using his best messianism to frame the discussion from his own version of reality.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, okay. Sorry for the mixup.
by sgr2 on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:27:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for fukushima. That was a disaster beyond what I had reckoned plausible. A very expensive disaster. And the radiation killed noone.

... yet.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 07:53:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or according to studies published so far. (We saw how a truckload of research evidencing hundreds of thousands of deaths and a lot more dieseases can be cut down to a few dozen by spin and omission with Chernobyl.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 08:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the long run... etc.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 08:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about the long run. I'm talking about it taking years or decades for the excess cancer incidence from elevated background radiation to be detectable. But those people are killed just as dead as the ones who get caught in a gas explosion.

Besides, the focus on radiation leaves out the fact that a lot of the longer-lived radioactive crap is also chemically toxic and very expensive to get out of your soil.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 07:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we have any estimate of probable deaths that isn't unusably contaminated by bias and politics?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 07:37:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... but probably not.

In principle, it should be possible to determine the Chernobyl risk factor by conducting enough (and large enough) epidemiological studies on the relevant populations.

In practise, it would be very expensive, and require high-quality individual-level medical data from Ukraine and the Soviet Union. Between the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the sorry state of Ukraine today, I doubt that those records exist today. If they ever did.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 07:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 07:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
4000 from Chernobyl? And over half of those were directly involved in the clean-up?

How do we apply that to the Fukushima incident?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dunno - ask the WHO.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:09:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, by "Yes" you mean "No"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:10:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have any proper science to argue otherwise, let's see it.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 09:04:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd forgotten this, from that report: "Poverty, "lifestyle" diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the WHO/IAEA/UNDP numbers are far from being free of bias and politics. The often touted 4,000 number is actually a sub-sum of one category of victims who died due to one category of disease, there are larger numbers in that study alone; while there is no attempt at a true total estimate, and that not due to a total lack of research. Back in 2006, I wrote a whole diary about a critique of the 4,000 number and a review of research not previously available in English under the title Chernobyl's Downplayed Victims. Back then, in a separate Greenpeace-supported study by Russian Academy of Sciences scientists, a total of 212,000 deaths in Europe was estimated. Since then, a group led by another Russian Academy of Sciences scientist did an update and the New York Academy of Sciences published it in English, with a foreword written by a member of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences for further emphasis on new sources, under the title Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (which I mentioned in a Fukushima thread). Their ultimate estimate is 1 million, though most of the extra comes from (low confidence) low mortality rate estimates for other continents.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 12:25:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the current best answer available to us is that we have no idea how many Chernobyl will kill and less idea how many Fukushima will kill?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 12:30:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somewhere between four thousand and four hundred thousand, depending on your political preference.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 01:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Make that 'somewhere between 9,000 plus and one million', and 100,000 would be a more realistic lower bound. (9,000 is the number deep in the WHO etc. study of which only a sub-total made it into the press release.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 02:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The high numbers are quite remarkably bad science, tough. Ive read what I can find in languages I understand, and.. eh, they ring every bell that gets set off when I read climate change denialist tracts, and they ring them hard. I have to classify some of them as deliberate attempts at deception, because nobody is that stupid and that clever at once.

 Good epistomology on it is however honestly very difficult, because chernobyl was located in the industrial heartland of the SU, which means it is horrifically polluted, chemically. The citizenry in those parts can be expected to suffer elevated rates of just about anything, with or without radiation, and we have no hard data on how radiation interacts with chemical toxicity in general. - We know that it is a very bad idea for radiation workers to smoke, but beyond that- nada.

The fatality numbers for fukushima are much more reasonably predictable, tough. And And while not zero, the main cause of death is not radiation, it is relocation stress.  - a lot of people got moved, and some of them were not in the best of health.

by Thomas on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 04:31:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well in science no number is certain. My point was that there is much more research out there that commonly assumed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 02:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We also have no idea if neutrinos travel faster than light, exactly how much higher or lower the temperature of the earth will be a century from now, or if evolution is any more than a theory.

But - you know - so what?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 02:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can the antinuke hysteria, please.

Align culture with our nature.
by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:28:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 03:41:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:

Barsebeck: Replaced by fossile fuels in the short run, swedes cleaned up the shortfall via.. uprating the remaining reactors.

If you can find a fossile fuel bump I would like to see it, in particular considering that fossile fuel for electricity is rare in Sweden. Vattenfall has some rarely used oil for back-up on cold winter days with nukes offline and low water levels at the water plants.

If you instead take the long view, the 1980 referendum on nuclear power that halted the expansion of nuclear is partially responsible for phasing out oil for heating. See, when nuclear was planned to be ever-expanding Vattenfall used its market position to provide local utilities with a lower price if they choose direct eletric heating over district heating. As local utilities had a lot of say in city planning, the wasteful practice of direct electric heating ruled the day. After the referendum further expansion was halted anyway so local utilities gradually moved towards district heating and the state launched incentives for converting homes heated with oil or direct electric heating to biofuels (forest by-products) or with electric heatpumps.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barsebeck was mostly replaced with imported power across the sund, and the Danish grid is very dirty.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:53:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean that there was import of danish coal electricity in the years 1999 and 2005 when the reactors was shut down? If so, I would really like to see your source, as the Swedish energy department disagrees - 1999 and 2005 saw a net export of Swedish electricity.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 01:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is replacing carbon with nuclear waste a rational decision?
by paving on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:49:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes. Nuclear waste is a containable problem which becomes less of a threat with time on its own. Halflives, and all that jazz - it doesnt really take all that long before the waste contains less radioactivity than the original ore did, so if you take the long view, nuclear power makes earth less radioactive. Carbon, on the other hand, messes with the climate. Which is going to be just a tiny bit  more of a problem than blocks of glass in copper barrels encased in betonite clay, sealed with concrete and 120 meters of bedrock.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Congratulations to Thomas for recommending that we plan our energy policy on geological time scales.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Global warming shouldn't be encouraged by appealing to irrational fears of possible contamination.

We need to operate on deaths per KwH. Nuke wins hands down.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Irrational fears of possible contamination seem to have a reasonably secure basis in the reality of the past decades.

No one here is advocating for more coal and other fossil burning. So your straw dog disappears. Then the comparison with renewables must take place, on a time scale of millennia.

Not one person on this planet is capable of making an adequate judgement of the effects of nuclear power, since a) we are only just beginning to understand genetics, and b) we don't have a handle on real costs or real time frames.

What we do have is hard, commercial evidence, that overcoming cost barriers and massive supply chain scale up has already been proven on a global scale for renewables, which can't be said about nuclear.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 03:53:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spoken by a true engineer.  You'll feel differently when one of those kw/h kills your family directly.  
by paving on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 at 06:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the people who die from lungcancer, other airway ailments and a gazillion toxic effects (coal), falling(renewable workers) and in natural gas explosions, are somehow not dead?
One should never forget that Deaths per kwh calculations have rather large errorbars, but they are the best way we have to evaluate the hazards of various generation systems.
by Thomas on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 05:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's somewhat meaningless to claim anything about deaths from Fukushima at this point. For one, you'll need at least a few more decades, as well as an open process. Second, the entire culture around medical statistics will have to evolve to more transparency and less obfuscation.

No one in their right mind ignores the lethal nature of coal as king killer, and the other fossils as part of a poison in this civilization.

PS. Fish count too, especially in Japan.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 08:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of people have missed that the supposedly open Western democratic free market state of Japan has actually been more secretive and less concerned with the fate of its citizens than the Stalinist socialist etc Soviet Union.

Not that the SU was a textbook example of openness. But it's still rather hard to find solid basic data for contamination and exposure from Fukushima.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 09:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of people have missed that the supposedly open Western democratic free market state of Japan has actually been more secretive and less concerned with the fate of its citizens than the Stalinist socialist etc Soviet Union.

More secretive, yes. Less concerned with the fate of its citizens... that's hard to argue when you consider the sort of hazmat gear the Soviets sent their cleanup crews in with (or not).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 09:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - possibly.

One never knows if rumours like these are true.

But when TEPCO has such a reliable record of spin and terminological inexactitude, almost anything could be going on.

It's also interesting that the last radiation survey focused on external sources only and apparently made no attempt to check for internal contamination.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 10:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I might start leaning towards believing that when somebody somewhere implements some sort of a spent fuel dump. Right now we've got 70 years of accumulated material with no place to put it.
by asdf on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 at 06:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See How Sweden deals with nuclear waste by Starvid on August 16th, 2006.

But yes, by and large we keep running our nuclear plants with no plans about what to do with the waste. See, for instance Nuclear dump (of final storage and German elections) by DoDo on September 27th, 2009.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 at 07:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wherein I point out:

The original story here, "How Sweden deals with nuclear waste" is the pro-nuclear story. It needs to be read carefully to sort out what "could" be done with the high-level waste from what "is" being done, i.e., it's being stored in "temporary" above-ground sites just like it is everywhere else.
by asdf on Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 08:32:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
High-level waste is not stored in "temporary" above ground sites in Sweden. The only above ground-storage in Sweden is the hot fuel which is stored for a year in the reactor pool until it can be moved to CLAB. Which is an underground site deep down in the bedrock, 20 metres down IIRC.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 12:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is so far moving according to schedule.

Since Starvid wrote that piece, SKB has chosen Forsmark  as location (so much for my industry sources) though the final decision rests with the government. Latest news is contracts with the consultants needed to construct the place where the waste will be encapsulated (new part of CLAB) has been put up for tender. Encapsuling is scheduled to start in 2025 and be in full speed in 2027. The process is lumbering on in its own slow pace with no visible signs of halting.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 03:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

So, basically the green party is in favor of at a minimum doubling the CO2 emissions of france. Great.

How is this a reply to anything I wrote?

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:29:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You said you would write about energy policy and Thomas volunteered his own version.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:33:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This argument is a canard. You are requiring that a specific case of a nuclear plant being retired be tied to a specific case of sustainable energy being constructed, which is obviously not how the energy production marketplace works.

For example, the Humboldt nuclear station in California, 64 MW, was shut down in 1976. The Techapi Pass wind farm, 710 MW, was started up in the early 1980s. So the sequence is correct to say that the nuclear resource was replaced by a sustainable resource.

However, obviously it is not a one-for-one replacement, the process for planning and deploying electrical power is inter-related with a whole range of factors like planned or unplanned shutdowns of certain sources, changing regulatory environment, demand growth rate, cost of supplies, interest rates, etc. It's never going to be a case of "we are shutting down this one system and replacing it with this other system," because none of the activities live in an isolated system.

Therefore, your question is nothing but provocation.

by asdf on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 01:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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