Category Archives: Canada

Science March April 22nd and Climate March April 29th

This is going to be an interesting month. We have two marches less than a year after the first pronuclear march in June 2016 to keep nuclear plants open. March for Science Saturday April 22, 2017 and the Climate march April 29th

Ontario serves as an example of how coal can be eliminated with the right energy mix. Our three nuclear plants with 8 unit at Bruce Power, 6 of 8 units in Pickering and 4 units at Darlington enabled Ontario to fully replace the coal Ontario had been producing up until December 2013. I have my work cut out for me because a large number of those attending these marches are unaware of the role nuclear energy must play.

As you may already know I am writing a book named after this Energy Reality website about nuclear energy and the need for a grassroots movement. I have my crowdfunding effort to promote the book and share the ideas from the book. I also have begun co-hosting a podcast called the Ecomodernist Podcast You will find six podcasts so far. All of them providing a positive outlook on solutions to environmental problems we are all facing and ultimately responsible for fixing.

Thanks to the Power of Pickering Nuclear Plant We Replaced Coal

Pickering Nuclear plant went from a non-event to pre-event condition back in 2014. The not so “Clean Air Alliance” is trying to close down a perfectly good zero carbon energy source. The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) would like to take credit for shutting down coal and now they think they can shut down Nuclear plants. Coal dominated a very large portion of Ontario’s energy mix for many years. The abundance of power was daunting. Nanticoke Coal plant at one time Generated 4000 MW of power. It was the largest coal plant in North America. In 1981 it consumed 35,000 tonnes of coal per day. In 2007 it emitted 17,887,649 tonnes of CO2. Thankfully Ontario’s abundant Nuclear Power and Hydro allowed it to replace all the coal plants (bigger than average) by 2014. Pickering and Ontario’s other nuclear plants are in the habit of reporting such non-events, in effect, practicing for reports of actual incidents with updates – should there ever be a serious incident.

The OCAA thinks the Pickering Plant poses a threat letting irrational fear win over. They support a foolish and potentially disruptive solution to go all renewable. New York State just made an important decision to keep it’s Nuclear Plants alive. How else can the States reach their emission content goals? Why should Ontario be any different. Try replacing 14% if Ontario’s power with renewable energy. It would be terribly expensive and wasteful.

These OCAA people resemble over 200 other green lobby and special interest groups who can’t even look at their shadow without fear.

The worse thing is that their ignorance of science is revealed by the fact that adapting their policies in a time of climate crisis can actually bring on the tipping point even faster.

They also claim they will close down natural gas which is laughable… no coal, no nuclear and now no natural gas. The renewables certainly cannot match that abundant supply of nuclear which runs at about 60% of Ontario’s energy.

What does OCAA claim as the saviour?

Apparently Quebec who has never offered to give Ontario any of their so-called abundant hydro power is supposed to have enough to share with Ontario when in fact they have shortages in winter as it is. The 1998 ice storm cause the worst blackout in Quebec’s history. That was due to lengthy power lines collapse from the weight of the ice caused by the ice storm. The same kind of expensive powerlines would be needed for transmission to Ontario. This hypothetical situation is not sustainable. See Steve Aplin article from 2011.

The hydropower-from-Quebec fantasy resurfaces in Ontario gas-industry propaganda

Steve Aplin:

“Unlike hydropower though, nuclear involves land use that is, by comparison, barely noticeable. For example, Ontario’s 18 nuclear reactors occupy a total of 23.4 square kilometers (Darlington occupies 480 hectares, or 4.8 square km; Bruce occupies 9.3 square km; and Pickering, also 9.3.) Their total installed capacity is 12,530 megawatts. So the Ontario nuclear land-use footprint works out to 0.186 hectares—about a fifth of an average size city block—per installed megawatt…”

“Quebec’s hydropower land use footprint is 177.8 hectares per megawatt (30,230 km2 is 3,023,000 hectares; divide that by 17,000 megawatts).”

“For every patch of land Ontario nuclear power requires, Quebec hydropower needs 952 times that. This, among other reasons, is why Parizeau favoured nuclear power.”

“I mention this because, every now and again, somebody floats the cockamamie idea that Ontario should start importing clean hydropower from Quebec. Some advocates of this fantasy are self-styled environmentalists who haven’t done their homework and crunched the easy numbers like I have done above. Because of an unexamined and comically off-base anti-nukery, they think that the Darlington nucelar station should be shut down and that its 25 billion annual kilowatt-hours of electrical energy output should come instead from the Belgium-sized man-made lake in northern Quebec.”

“Nor do they appear to have considered what it would take, engineering-wise, for the Quebec electric utility, Hydro Quebec, to wheel 25 billion annual kWh of energy into Ontario from that lake. Quebec already wheels huge amounts of that energy out-of-province: to the U.S. northeast. American customers are served with Quebec hydropower on long term contracts; that was why Quebec built the transmission lines to the U.S. in the first place. What about those customers?”

“None of the Ontario advocates of Quebec hydropower appears to have ever taken the matter up with… Hydro Quebec. I’m sure the utility might have interesting things to say.”

“No serious person believes Ontario will ever import such massive amounts of electric power from Quebec. So why the sudden spate of media articles taking it up?”

“Well, it’s all about money. Specifically, the money that can be made by the fossil fuel industry if Darlington, which is slated for refurbishment beginning in less than a year, is not refurbished.”

“The main cheerleader for Quebec-hydropower-to-Ontario is the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, a gas-industry lobby group. The OCAA’s aim is to replace Ontario zero-carbon nuclear plants with carbon-heavy gas-fired plants. Given that the current concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the global atmosphere is just about 400 parts per million (see Item A1, above), you’d wonder why an organization allegedly advocating for clean air would want to add to those 400 ppm.”

“The OCAA knows full well that the Quebec-hydropower-to-Ontario fantasy is just that—a fantasy. The OCAA is not actually advocating for Quebec hydropower to Ontario. What it really wants is business for its gas-industry clients. And those clients will get plenty of business if Darlington does not get refurbished. So it is striving mightily, with the cooperation of a mainstream media that today finds ad revenue increasingly scarce and gas-industry ad revenue increasingly valuable, to get us Ontarians to actually believe this Quebec-hydropower-to-Ontario nonsense. That way, they hope, we will be more amenable to letting Darlington, an enormously valuable clean-energy centre—and revenue generator for the people of this province—go idle. Yesterday the OCAA wanted us to believe that windmills and solar panels could do it. Today it’s Quebec hydropower. Tomorrow, who knows. Maybe a perpetual motion machine.”

“Jacques Parizeau got to see an example of nuclear’s vastly superior land-use footprint, right in his own province, and under his watch as PQ finance minister. During that tenure, Hydro Quebec built and commissioned Gentilly 2, a 635-MW CANDU 6 reactor. It was, until its premature shut-down in late 2012 (by another PQ government, sans Parizeau), Hydro Quebec’s biggest single generator.”

“The premature shutdown of G2 was undertaken by, as I said, a Parizeau-less PQ government. Parizeau disagreed with much of that government’s policies. I wonder if he disagreed with the G2 decision also.”

In a response letter to an article published in the Toronto Star by one of many antinuclear groups in Canada the President and CEO of Ontario Power Generation said this

“Re Too much trust in old nuclear plants, May 30”

“I read with interest the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) opinion piece about Pickering Nuclear. The only ‘fact’ in the article that I was able to verify is that ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was released by Led Zeppelin in 1971.”

“The six nuclear units at Pickering were built to very robust standards and are operating safely, to the highest performance standards. The electricity from the six operating units provides about 13 per cent of Ontario’s annual demand, is free of greenhouse gas emissions and comes at a cost lower than almost all other sources of energy. Continued operations will save Ontario customers $600 million and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eight million tonnes over the 2020-to-2024 period.”

“Both Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations enjoy strong community support, and a recent survey indicated 85 per cent of those polled supported the continued operations of the Pickering station.”

“Ontario relies on nuclear power to provide 60 per cent of its electricity generation. The plants at Darlington, Pickering and Bruce have excellent performance and safety records. Nuclear is Ontario’s best option for cost-effective, GHG emissions-free, reliable, base-load generation and have been a critical resource in ensuring clean air for Ontarians. We look forward to our nuclear fleet continuing to be part of the solution in the battle against climate change.”

Jeffrey Lyash, president and CEO Ontario Power Generation, Toronto”

On the same page is a comment by Don MacKinnon:

“Monday’s anti-Pickering Nuclear Station Extension editorial diatribe by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) is typical of their ‘dreamweaver’-like campaigns — heavy with the spectre of environmental disaster and fast and loose with the facts.”

“The Pickering Nuclear Station is licensed and its operations, including emergency preparedness, are overseen by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), an independent regulator. The CNSC has 70 years of experience and is highly regarded internationally.”

“Additionally, the Pickering Nuclear Station, owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a provincial Crown corporation, routinely provides information and consults with local communities about the plant’s operations.”

“When the province approved OPG’s plan to pursue the continued operation of Pickering beyond 2020 to 2024, it noted that final approval would be required from the CNSC. Pickering would continue to employ over 4,500 people in Durham region and 8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases would be avoided. Yes, extending the operation of the Pickering Station is about clean air.”

“The OCAA claims that cheap, low-carbon electricity imports from Quebec offer a superior option, but those claims have been disproven by a number of highly credible analyses, including Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator. Billions of dollars would need to be invested to build and improve the transmission interties and transmission lines in Ontario and Quebec. Ontario currently exports low-carbon nuclear power to help Quebec meet its winter peak and refill its reservoirs. Even if Quebec could supply, large-scale electricity imports would mean tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars flowing out of Ontario.”

“The only real alternative to base-load 24/7 nuclear in Ontario is fossil fuel generation, and we believe the OCAA knows that. Less nuclear generation in Ontario would mean dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution at a time when the entire world is transitioning to a lower carbon environment.”

Don MacKinnon, President of the Power Workers’ Union, Toronto”

I believe the OCAA has ulterior motives as both Steve Aplin and Don MacKinnon suggested. When you look at other Clean-Air NGOs such as the Clean Air Task Force they have a logical rational point of view when it comes to nuclear energy. Look at New York’s recent decision to go with keeping the Nuclear Plants in their state alive. All that emission-free energy is just too valuable to pass up.

Additional Reading on the subject:

COP21 and what is missing from the table

Have you noticed the number of interested parties that offer no real solutions? Obama falls short. Justin Trudeau falls short. The climate marches are preaching renewables and conservation as their proposed solutions. There are no real solutions discussed. People should not imagine that by simply following politics and voting for what they think is the best party that it will make a difference. Following the science is far more important.

We need to look at what solutions are being proposed and seriously evaluate our best strategies. How many people understand that the biggest problem is coal? Yes energy from coal is cheap and abundant. The western world has depended on coal. Also keep in mind that Ontario would never have been able to replace coal without their nuclear plants replacing that reliable energy we all need to run our cities. Right now the overwhelming majority of the active groups who will show up at the COP21 and try to make their voices heard are short on solutions.

The way we view nuclear is also problematic. We need to stop letting people get away with saying “where do we store the waste?” and “nuclear is too expensive” and “what about Fukushima?” those myths have been proven wrong. We have a number of countries engaged in bringing forth nuclear reactors that will be able to re-use so-called nuclear waste. As for Fukushima, nobody died or will even get sick from the radiation released by the Fukushima accident. As for the the expense of building nuclear plants. It is related to the idea of perceived danger. As soon as the public understands through a little education what makes nuclear expensive we will see the costs come down. The nuclear industry is punished when it should be rewarded. What a backwards world. Getting the NRC and EPA to accept the Hormesis model rather than the “Linear No Threshold” model will also help lower prices since that would allow designs to be built without the above-and-beyond safety requirements being imposed.

I urge everyone to look at the energy sources and be honest in comparing their relative ability to solve how to replace coal. Obama modestly supports nuclear energy but has not added it to his COP21 strategy. Why not? Justin Trudeau will be doing the same. Can anybody explain why?

I know most people will give the usual responses about the so-called expense and danger of nuclear power. Please consider that Germany is adding coal plants because they were also under the influence of the renewable movement.

We have grown up with abundant energy and find it hard to understand that the emerging Eastern countries are not going to stop using coal because we tell them to. They are where we were at 70 years ago. Coal is still the cheapest. We need to figure out how to make nuclear power cheaper than coal. I believe that is totally possible with a focus on changing how people just need to educate themselves about radiation and the unfortunate truth that renewable energy will be impossible to meet the world’s energy demands.

So yes, we need to reduce carbon dioxide, but more than that, eliminate CO2 emissions. We need to be honest about the real outcomes of the very few nuclear accidents that have happened. Also come to terms that much of our misinformation comes from funded sources that are paid for by nuclear power’s competition. Also as James Hansen said recently. Let’s be honest about the harm being done by fossil fuel sources for energy. When it comes to climate change and ocean acidification “greed” is not good.

October 2015 Letter to Barack Obama

Dear President Barack Obama

Please consider that the steps to solve climate and ocean change needs to start with a genuine inquiry into energy. America used to be the leaders in nuclear energy. There has been a serious lack of effort to enable an affordable pathway to nuclear energy. The misconceptions cause too many people to not even begin to inquire about their assumptions. The so-called dangers are blown out of proportion causing entire countries to suffer economically for poor decisions. Germany, Italy and Japan come to mind. The best models I know of are France and Ontario, Canada who do not use coal at all.

Our future literally depends on making nuclear energy the primary source of power globally. America use to be the example for the rest of the world. It would be arrogant to think the rest of the developing world can learn from American policies that reflect a lack of energy knowledge.

I am a musician with a passion for the environment. I have learned to appreciate the role of energy in solving the world’s problems. After years of following scientific writings and sharing information with others I came to realize that most people (that includes all kinds of people) fail to understand the significance of 200 years of industrial production of carbon dioxide. It has been steadily accumulating faster than the environment can handle. Now at approximately 400 parts per million is certainly a big factor. The oceans warming and becoming more acidic is going to trigger mass extinction in your lifetime. Some say the mid 2030s.

It is no longer acceptable to view climate change as being about simply weather extremes. We are facing an evolutionary threat that requires mitigating the 1.5 trillion tons of backlog of CO2 that has been building for 200 years making the oceans more acidic and the atmosphere hotter.

We need to view Ocean Acidification and Climate Change as twin tragedies. Conservation and renewable energy will not be nearly enough to remediate the problem. Nuclear energy is our only hope for reducing coal plant usage. One proposed method to reducing acidification is to use nuclear plants to heat limestone to produce lime and add it to the oceans which would give the plankton, the pteropods, the diatoms and all life that depend on calcium and carbon to naturally sequester carbon and after dying fall to the ocean floor where the carbon belongs.

So you see our old vision of an atomic age with energy too cheap to meter might have been the correct path. Let’s begin the process by educating your staff about energy density. The environmentalists who now embrace nuclear energy as a solution understand this.

I can recommend several scientists who would be glad to conduct seminars to get people up to date.

Thanks Rick Maltese
647-379-9655 (recommends a nuclear power dominated policy and limited use of renewable – and energy usage reduction)

Note: not the more popular
(unfortunately they have misguided and destructive policies)

Perception Versus Reality

If we try to stay current with what’s going on in the world we find ourselves constantly faced with sorting out how others often fail to see the reality of things. But of course, depending on your sources, getting to the truth is harder because in the explosion of information there is deluge of misinformation available. Finding the full truth can set you free. I will limit my writing to my own personal experiences.

A big eye opener, I had not too long ago, was in a Facebook chat with a passionate young man who called himself a human rights activist. I was trying to persuade him that Ontario’s energy bills were higher because of subsidies for renewables such as wind and solar. He was clearly very smart and articulate. Still, he disagreed.

He wanted to inform me that nuclear energy was bad because the uranium mining it required was doing harm to the environment. His take on it was that nuclear power was run by the big bad corporations and that they were interested in profits at the expense of the people, especially the first nations people. I could not help but wonder about the enormous benefit Ontario experiences as a result of our nuclear plants. The good that a nuclear plant does far outweighs the harm the mining does.

But after digging more into the subject I discovered that mines and power plants have consequences and their proximity to valued natural habitat going back just 25 years has a dark history with regard to the wishes of the First Nations people. Consultation has been missing from the process of establishing mining and power plant operations.

As recent as 50 years ago consultation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis regarding mining activities was nonexistent. There has been a significant improvement and in recent years there are clear indications from Ontario Power Group (OPG) that dialogue has improved. But what’s interesting is that the only active uranium mine currently in Canada is in Saskatchewan. The world’s biggest uranium mines are in Kazahkstan, Canada and Australia. Canada’s worst health impacts to the indigenous people go back to the 1930s right up to 1962 in Deline, Northwest Territories.

It is a violation when you show up in someones backyard uninvited. It is invasive when you start digging without permission and without any attempt to educate the people about the dangers or benefits. All of that has changed and the rules were laid out in 1995. Now that protocols have been established and consultation has been started what needs to be communicated more often is that the benefits of uranium mining and nuclear energy far outweigh the costs. That means economically, environmentally and humanely. The risks may be small but when the perception of the risks are high then dialogue is needed and the First Nations groups were not getting that information or communication. Who handles marketing for the nuclear industry?

From the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) website they say (see footnote pdf):

“…Uranium exploration poses the same low risks to public health or the environment, as any exploration methods (such as drilling small core samples). It does not significantly modify the natural environment. Uranium exploration presents a very low risk of increasing radiation or radon exposure to the public and to the environment…”

“…The CNSC ensures streams, lakes and rivers downstream of uranium mining projects are safe for people, plants, fish and other animals…”

“…The CNSC assesses monitors and tracks licensees’ environmental performance to verify that releases to the environment are not harmful and are below regulatory limits. Since 1994, an ongoing monitoring study in northern Saskatchewan has assessed the cumulative impacts of radon, radionuclides and heavy metals on the local environment. Results have shown that uranium mines have no effect on radon levels, and that uranium, radium-226, lead-210 and polonium-210 levels in fish were often below detection levels. When measurable, these levels were no different around mine sites when compared to those at both nearby and remote reference sites…”

In recent years Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia have placed moratoriums on uranium mining after investigations into Uranium Mining practices appeared largely based on pressure from human rights groups. These groups demand inquiries and reports are made but typically lack the scientific inquiry and they ignore the properly conducted scientific studies of already existing reports made by the CNSC.

There has been successful antinuclear activity in affecting change. Canada and the US both have their share of opposition to all things nuclear. The majority of cases where restrictions have occurred are due to emotional reactions based on outdated information and antinuclear rhetoric that ignores the successes in upgrades and regulations that apply to all current uranium mining in North America in effect since the 1990s.

Clearly the discussion with the young activist had a positive effect on me. I researched the topic. But I scored a few points too. He agreed that closing down all the coal plants in Ontario was something to be proud about. The point he did not grasp was that nuclear power was the main reason that stopping coal was even possible. He also failed to realize that Ontario would not be able to maintain its low carbon footprint without nuclear plants. He kept throwing at me the line about keeping this sustainable. I tried to explain that wind and solar farms are not sustainable. That was a tough one to crack.

If the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining in the idealistic world of renewable energy lovers what energy source comes to the rescue? Well in Ontario it happens to be natural gas. The same is true for other parts of the world especially where natural gas is easy to come by.

What is interesting is that nuclear power could do it all alone. But to humour the pro-renewable camp let’s try to understand why Europe has had load following reactors and North American reactors don’t. The punitive attitude towards nuclear would never let modifications take place without a massive review process. Consequently we don’t even try for new designs. So, carbon emitting natural gas wins by default because our system is still out of date and bases their decisions on a dogmatic approach to radiation dangers that have been proven to be overly conservative.

In Germany coal is winning that role where they foolishly started shutting down their nuclear reactors. But the hardest part to grasp is that if wind and solar were not part of the strategy to start with you would not need to find energy to replace the momentary losses of wind and solar power. So the perception that a significant risk exists outweighs the facts and decisions are made that have serious consequences economically and environmentally.

I noticed that my adversary and I resorted to our areas of expertise and I eventually realized our agendas had completely different foci and prevented us from winning each other over to our own side. It was clear to me that this individual was more concerned about the rights of individuals than about the best way to save the ecology of the planet. I did have a moment where I got him to recognize that nuclear might have a role in keeping things sustainable. I guess that was an accomplishment.

There was a lesson here. If your adversary calls themselves an activist you better be prepared to anticipate their bias and try to frame any new arguments you have from a perspective that they understand. I realized that my argument should have been that clean water and clean air are human rights and that nuclear energy happens to be one of the best ways to accomplish the goals of keeping the air and water clean.


Point Refuted a Thousand Times: “Nuclear is not low-carbon”

by Luke Weston See article without sidebars

This is a rebuttal to Barnham’s recent opinion piece in The Ecologist titled, False solution: Nuclear power is not ‘low carbon’.

So, it’s 2015 and we’re still having to go back over Storm van Leeuwen and Smith, again?

This was debunked and done to death and put to bed over 10 years ago, back somewhere around the time everyone was complaining how John Howard is a terrible Prime Minister. But apparently it’s the pseudoscience that just won’t die!

The meme that nuclear energy is bad because it has poor whole-of-lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, or poor EROEI, that are not comparable to wind energy, hydroelectricity and other climate-change-friendly energy technologies, but are in fact comparable to greenhouse-gas-intensive fossil fuel combustion is perhaps one of the oldest, most comprehensively debunked PRATT concerning arguments that emerged during the resurgence of public debate in the early 2000s about the importance of nuclear energy.

If you find any anti-nuclear energy activist who makes this claim, and you trace its roots back to the source (in the rare cases where they’re trying to be remotely credible and are actually citing reference material), in 99% of cases you’ll find that this argument originates from exactly the same place: just one pair of authors and their non-peer-reviewed website.

Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Phillip Smith’s original essay “Nuclear power – the energy balance“, which is where all this stuff originates from, has never been published in a scientific journal or subjected to any kind of formal peer-review process. In fact, it has only ever been published on the authors’ own website.

Their work has been widely debunked and discredited for many years, with some of the more egregious errors and assumptions discussed here:

Van Leeuwen’s work was included three times in a mean of 19 studies in a meta-analysis on the lifecycle greenhouse has emissions from nuclear power by Benjamin Sovacool, who is also quite a popular source in the anti-nuclear-energy activist community.

The University of Sydney’s Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis, in their report on the lifecycle analysis of nuclear energy “Life-Cycle Energy Balance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Nuclear Energy in Australia“, mentions that “contrary to Storm van Leeuwen and Smith’s assessment, we argue that multiplying the costs of the entire reactor with an economy-wide average energy or greenhouse gas intensity is not an appropriate method to assess the energy and greenhouse gas embodiments of a nuclear power plant.” Section 3.6 of the ISA report goes on to criticise, at some length, the flaws of this method, the AEI method, for energy accounting in lifecycle analysis.

Indeed, the ISA paper includes an entire section dedicated to “main areas of disagreement with Storm van Leeuwen and Smith’s study”, where several examples of the literature critical of van Leeuwen and Smith, including the work of Martin Sevior and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne, as well as analyses by the World Nuclear Association, are mentioned.

The ISA report goes on to state “there are a number of energy analyses of reactor construction that proceed similarly to Storm van Leeuwen and Smith’s process analysis, i.e. via a material inventory. While Storm van Leeuwen and Smith’s inventory is realistic, none of these studies yield energy embodiments that are anywhere near their 97 PJ or 27,000 GWh.”


Claim: “I have trawled the literature and found that there is no scientific consensus on the lifetime carbon emissions of nuclear electricity.”

The IPCC doesn’t seem to agree with this. Neither does NREL, nor the World Nuclear Association, nor James Hansen.


Having a meta-analysis which includes realistic error bars does not mean “no scientific consensus”. That sounds like a statistics fail. If you don’t have any uncertainty, you don’t have any error bars, then that’s not science – that’s religion.

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, US NREL (Click to enlarge)

Furthermore, cherrypicking your literature “trawl” can give you a “scientific consensus”, or lack thereof, which says whatever you believe it should say at the beginning. Picking, say, the maximum error limit in a set of data, and ignoring the range and median of the data set is also statistical comprehension fail.

Data from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (See figure to the right) shows that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions intensity of nuclear energy has its median and 75th percentile slightly higher than those of wind power and slightly lower than those of both thermal and photovoltaic solar energy conversion. These values, for each of these three energy technologies, are all about 50 g/kWh CO₂ equivalent. The maximum data point given for nuclear energy is about the same as those for solar energy.

NREL’s systematic review finds that “nuclear power exhibits a similar interquartile range and median as do technologies powered by renewable resources.

The World Nuclear Association also provides a rich source of data, discussion, primary source material and analysis that deals with these issues and answers these questions, in terms of material balance, energy investment and EROEI, and greenhouse gas analysis across the entirety of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Of course, some may kick and scream that the World Nuclear Association is a biased source, or that they’re a part of the big conspiracy of lies, or whatever – but you can read their material, investigate whether it makes sense, check it against other literature, look at the sources they’re using, and see if the source material stands up to peer review.

from “Renewable Energy in the Context of Sustainable Development”, in IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Cimate Change Mitigation, Ch. 9

This dataset (figure on the left) from the IPCC shows that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear energy are slightly better than those of solar photovoltaics, and slightly higher than but very close to the figures for concentrating solar power, wind energy and hydropower, and about the same as geothermal energy, when the mean and interquartile range are compared. When comparing only the maximum data points given, the figure for nuclear energy is about the same as that of solar photovoltaics.

Hansen and Kharecha, in the paper mentioned below, find “that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning”. This is published in a credible scientific journal, and it stands up to peer review.

So I ask the anti-nuclear activists… is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientifically incompetent? Or, are the IPCC and all the eminent climate scientists around the world engaged in some sort of conspiracy to manipulate the data, to misrepresent the science and to lie to us about it, covering up the true dangers of nuclear power?

Some literature review of the life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear energy and other energy technologies is given by Nicholson, Biegler and Brook in their 2011 paper “How carbon pricing changes the relative competitiveness of low-carbon baseload generating technologies” (Energy, Volume 36, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 305-313.) Energy has an impact factor of 4.159.

The 2013 paper “Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power“, by eminent Goddard Institute climatologists Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen, was published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’,
which has an impact factor of 5.48.

This paper also looks at the greenhouse gas intensity of nuclear energy, and concludes that the climate-protection credentials of nuclear energy are well established and are comparable to the IPCC conclusions.

On the other hand, Keith Barnham’s analysis of nuclear energy has been published in ‘The Ecologist’, but this is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s really no more credible, in terms of expert peer-review process, than your personal blog or a newspaper opinion piece.  ResearchGate lists the impact factor of ‘The Ecologist’ as, well, 0.00.

Given that Keith Barnham is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, I have to wonder why his analysis of nuclear energy is not being published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, alongside Kharecha and Hansen and Nicholson et. al?

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, one of Australia’s leading marine biologists, and one of the most outspoken scientists in the world world on the issue of climate change and coral reefs – and a lead IPCC AR5 author, by the way – has said in a recent opinion column, “let’s go nuclear, for the reef’s sake“. Is he also just part of the big pro-nuclear biologist/climatologist conspiracy lying about the science?

Nuclear energy is recognised by most of the world’s expert climatologists, scientists and engineers as an incredibly valuable, important tool for climate protection.

About 71 percent of climate science experts surveyed in a recent poll (a poll that specifically looked at climatologists) agreed that nuclear power will play a crucial role in any plan to stabilize the effects of anthropogenic CO₂ emissions. At the same time, 67 percent agreed that “renewable” energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass would not scale up fast enough to meet the world’s expected power requirements with a safe CO₂ budget.


Claim: “Using 0.005% concentration uranium ores, a nuclear reactor will have a carbon footprint larger than a natural gas electricity generator. Also, it is unlikely to produce any net electricity over its lifecycle.”

This just keeps us coming back to the Storm van Leeuwen and Smith study.

50 ppm is extremely low grade for a uranium ore, and would be unlikely to be considered an economically attractive resource for commercial mining operations under most conditions.

Claim: “Nuclear fuel preparation begins with the mining of uranium containing ores, followed by the crushing of the ore then extraction of the uranium from the powdered ore chemically. All three stages take a lot of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels.”

This reads like classic Helen Caldicott style anti-nuclear pseudoscience, explaining that you’re mining uranium ore and then crushing the ore, and then milling and uranium extraction etc… it sounds all knowledgeable and sounds very scientific to a layperson audience, but doesn’t actually demonstrate the point being discussed, and doesn’t actually provide any evidence and science where it matters.

Claim: “The inescapable fact is that the lower the concentration of uranium in the ore, the higher the fossil fuel energy required to extract uranium.”

Claim: “According to figures van Leeuwen has compiled from the WISE Uranium Project around 37% of the identified uranium reserves have an ore grade below 0.05%.”

The total terrestrial reserves of any mineral or element, whether it’s nickel or neodymium, will obviously be mostly present in the form of very dilute mineral dispersed through the entire Earth. Any rock or soil contains essentially any mineral you choose at a small concentration, and ores which are commercially desirable because they contain a very high concentration of a somewhat pure mineral are relatively rare. If you imagine a continuous curve of mineral concentration on the vertical axis and amount of ore on the horizontal axis, stretching out asymptotically as dilute minerals extend out to the entire mass of the Earth, then it should be obvious that most of the mineral, the integrated area under the curve, is within the long tail region.

But this doesn’t actually tell us anything meaningful.

Claim: “On the basis that the high concentration ores are the easiest to find and exploit, this low concentration is likely to be more typical of yet to be discovered deposits.”
Claim: “A conservative estimate for the future LCA of nuclear power for power stations intended to continue operating into the 2090s and beyond would assume the lowest uranium concentration currently in proven sources, which is 0.005%.”

And based on what evidence is this realistic? There is no evidence or justification for this at all. How about we assume the uranium is in the form of stockpiles of once-used LWR fuel which is 96% uranium, or stockpiles of depleted uranium and decommissioned weapons HEU, which are 100% uranium?

Claim: “The Beerten re-analyses also confirm that the carbon footprint of nuclear power depends strongly on the concentration of the uranium in the ore. This was first identified by Storm van Leeuwen, an author of the LCA in reference [9].”

Reference [9] cited by Barnham is Van Leeuwen and Smith’s essay, “Nuclear Power: The Energy Balance” – as mentioned, not peer reviewed, only ever published on Van Leeuwen and Smith’s own website, and widely debunked for methodological and arithmetic errors.

Namibia’s Rössing mine, for example, extracts uranium from an average ore concentration of about 200 ppm, which is low-grade ore.   The energy input into this mining operation is about 0.2% of the energy output of the uranium produced – assuming once-through, inefficient partial use of that uranium in an existing light-water power reactor, without the recycling of that fuel or the use of fast reactors and modern advanced fuel cycles.

The use of a modern fuel cycle increases the energy output from the same amount of uranium input by a factor of about 200, meaning Rössing’s energy input would be about 0.001% of the nuclear energy output from the uranium produced. The use of a modern fuel cycle also makes it possible to consume existing large stockpiles of “depleted” uranium, once-used LWR fuel, and fissile fuels from the decommissioning of nuclear weapons stockpiles – these fuel stockpiles are already “free”, are extremely energy dense, and require no mining.

We can use mined uranium in a light-water reactor today, and then safely store this once-used fuel for decades if we want to, and then go and recover the remaining 99.5% of that energy value from the stored fuel tomorrow, or a century from now.

Assuming a linear relationship, we might expect that if the Rössing mine was extracting uranium from an ore with a concentration of 50 ppm we could extrapolate the energy input to the mining operation to be about four times what it is, or about 0.8% of the energy output from inefficient, once-through uranium use in an existing LWR.

To put it another way, the total non-nuclear energy investment required to generate electricity for a plant lifetime of 40 years is repaid in 5 months. Normalised to 1 GW of electrical power capacity, the energy input required for both construction and decommissioning of the plant, which is 4 petajoules of total primary energy according to Vattenfall’s independently audited Environmental Product Declaration, is effectively repaid in about 6 weeks.

The energy investment required to dispose of the plant’s used nuclear fuel is also about the same – 4 PJ, repaid in 6 weeks.

Under Swedish government policy, this fuel is moved to interim storage and packaged for safe and environmentally friendly permanent disposal in a deep geological repository. However, this permanent disposal of once-used LWR fuel is a terrible waste of valuable, useful energy-rich fuel which is about 97% unchanged, unreacted uranium as well as plutonium and the minor actinides formed in the fuel within the reactor – this is a terrible waste of clean energy which can be avoided through the efficient recycling of the fuel.

In total, this whole-of-lifecycle energy investment for construction, decommissioning and fuel disposal is less than 0.8% of all the electrical energy produced by the nuclear power plant over its lifetime.

At a polymetallic orebody such as the Olympic Dam project in South Australia (1.98% Cu, 490 ppm U, 4.01 ppm Ag and 0.69 ppm Au), uranium (as well as Au and Ag) is profitably extracted from what would otherwise be the waste, the tailings, of a large copper mine.

In a case like this, the extra cost, effort and energy investment (and lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions) for the extra extraction circuit are almost negligible for the amount of value that is generated – and enormous amount of clean energy that is generated – using crushed rock that has already been mined and subjecting this powdered rock (tailings) waste to an extra chemical extraction step to recover its valuable uranium content. The “byproduct” extraction of uranium, gold and silver adds very little to the overall energy consumption of the mine and processing plant – a great deal of energy goes into the natural-gas fired furnaces at Olympic Dam, for example.

The mining and processing of natural uranium oxide from relatively low-grade (490 ppm) ore at Olympic Dam presently supplies enough uranium for the generation of about 26 gigawatt-years of electrical energy each year from nuclear power plants, assuming inefficient once-through uranium use in older light-water reactors without recycling or advanced fuel cycles, and including the uranium needed to supply the energy required for uranium enrichment. The energy consumption at the Olympic Dam mine is about 220 megawatt-years of energy each year, or 0.85% of the electrical energy produced. This includes all the energy input required for the mining, smelting and electrorefining of Olympic Dam’s huge copper production, which accounts for by far the majority of the energy inputs.

There are very large global reserves of uranium that have not yet been mined or even fully mapped out around the world in the range of 200-500 ppm uranium concentrations, including the Olympic Dam deposit. Furthermore, the world possesses enormous stockpiles of useful, valuable nuclear fuel that has already been mined and is waiting to be used – this includes so-called depleted uranium, once-used LWR fuel waiting to be recycled, and the growing stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium or very highly enriched uranium from the decommissioning of nuclear weapons, which is downblended into MOX or LEU fuel for energy generation in nuclear power stations. Furthermore, how long does the world need to continue to expand and to use nuclear fission power stations for before nuclear fusion power stations become widespread? 50 years? Let’s be pessimistic, maybe 100 years? These timescales are short compared to the lifetimes of existing assured uranium reserves at reasonably high concentrations well above 50 ppm.

In short, the implication that worldwide nuclear power, and uranium mining, will soon be forced to move to very, very low concentration (50 ppm) uranium ores is completely without evidence. It’s just not demonstrated and backed up at all.

Namibia’s Rössing uranium project produced 3037 tonnes of uranium oxide in 2004, which is sufficient for the generation of about 15 gigawatt-years with once-through inefficient use in a light-water reactor. The energy input that goes into the mining and milling of this uranium is about 3% of one gigawatt-year, thus making the energy produced by this uranium about 500 times the energy input required to operate the mine.
Extrapolating this, for a uranium mine to produce no net energy gain, we would expect it to have a uranium concentration in the ore of no more than about 0.4 ppm. But this is less than the average concentration of uranium in the Earth’s crust! Therefore, we might expect that a positive energy gain is possible, even with once-through LWR fuel use, from the energy content of every single bit of dirt and rock on Earth!

But even this doesn’t give us the whole story. A typical nuclear power reactor generating 1 gigawatt of electrical power actually generates about 3 gigawatts of thermal power, and two gigawatts of this is dissipated to the heatsink due to the realities of thermodynamic energy conversion that any coal-fired, solar-thermal, nuclear or geothermal power plant is subject to.

If we measure the energy inputs into the lifecycle of nuclear energy, for example into uranium mining, as primary thermal energy, then we should also measure the energy that this uranium generates as primary thermal energy. Although this is not widely done at most nuclear power reactors today, we can and we should (because it’s more efficient) use heat from nuclear reactors to supply district heating, to heat buildings, and to power industrial and chemical processes operating at appropriate temperatures.

3000 tonnes of natural uranium oxide converted to energy in a light-water reactor with once-through fuel use actually gives us about 45 gigawatt-years of thermal energy. If the energy input required for the uranium mine is 30 megawatt-years of primary (thermal) energy, then the true “energy gain” factor for this system is actually 1500.

Van Leeuwen and Smith give a rather pessimistic assessment of the energy lifecycle of nuclear power, and they assume a far larger energy investment to construct and decommission a nuclear power plant than Vattenfall’s Environmental Product Declaration does – 240 PJ of primary energy in van Leeuwen and Smith’s report versus 8 PJ in Vattenfall’s analysis – the figure claimed by van Leeuwen and Smith is 30 times the Vattenfall figure!

The difference is that Vattenfall actually measured their energy inputs whereas Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Smith employed various theoretical relationships between dollar costs and energy consumed – this relates to the flawed assumption of the AEI method, as discussed above. Their study also grossly over-estimates the energy cost of mining low-grade ores and also that the efficiency of extraction of uranium from ores would fall dramatically at ore concentrations below 0.05%.

Employing van Leeuwen and Smith’s models leads to the prediction that the energy cost of extracting the Olympic Dam mine’s yearly production of 4600 tonnes of uranium oxide would require almost 2 gigawatt-years of energy investment – that is, a two-gigawatt power station, comparable to Victoria’s Loy Yang plant or a two-unit nuclear power plant, just to supply energy for uranium extraction. As well as being an order of magnitude larger than the measured energy inputs, this modelled value also happens to be greater than the entire electricity generating capacity of South Australia. So it’s probably not true.

The discrepancy is even larger in the case of the Rössing uranium project, which has an even lower uranium concentration than Olympic Dam. However, since it is an orebody and mine from which only uranium is extracted, it should be easier to accurately use Rössing to quantify the energy investment into low-grade uranium mining without getting confused by energy attribution across the different metals produced.

In the case of Rössing, van Leeuwen and Smith predict the mine should require 2.6 gigawatt-years of energy investment for the mining and milling of one year of uranium production. This should be compared to the total annual consumption of all forms of energy in Namibia, which is 1.5 gigawatt-years. (The energy input to the mine itself is, of course, much less than the total energy demand of the entire country.)

Furthermore, the total cost of supplying Namibia’s total energy demand is over a billion dollars a year while the value of the uranium sold by Rössing was, until recently, less than 100 million dollars per annum. The annual energy usage of the Rössing mine is reported to actually be 30 megawatt-years, or a factor of 80 less than that predicted by van Leeuwen and Smith.

Additionally, van Leeuwen and Smith predict that the yield of uranium extracted from ores will fall to zero at concentrations of 2 ppm. However, this is absurd because there is no such thing as “uranium ore” with a concentration of 2 ppm – the average uranium concentration in the entire Earth’s crust is 3 ppm! Therefore, there is an infinitely large resource of uranium “ore” available at 3 ppm – every bit of dirt and rock on Earth!

It is interesting to see what effect using Vattenfall’s more accurate energy investment figure of 8 PJ for the construction, decommissioning and waste disposal from a nuclear power plant, along with the measured energy consumption of the Rössing mine has within the methodology of van Leeuwen and Smith. If we assume that the energy cost of extraction scales inversely with concentration, and employ the Rössing data as a benchmark, ore concentrations as low as 10 ppm provide an energy gain of 16.

This also (unrealistically) assumes no further progress in mining technology or efficiency improvements in nuclear power operations over the course of hundreds of years. There is an estimated 1 trillion tonnes of uranium at concentrations of 10 ppm or higher within the Earth’s crust.

This provides a resource size that is a factor of over 300 greater than that predicted by van Leeuwen and Smith to be recoverable. So, once the correct energy cost for plant construction and mining operations are used, the own work of van Leeuwen and Smith show that resource exhastion will not be a problem for nuclear power for the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, how many decades do we need to continue to use light-water reactors fuelled by natural uranium for anyway, before efficient fuel recycling, use of existing stockpiles, efficient nuclear fuel consumption in fast reactors, and/or nuclear fusion power plants are in widespread use?

The arguments and data I’ve outlined above are taken from the work of Martin Sevior, Adrian Flitney and a number of their colleagues at the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, from their website as linked above. Van Leeuwen and Smith have published their rebuttal of this argument. Sevior and his colleagues have responded in detail to the questions raised by van Leeuwen and Smith, and van Leeuwen and Smith have published a rebuttal to their response, with a further answer to this from Sevior et al.

You can read all their discussions at the following links.

“Remarkably, half of the most rigorous published analyses have a carbon footprint for nuclear power above the limit recommended by the UK government’s official climate change advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).”

Is this actually true? Does credible evidence actually exist for this statement? This depends on a suspicious cherrypicking of “most rigorous” published data, and a suspicious reliance upon non-credible source material from anti-nuclear activists such as van Leeuwen and Sovacool – and also fails to consider how many analyses of, say, wind energy or solar energy will find that they’re also coming in above the the 50g/kWh mark when the same standards and methodologies of life-cycle analysis are applied in a consistent way.

Compared to about 1000 g/kWh of greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion, just at the power plant stack (without lifecycle analysis) there is absolutely no doubt or lack of scientific consensus that nuclear power, solar power, wind power and hydroelectricity are all clean, green, climate-friendly technologies with near-negligible greenhouse gas emissions.

Right now Ontario’s electricity grid is generating 61.5% of its supply from nuclear power, with an overall grid greenhouse gas emissions intensity of 30g/kWh CO2-equivalent – well under 50g/kWh, which is where the IPCC recommends we need to be for all new sources of stationary energy generation beyond 2030 to have the best chance of mitigating the worst effects of anthropogenic climate forcing.

However, it is utterly pointless to debate exactly where the error bars lie, and exactly how much statistical confidence we have, regarding the very similar life cycle analysis of these clean technologies – the important thing is to use these technologies to actually replace our existing coal-fired power stations in a realistic way, whilst maintaining the same reliable amount of electricity generation that these coal-fired plants supply, and to do this as quickly and as cheaply as possible, choosing the most realistic, scalable, reliable and cost-effective technologies to do this job. Taking any technologies that can achieve this job off the table just because that error bar may peek up above a strictly enforced whole-of-life cycle 50 gCO2/kWh limit is silly – and if this standard was actually applied consistently to other technologies such as solar power, without the double standards and cherry picking that the author applies to nuclear power, these technologies would be excluded from use as well.

Ontario burned their last bit of coal for electricity generation in 2013, and they’ll never burn coal again – largely thanks to nuclear power.

The overall greenhouse gas emissions intensity of EDF’s energy generation infrastructure across mainland France was about the same in 2013 – just 35 g/kWh, and this is mostly thanks to nuclear energy. This is also well below where the IPCC is telling us we should be moving for stationary energy generation by 2050 in order to meet safe climate targets.…/…

“They also point out that the estimates depend strongly on the assumptions made about the carbon footprint of the energy that has to be supplied, in particular in extraction, preparation and enrichment of the fuel.”

We might assume that the enrichment of low-enriched uranium to supply the needs of a typical LWR nuclear power station generating one gigawatt-year of electrical energy will require about 10^5 Separative Work Units (SWU) of enrichment capacity. (This assumes that all the fuel supplied is natural uranium that requires enrichment, and that downblended weapons-grade uranium, MOX fuel, or natural uranium in CANDU reactors, are not used.) Enrichment of natural uranium in a gas centrifuge to the typical levels used in LWR fuel requires an electrical energy input of about 50 kWh per SWU.

Therefore, about 5 GWh of electrical energy goes in to the nuclear fuel cycle at the enrichment plant stage, and 8766 GWh (a gigawatt-year) of electrical energy comes out. The energy cost of enrichment is 5 gigawatt-hours out of one gigawatt-year.

The United States Enrichment Corporation’s uranium enrichment plant near Paducah, Kentucky operates using electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and supplied via the normal electricity grid. The TVA supplies energy to the electricity grid using a diverse mix of energy sources – 11 fossil-fuel plants, six combustion turbine plants, five nuclear reactors and 29 hydroelectric dams. In 2006, 35% of TVA’s generation capacity – which we can reasonably assume corresponds to 35% of the energy supplied to the Paducah enrichment plant – was provided by these non-greenhouse intensive hydroelectric and nuclear generation technologies.

The Eurodif consortium’s uranium enrichment site in Pierrelatte, France, is supplied with the entirety of its energy needs from the nearby Tricastin nuclear power station, with no energy coming from other energy supplies, fossil-fuelled or otherwise. So the lifecycle greenhouse gas accounting looks pretty good in this case!

“The intention is that fuel rods of the EPR will remain longer in the core than in today’s reactors in an attempt to reduce the cost of the electricity. This will mean that the spent fuel will be more radioactive resulting in new challenges in dismantling reactors and in dealing with the waste. Inevitably, this will lead to higher carbon footprints.”

When a fission product is formed in a nuclear reactor, it is formed at a rate dependent on the fission rate in the reactor and the branching ratio for the formation of that particular fission product. That constant formation rate, combined with radioactive decay of the fission product at a certain rate (for radioactive fission products) and destruction of the fission product by neutron-capture transmutation (dependent on neutron flux) governs the inventory of a particular fission product and how it evolves over time.

When you put all that together, and solve a whole bunch of differential equations, you find that fission products tend to reach equilibrium after a while, in a fission reactor that is operated at a constant power. The setup and solution of these complex systems of coupled differential equations, along with libraries of relevant data such as capture cross sections, is basically at the heart of computational nuclear burnup codes such as ORIGEN.

It is by no means demonstrated here that the used nuclear fuel from a modern nuclear power reactor, which is likely to have increased burnup and to have generated more energy over its lifetime in the reactor, is going to be significantly different to any existing, familiar used nuclear fuel. It will be very radioactive when discharged from the reactor, as all used fuel is, but it won’t be anything radically different.
“The report is from the company Ricardo-AEA, formed in 2012 when Ricardo acquired AEA Technology, itself a spin-out from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Their analysis makes the astonishing assumption that both the EPRs at Hinkley Point C will operate at 1 GW above their design power for 85% of every year over a 60 year lifetime.”
Really, 1GW of power output above the reactor’s design power? Show us the evidence.

Show us the source material.
“In my book, The Burning Answer: a User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution, I discuss a simple comparison of the LCAs of the EPR and a large dam (or probably dams) producing the same amount of power.”

So, hang on a minute. If we’ve got the “Solar Revolution”, tell us again why we need large, ecologically destructive, hydroelectric dams? I also note here that the author is citing his own popular book, not his paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and he is promoting the book which, of course, it is implied that you should go out and purchase.

“The EPR is far bigger and more complex, than any existing nuclear reactor, or indeed any electricity generating system ever built.”

There is no real reason to believe that, in terms of lifecycle analysis, the modern European Pressurised Reactor design will look particularly different to any other existing light water reactor. In fact, modern LWR designs aim to be more cost effective (and more energy efficient across the whole lifecycle) by minimising the amount of steel and concrete required for construction whilst also maximising safety and maximising efficiency and fuel burnup.

“The contract will commit the UK public to paying heavy subsidies and may be signed before it is known if the prototype works or what its environmental impact will be.”

It’s a pressurised light-water nuclear power reactor. It’s a modern design, with improvements in safety, efficiency and economics compared to older designs – but it’s still just a LWR, it’s nothing radically new. So, yes, we have quite a good idea that it will work and what a large coal-replacing environmental boon will be.

“Note that thanks to long construction times for the EPR design and a forthcoming legal challenge, it’s entirely possible that the planned Hinkley C reactor will not be completed until 2030 or beyond.”

“The likely delay due to the Austrian appeal against the European Commission’s decision on the EPR subsidy offers an opportunity for a full, independent and peer reviewed assessment of the environmental impact of this complex and expensive new technology.”

“The likely Austrian appeal against the European Commission’s approval of the subsidy may delay the contract signing beyond the 2016 completion date for the EPR.”

So why do these delays exist? The author says it right there himself – these delays exist because of legal challenges from activists.

“As all six are either above, or have error bars that reach above, the CCC’s 2030 threshold of 50 gCO2/kWh, the balance of the evidence of the six most robust LCAs is that the carbon footprint of nuclear power is above the CCC’s recommended limit.”

Even without the cherrypicking of “robust” studies, this is an absurd abuse of statistics and an abuse of the maximum uncertainty limits (error bars) given on those data sets.

“First let’s compare the construction costs. The cost of building the first 1.6 GW EPR at Hinkley Point is around five times higher than the cost of building the hydropower dams which provide the same electrical power. This higher price suggests higher carbon emissions.”

“This approach was first suggested by Hans Bethe, the physics Nobel Prize laureate, in the 1960s, and has been widely used by both companies and governments as a first estimate of their carbon footprints.”

Is a citation provided? No? Didn’t think so. And, by the way, this wouldn’t be the same Hans Bethe who wrote “The Necessity of Fission Power”, would it? “Many of these additional costs for the nuclear option result from burning fossil fuels directly in manufacture or transport or in the generation of electricity in all stages of construction. The fact that the EPR costs five times the hydropower option suggests the construction could result in up to five times larger carbon emissions than dams that give the same power.”

“As we have seen, the EPR’s very high cost suggests considerably higher emissions in the construction stage.”

This is a non sequitur. It is not demonstrated, it does not follow from the starting point, and it is not backed up by any kind of meaningful reasoning or any credible evidence.

This assumption that cost tracks lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions is a meaningless assumption, and it relates back to the flawed AEI methodology for lifecycle analysis that is used by van Leeuwen and Smith, and discussed above.

Carbon Pricing in Ontario set for Spring 2015

I hear this and automatically wonder why now just after shutting down coal plants. My other concern is that electric cars don’t have charging stations so that seriously affects EV car sales. Maybe the taxes collected should go towards these charging stations.

Ontario to Unveil Carbon Pricing Plan this Spring

Who’s been courting China? Canadian Nuclear Industry

Recent announcements about Canada and China making deals to further China’s interest in accelerating their nuclear power plant expansion have been getting little notice. And some news coverage of Ontario’s energy policy costing us $1 Billion more than necessary. The Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed Nov 8 “between Natural Resources Canada and the China National Energy Administration to advance collaboration between the two countries in the field of civilian nuclear energy including development of advanced fuel reactors and exports to third markets. The same day, Candu signed a framework joint venture (JV) agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) projects in China and develop opportunities for it globally. This followed a positive recommendation earlier this week from a Chinese Expert Panel Review on AFCR technology which concluded the proper time should be chosen to “initiate the construction of AFCR to unlock and utilize its various advantages.”

“Taken together, the MOU, framework JV and positive recommendation by a Chinese expert panel represents a new level of cooperation between Canada and China in the next wave of nuclear energy innovation,” said Preston Swafford, President & CEO, Candu Energy. “We look forward to working closely with CNNC in the development and pursuit of nuclear power generation projects in China and abroad using the new AFCR technology.”

The framework JV was signed in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People while in the presence of The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and Li Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China”

CANDUs are known for their reliability and added safety at several levels. The versatility to handle different fuels is made possible in part from the heavy water moderated natural uranium fuel. They have much lower levels of fissile fuel than light water reactors. Countries that do not have a lot of Uranium are interested in CANDUs because the reactors can also run on the Thorium cycle. India is already implementing this approach and China hopes to do the same.

These negotiations mean a lot to Canada since growth for nuclear remains uncertain in our own country. The current political climate is mixed from province to province. Ontario puts too much faith in renewables. Ontario’s energy bills have recently cost the consumer $30 more monthly. This is related to the difficulty of adapting wind and solar to the grid. Without a framework to handle unpredictable power the consumer pays for that uncertainty. Subsidies given to wind and solar effectively cost us double because when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shing natural gas is called upon to replace it. But since the deal is that renewables get paid for down time the public is effectively paying twice for this so-called green solution. Meanwhile nuclear can handle the extra load if given the chance.

Here is a higher res version of Canada’s OCI members:

Also related story by Scott Luft: Candu Energy sees promising future ( Nov. 10