Monday, December 31, 2012

Big Wind Farms Dying Early and Often -- The Wind Power Scam Benefits Wealthy and Politically Connected Developers

A new study by University of Edinburgh researchers finds that wind turbines break down and wear out much more quickly than wind developers and wind proponents claim. As a result, large wind farms quickly turn into huge blights on the landscape -- wind farm graveyards.

Instead of a lifespan of up to 30 years, as wind proponents claim, wind turbines were found to have a useful lifespan of less than 15 years!
The analysis of almost 3,000 onshore wind turbines — the biggest study of its kind —warns that they will continue to generate electricity effectively for just 12 to 15 years.

...The study estimates that routine wear and tear will more than double the cost of electricity being produced by wind farms in the next decade. Older turbines will need to be replaced more quickly than the industry estimates... _Big New Study of Wind Farm's Failures
In the US, wind farm graveyards are accumulating, and no one seems to know what to do about the unsightly disgraces.

Faux environmental greens like to rave about the grand future of big wind energy, but the reality paints a much darker picture.

Without extremely generous government supports, no one would dream of building a wind farm -- they are simply not profitable in terms of power production. And without harsh government mandates which force utilities to buy and use wind power -- whether it is in the economic interest of utilities to do so or not -- wind projects would die rapidly, before being born.

Wind is not really about helping the environment -- because big wind energy famrs cause much more damage to the environment than it could ever relieve.

Big wind is actually all about graft and corrupt payoffs, back and forth between politicians and wealthy wind developers, and the hypocrisy of big money green faux environmental gangs.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Poland and Czech Republic Begin to Defend Against Bitzkrieg of Deutsche EnergieWende

Germany's celebrated Energiewende was meant as a public display of enlightenment on the part of Germany's government. But instead, it is creating headache upon nightmare upon the promise of a future economic devastation, for Europe's largest economic power.

Germany has been using the power grids of neighboring countries as "dumping grounds" for unwanted over-production from big wind and big solar energy developments. But Poland and the Czech republic are tired of having their crucial power grids destabilised by an arrogant and militant German irresponsibility. They are installing switching systems to block the dangerous green energy at the border.

[If] Germany’s neighbours act in self-defense, no one can blame them. The blocking of energy at their borders, however, are fragmenting the single European market for electricity. They also turning Germany into an electrical island within the European energy network, with unknown consequences for the security of supply.

And they cause even more forced shutdowns of wind farms in Germany, which means additional costs of at least one hundred millions Euros.

Germany’s federal government took the nuclear phase-out decision without any consultation with their European partnerns and irrespective of any implications for neighbouring countries. The green decision was rushed through without regard of transport capacity. For their short-sighted, self-centered and actionistic energy policy the German government is now paying the price. _Die Welt_via_GWPF

Greens are like children who never took the trouble to learn the dangerous consequences of their impulsive and impassioned actions. When greens gain control of public policy, the consequences are apt to be particularly dire, if there are no mature adults in the vicinity.

If the actions of Germany, Obama's US, Gillard's Australia, etc. are any basis to judge, things are apt to get a bit out of hand, long before any adults show up on the world scene.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

For North America, Wind is a Waste of Money

A new report from the American Tradition Institute clearly spells out why big wind is a tragic waste of resources for North America. Even using very generous estimates and assumptions, the report nevertheless reveals that big wind costs at least 2 - 3 X more per unit of energy than more reliable forms of power such as coal, gas, and nuclear.
A fascinating new report by George Taylor and Tom Tanton at the American Tradition Institute called “The Hidden Costs of Wind Electricity” asserts that the cost of wind power is significantly understated by the EIA’s numbers. In fact, says Taylor, generating electricity from wind costs triple what it does from natural gas. That’s because the numbers from the EIA and wind boosters fail to take into account a host of infrastructure and transmission costs. First off — the windiest places are more often far away from where electricity is needed most, so the costs of building transmission lines is high. So far many wind projects have been able to patch into existing grid interconnections. But, says Taylor, those opportunities are shrinking, and material expansion of wind would require big power line investments. Second, the wind doesn’t blow all the time, so power utilities have found that in order to balance out the variable load from wind they have to invest in keeping fossil-fuel-burning plants on standby. When those plants are not running at full capacity they are not as efficient. Most calculations of the cost of wind power do not take into account the costs per kWh of keeping fossil plants on standby or running at reduced loads. But they should, because it is a real cost of adding clean, green, wind power to the grid.

Taylor has crunched the numbers and determined that these elements mean the true cost of wind power is more like double the advertised numbers.

He explains that he started with 8.2 cents per kWh, reflecting total installation costs of $2,000 per kw of capacity. Then backed out an assumed 30-year lifespan for the turbines (optimistic), which increases the cost to 9.3 cents per kwh. Then after backing out the effect of subsidies allowing accelerted depreciation for wind investments you get 10.1 cents. Next, add the costs of keeping gas-fired plants available, but running at reduced capacity, to balance the variable performance of wind — 1.7 cents. Extra fuel for those plants adds another 0.6 cents. Finally, tack on 2.7 cents for new transmission line investments needed to get new wind power to market. The whole shebang adds up to 15 cents per kwh. _Forbes
The report is far too generous to big wind in the real world. The actual lifetime of a big wind turbine is closer to 20 years than 30 years. During that short lifespan, significant funds must be spent for upkeep and replacement of expensive parts that are prone to breakdown.

There exist many other costs of wind power which remain largely hidden and otherwise unaccounted for, due to the underlying irrationality of forcing utilities and ratepayers to accomodate an inherently unreliable form of energy. As we discover how exorbitantly expensive big wind is turning out to be, and how unnecessary the faux environmental turn to the intermittent unreliables -- more and more taxpayers and ratepayers are likely to grow restless and more difficult to contain and control.

Germany, Spain, and California may well serve as test cases -- examples of government instigated high dives by entire societies into the shallow pool of intermittent unreliable energy. As the dependency on unreliable energy grows, the hidden costs to societies become more difficult to hide. Watch and learn.
“Because wind is an intermittent source of electricity, it needs appropriate amounts of fossil-fueled capacity ready at all times to balance its large and rapid variations,” said Tom Tanton, Director of Science & Technology Assessment at ATI and a co-author of the report. “Those primary fossil plants then operate less efficiently than if they were running full-time without wind, meaning that any savings of gas and coal or any reductions in emissions are much less than simple calculations would indicate.” _ATI

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sell at $115 bbl; Produce at $15 bbl; Profit of $100 bbl

...certain oil fields in places like Iraq and Saudi are still pulling oil up at a cost of about $10 per barrel.

This $100 oil malarkey is a function of an explicit cartel (OPEC), dangerously unregulated commodity oil trading in global investment banks and the background noise of those who think oil will soon be extinct.
Oil production costs vary wildly from one region of the world to another -- even from one adjacent oil field to another adjacent oil field. Profits for some producers are much higher than for others. Let's look at some comparisons of production costs:

The first table comes from the USEIA.

Costs for Producing Crude Oil and Natural Gas, 20072009
2009 Dollars per Barrel of Oil Equivalent1
Lifting CostsFinding CostsTotal Upstream Costs
United States  Average$12.18$21.58$33.76
All Other Countries Average$9.95$15.13$25.08
    Middle East$9.89$6.99$16.88
    Central & South America$6.21$20.43$26.64
15,618 cubic feet of natural gas equivalent to one barrel.
Last reviewed: November 1, 2012

The next table comes from the IEA:

Oilfields                   Estimated Production
 /source                        Costs ($ 2008)
 Mideast/N.Africa oilfields         6 -  28
 Other conventional oilfields       6 -  39
 CO2 enhanced oil recovery         30 -  80
 Deep/ultra-deep-water oilfields   32 -  65
 Enhanced oil recovery             32 -  82
 Arctic oilfields                  32 - 100
 Heavy oil/bitumen                 32 -  68
 Oil shales                        52 - 113
 Gas to liquids                    38 - 113
 Coal to liquids                   60 - 113
 Source: International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2008

Bakken oil & gas producer GEOI:

Net Oil and Gas Production, Average Price and Average Production Cost
The net quantities of oil and gas produced and sold by us for each of the three fiscal years ended December 31, the average sales price per unit sold and the average production cost per unit are presented below.

  Year Ended December 31,
  2008  2007  2006
Oil Production (MBbls)
  743  392  184
Gas Production (MMcf)
  2,962  1,648  577
Total Production (MBOE)*
  1,236  667  280
Average sales price (net of hedging):
Oil per Bbl
  $82.42  $67.20  $54.61
Gas per Mcf
  $8.12  $6.19  $6.83
  $68.96  $54.74  $49.92
Production cost per BOE**
  $27.46  $23.67  $20.37

Barrels of oil equivalent have been calculated on the basis of six thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas equal to one barrel of oil equivalent (1 BOE).
Notice that as the price of oil goes up, the cost of production per barrel also goes up -- due to automatically increased tax rates. Also notice that the cost of production given by GEOI is much lower than the $60 to $80 per barrel prodution cost usually quoted for tight oil.

This graphic is a big picture comparison of different regions and countries. Better technologies for tight oil, oil sands, and other unconventional oil production, are pushing production costs down -- while prices seem to be stuck on an undulating plateau.

Clearly the Persian Gulf countries are sitting in the best seats in terms of watching the oil money flow in. Russia is not doing too badly either -- if not for corruption in high places, stripping away oil profits for wasteful personal consumption by cronies.

The best North American oil producers are enjoying a profitable season, and are happy for it. Even if oil prices drop to $60 a barrel, many of the North American producers will be able to keep producing long enough to wait out the slump, and catch the ride back up.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Oh, Sugar Sugar: Low Cost Sugar from Cyanobacteria

Sweet promises from Proterro Inc:
The company projects it can produce its sucrose at a cost of less than $.05/lb.—far less than sugarcane, corn, other energy crops, or cellulosic sugar approaches._GCC
Proterro Inc. is moving ahead with $3.5 million in new funding, in developing its low cost process of sucrose production using modified cyanobacteria. The resulting sucrose product will be used as feedstock in production of high value chemicals and fuels.

Proterro has engineered cyanobacteria (from the group consisting of Synechococcus and Synechocystis) that naturally produce only sucrose to secrete the sucrose in a continuous, high-yield process. The sucrose can then be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals.


Low cost non-food sugars will be a boon to a wide range of industries, particularly chemical industries that utilise fermentation -- including production of butanol.

If Proterro can deliver on its sweet promises, we are likely to see significant substitution of bio-based fuels and chemicals in place of crude oil in many different multi-billion dollar markets.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Nuclear News & Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogging #135

ANS Nuclear Cafe is this week's host for the Carnival, the 135th in the series. Here are some excerpts:

Things Worse Than Nuclear Power: Terror

Fear of nuclear power, radiation, and nuclear materials proliferation is a red herring for real terrorism dangers.

Atomic Insights: Power cheaper than coal – thorium AND uranium make it possible

Bob Hargraves is a professor with a good facility for numbers, and a talent for clear explanations. He demonstrates that there is little hope of driving down the total cost of producing energy from unreliable weather-dependent sources, because the capital investment in those sources will often be idle and not producing any revenue. He persuasively demonstrates that well-designed and built nuclear plants whose operators successfully achieve capacity factors in the range of 85-90% are already cost competitive with coal. He also shows how nuclear plant designers can apply well-understood techniques to achieve even better economic performance.

ANS Nuclear Cafe: Timing and Framing: How to address nuclear and climate change

In the wake of superstorm Sandy, Suzy Hobbs Baker argues that “right now is the perfect time to provide a new framework for supporting nuclear as a solution to climate change.”

The Nuclear Diner: US and Russia – Reactor Wars

It is fascinating that the US and Russia are now competing in the global field of nuclear reactor construction. It is not only the reactor designers, but the politicians that are weighing in and supporting the designer from their nation. It has the sense of being competitive and a bit like a school yard fight. Susan Voss has been studying and analyzing the Russian nuclear program for many years and is interested in how they are growing and changing to be more competitive on the international market. The competitive field she focuses on in this post is the Czech Republic. The Czech government put out a request for bids and three companies put in proposals: Westinghouse/Toshiba representing the US and Japan, Rosatom representing Russia, and AREVA representing France. Interestingly enough, AREVA was tossed out of the competition for not meeting “crucial requirements.” [Reuters]

Next Big Future: Japan likely heading for a pro-nuclear LDP win in national elections this week

In this Sunday, Dec 16th election, Japan is expected to be electing the most pro-nuclear of its major political parties, the LDP, to a return to government.

Dr. Robert Hayes: Nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear revival, and the Permian Basin

Dr. Hayes on a nuclear renaissance going on in the Permian Basin — in uranium enrichment and associated processes [that's in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, folks]

Yes Vermont Yankee: The very latest lawsuit: opponents will probably lose

To keep operating, Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant needs a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB). In this post, Meredith Angwin describes the latest opponent tactic of bringing suit in Vermont Supreme Court to deny the certificate. The certificate is already being judged in hearings before the PSB and under litigation in Federal Court.

_ANSNuclear Cafe

Japan is on the way to increasing its nuclear power production

Russia signs deal to build nuclear plant in UAE

UK nuclear regulators approve Areva design . . . move closer to new UK nuclear plants built by French company

Small modular reactors likely to fill important niche in future power grids

Europe would be smart to build more nuclear reactors


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Peak Oil As You've Never Seen It

Stuart Staniford provides an evolving look at oil production numbers in The Bumpy Plateau Tilts Upward. Using EIA numbers, Stuart breaks liquid fuel production down into crude + condensate, natural gas liquids, refinery gain, and other liquids. The composite picture shows a slow rise in overall production, including a slow but definite 0.33% rate of rise in crude oil + condensate production.

The recent Exxon energy outlook to 2040 indicates that both oil demand and oil supply are likely to rise. The Exxon report accounts for most of the coming rise in oil production by advances in unconventional oil production.
By 2040, only about 55 percent of the world’s liquid supply will come from conventional crude oil production. The rest will be provided by deepwater, tight oil and NGLs, as well as oil sand and biofuels, as technology enables increased development of these resources. As we look to the future, energy sources considered “unconventional” today are rapidly becoming conventional, thanks to the technologies available to produce them, giving them an increasingly significant role in the global energy mix. _Exxon 2040 Outlook
The Exxon report significantly understates the coming of synthetic fuels, which are likely to achieve a significant (10%+) proportion of overall liquids by 2030. The report's demand estimates to 2040 are likely to be overstated, due to overly optimistic assumptions about global economic growth.

All the same, global population growth is likely to continue for decades, creating its own rise in demand for new liquid fuel supplies as long as a significant global economic collapse can be avoided.

In the face of global political / economic mismanagement, oil has become a type of global quasi-currency and repository of wealth in its own right. Oil prices have come to occupy a much greater role to the global economy, financial systems, and geopolitics, than as a mere price of fuel. This importance to multiple key global systems and institutions provides more price support to oil markets than might be assumed.

As long as the greater part of conventional oil reserves are held by oil dictatorships and their national oil companies, the free-market oil producers will have to settle for unconventionals such as deep sea oil, tight oil, natural gas liquids, and synthetic fuels such as GTL, CTL, BTL, bitumens, kerogens, and the like. This growing dependency on more expensive sources of liquid fuel is another reason for higher oil prices than would have otherwise been expected at this stage of development of the global hydrocarbon complement.

Nevertheless, the prolonged production plateau is likely to continue to rise along with population growth and consequent demand growth -- as long as price signals are allowed to operate in markets.

A look at the ongoing oil production plateau by the Total Chairman and CEO

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Global Oil Production Booming; Demand is Softening

Oil prices have remained remarkably stable over the past few years, considering the impressive price boom and bust of 2007 - 2008 - 2009. Peak oil doomers have been particularly disappointed at the failure of their predictions of near-term global collapse -- made so gleefully in the heady days when it was still possible for a halfway intelligent person to believe that oil production had permanently peaked in 2005. But the real world still holds a lot of surprises for people who believe they understand its energy complement -- or even its climate, for that matter.
The reason for the oil price softness is slowly but surely being revealed. Oil and gas production is booming globally but particularly in the US to the point where just last month, the International Energy Agency projected that “extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean that … the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035.”

According to the EIA, the average cost of production is lowest in the Middle East at around $US17 a barrel, with a global average around $US25 a barrel. This suggests the low will be a little above that, barring a demand free-fall. In the US, the cost of production is in the mid $US30 range, all of which suggests a level as low as $US40 is possible.

Add to that the tepid growth phase of the global economy and price trends should be down. _BusinessSpectator
There is a lot more oil to be discovered, particularly around the great underexplored areas of the planet. Even the Persian Gulf is underexplored compared to North America, by a factor of roughly 1,000.
“We see an easing of oil prices [in 2013] as demand remains weak,” explained Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, adding that even fast-growing emerging markets and non-OECD nations will experience a poor economic performance next year.

...A “shale revolution” in the U.S. promises to change the market landscape. “U.S. production of shale gas has exploded with a nearly 50% annual increase between 2007 and 2011,” a report by the National Intelligence Council noted, while shale oil production, still in its infancy, could bring anywhere from 5 to 15 million barrels per day by 2020 at a break-even price as low as $44 to $68 per barrel. “By 2020, the U.S. could emerge as a major energy exporter,” the report added. _Oil 2013
This is bad news all around for aging peak oil doomers, who sit wanking in their circular echo chambers.

It is also bad news for many supporters of US President Obama. Obama has backed dozens of failed or failing big green energy startups at taxpayer expense, to please green political backers and to enrich the bank accounts of campaign bundlers and other crony supporters.

Obama favours intermittent unreliables, but it is the hydrocarbons and nuclear power -- both of which Obama dislikes -- that deliver reliable energy, power, and fuels. Obama was the accidental beneficiary of an unplanned US shale boom. But he is happy to take the credit for an economic boom that only happened because his EPA was too slow to kill it before it bloomed.

And now that the US oil & gas boom is proceeding ahead, despite Obama, the UK and the EU may be next. And don't forget China. If Australia can dump its foolish green "energy suicides", it might wish to join the global party.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Obama Killed Yucca Mountain, Did He Also Kill US Nuclear?

The US Obama administration killed the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository much like a sadist kills his victims: carefully, and with relish. But was it their unstated intent to kill all of US nuclear power by preventing all viable means of nuclear waste disposal?
In the end, the Obama administration succeeded, by a combination of legal authority and bureaucratic will, in blocking Congress’s plan for the Yucca Mountain repository — certainly for the foreseeable future, and perhaps permanently. A future president could theoretically pursue the project again, but that would require restarting an immense regulatory machine that had been mothballed for years. Even under the best of circumstances, that is a long-shot scenario unlikely to comfort those looking to invest in existing or new nuclear generation capacity.

...The nation’s 104 operational commercial nuclear power reactors produce between 2,000 and 2,400 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel each year. Over time, they have accumulated some 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel. That is greater than the mass of the Titanic when fully loaded; by one estimate, all that spent fuel would “cover one football field to a depth of approximately 20 feet.” Even if no new nuclear plants were built after today, the amount of spent nuclear fuel in the United States would be expected to more than double to 140,000 metric tons by 2055.

...The promise of nuclear power is impeded by the lack of a permanent solution to the difficult problem of where to dispose of its radioactive byproducts, and moreover by the ongoing uncertainty over whether there will ever be a solution. _NewAtlantis
Nuclear power sits in a legal and regulatory limbo. This type of government created uncertainty can represent the death of an entire industry -- an industry vital to the future of the US as an industrial and economic power.

In the future, new technologies will be developed which will be capable of extracting almost 95% of the energy from nuclear fuel, rather than the 4% currently extracted in light water uranium reactors. But unless something remarkable happens to change the current sluggish, bloated, and hyper-ideological style of government regulatory structure in the US, those technologies will only be developed and implemented outside of the USA.

Regardless, when those much more efficient nuclear technologies are developed, most of what we consider as nuclear waste or spent nuclear fuel, will suddenly acquire value as nuclear fuel.

It is unlikely that anyone in Mr. Obama's administration actually cares about such developments, as long as political contributors, bundlers, supporters, and special interests are not immediately affected by them. But given the monumental importance of such future forms of energy, someone will be thinking about them.

Yucca Mountain Post-Mortem

Time to Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel

Savannah River Site looks at the future of spent fuel

A better way to produce energy cheaper than coal

Another solution to the spent fuel glut

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

If Oil Prices Drop Below $80 a Barrel . . . .

According to the consensus, only a collapse in demand for oil is capable of driving oil prices below critical levels. At that point, the expectation is that marginal producers would quite production, resulting in a drop in supplies, and a rapid rise in oil prices above the critical cutoff.
The European recession, the slowing growth in China, and the Fiscal Cliff in the United States could drive oil prices much lower.

Recent economic figures from China were mixed. Its Service PMI was above 50, but still dropped quite significantly over the last two months. Europe’s unemployment is rising as the economy slows again, and in the U.S., talk of the Fiscal Cliff is raising the level of uncertainty for markets. One might extrapolate from all of this to mean lower economic activity ahead. This would mean lower demand for energy.

What if Brent Crude Oil prices were to drop below $80? WTI Crude oil was $88.50. Brent Crude Oil was around $110 on December 4 2012. A drop in Brent prices would hurt profits for oil companies. _The Street
The short article above focuses on the effect of a price drop on small to medium-sized oil companies, and marginal producers. Certainly a number of them would be forced to halt production and new drilling if prices dropped below $80.

But quite a few producers of shale oil and oil sands would be able to ride out oil prices below $80 -- as long as prices dropped no lower than $60. A drop in prices would force even more of them to innovate more economical production methods.

But what about the effect of a serious oil price drop on Russia and a number of OPEC countries?

Many of these countries -- including Iran, Russia, and Venezuela -- have ambitious plans for regional domination through military power. To achieve these goals they will require high global oil prices. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other Gulf states, need high prices to pacify their restless populations -- and to fund global Islamic fundamentalist movements.

It is in these parts of the world -- where governments are dictatorships and free markets are not allowed to function -- where a sustained drop in oil prices would lead to serious unrest.

As mentioned above, the consensus hovers around the idea that only a drop in demand could possibly lead to a serious drop in oil prices. But if free market forces were unleashed across more of the world -- including the US, Europe, South America, MENA, Africa, and Australia -- significant new supplies would complicate the picture as well. It is only by bottling and confining markets and innovation that political entities artificially contain latent supplies. Thus the term, "political peak oil."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

California Morons Risking it all On Intermittent Unreliables

California is obligated by legal mandate to provide 1/3 of its electrical power by "green energy," including intermittent unreliable forms such as big wind and big solar, by the year 2020. Governor Brown of California wants to increase that requirement to 40% of California's electrical power via intermittent unreliables. But what will happen to California's already shaky economy as power consumers are forced to pay higher and higher rates, and as power brownouts and blackouts become more common -- as in a third world country?
One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California's electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants.

"The public hears solar is free, wind is free," said Mitchell Weinberg, director of strategic development for Calpine Corp., which owns Delta Energy Center. "But it is a lot more complicated than that."

Wind and solar energy are called intermittent sources, because the power they produce can suddenly disappear when a cloud bank moves across the Mojave Desert or wind stops blowing through the Tehachapi Mountains. In just half an hour, a thousand megawatts of electricity — the output of a nuclear reactor — can disappear and threaten stability of the grid.

To avoid that calamity, fossil fuel plants have to be ready to generate electricity in mere seconds. That requires turbines to be hot and spinning, but not producing much electricity until complex data networks detect a sudden drop in the output of renewables. Then, computerized switches are thrown and the turbines roar to life, delivering power just in time to avoid potential blackouts.

The state's electricity system can handle the fluctuations from existing renewable output, but by 2020 vast wind and solar complexes will sprawl across the state, and the problem will become more severe. _LATimes
Big wind and big solar -- the "intermittent unreliable" forms of energy generation -- are "feel-good" public pacifiers for coastal dwellers steeped in carbon hysteria. But are these well indoctrinated, pseudo-intellectual academically lobotomised and politically correct devotees of faux environmentalism willing to pay the ultimate costs of their lefty-Luddite neo-Malthusian ideologies? Probably not.
... by 2017 the state will be short by about 3,100 megawatts of flexible power that it can dedicate to meeting reserve needs — about what three nuclear reactors produce. The company is pushing the state Public Utility Commission to require that capacity. The commission has been noncommittal so far. _LAT
Here are the top 10 reasons why businesses are leaving California, as of May, 2012:

#1 – Excessively Adversarial: For eight years in a row, Chief Executive magazine found California to be the worst state for business. Editors said the state appears to have slipped deeper into the “ninth circle of business hell,” a reference to Dante’s Inferno. “The economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms.” They’ve called California the “Venezuela of North America.”
#2 – Severe Existing Tax Treatment: The Tax Foundation in its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index lists California at No. 48. CFO Magazine ranked California the worst state for tax treatment, as do many other rankings.
#3 – Future Tax Increases: Businesses will face higher income and sales taxes. The state has the largest budget deficit of any state. Employer costs will rise in 2013 as payroll taxes increase to bail out the Unemployment Insurance Fund (insolvent by $10 billion) and to cover excessive borrowing from the Disability Insurance Fund. Future bond borrowing costs will grow because California is S&P's lowest-rated U.S. state. (Bloomberg News, May 18, 2012: "Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking a 38,000 percent spending increase for a proposed high-speed rail system” despite a $15.7 billion deficit.)
#4 – Worst Regulatory Burden: California approved global warming cap-and-trade initiatives with 262 pages of new regulations and fees going into effect in early 2013 even though the state contributes less than 1 percent of the worlds’ green house gases. The draconian measures ignore Bain & Co.’s “regulatory hassle index” that found “California is far worse than any other state by a very significant margin.”
#5 – Unprecedented Energy Costs: California’s commercial electrical rates already average 50 percent  higher than in the rest of the country. The new 2013-2018 “green energy” mandates will boost rates by a minimum of another 19 percent in many California localities, which will harm companies in every industry.
#6 – Dreadful Legal Treatment: The Civil Justice Association of California said the state ranks 44th in legal fairness to business. In 2010, the Institute for Legal Reform found Los Angeles’ courts were the second worst in the nation for legal fairness, after Chicago’s, while San Francisco’s courts were the sixth worst.
#7 – Most Expensive Locations: The Milken Institute found that California businesses pay 23% more than the national average in operating costs. McAfee avoids hiring in California and saves about 30 percent to 40 percent every time it hires outside of the state. 
#8 – Oppressive Permitting Procedures: Obtaining permits from public agencies is extraordinarily expensive and time consuming because of confusing, extraneous and harsh requirements. Example: It can take 2 years to obtain permits just to build a restaurant in California while in other states it can be as little as 1-1/2 months.
#9 – Unfriendly Even to Small Businesses: In 2012, and the Kauffman Foundation gave California an “F” grade from small businesses for overall business unfriendliness, difficult regulations, tax code, licensing and health and safety. The finding echoes the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council in Virginia 2011 conclusion that California ranked 49th overall in terms of business friendliness.
#10 – ‘Composite’ Findings Put California Last: Development Counselors International in a 2011 survey of executives found that ranked California as having the worst business climate of any state based on operating costs, taxes and deficits. That reinforced the “Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2010” study that placed the state at the bottom based on labor costs, taxes, litigation abuse, crime rates, demographics, school dropout rates and other factors.

As faux environmental political activists push California's utilities and more reliable power producers closer and closer to the brink, expect "power blackouts and brownouts" to move to the top of the list for reasons why businesses leave the golden state.

California is under the total control of morons, who elect imbeciles such as Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown, and Maxine Waters as their representatives. The clock is ticking down on their idiocy. Try not to be hurt too badly by the fallout that will accompany the state's downfall.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Canadian Shale: The Next Big Bonanza

Just when you thought most of the shale action was taking place south of the 49th parallel, drillers are starting to place horizontal wells inside rich Alberta shale deposits. Canada is the number one go-to source for America's oil imports. And the northern neighbor is getting ready to shift into a higher gear of production, with the rise of shale oil & gas in huge Alberta deposits.
According to a recent study from the Energy Resources Conservation Board of Alberta, the province could be sitting on 3,324 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, 58.6 billion barrels of gas liquids, and 423.6 billion barrels of oil that have yet to be explored. Compared with the 2,214 TCF of reserves for the entire United States, Alberta alone could be the richest source of natural gas on the planet.

These new discoveries are enough to fuel current American demand for oil for 50 years, with enough natural gas for 130 years! What also makes these findings astounding is that many of these shale plays are found on the Alberta/British Columbia border, and the B.C. estimates were not included in the report. _Alberta Shale

And while Canada's tight oil & gas production is likely to pick up steam, don't forget the trillions of barrels of oil equivalent in Canadian oil sands. Oil sands production is getting cleaner and cheaper -- which means that US President Obama needs to get on the ball and dump his attitude of arrogant energy snobbery toward Canada. Lifting the arbitrary ban on the Keystone XL pipeline would be an acceptable first indication of good faith on Obama's part.

“We have so many resources, we don’t just need access to one of these markets, we need all of them,” Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes said in a recent speech in Calgary.

Plans to ship Alberta oil as far east as Saint John, N.B., are gaining momentum with the recent backing of several provincial premiers. Joe Oliver, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, said the Eastern option would enable refineries to purchase Western Canadian oil at a considerably lower price, create jobs and possibly even reduce the price of fuel. _National Post
Canada is poised to explode on the world scene as an important energy supplier -- and not just to the US. Obama had best get his priorities straight, or his legacy will be as a laughing stock.


Gas, Oil, and Electricity from Oil Shale Kerogens Using In Situ Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Trillions of barrels of oil equivalent locked inside oil shale kerogens are waiting for a clean and profitable approach of production. We have discussed one likely approach -- high temperature gas cooled nuclear reactors -- which is likely to be an effective, clean, and profitable approach to oil shale kerogen production. But it is likely to take between 15 and 20 years of development before such a method is ready for the Green River formation in the US Rocky Mountain west.

A different approach was patented by Marshall Savage, utilising solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) placed within the rock at strategic locations. This approach would produce oil, gas, and electricity using an in situ process, without significant mining or rock removal.
The present invention is a subterranean heater composed of fuel cells. In the preferred embodiment, the apparatus comprises a plurality of fuel cells assembled in a vertical stack via plates generally referred to in the art as “interconnect plates”, or “bipolar plates”. Conduits throughout the stack supply the cells with fuel and air or other oxidant, and remove exhaust gases. Preferably, the fuel cell stack is enclosed in a casing adapted for insertion into a well bore. An electrical connection is provided to the far end (typically bottom) of the stack to allow completion of an electric circuit.

The encased fuel cell stack is inserted into a wellbore, preferably vertically, but potentially horizontally or at some other orientation. Preferably, the encased stack is cemented into the borehole by a suitably heat conducting grout. Fuel and air are pumped into the stack through the incorporated conduits to the fuel cells. Within the fuel cells, electrochemical reactions take place to produce electricity and heat. The electricity passes out of the stack through an electric circuit. Fuel cells, of the solid oxide type, which are preferred, operate at temperatures in the 800 to 1000 degree Centigrade range. This is also the preferred temperature range for many subterranean heating applications. Heat passes from the fuel cell stack to the underground formation by thermal conduction. Thus, the operating fuel cell stack acts as a down-hole conduction heater of enormous magnitude, perhaps taking a year of operation to prepare a resource layer for in situ mining.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention, conduits for air, gaseous fuel, and exhaust are formed by aligning holes in the interconnect plates. Communication for circulation of these gases is provided by channels formed in the surface of the interconnect plates. _PatentsOnline

A small Colorado company is moving ahead with testing and development of this in situ fuel cell approach -- called Geothermic Fuel Cells because they put heat into the rock rather than taking it out.
A little-known energy technology company in Parker... stands at the forefront of a new era in domestic energy production. Independent Energy Partners Inc. is in the early stages of rolling out an industry game-changer, a device that holds tremendous promise in helping the United States harvest energy in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

The seven-employee firm with offices on Pine Drive is about to turn the oil shale industry upside down with its in-situ Geothermic Fuel Cell, a solid oxide fuel cell unit that heats subterranean rock formations to recover three energy components from “unconventional hydrocarbons,” said Al Forbes, chief executive officer of IEP.

The first, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the recovered hydrocarbon energy, is a high-quality oil from the processing of kerogen in the shale. The second is natural gas. The third is “baseload green electricity,” captured via the “electrochemical process” of fuel cells. The electricity is produced as a by-product of the process, with nearly 80 percent being surplus and sold to utility or industrial companies, which offsets some of the costs associated with the process and the manufacturing of the high-tech Geothermic Fuel Cells.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that the unit is designed to operate on a portion of the gases produced during the process, resulting in a low carbon footprint, especially when compared to antiquated methods that are still being used. The GFC becomes a self-sustaining device that requires only a small amount of natural gas to start the process.

After getting patents, IEP worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Labs on design and engineering to confirm the “technical feasibility” of the Geothermic Fuel Cell. IEP has also entered into agreements with Total Petroleum and the Colorado School of Mines, which has contributed technical support and will help conduct testing.

The partners have leases or options on oil shale resources in the Rocky Mountain Region that contain an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil; IEP owns mineral rights in the Piceance Creek Basin on the Western Slope that contain roughly 2 billion barrels of oil.

The low-emission process was developed by Marshall Savage, who approached Forbes with his idea in 2003. The founder of IEP was so convinced that the “revolutionary” product would succeed, that he dropped all other business ventures, including renewable energy, to strictly focus on the GFCs.

...The company, alongside the Colorado School of Mines, has begun an 18-month program to test the prototype prior to field demonstration, and Delphi has reconfigured some of its products to adapt to IEP's application. Forbes expects commercial production of GFCs by 2015 or 2016. _ColoradoNews
IEP's website

PDF comparison of oil shale production technologies, including a good look at the Geothermic Fuel Cell approach (PDF)

The in situ SOFCs are fueled by gas that is released from the rock once the fuel cells have warmed up. In other words, the process is self-sustaining once the SOFCs achieve operating temperature using an initial startup boos from natural gas.

The combined products of electric power, gas, and oil, provide the operation with multiple sources of cash flow.

Warm-up time required before commercial oil production can begin is estimated to be up to 2 years.

The total oil equivalent in the Green River kerogen deposit is estimated to be up to 3 trillion barrels.

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Russian Economy At Risk if Oil Prices Decline

The US shale boom has already hit Russia's Gazprom hard. Now, the rising boom in US oil production, along with other sources of new global crude production, are casting a shadow across Russia's grand plans for the future.

The Russian government requires an oil price of above $125 in order to achieve fiscal breakeven. That means that the Russian government is being forced to either postpone spending, or dip into cash reserves, as long as oil prices stay well below that level.

But now there is a very real risk that oil prices will dip from around $110 a barrel to below $90 a barrel. That would present a serious challenge -- perhaps a catastrophe -- to Putin's ambitious and free-spending government.
“If the [oil] price is $80 per barrel, the budget deficit will widen to 3 percent of GDP," Kudrin said.

"The figure of 3 percent is a critical boundary, beyond which we are likely to lose our country’s investment-grade rating,” he said.

Russia’s budget for 2013-2015 will run a deficit even with oil priced at $100 per barrel, he said. _Russia's Oil Risk
Another startling bit of news out of Russia, is the big push to shale oil & gas production in Siberia. After all the rude talk from Putin, Gazprom, and other Russian authorities -- telling the world how bad shale drilling and fracking is, and how pathetically irrelevant US shale production was -- now Russia's state oil company is taking the plunge into shale big-time:
ExxonMobil agreed to spend $300 million on advanced horizontal drilling and fracking at Russian state oil company Rosneft's Siberian fields in a project designed to help Russia realise its vast tight oil potential.

The two companies will form a joint venture, split 51-49 between Rosneft and Exxon, to carry out the pilot programme and launch commercial production if they find sufficient oil in the Bazhenov shale and the nearby Achimov formations of Western Siberia.

The Bazhenov is the world's largest source rock. However, Russia, still rich in conventional reserves, has yet to follow in the footsteps of the United States in deploying advanced horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, which is known as fracking, on a commercial scale.

With the core fields of Western Siberia in decline, however, the government of Russia, the world's largest crude producer, has offered tax breaks for companies who drill into "tight" formations where hydrocarbons are trapped in non-porous rock. _Siberian Shale
There is always the chance that US President Obama will let his buddy Putin off the hook, of course. Obama's EPA is chomping at the bit to shut down the US shale boom. Obama would make a lot of friends within the global faux environmental complex if he were to shut down the nascent US energy and economic boom. And such a move would make Putin a very happy man.

But Putin cannot count on that -- given Obama's ambivalent stance toward his own presidential legacy.

And so Russia sits in a type of limbo, trying to maintain world-class oil production utilising Soviet-era infrastructure -- in the face of a demographic collapse of ethnic Russians, a continuing capital flight overseas, and an enervating brain drain and "womb drain" to freer lands abroad.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

A 30 Year Plan to Move From Crude Oil to Synthetic Fuels

Princeton engineers have worked out a 30 year plan to substitute synthetic fuels in place of crude oil across the US. The total cost of the transformation was estimated to be $1.1 trillion -- roughly the average of a typical Obama yearly budget deficit.
In a series of scholarly articles over the past year, a team led by Christodoulos Floudas, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton, evaluated scenarios in which the United States could power its vehicles with synthetic fuels rather than relying on oil. Floudas' team also analyzed the impact that synthetic fuel plants were likely to have on local areas and identified locations that would not overtax regional electric grids or water supplies.

"The goal is to produce sufficient fuel and also to cut CO2 emissions, or the equivalent, by 50 percent," said Floudas, the Stephen C. Macaleer '63 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science. "The question was not only can it be done, but also can it be done in an economically attractive way. The answer is affirmative in both cases."

Accomplishing this would not be easy or quick, Floudas said. A realistic approach would call for a gradual implementation of synthetic fuel technology, and Floudas estimated it would take 30 to 40 years for the United States to fully adopt synthetic fuel. It also would not be cheap. He estimates the price tag at roughly $1.1 trillion for the entire system. _SD
Am. Inst. Chemical Engineering article abstract

Substituting for oil in the rubber industry

Using biomass, gas, coal, kerogens, bitumens, gas hydrates, etc. to produce substitutes for crude oil in fuels, high value chemicals, materials, lubricants, fertilisers, etc. is likely to grow more popular across the developed and emerging worlds.

Whichever feedstock is most available at affordable rates and in reliable quantities is likely to become more popular, at any given point in time. At this time, natural gas occupies that niche in North America. In the future, it may be coal or biomass -- or a combination of any of the above.

As high temperature gas cooled nuclear reactors become mass produced in modular form, the ability to convert any carbonaceous form into any hydrocarbon as needed, will become more affordable -- along with more abundant and reliable electrical power.

The impact of these substitute fuels and chemicals on "peak oil" will be mixed, and will depend largely upon governmental and inter-governmental regulations, as they develop in the near future. One possible paradoxical effect on future oil prices might involve the postponement of development of marginal oil deposits such as particular deep sea deposits, in anticipation of the development of more affordable oil substitutes.

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Doomerism and Alzheimer's Disease

As persons grow older, they become prone to decline and breakdown of a wide variety of body and mental systems. The tendency to become depressed and pessimistic -- as well as to begin suffering brain dementia of various types -- grows in frequency. Such a decline in logical clarity is beginning to show in the works of asset manager Jeremy Grantham, recently called to task by the Canadian polymath Vaclav Smil.
Jeremy Grantham, a well-known presence in the financial world, recently published a World View column in the journal Nature in which he concludes that, “simply, we are running out’’ of almost all commodities whose consumption sustains modern civilization. There is nothing new about such claims, and since the emergence of a vocal global peak oil movement during the late 1990s, many other minerals have been added to the endangered list. Indeed, there is now a book called Peak Everything. What makes Grantham’s column – published under the alarmist headline “Be Persuasive. Be Brave. Be Arrested (If Necessary)” – worth noticing, and deconstructing, is that he puts his claims in terms more suitable for tabloids than for one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific weekly magazines.

His direst example is “the impending shortage of two fertilizers: phosphorus (phosphate) and potassium (potash). These two elements cannot be made, cannot be substituted, are necessary to grow all life forms, and are mined and depleted. It’s a scary set of statements…. What happens when these fertilizers run out is a question I can’t get satisfactorily answered and, believe me, I have tried.’’ Well, he could have tried just a bit harder: an Internet search would have led him, in mere seconds, to “World Phosphate Rock Reserves and Resources,” a study published in 2010 by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

This detailed assessment of the world’s phosphate reserves (that are the part of a wider category of resources that is recoverable with existing techniques and at acceptable cost) concluded that they are adequate to produce fertilizer for the next 300 to 400 years. As with all mineral resource appraisals (be they of crude oil or rare earths), the study’s conclusions can be criticized and questioned, and the statement by the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative is perhaps the best document of that kind. But even the most conservative interpretation of IFDC’s assessment shows that phosphates have a reserve/production ratio well in excess of 100 years, higher than that of many other critical mineral resources.

Even the most conservative interpretation of IFDC’s assessment shows that phosphates have a reserve/production ratio well in excess of 100 years, higher than that of many other critical mineral resources.

Grantham could have also checked the standard, and the most often quoted, sourcebooks on the world’s mineral resources, Mineral Commodity Summaries, published annually by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In the latest edition, he would have found that the USGS made significant revisions to its phosphate rock reserves data for Morocco, Russia, Algeria, Senegal, and Syria, and that it now puts the global reserve / production ratio at about 370 years. Or he could have consulted the materials put out by the International Fertilizer Industry Association, whose members include many of the world’s most prominent fertilizer producers, traders, and shippers. The association (emphasis in the original) “does not believe that peak phosphorus is a pressing issue, or that phosphate rock depletion is imminent. Nevertheless, it believes that efforts to minimize phosphorus losses to the environment and optimize phosphorus use should be encouraged.’’ _Jeremy Grantham's Doom
The simplest explanation for such mental sloppiness on Grantham's part, would be the early onset of dementia -- not terribly uncommon at his age.

But this association of doomerism with a confused "tunnel vision" thought style is common among doomer groups -- including those who obsess over religious doom, peak oil doom, climate catastrophe doom, overpopulation doom, or any of a wide range and large number of fashionable dooms that occupy aging minds.

As they see their own body systems falling apart, and as their friends and family members fall by the wayside year after year, it is natural for persons to project the sense of their own impending doom onto the world at large.

A large number of websites have been set aside for such persons to commiserate with others of their ilk. This may keep them out of greater mischief, which should be seen as a blessing by society at large.

There is certainly a good deal of money to be made from these unfortunate individuals, for the unscrupulous huckster willing to take advantage of their gullibility. And it is possible that Jeremy Grantham -- rather than being a victim of dementia himself -- is actually one of the unscrupulous hucksters seeking to take advantage.

Your best bet would be to avoid risking your assets with anyone who would make you wonder about his mental competence, by being unwilling to verify the facts behind his more controversial public assertions.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Nuts and Bolts of Nuclear Reactors

Prime candidates for slide-in modules are high-temperature reactors, which do exactly what the name implies: they generate steam at up to 1,000 °C, much hotter than the roughly 300 °C available from light-water reactors. This requires some radically different design choices, such as the use of helium gas instead of water to extract heat, and the use of a heat-resistant fuel made from oxides and carbides of uranium.

Such reactors cannot melt down: the fuel is stable up to 1,600 °C, hundreds of degrees hotter than the core would become even if all power and coolant were lost. The high temperatures would make the reactors more efficient at producing electricity. And they could slash carbon emissions by supplying heat for industrial processes. In the United States, roughly 23% of all energy is used in industrial applications such as petroleum cracking and plastics manufacture, many of which need temperatures of at least 700 °C. Currently, those temperatures tend to be generated by burning natural gas; high-temperature reactors could provide a zero-carbon alternative.

A number of commercial high-temperature reactors are under development around the world. But this year, a consortium of petrochemical companies and reactor manufacturers agreed to back the Antares high-temperature reactor design from the French company AREVA, based in Paris. “All that's left is about $800 million of work design and licensing effort required to get the technology to the point where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could approve it,” says Fred Moore, head of the division that provides power and steam for the Dow Chemical Company, headquartered in Midland, Michigan. He estimates that this should take 5–7 years. If all goes to plan, high-temperature systems will be among the first advanced reactors to be deployed, starting in the 2020s.

Not far behind would be fast reactors, which tackle a problem that high-temperature reactors cannot: spent nuclear fuel. Fast reactors could consume the stuff, turning waste into energy and easing the disposal problem. _NatureNews
The image below portrays a basic light water reactor, with comments about more advanced reactor designs to the right of the image.
Light-water reactors achieved their dominance not because they were best, but because they were first. Originally developed in the late 1940s as a compact power source for nuclear ships and submarines, the light-water design was adapted and scaled up during the 1950s, when the United States sought to put a peaceful face on atomic energy by creating a commercial nuclear-power industry. 'Light water' is ordinary H2O, which flows through the reactor core, absorbs its heat and circulates it to a conventional steam turbine that turns the heat into electricity (see 'The nuts and bolts of nuclear').

Eventually, such reactors were meant to be part of a larger system that would make up for a basic inefficiency: left alone, any nuclear reactor will quickly poison itself. As the chain reaction proceeds, the fuel accumulates more and more of the fragments left over after the uranium atoms split, which in turn absorb more and more of the neutrons required to keep the reaction going. After perhaps 18 months, the fuel is 'spent' and has to be removed — even though it still contains much of its original energy.

“So there was always this vision that there would be a recycled-spent-fuel infrastructure that would allow you to recover more of the fuel's energy,” says William Magwood, a former director of the Office of Nuclear Energy at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and now a member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A worldwide network of reprocessing plants would take the spent fuel, chemically extract the still-usable components — mostly uranium-235, plus the fissionable plutonium-239 formed when neutrons are captured by non-fissile uranium-238 — and then turn them into fresh reactor fuel. Ultimately, the plan was to transition to a new generation of 'breeder' reactors designed to maximize plutonium production. The only waste would be a comparatively small residue of intensely radioactive fission products that would decay within a few centuries, and could be disposed of in, say, a well-designed concrete bunker.

This vision became the dominant US strategy in the 1960s and early 1970s, says Magwood, to the point at which authorities terminated much of the research funding for non-breeder reactor designs — including the molten-salt reactor. And the scheme took off: of the 437 nuclear-power reactors currently operating around the world, 356 are light-water reactors....

But an anti-nuclear hysteria developed in the 60s and 70s which led to a curtailment of development of advanced nuclear reactors and reactor medleys. As a result of this faux environmental hysteria, the safer and more efficient ways of using nuclear fuels were never developed on a large scale, and thus the nuclear waste began to build and build and build.
...more radical designs might find an opening with the DOE's cost-sharing programme for Small Modular Reactor development, launched this year. That scheme's goal is to move away from the current multi-gigawatt nuclear plants, which can cost between US$10 billion and $15 billion to build, towards plants of 250 megawatts or less — small enough to mass-produce in a factory and ship to the intended site. Four reactor vendors, all with advanced light-water designs, competed for the award, which on 20 November went to a consortium headed by the Babcock and Wilcox Company of Charlotte, North Carolina.

But other designs could also benefit, says Peterson. “If we can generate a market for light-water small modular reactors,” he says, “that makes it much easier to develop a market for prototype advanced reactors.” Power companies could experiment with the new technology by simply sliding in another module. If it works, great, says Peterson. If it doesn't, not much has been lost. “This lowers their whole risk threshold,” he says.

... _NatureNews
More at link above, including a discussion of molten salt reactors.

Another reactor design which should be included in the discussion, is the heavy water reactor such as the Candu Canadian design -- which can burn unenriched uranium more efficiently than light water designs can burn low enriched uranium fuel.

Russia and China are each working on advanced generation nuclear reactor designs.

In the free world, the NGN Alliance is promoting development of the high temperature gas cooled reactor, Candu is developing advanced heavy water designs, Flibe Energy is developing molten salt reactor designs, and a number of small modular designs are being developed.


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