Archives for category: nuclear

Again and again we are told that there has not been found a solution for the used fuel from nuclear plants.
Trying to bring an end to this (deliberate?) misunderstanding, the following should be considered.
After use, the radioactive fuel elements are stored under water.
– Three years at the power plant.
– Thereafter some 30 years at a temporary storage.

Thus, after almost all radioactivity has “evaporated”,

there are several possibilities.
1) “Wait and see” (Waiting for new regulations or possibilities)
2) Final disposal deep underground. (Almost abandoned)
3) Safe storage for future use. (Most sensible)
4) Reprocessing (As done in France)

About Reprocessing

During use, different harmful elements build up in the fuel rods and they should be removed before there is risk of cracks developing.
However well over 90 % of the original energi is still left, together with different useful elements.
But still
As long as the market has plenty of cheap uranium reprocessing is not economically feasible.
It is the reason for “Safe Storage”.

Dear unknown reader

Somehow I think the above notes should answer the question about nuclear waste.
If you want further details: Have a look at

However, I have a request:
This post was ment as an answer to the repeated statement that

“The problem related to used nuclear fuel has not been solved.”

Assuming that it is not based upon your own observation,
I dare to ask you – –
Go to the sources of this obviously wrong “information” and ask them to stop their (deliberate?) misinformation of the public.

Greetings and good reflection
Thorkil Søe


Usually it is agreed that climate change is mostly due to global pollution with CO2.
It is a huge problem that calls for many imaginative solutions.
The following is a proposal that may be a realistic solution.

Click at yellow text for more details.

A bit technical

  • The earth’s temperature depends on a delicate balance between radiation from the sun.
    And the other way (long-wave) radiation back into space.
    (Sometimes called cold heat radiation.)
  • Even very small changes in these two parameters will have a major impact on the climate.
  • White marble has little absorption of sunligt and great radiance back into space.
    Old galvanized iron (corrugated iron): Just the other way around.
  • Greenhouse gases (CO2) inhibit the emission.
  • Ice at sea and in Greenland is predominantly white as white marble.
    While the sea is black as galvanized iron.
    This results in a dangerous self-reinforcing effect.
  • The Little Ice Age was (perhaps) triggered by a large volcanic eruption at Tambora in Indonesia in 1815
  • Volcanic eruptions in Iceland are claimed to be a contributing factor to the French Revolution.

A few solutions

  • Paint the roads white.
  • Spray up seawater and get some white clouds.
  • And totally unrealistic:
    Extract CO2 from the atmosphere – quite a lot – a few billion tons.


To avoid misunderstandings, I have to point out that I do not have the prerequisites to make a quantitative assessment of what I am proposing.
However, I would like to stress that even a very expensive solution will be justified if it can solve a huge problem.


Hydrogen filled balloons
black – Flying without control at altitudes above maximum flight altitude.
black – Be white (on the upper half.)
black – Be as cheap as possible.
black – Be able to contain the very small hydrogen molecule.
black – Be able to cope with the harsh climate (radiation).
black – Have a reasonably long life.

Even a “micro-meteor” will punch a hole and let the gas escape – slowly.
If deemed necessary: A radio-controlled “suicide mechanism”.

Proposals come forward like mushrooms in the forest.

Some almost negative remarks.

  • Even a lot of energy from sun and from wind will never be able to cover more than a small fraction of the world’s needs for energy.
  • Even if we “in time” – some 35 years ago – had gone hard in for nuclear power, we would still be in trouble.
    But nothing compared to what we have now messed us up into.
  • The proposal will not help with the acidification of the ocean.
    But it is argued and justified that more CO2 in the atmosphere will promote both agriculture and growth in the forests.
  • To me, it seems totally irresponsible that we have just banned fertilization of the ocean.
    In my opinion it will perhaps be the only realistic method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere.
    Maybe also increase the fish stock.
  • Of course
    For good reason it is emphasized that it will be irresponsible to do something that may have negative consequences for others eg in Bangladesh.
    “We” in the industrialized and rich part of the world have already caused climate damage in other countries – without being held accountable.
  • It is stated that
    More than two million people have been displaced during the year due to natural disasters linked to climate change.
  • AND
    I think almost militarily and would argue that a small risk – for a few.
    It will be outweighed by expected great benefits – for the many.

Greetings from Thorkil Søe
I am a civil engineer, retired.
Brogårdsvej 60 – 307 Gentofte, Denmark
Phone +45 5117 1936

J-value or Justification Value.




Often we are faced with the problem:

Shall or Shall Not

We have classic dilemma:
“The Fat Man and the Trolley”
Shall I kill one, in order to save five?

Recently it has been attempted to quantify this recurring dilemma using
For good and for bad it has been necessary to include the value of human life and human wellbeing.
From the link in the heading, I quote:

  • How much should a nuclear power plant spend on protecting its workers?
  • Is it cost-effective to install a new safety system for railway signaling?
  • Should the Government be spending more to prevent road deaths?

I will ask:

  • Do you take on a bullet-proof west before you go out to post a letter?
  • After the tsunami in Japan. All nuclear power were closed.
    Was it really justified?

From my time in Africa I have tried to face the problem:

  • How to spend the limited funds available if you want to give
    (some of) the countless orphans a better future life?

In my opinion a lot of the discussions should be modified considering the philosophy related to J-value.
The following are a few examples.

Relocation measures following nuclear power plant accidents.

From the highlights to a very detailed net-paper,
I refer that
75 % of the evacuations at Chernobyl and ALL at Fukushima were not justified if the evacuations were evaluated considering J-value.

Or more specific:
You consider years lost from the (very limited) radioactive pollution, assuming the alternative “Just stay at home.”
This is then compared to the years lost as a consequence of the mandatory evacuations.

Personally I will claim that the many “evacuation-casualties” has been a result of the reckless fight to demonize nuclear.


From the above mentioned paper I quote:
It balances the costs of a safety scheme against the improvement in quality of life of those affected as a result of implementing that scheme.


Going back to the example with the run away trolley you have:

blaThe scheme: Shifting the
bla – direction of the trolley.
blaCosts: Killing one man.
blaImprovement: Saving five
bla – lives.
blaJustification Value: 5 saved compared to one killed.

Relationship between radiation and harm

Originally – and to be sure – it was assumed that “No matter how little, all radiation is harmful”. (LNT or Linear No Threshold)
Without finding it specified, I understand that this assumption has been used in the above mentioned paper.

However, there are strong evidence showing that even 1000 mSv per year will not be harmful if it is evenly distributed, thus giving the human “repair mekanisme” time to do the job.

For obvious reasons there is an enormous confusion about radiation and the above mentioned 1000 mSv/year is 50 times more than the limit used at Fukushima where people were evacuated – mandatory? – if the radiation was more than 20 mSv/year.
If this is considered there will be even less justification for the many evacuations.

Value of human life

For good and for bad it has been necessary to discuss the value of human life.
It has been done in the above mentioned paper.

In order to set it in perspective, I refer from a lecturer given by a German visiting professor in Dar es Salaam.
He did not shy away from difficult explanations and I remember the following:

  • In the good old times a lot of Germans had at good holiday in the then peaceful Yugoslavia.
    -mm –Some came home in a cuffin.
    -mm –You know: Bad roads and bad drivers.
    But one year one man came home with only one leg because the other had been eaten by a shark.
    The following year the flow of tourists was halved.
    Of course. Soon it came back to normal.


Sometimes we can not shy away from the classic “Trolley Dilemma” where it is discussed:
“Shall I divert the train and kill one in order to save five?”

Still it is relatively easy.
But it is also asked: You stand on a bridge
bla Will you push one man to death in order to save five?
bla And what will you do if this man is a friend of yours?
bla Jump yourself.
An Indian soldier saved his group.
He got the Victoria Cross Post Mortem.

Noise from windmills

What is the value of human life and welfare compared to the wish for
so-called green electricity?
See part of the discussion on

Contaminated / Uninhabitable Areas

Much more than half of all people live in contaminated sites.
Most air pollution or contaminated drinking water.
Whatever our choice – It is in fact based on J-value.

Cleanup at Hanford

During the war and later during the Cold War, plutonium was produced at the Hanford US plant.
As with almost all military activity, there was a poor safety culture.
And, as it is usually the case with “nuclear clean-up”, there have apparently been exaggerated demands.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to find anything but alarming information.
Typically: The account of a tunnel that collapsed.
The cleanup will be both expensive and late.
From the daily newspaper Information: A bombs require US victims.

Despite much search, it has not been possible to find factual information:
(Persons Injury / Death – mSv / ?? or Bq / ?? )
If you, my unknown reader, have factual information, write to me at


In connection with a political struggle between the English Government and the coal miners, it was decided, in fact demanded, that the plant for Plutonium production should also provide power.
As we know, this urgent decision resulted in a very poor security culture and much pollution.

From the Danish paper Information, which usually is anti-nuclear:
bla The British nuclear plant Sellafield houses Western Europe’s most
bla harmful buildings with tons of unknown radioactive material
bla stored in pools.
bla The cleanup will cost the British taxpayers unimaginable sums and
bla will last decades.

As usual, one should try to assess the situation as it was at the time of the Cold War and the political conflict.
Was it justified? J-value

A supporter of nuclear power feels that it should be added that spent fuel elements from nuclear power, along with other highly radioactive material, will be stored in pools under water for up to 30 years.
Of course, because it’s safe and convenient.

Belgian nuclear power 2018

In 2018 it appears that 6 out of 7 Belgian reactors were taken out of service due to incipient damage at connecting buildings.
blaThese buildings contained the pumps to be used if everything else
blafailed. And the buildings might not withstand a crash by an airplane.
On Ingeniørens Netavis (Nov 2018), this is addressed with the almost mocking headline:
One [not closed] out of seven. It is actually pretty miserable.
At the end of more than 125 submissions, an assessment was proposed based on J-value.
In any case, such an assessment would have shown that the closures could only be defended as “politically motivated” and driven by an inflated popular mood.
This attempt to reach the core was not well received.
blaFor reasons, best understood by others, the two above links are now,
blaand contrary to general practice, referring to a “Not Found” (May 2020)

A crash into this secondary building would not even release nuclear radiation.
And nobody talked about the passengers in the planes.

German resistance to nuclear power

In Germany, there is a popular fear of everything with Atom.
Apparently this can be traced back to a study, allegedly showing that children who lived near nuclear power plants had more cases of leukemia and other forms of cancer.
Although the original study has been disputed, an analysis based on
J-value would have been appropriate.

  • In a desperate (and fruitless) attempt to find a connection between the clearly contradictory information, I ask if this (very small) deviation can be explained by Neutrinos.

But again, I emphasize that this, like so much else, should be assessed using the J-value philosophy.

Military Considerations

Although the term J-value was not used at that time, it must have been an almost inhumane task, e.g. deciding whether the invasion of Normandy should be postponed due to bad weather forecasts.

Og nu 2020

I Corona Krisens spor er det muligt at se sandheden i øjnene.

De to pæne aviser: Berlingske Tidene og Kristeligt Dagblad tør nu hvor man tidligere skulle tie.
”Vi kalkulerer hver dag med menneskers død”
Selv det etiske råd går ind i debatten om prisen på liv.

mSv (milliSivert) er et mål for den biologiske virkning af radiation.

  • Baggrundsstrålingen, som vi alle udsættes for, er normalt 2 mSv/år
  • Enkelte steder over 10 gange så meget.
  • 500 mSv som engangspåvirkning vil give svage symptomer på strålesyge, men er ikke livstruende.
  • 2000 mSv som engangspåvirkning vil ofte være dødelig.
  • Selv ved væsentligt mere vil der være en periode på op til flere måneder (næsten) uden symptomer. (Walking Ghosts) eller vandrende spøgelser.
    Den endelige dødsproces kan være lang og meget pinefuld.
  • Overlevende vil ikke have varige skader.
    Dog bortset fra få måneders kortere forventet livslængde.
  • Næsten i en fodnote angiver at 1000 mSv/år
    jævnt fordelt vil give organismen mulighed for at reparere skader løbende og således ikke er skadeligt.
  • Efter katastrofen ved Fukushima blev befolkningen tvangsevakueret fra områder hvor strålingen var over 20 mSv/år.
    Dette var kun 2 % af det der har vist sig ikke at være skadeligt.
    Til gengæld kunne man konstatere et stort antal dødsfald som følge af evakueringerne.
    Alt for sent blev dette taget op i forbindelse med beregningsmetoden J-value eller Justification Value.
  • Der er aldrig konstateret genetisk betingede skader på efterfølgende generationer.

Enheden Sivert og tilsvarende, er et mål for biologisk påvirkning.
Det skal ikke sammenblandes med den anden enhed Bq eller Becquerel, der angiver antal af radioaktive henfald pr sekund.
Der er ingen (tilgængelige) oplysninger om sammenhæng.

Sivert er en meget stor enhed og man taler normalt om milliSivert.
Til gengæld er enheden Becquerel en meget lille enhed og fra naturens hånd er vi alle udsat for over 2000 Bq eller 2000 radioaktive henfald pr sekund.

Hvor farligt ?

Igen og igen bliver man stillet det traditionelle spørgsmål:
Hvor farligt?
Underforstået at kernekraft er farligt.

Her kan man kun svare at i sammenligning med alle andre energikilder, så står atomkraft som den suverænt mest sikre.

Intet er 100 % sikkert.
Du kan blive ramt af en meteor hvis du går ud på gaden.
Selv reaktoren ved Tjernobyl forvoldte få dødsfald.
Jeg citerer:
At the other end of the spectrum, nuclear energy is the safest.
In fact, the United Nation’s (UNSCEAR) changed the estimate of additional deaths from the Chernobyl disaster from radiation in the public, from about 4,000 to about zero.
Some plant staff and emergency workers were killed, and those deaths totalled 58


Fra en lang og grundig norsk e-bog
Radon, lung cancer and the LNT model
(52 sider) refereres:
Meget mere: Se
– – LNT eller “Liniar No Treashold” angiver at
– – “Lige hvor lidt så er stråling altid skadeligt”
1. Radon in homes: It is evident from this long paper that we can forget about most of the remedial actions for reducing the average radon level. This would save a lot of money for those involved.
2. Nuclear power: In the fight for reducing the CO2 release to the atmosphere, nuclear power could be a considerable contributor to the worlds energy supply. The world energy consumption increases annually by approximately 2 %. Also the use of fossil fuel with CO2 release increases. A significant contribution to halt and even reduce the CO2 release would be to increase the contribution from nuclear energy. It is a surprise to us that environmental organizations that worry about global warming – are not pro nuclear.
3. Reactor accidents We have had two major breakdowns of nuclear reactors which both have been treated according to the LNT-theory. For both Chernobyl and Fukushima consequences have been calculated using collective doses and LNT. In Chernobyl a number of people were hospitalized with acute radiation syndrome and 28 died within 3 months. There has also been recorded thyroid cancer to children that was drinking contaminated milk (I-131). Altogether 11 deaths have been recorded. Whether these cancers have been caused by the Chernobyl accident is rather douptful since similar changes in the thyroid have been observed without radiation. Furthermore, the thyroid doses from I-131 after the Chernobyl accident have not been measured and they are very poorly determined. Cancer deaths in combination with the reactor accidents are based on LNT. No threshold and no hormetic region has been considered. However, the most significant and serious decision taken after the reactor accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima was to evacuate several hundred thousands of people. The decision was taken based on the LNT-theory and the use of collective doses. No attempts were made to compare the radiation level in the contaminated areas with the level found in the HBR (High Background Radiation) regions. If such a comparison had been made, the most negative of the reactor accidents could have been avoided.

The following is nothing but a slightly improved version of a Google translation of the original Danish site.
Click on yellow text to follow links.

The Ultimate Goal:
100% Wind Power in Europe

On the web page, that is sparkling with enthusiasm for wind power, one finds an overview of the European wind.

The happy reader finds data for the first half of 2017:
Offshore wind capacity 14.0 GW
Onshore wind capacity 145.5 GW
Maximum yield from wind February 22: 75 GW

Upon closer inspection, this data gives rise to interesting considerations.

It is easy to calculate the Capacity Factor for the “Record Date” Feb. 22nd.
– – – 47% that’s just not impressive.
Of course, you can not keep the S-train running using power that was produced last month.
Click on the chart.
Here you can see that on the “Minimum Days” the yield was 20 GW
– – – It gives a capacity factor of 12.5%
Then it’s tempting to consider “The Ultimate Green Goal” where you assume power and heat exclusively from sun and wind.

– – – Of course:
– – – Without the help of polluting power sources like coal and gas.
– – – And of course without the hated Nuclear power.

Thus, in order to maintain power on the net 24-7-365, there must be available wind capacity of at least 8 times the consumption.
Of course, these many wind turbines will stand still or idle for most of the time.
In addition: An almost unimaginable amount of high-voltage power lines will be needed to reconcile supply and demand across the European continent.

Specifically, it means that if the wind power lobby boast of that
“Now it costs only 100 € / kW (capacity)”
Yes, then the consumer must pay well over 700 € / kW extra for the necessary overcapacity.
And at least the same for the necessary high voltage net across the European continent.
These long wires will have a (significant?) energy loss.
This will require even more wind turbines.


That was what happens on “those bad days”
On “the good days” you will have an unimaginable amount of useless energy.
Or have to stop almost all wind turbines.

An Illustrative Review

Click the chart to get full size.
On these pictures you can see more than the usual dream.
The gray areas indicate supply with basic load and different types of

I come with the following (small) objections.
– There will always be some (little) available hydropower.
– At European level there will always be some (little) available wind power.

But if “you’re going the plank out” and assume that all energy should be “green”.
It is easy to imagine the situation:
A lot of unused energy or unused capacity.
In my opinion it should have been shown on a fifth picture.

Of course there is something else

Of course there are other power sources.
In fact, most will only be marginal.
But no matter what; it is impossible to assume that, for example, the
“wind gods” will promise to be active at night – always.


If solar power (PV) is included in the calculations, the situation will at first get more muddy.
But ultimately only worsened.


To avoid misunderstandings, I mention that, even using the most optimistic projections, it will be impossible to pay for batteries to store energy for more than a few hours of the “low time” – Which can easily be more than a week.


If heat can be stored in sufficient quantities and at a reasonable price,
You will get a good help?


will, even with the help of Norway, only be a drip in the European ocean.


has evolved into being the rabbit, pulled out of the hat, when you want to overcome the reality.
At European level, it will hardly be more than a drip in the ocean.
A very expensive drip.

Nuclear Power

is sometimes suggested as backup.
Based on an economic assessment, it is unrealistic.
Due to the risk of Xenon Poisoning and an accident like Chernobyl, it will be irresponsible.


If you want to know why our dream of stable and pollution-free energy, it burst.
So take time to read another page.

Especially for Denmark

Denmark is a little country with good neighbors.
When we buy backups from Norway and Sweden, we pay ONLY twice as much as we get when we export bulkheads.

In this way, Denmark will be, not just the first country to invest in wind power.
But we will probably be the last country to understand that it was an expensive mistake.

Meanwhile, Denmark becomes a backward country with very little electrification.

kWh per person

Now consider the realities

If you, my unknown reader, have come so far, I ask you to take a little break and consider the consequences.

If you would like more, please continue to here .
Or you may see some of my sources.

Why did we jump on this
Limed Twig?

After the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island , we went into panic, mostly in the United States.
Until today, we live with the consequences.

Also in England

25 January 2018 World Nuclear quotes The Policy Exchange.
“Decarbonising our existing electricity system with 100% renewable energy might be possible, but unnecessarily expensive and perhaps unsustainable.”
The topic is discussed but the conclusion is hardly changed.

If you, my unknown reader, have FACTUAL objections, write to me
Otherwise, I say goodbye and have a good time of thought.
Thorkil Søe

Stråling og Enheder Se her
Fake News Se her
Dirty Bomb Se her
Personskader Se her
– – – Stråling og Cancer Se her
– – – Skader fra stråling Se her
– – – Næste generation Se her
– – – Why are you afaid ? Se her


07.11.2018 hævdes (formentligt bevises) at olieindustrien allerede kort efter krigen kendte til mekanismen bag klimaændringerne.
I stedet for at advare allierede man sig med forskere der benægtede eller nedtonede sammenhængen.
Kort efter krigen så den blomstrende olieindustri, der var koncentreret omkring Rockefælder Fonden, hvorledes den kommende udvikling af atomkraft var en alvorlig konkurrent.
Man fandt en god støtte i den amerikanske forsker Herman Muller, der allerede før krigen havde vist at ioniserende stråling (Røntgen eller Radioaktivt) kunne medføre kromosom-ændringer (nedarvede ændringer?) i forsøgsdyr. (Bananfluer)
Herved startede den folkelige frygt for radioaktivitet.

Nyttige Idioter

Inden længe (1971) trådte Greenpeace – og specielt eftersnakkere – ind på banen med et utal af false beretninger om en overhængende fare
i forbindelse med alt der var forbundet med atomkraft.

Ideologisk Sammenfald ?

Efter alt at dømme var de vestligste “fredsbevægelser” organiseret og støttet fra det gamle Soviet – ikke kun gennem utallige “personlige” bidrag.
Man blev inviteret til “Fredslejre” i Østeuropæiske vasalstater.

Der var – og er – et stærkt “personsammenfald” mellem “anti-atom” og de mange fredsbevægelser.
Det er naturligvis umuligt at afgøre om der også var tale om egentlig økonomisk støtte fra olieindustrien eller senere fra de mange “vedhæng”.

I dag

I løbet af 2018 begynder offentligheden af forstå at der er noget der hedder klimaændringer.
Det betyder at “De Grønne” er i et slemt dilemma:
Kampen mod atomkraft støttes af den siddende amerikanske president, der går ind for mere kulkraft.


er det hævet over enhver tvivl at “De Forurenende” – Både olie og kul – fik, og får, (indirekte) opbakning både fra “De Røde” og fra Greenpeace, der bekæmper og dæmoniserer den fælles fjende: Atomkraft.
På grundlag af dette føler jeg at denne bloks overskrift er berettiget.
Kort fortalt betyder det, at vores uvidenhed begrænser vores evne til at erkende vores egen uvidenhed.
Se om den magiske silver-bullet, der kan omgå de elementære termodynamiske love og lave CO2 om til flydende brændsel.

Og.klik påb For sources and references:
Og.klik påb Click on the yellow and see if you get useful details.
Og.klik påb Click on pictures for more details.

“Western Nuclear” is in deep troubles.

This has been seen again and again.

We must conduct a proper post mortem and find out why.
First the obvious symptoms:
– Cheapest nuclear power from an ‘old system’ (Sweden): € 26/MWh
– Cheapest nuclear power from new power plants (Korea): € 27/MWh
– Most expensive new nuclear power (Hinkley Point C): € 124/MWh
– Russia: “Guarantee” 2017 50 €/MWh
Kina, Russia and Korea are able to follow plans.
Both costs and timetable.

We have to analyze the horrifying symptoms and I have tried to come forward with the following:
– Why it is so expensive:
– How the exaggerated demands for safety undermines the economy:

The Market ?

Is it because we are locked into a capitalistic thinking and will, at all costs, avoid government investments?

From The Energy Collective
Edward Kee, February 23, 2017, I quote, extract and modify:

– – – – However, consolidating, standardizing and scaling require:
– Selection of a “winning vendor” – around which the industry can
– Selection of a “winning design” – around which the industry can
standardize; and
– Large need for new nuclear capacity to facilitate scale.
– Government determination.

– –The examples of where this has been done are limited.
– France until mid-1980s (when N4 designs started construction)
– South Korea
– China
– Russia and
– Probably also Sweden.

– –What these examples have in common are:
– Government ownership of nuclear power industry.
(Easy to decide on vendor and reactor design.)
– Government control of electricity industry.
(Captive customer for nuclear power plants).
– Need for capacity.
(Large and growing demand for power).
– An industry, allowed to getting things done.


– –The market approach to nuclear power, whether in U.S. or elsewhere in the world, involves:
– Vendors competing for market share.
– Reactor designs being developed by these vendors to meet buyer
preferences and/or requirements.
– Ever changing government demands and regulations.
– And, building units as possible (i.e., when buyers make investments.)

To make matters worse

Private investors will obviously be afraid of being treated as in Germany.
It may be difficult to find out:
– Shall we go for the extreme? – Both price and security.
(as in England.)
– Shall we go for something realistic?
(as now in Finland and different East European countries.)
– Shall we just wait and see?
– Will it be possible to find the necessary (private) investment?
(Except for the rich Gulf-states.)
It is trumped, that nuclear (in the west)
will be extinct.


What can be done to get out of the iron-grip of those who, just per automatic, say no No NO as soon as they hear the word nuclear?

Dear unknown reader

I need your input and hopefully constructive comments.
Write to me at

Thorkil Søe


From a long, but interesting article in The Economist Feb. 2017, I quote:
– –Paradoxically, that means:
The more states support renewables, the more they will have to pay for conventional power plants, too, using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency.


Now we ask: Does nuclear has a future in the west (US)

From The Economist 2017 Feb. 25

I have made major changes in the lay-out:
Mainly headings and line-shifts.
My additions and comments are marked as “indented text” with bullets.
Sometimes, I have used square brackets [ ]


ALMOST 150 years after photovoltaic cells and wind turbines were invented; they still generate only 7% of the world’s electricity.
Yet something remarkable is happening.

  • If the grid has less than say 10 % of the supply from the unstable renewable, this renewable can be incorporated in the system without major problems.
    Above this it starts to act as parasites.

From being peripheral to the energy system, just over a decade ago, they [the renewables] are now growing faster than any other energy source and their falling costs are making them competitive with fossil fuels.

  • As usually it is not discussed, how the varying and partly unpredictable renewables, should pay for the necessary backup.

BP, an oil firm, expects renewables to account for half of the growth in global energy supply over the next 20 years.
It is no longer far-fetched to think that the world is entering an era of clean, unlimited and cheap power.

About time, too

There is a $20trn drawback, though.
To get from here to there, we will require huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching power plants and to upgrade the pylons and wires that bring electricity to consumers.

  • $20trn, as an investment, would bring us a long way towards nuclear with future clean and reliable power.
  • Here, as usually, it is “forgotten” that very little will be gained with a strong net to distribute what is not there.
    Or better: For obvious reasons, sunshine is synchronized.
    But in spite of green hopes, the wind is almost synchronized as well.
  • On an other website, I discuss the hopeles dream.

The dirty secret

Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns.
Yet green energy has a dirty secret.
The more [subsidized] renewables is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source.
That makes it hard to manage the transition to a carbon-free future, during which many generating technologies, clean and dirty, need to remain profitable.
If the lights are to stay on.
Unless the market is fixed, subsidies to the industry will only grow.


Policymakers are already seeing this inconvenient truth as a reason to put the brakes on renewable energy.
In parts of Europe and China, investment in renewables is slowing as subsidies are cut back.
However, the solution is not less wind and solar.
It is to rethink how the world prices clean energy in order to make better use of it.

  • It is difficult to understand why nuclear is excluded from being “clean”.

Shock to the system

At its heart, the problem is that government-supported renewable energy has been imposed on a market designed in a different era.

For much of the 20th century, electricity was made and moved by vertically integrated, state-controlled monopolies.
From the 1980s onwards, many of these were broken up, privatized and liberalized, so that market forces could determine where best to invest.
Today only about 6% of electricity users get their power from monopolies.

The pressure

Yet everywhere the pressure to decarbonize power supply has brought the state creeping back into markets.

This is disruptive for three reasons.
The first is the subsidy system itself.
The other two are inherent to the nature of wind and solar: their intermittency and their very low running costs.

All three help explain why power prices are low and public subsidies are addictive.

1: Substidies

First, the splurge of public subsidy, of about $800bn since 2008, has distorted the market.
It came about for noble reasons – to counter climate change and prime the pump for new, costly technologies, including wind turbines and solar panels.

  • No. I dare to say that it was not noble reasons.
    $800bn became available because we, in the West, had been brainwashed against nuclear.
  • Try to imagine how it would have been now.
    If these $800bn had been used for nuclear, instead of being lost down into a bottomless green hole?
  • If so, it would have been enough to pay for 160 new reactors as those now exported by Korea to UAE

But subsidies hit just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis.
The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.

2: Intermittent

Second, green power is intermittent.
The vagaries of wind and sun – especially in countries without favorable weather – mean that turbines and solar panels generate electricity only part of the time.
To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in when renewables falter.

  • Much too often we see how it is assumed, that the (dirty) coal, and especially the (hated) nuclear, should just kick in and act as back-up for the (bellowed) renewables.
  • Here, it is necessary to come forward with the following:
    1) The physical lifetime of these plants will suffer with frequent
    blaramp-up and down.
    2) After a ramp-down, a nuclear plant will suffer Xenon-poisoning.
    blaIn this way, a quick ramp-up may result in an accident as at
    However, “Western Reactors” are provided with a proper containment.
    Therefore a “Chernobyl Accident” will not cause damage outside the plat.
    3) The costs for power from coal, and especially from nuclear, are
    blamainly fixed costs.
    Elementary economics will show that it is not the best to use coal and nuclear as back-up.
    4) Back-up will usually be hydro or gas-fired plants.
  • Without subsidies.
    If we want to be “green” it must be with very high economic penalties on pollution.
    In an absolutely free market, nuclear would probably be able to manipulate the prices and kill the economics of renewables.
    Just as the subsidies to the renewable is killing the economy of the rest.

3: Investors

But because conventional power plants are idle for long periods, they find it harder to attract private investors.
So, to keep the lights on, they require public funds.

Everyone is affected by this third factor:
Renewable energy has negligible or zero marginal running costs because the wind and the sun are free.

  • It is claimed, but usually neglected, that the wind-turbines, and especially the gears, have a limited life-time, which is markedly reduced during max loads.

In a market that prefers energy produced at the lowest short-term cost, wind and solar take business from providers that are more expensive to run, such as coal plants, depressing power prices, and hence revenues for all.

Get smart

The higher the penetration of renewables, the worse these problems get.
Especially in saturated markets.
In Europe, which was first to feel the effects, utilities have suffered a “lost decade” of falling returns, stranded assets and corporate disruption.
Last year, Germany’s two biggest electricity providers, E.ON and RWE, both split in two.
In renewable-rich parts of America power providers struggle to find investors for new plants.
Places with an abundance of wind, such as China, are curtailing wind farms to keep coal plants in business.

  • Wind farms in northern China are far away from the necessary back-up provided by stable regulated hydro.
    The necessary power lines are not cheap either.
    In this way it has been necessary to abandon projects for power from wind.


The consequence is that the electricity system is being re-regulated as investment goes chiefly to areas that benefit from public support.
Paradoxically, that means the more states support renewables, the more they [have to] pay for conventional power plants.
Using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency

  • Capacity payments has been introduced in England.
    In Germany the talk is about “scheduled black outs”.

In effect, politicians rather than markets, are, once again, deciding how to avoid blackouts.


They often make mistakes:
Germany’s support for cheap, dirty lignite caused emissions to rise, notwithstanding huge subsidies for renewables.
Without a new approach the renewables revolution will stall.
[See also ]


The good news is that new technology can help fix the problem.
Digitalization, smart meters and batteries are enabling companies and households to smooth out their demand — by doing some energy-intensive work at night, for example.
This helps to cope with intermittent supply.

  • Smart meters and variation in prices has been proposed, and rejected, some 40 years ago.
    Anyhow, whatever is done, it will have a limited effect.
  • For the time being, and for the foreseeable future, batteries will not be cheap enough to stabilize the grid for more than very short periods.
  • Much too often we are told, that “Small is Beautiful”.
    If larger plants cannot be economic, it may not be possible for smaller plants.

Small, modular power plants, which are easy to flex up or down, are becoming more popular, as are high-voltage grids that can move excess power around the network more efficiently.

  • Can smart grid save the fluctuating wind power?

  • In the discussion about wind power variation, it is often mentioned that ‘we just’ need to connect countries with a strong network of power lines.
  • April 2016 this problem was addressed by Sören Kjärsgaard.
    He provides a very thorough assessment of the energy situation, especially in Denmark and Germany.
    From this report is quoted as follows:
    It is evident that when you have said Wind power you have to say back-up too.
    Could this back-up be:
    European Wind Power connected by a super grid?
    ——– You find data from Austria, Belgium, Czech Rep.,
    ——– Denmark, Spain, France, Finland, Hungary, Poland,
    ——– Sweden and Germany:
    Over this huge area, the Wind Power fluctuates between
    56,512 MW and 3801 MW (7%).

    The answer will be NO – Unfortunately
    No matter, how much smart grid you get, it can not conjure a stable supply.
  • On another page I have tried to analyze the hypothetical situation assuming Wind Only.
    It should not come as a surprise that it will be extremely expensive.
    If at all possible.

The power market

The bigger task is to redesign power markets to reflect the new need for flexible supply and demand.
They should adjust prices more frequently, to reflect the fluctuations of the weather.
At times of extreme scarcity, a high fixed price could kick in to prevent blackouts.
Markets should reward those willing to use less electricity to balance the grid.
Just as they reward those who generate more of it.
Bills could be structured to be higher or lower depending how strongly a customer wanted guaranteed power all the time – a bit like an insurance policy.

  • Sure, but as mentioned above, it will have a long way to go and will be of minor benefit.
  • Extremely high prices will have a heavy negative social impact – even if it is for shorter periods.

In short, policymakers should be clear they have a problem and that the cause is not renewable energy, but the out-of-date system of electricity pricing.
Then they should fix it.

  • Again, 2019-09-21, The Economist comes with a long and thorough assessment.
    Of course, without stating a real solution or pointing out those responsible.

The past present and future of climate change.
Humanity will find ways to adapt to climate change.


Tysk solkraft variationFrom Germany: (right)
From the American “Sunshine-states”: (below)Duck curve result (2)
Sure you know: I say go nuclear.
If you say Chernobyl, then look at
If you say Fukushima, then look at
Previously, I have tried to get to the same problem on the following:
Is “Western Nuclear” on its death-bead?
Why did nuclear end up to be so expensive?
Passionately, I claim that we have been cheated by “The Green”
Greenpeace’s Credibility is a Myth.

Mere KK mindre forureningIf you want to avoid (unnecessary) pollution.
Better do as in France.