Nuclear Power “Essential” – Gates and Granholm

By James C. Sherlock

Bill Gates and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm demonstrated and published a joint position on nuclear energy nearly two years ago:

“Nuclear power is the only carbon-free energy source we have that can deliver power day and night throughout any season, almost anywhere on earth. And it’s been proven to work at a large scale,” said Bill Gates, founder and chairman of TerraPower and noted philanthropist, during his remarks at this year’s Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA).

In a clean energy system, wind and solar will play important roles as renewable resources, but they will need support from reliable, carbon-free electricity. Nuclear energy, which accounts for over half of our carbon-free energy, is poised to be a critical part of decarbonization efforts.

“It’s hard to imagine a future where we can decarbonize our power grid affordably without using more nuclear power,” Gates said.

Then:

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to investing in nuclear energy when she spoke at NEA.

“Between DOE’s historic budget request and the massive investments in the American Jobs Plan, this administration is going to be able to launch more nuclear energy projects across the country,” said Granholm.

“It’s going to be able to bring the benefits of clean sources of electricity and the high-quality jobs they’ll create to more communities. It will move mountains in our pursuit of President Biden’s bold climate and clean energy jobs agenda.”

“These next few years offer a can’t-miss opportunity to harness nuclear’s full potential,” said Granholm.

Policymakers recognize the need to expand and innovate, as it becomes clear that we need more nuclear power to fight climate change. And in turn, new nuclear sites and projects expand opportunities for steady, high-paying jobs for skilled workers.

Governor Youngkin agrees wholeheartedly.

The governor’s “all-of-the-above” energy plan includes nuclear expansion in Virginia and mirrors in every way that matters the nuclear power policy of the Biden administration.

Some Virginians:

  • didn’t get that message and study the evidence that has brought Mr. Gates, Gov. Youngkin and the Biden administration and its Department of Energy to that common position; or
  • have studied the scientific evidence of technology advances and still oppose nuclear energy; or
  • have not studied the evidence but remember when opposition to nuclear energy was a progressive virtue signal; or
  • think their friends (professors? classmates?) dislike nuclear energy and don’t want to offend; or
  • some combination of the above.

But occupying ground to the left of Mr. Gates and the Biden Administration on nuclear energy is well into Luddite territory and precariously close to the edge of the economic cliff represented by unreliable energy.

I believe most Virginians can be converted to the federal and state position if the Youngkin administration publicizes the facts surrounding nuclear power and:

  • advances in safety;
  • the stability of the grid;
  • the potential for consumption of nuclear waste produced by legacy generations of nuclear plants;
  • economic competitiveness; and
  • the bipartisan agreement that backs expansion.

Especially the bipartisan agreement.  It will surprise most people.

I believe the Biden administration position and its own ethos (it is not “Green Virginia”) is why Clean Virginia has offered to come to the table with the Governor’s team to negotiate the terms of further nuclear energy deployment in Virginia.

There will be some foot dragging, but the path is clear.


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44 responses to “Nuclear Power “Essential” – Gates and Granholm”

  1. Lefty665 Avatar
    Lefty665

    “the potential for consumption of nuclear waste”

    That is not a big attraction of nuclear power for me. Is it tasty and nutritious? OTOH, I appreciate that when fishing in Lake Anna that the fish in the warm water end of the lake glow in the dark. That makes them easy to see and saves the expense of a fish finder.

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Bringing up Gates is like quoting Fauci to alot of folks. And she’s a fool in my book. Virginians have lived with Dominion nukes and the nuke Navy for decades. I don’t think they need much persuading. The issue will be cost and overcoming the desperate desire of the wind-solar-battery industrial complex to build a monopoly.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      It simply shows Democrats that there is no space between the Youngkin policy on nukes and the Biden policy on nukes.

      Very few of them know it, and assume the opposite. In a battle for the hearts and minds, it is worth knowing.

      I also checked, and there is no lesson in the Virginia Standards of Learning for Science that addresses electrical power generation, much less nuclear power.

      Virginia freshmen are showing up at the engineering schools having sat through “earth science”. How do you think those lessons were taught?

      I have notified the Secretary of Education of that gap. We’ll see what is done.

      1. Acbar Avatar

        Good luck with getting SOLs attention to power generation! SH is quite right to point to cost and complementing renewables power as the deciding factors. I say “complementing” not “competing with” even though off-shore wind does have a whiff of monopoly in some folks’ thinking these days.

        Just remember, the more wind (and solar) power you build the more essential it is to have more baseload power to complement it, and if it isn’t nuclear baseload power it will be coal and gas fueled. Without sufficient baseload generation you really are in “blackout territory.”

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          And the more battery (or other types of) storage you have, the less baseload you need. That being said clearly nuclear is in the mix. It always has been. I see no wedge issue here (which is what Sherlock/Youngkin seeks) nor do I think it is especially game-changing in nature. I remain skeptical as to the cost and availability of these very specialized and complex plants (especially if demand actually rises), and regardless of Sherlock’s rosy outlook, waste and safety are real concerns in most people’s minds. I don’t see that simply evaporating. But if it gets us there, the Left has clearly signaled a cautious acceptance.

          1. Nathan Avatar

            (And the more battery (or other types of) storage you have, the less baseload you need.)

            There’s insufficient lithium already. The more that’s used for massive storage, the less that will be available for vehicles.

            “Not Enough Lithium To Satisfy US EV Adoption Goals, Says Mining CEO
            And there’s just no way to change the situation quickly, as the US has fallen way behind.”

            https://insideevs.com/news/609121/lithium-supply-cant-meet-demand-ev-targets/

          2. Acbar Avatar

            True about batteries but they remain a costly alternative. Batteries allow the grid operator to ‘time-shift’ generation output to when it has increased value. Such a battery pays for itself if the increased value of that energy exceeds the carrying cost of the initial investment in the battery over its limited life cycle (plus, many would argue, the externalities involved in making the battery) — usually there’s a positive payback only if the grid involved is especially short of peaking power. Nuclear generation payback is greatest on the grid that’s short of baseload power. Different grids, different needs; and sometimes the more economic solution is fix neither need but simply increase the transmission capability between those differences. These needs and the demand forecasts driving them are what the SCC’s hearings on Dominion’s IRP ought to be all about — the politics notwithstanding.

          3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            You used my name twice. Both attributions were wrong.

            The purpose of the piece was t0 point out, as I did, that nuclear power should not be a wedge issue.

            The outlook I have quoted is that of the Biden Department of Energy, not mine.

            It is up to the governments of Virginia and the United States, whose nuclear power policy is expansion, to address people’s concerns.

            They do so in their statements, investments and technology forecasts and assessments.

            It is up to the press to report and report accurately on what those policies and assessments are.

            I have done so in this series, at every step linking to technical information from the Department of Energy.

            Those are the reasons for and the primary source of information for this series, so if you intend to address my motivations, address them properly.

          4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            “But occupying ground to the left of Mr. Gates and the Biden Administration on nuclear energy is well into in Luddite territory and precariously close to the edge of the economic cliff represented by unreliable energy.”

            Sherlock when called on his attempts to drive a wedge on the left between Biden supporters and so-called Luddites to their left:

            “Moi?!”

          5. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            So providing the Biden administration’s stated position is now “wedge driving”. Got it. You’re still in Luddite territory.

            Still want to know who “we ‘ are. So far you and Nancy.

          6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            In what way am I in Luddite territory? I have repeatedly voice support for nuclear along with renewables to replace fossil fuels. I support Biden’s energy policy, even the parts Youngkin has glommed on to. Your wedge will find little space between me and my president.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Lemme see. Take farmland and think about putting solar panels on it and the Right freaks out over the loss of food production or aesthetics. But storing spent nuclear fuels for 10s of thousands of years is a good use?

    1. Lefty665 Avatar
      Lefty665

      But storage is a very compact use, it does not take up much space. Maybe putting solar panels on the dry storage spent fuel containers and wind turbines on the wet storage containers would make them “greener”.

    2. Lefty665 Avatar
      Lefty665

      But storage is a very compact use, it does not take up much space. Maybe putting solar panels on the dry storage spent fuel containers and wind turbines on the wet storage containers would make them “greener”.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        As long as nothing living is put there.

        1. Lefty665 Avatar
          Lefty665

          We could give evolution a boost right there in Louisa County, aka ‘The land time forgot”.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “…edge of the economic cliff represented by unreliable energy…”

    We are trying to move us away from that unreliable natural gas-based energy… don’t worry we will get there before too long…

    1. Randy Huffman Avatar
      Randy Huffman

      Unreliable natural gas energy? Say what you want about fossil fuels, coal included, but they have reliably powered the US for decades

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Recent grid collapses in TX and NC have been due to natural gas generation failures so lately reliability has been called into question. The thing about renewables is that they are really very predictable and reliable. The issue being raised is that they are (predictably and reliably) intermittent as well.

        1. Randy Huffman Avatar
          Randy Huffman

          That’s not an honest assessment of what happened. These were grid failures, not gas plant failures. Very well documented, and as anyone would know, gas plants are the principle method to address peak demands. Sure in theory batteries can fill that void for a short period of time, but since when are extreme weather events only short term in nature?

          1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            In both cases the grid failed because natural gas generators did not perform as expected. That is indisputable. Even in most extreme weather events, renewable provide the planned energy. You are correct that they are not designed to provide base load energy but for what they are designed to do, they do very reliably.

          2. Randy Huffman Avatar
            Randy Huffman

            Totally disagree, it was a grid issue. Not an issue with the plant itself

          3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/natural-gas-power-storm/

            “Texas largely relies on natural gas — especially during times of high demand — to power the state. Experts say natural gas infrastructure, from pumping it out of the ground to the plants in city centers, was unprepared for the plunging temperatures brought by the winter storm.”

            That is the fuel supplied to NG generators. No NG fuel, no NG energy. Not a grid problem, an energy generation problem. Also:

            https://www.wral.com/amp/20690085/

            “Duke’s North Carolina President Kendal Bowman said the demand for power was about 10% higher than expected because the temperatures outside fell faster than anticipated. At the same time, she said, the company suddenly lost about half the generating power at three power plants because instrumentation froze up in the cold, despite weather proofing by the utility.”

          4. Randy Huffman Avatar
            Randy Huffman

            I actually read similar articles. But it’s still a grid issue, not with the station s themselves., and what other choice does any state have during extreme weather? Nothing. Texas has 25 percent powered by wind, what contributions did they make during the cold snap? Nothing. Your making an argument of unreliable gas plants but are pointing to extreme weather events.

          5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            I would note that during these events, solar facilities operated as expected…. Also:

            https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/renewable-energy-texas-grid-heat-wave/

            “And significantly, solar power, which has been the star of the Texas grid so far during this interminable summer, continued to set records for energy production. If your air conditioner has been steadily running all summer long, you can thank the mighty power of the sun.”

          6. Lefty665 Avatar
            Lefty665

            Wind did not. They froze too.

          7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            So natural gas was as unreliable as wind… solar saves the day…

          8. Lefty665 Avatar
            Lefty665

            The gas failures were freezing of gas pumps because they had not prepared for weather as cold as it got. It was not an “energy generation problem” it was an energy transportation problem. It was much like Fukushima’s failure to build dikes high enough to keep the tsunami out. It was an event outside the design assumptions.

          9. Randy Huffman Avatar
            Randy Huffman

            You’re probably right on your point but there were also grid issues. But the bottom line is that this whole argument got started due to an assertion that gas plants are unreliable. You can’t point to extreme weather events to make that overall argument. It would be like making an argument that offshore wind turbines or gas drilling rigs are unreliable because they might have to shut them down due a tropical storm

          10. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Sherlock is the one who referenced “unreliable energy sources”. I just gave an example. If the definition of “reliable” is that the generating “plant” works within the conditions for which it was designed, I suspect that there are no “unreliable” energy sources.

          11. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Well, perhaps “reliability” is simply a factor of complexity – inversely proportional that is…. solar facilities certainly have fewer moving parts… less items to fail…

          12. Lefty665 Avatar
            Lefty665

            Not, the gas folks just failed to prepare for the cold weather they got. Gas transmission lines elsewhere in the country routinely function in the cold.

            Never blame complexity where stupidity will suffice.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Who is “we”?

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Those of us pushing for a shift to renewables from fossil fuels – seemed pretty self-evident given the context of the comment.

      2. Nathan Avatar

        The “we” consists of those who would have Virginia follow Marxist California, where income determines the rate customers pay and blackouts are becoming the norm. No thanks.

        “More blackouts could be on the horizon in California as the state’s electric grid is forced to deal with new regulations imposed by Democrat politicians to shut down power plants and mandatory switches to electric vehicles and home appliances. Californians could be left in the dark as a result — while still paying the highest energy prices in the nation.”

        https://reformcalifornia.org/news/lights-out-california-power-problems-are-about-to-get-worse

  5. Nathan Avatar

    While discussion about nuclear deployment sparks seemingly endless discussion of potential issues, wind moves forward without answers to important questions.

    “Republican state lawmakers and other New Jersey opponents of offshore wind turbines are calling for a 30- to 60-day moratorium on construction work at such sites to see if it would lead to a decrease in whale deaths.”

    “Four state senators hosted a online hearing about offshore wind energy generation and whale deaths on Wednesday. It came three weeks after the most recent East Coast whale death was reported in Virginia and despite the assurances of most scientists and conservationists that there is no correlation between offshore wind generation and such deaths.”

    “Since Dec. 1, 32 dead whales have washed ashore between Massachusetts and Florida, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most recent death came on April 9, when a fin whale washed up on a sandbar in Virginia, according to NOAA spokeswoman Allison Ferreira.”

    https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/nj-gop-seeks-wind-projects-whales/3558938/

  6. Nathan Avatar

    While discussion about nuclear deployment sparks seemingly endless discussion of potential issues, wind moves forward without answers to important questions.

    “Republican state lawmakers and other New Jersey opponents of offshore wind turbines are calling for a 30- to 60-day moratorium on construction work at such sites to see if it would lead to a decrease in whale deaths.”

    “Four state senators hosted a online hearing about offshore wind energy generation and whale deaths on Wednesday. It came three weeks after the most recent East Coast whale death was reported in Virginia and despite the assurances of most scientists and conservationists that there is no correlation between offshore wind generation and such deaths.”

    “Since Dec. 1, 32 dead whales have washed ashore between Massachusetts and Florida, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most recent death came on April 9, when a fin whale washed up on a sandbar in Virginia, according to NOAA spokeswoman Allison Ferreira.”

    https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/nj-gop-seeks-wind-projects-whales/3558938/

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Entanglement and ship strikes are the cause of most whale deaths.

      Imagine the cost of gasoline if all that Saudi oil had to be flown in?

      1. Lefty665 Avatar
        Lefty665

        Think how fortunate we are that the exchange rate with Canada is so favorable or the price of Canadian crude flown in because of the Keystone XL pipeline cancellation would be much higher. 🙂

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Don’t be silly! We wouldn’t fly oil in from Canada. Norfolk & Southern would safely transport it.

  7. William Chambliss Avatar
    William Chambliss

    IF, and it’s still a big if, these SMRs prove feasible and viable, they will certainly be game changers from the first gen of reactors (still humming right along at Surry and North Anna). The US could do a lot to reduce the amount of waste through re-processing and lessons have undoubtedly been learned on safety and design.

    DOM spent hundreds of millions, if not more, on readying North Anna for a third conventional unit, until they were induced to pivot to offshore wind. No one really thought they were serious about actually building NA3, but it did allow them to spend money rather than returning it to customers……

  8. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
    energyNOW_Fan

    Bill Gates pivoted when Biden came into office. Basically shifting from long term thinking to adopting the Dem’s super-urgent need to prevent Armageddon. He wrote a book on it, then his clout went down due to hanky-panky.

  9. energyNOW_Fan Avatar
    energyNOW_Fan

    Bill Gates pivoted when Biden came into office. Basically shifting from long term thinking to adopting the Dem’s super-urgent need to prevent Armageddon. He wrote a book on it, then his clout went down due to hanky-panky.

  10. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
    f/k/a_tmtfairfax

    We just returned from cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, along with the connecting canal, between Amsterdam and Budapest. The waterways have many dams to control water levels and for hydropower. The dams have reduced the impacts of major flooding and periods of low water. We went through 67 locks.

    We also saw many windmills, from the ancient in Holland (to control water levels) to the modern to produce electricity. The largest windfarm seen consisted of several hundred turbines in Austria near the border with Bratislava, Slovakia. Once German stopped being the official language, support for nuclear power grows substantially.

    We saw considerable mass transit in the larger cities and rode the U in Vienna. But there are huge numbers of motor vehicles throughout the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. I guess lots of Europeans have not drunk the Kool-Aid of the extreme enviros as many continue to drive internal combustion cars. And many people have larger homes in the suburbs or rural areas. The most interesting of all the motor vehicles were the restored Trabants in Hungry (26 horsepower, two-cycle engines, no gas gauge, metal frame with an all hard plastic outer body).

    Of course, there were lots of bikes, including a growing number of e-bikes. The latter are heavy, a bit hard to make sharper turns but wonderful on hill climbs. We rode e-bikes from Passsau, Germany to Austria and back on Labor Day (May 1) with major crowds and traffic. I’m a better driver than I thought.

    Putin is generally hated by all, but there is strong regard for Reagan and Gorbachev, especially to the East.

    Saw a lot, learned a lot, met some interesting people, ate some interesting new dishes and drank some wonderful beer and wine. (However, I did exercise some willpower and got in a lot of walking such that my weight was the same when I got home as when I left.)

    My bottom line – a wonderful place to visit but I am very thankful that my ancestors screwed up the courage to move to the United States or what would become the United States.

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