Climate change, high oil prices, coal pollution: Nuclear power is the answer

Nuclear power plant

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., May 8, 2014 — The media and the international community lament the evils of fossil fuel and the promise of renewable energy, but often ignore the obvious alternative. An energy source that is relatively cheap to use and that produces less environmental and public health impact than fossil fuels already exists: That source is nuclear energy. Until we are able to develop renewable sources of energy that are more efficient, it will remain the best alternative to coal and oil.

Even taking into account the number of deaths caused by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the number of people killed by nuclear power since the middle of the last century is only a fraction of the deaths caused by fossil fuel and the petrochemical industry. Every day we read about gas explosions, car fires, and many other accidents in which fossil fuels were at least contributors. We hardly notice the deaths from cancer and lung disease caused by pollutants from burning fossil fuels.

We have become so jaded to these deaths that we hardly associate them with fossil fuels. In the rush to exploit these fuels, we also discount the possible dangers of ground water pollution from “fracking”, the potential for gas explosions, and other human and environmental risks.

READ ALSO: America’s power grid at the limit: the road to electrical blackouts

Every energy source has built in dangers. Wind farms decimate migratory bird populations, corn ethanol drives up food prices around the world and consumes enormous amounts of water, and the production of solar cells also produces toxic waste. There is no known source of energy that is completely safe, but there are relatively safe sources. Nuclear energy is relatively safe.

Many people are still extremely afraid of nuclear power plants, partially thanks to hysterical media coverage of problems at nuclear power facilities, such as Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, Chernobyl in Russia, and Fukishima in Japan.

Fanning Public Fears

The media, in many cases without adequate knowledge, have helped to inflame opposition to nuclear power with scenarios that do not coincide with the technical state of the art or with safety features of new nuclear power plant designs. We all have seen movies in which a mad person takes over a nuclear plant or in which a terrorist explodes a nuclear bomb in one of our cities. While these scenarios are possible, that possibility is remote. The logistics involved in creating one of these doomsday scenarios are extremely complex, and while we should build safeguards against their occurrence, they shouldn’t dictate our decisions about nuclear power.

Delaware’s nuclear power plant on Hope Creek

More feasible terrorist scenarios are the hijacking of a dozen tanker trucks to explode in an urban area, the poisoning of a city’s water supply, or even the use of airliners to hit sky scrapers. There are “weapons of mass destruction” all around us, but they don’t excite film makers the way nuclear terrorism does. Why? Because they don’t produce the fear value of nuclear disaster.

The number of recorded fossil fuel explosions and their resulting death toll over 120 years is too long to mention, but one terrorist scenario above happened on 9/11, and the explosive was jet fuel, not plutonium. Almost 3,000 people died when the planes hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania. The terrorists didn’t need nuclear materials to destroy their targets, just flying gas cans and box cutters.

We have grown so accustomed to the great threats of fossil fuel products, both as energy sources and as the base of our petrochemical industry, that we no longer see them as a threat to our lives the same way we see nuclear power. We often over estimate the risks of the unusual — such as the risk of a plane crash — and underestimate the risks of the commonplace — such as a car accident.

The Benefits of Fossil Fuels

READ ALSO: Lights out for solar power after 2015

Let’s be clear, there is a place in our future for fossil fuels and petrochemicals. However, we should concentrate in using this limited resource in the production of durable goods and also implement a complete system of reuse and recycle. You can use “plastic lumber” to resurface a balcony in your home and after ten years it will look the same as the day you installed it. Burning or burying a resource that is limited does not make sense in a smart society. We already know of techniques to extend the benefit of fossil fuels and petrochemicals in ways that are smarter and kinder to Mother Earth and safer to us mortals.

So what are the real draw backs of nuclear plants? Beside the inflated fear of a nuclear disaster, most of the opposition to nuclear power comes from the disposal of used nuclear fuel. Serious discussions about the subject always end up with the question, “So what do we do with the spent fuel?”

Breeder Reactors As A Solution?

The one solution most scientists appear to agree on is the use of breeder reactors. However, there exists a number of challenges to this approach, and with the opposition to all things nuclear, many have put research of this option on the backburner.  China is seriously looking at this option as a solution to its energy needs of the future. Theoretically, breeder reactors could produce significantly less waste than traditional reactors.

Until a permanent solution is realized, we should depend on current techniques of disposal of nuclear materials such as the facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Singling out a site like this is no different from, and probably much more environmentally benign, the hundreds of thousands of sites around the world where we have deposited the waste from the fossil fuels and petrochemical industries.

In fact it is easy to realize that our landfills today are full of plastics and other components of the fossil fuels and petrochemical wastes from our modern (disposable) way of life. How many times have you seen on TV that in 600 years one thing we can look forward to is the degradation of the first plastic bottle?  Sad, but true.

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combatinfantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles – ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket – in 21st Century Pacifist

Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus

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  • Mike Carey

    France successfully cut their fossil fuel use after the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970’s.
    The result is that the French economy has the cleanest and cheapest energy supply in Europe. Germany should be wondering about their decision to cut back their nuclear plants now that Putin wants to use Russia’s energy as a political weapon again, forty years after OPEC did the same thing.

    • 21st Century Pacifist

      Thank you for your comment. This graph sure shows how to become energy independent for a country without any oil reserves.
      Wish that one day our country’s energy picture would look like that.

  • TooExpensive001

    Scroll through the headlines on Enenews dot com to see why nuclear energy is NOT an option.

    • 21st Century Pacifist

      All these pale in comparison with the harm of fossil fuels. Can anyone quantify the damage done by using lead octane in our fuel for so many years? Have you seen the environmental damage in jungles in Ecuador and Colombia from oil exploration and production? Exxon Valdez, BP spill in the Gulf, damage to ground water, air pollution, acid rain, etc.
      There is no comparison.

    • Schwinn

      Enenews is a schill for big oil. Go to the sight and search for new on shale gas and one gets three returns two of which slam nuclear, the only energy source able to compete with big oil. The evidence fully supports nuclear as a viable clean source of power for the next few decades until we can ween off it onto something like fusion power. Big oil is the worst most corrupt group of soulless one percenters to have ever existed.

      • 21st Century Pacifist

        I worked in an agency that regulated some of the oil and gas activities in the US. My experience is that oil and gas trumps everything else. Liberal legislators from producing states support oil and gas practices that are clearly suspect if not down right harmful to the environment. Even some of the environmental laws clearly stipulate that they can’t interfere with oil and gas production. Oil and gas production is functionally exempt from Federal regulations, except in Federal Lands (which is in itself a joke).
        The program I worked on was funded with only $11 million on grants to the states to regulate millions of injection wells.

    • Steve Davidson

      Always be suspicious of a web site that doesn’t identify who or what is behind it. Enenews is one of those sites.

      When a web site like Enenews appears to be promoting a biased agenda (extreme anti-nuclear in this case) then that is the first thing I check. Nary a single identifying person or organization running the site can be found.

      Enenews is one of the more successful at concealing its identity. If big oil is behind it, I couldn’t easily find evidence of it… but someone is backing it.

      Heck, I can’t even find out anything about TooExpensive001 who posted the comment. These guys are slick!

      Take what you find at Enenews with a giant grain of salt.

      • 21st Century Pacifist

        Wow, we agree on something. My gut feeling after visiting enenews was that it was a proxy of the gas and oil industry. Like you I couldn’t find out who runs the site and who funds it. To me it is a clear give away that they want to work in the dark to support an agenda.

        • Steve Davidson

          Lacking evidence either way, I believe it’s just as likely that Enenews is funded by radical environmentalists as it is by big oil.

          Nuclear supplies roughly 8% of U.S. energy. So does renewables. Fossils supply roughly 80%. Fossils are forecast to still supply nearly 80% of all energy in the year 2040. Nobody is a threat to them.

          Nuclear primarily supplies electric energy. Renewable primarily supply electricity. They are competitors. Cheaper electric generation from natural gas is killing the nuclear power industry, just like it’s killing the coal industry.

          According to the EIA, the only nuke plants in the pipeline are backed by giant U.S. government loans and subsidies. It forecasts nuclear will supply about the same percentage of US energy in 2040 as it does today.

          All together that kinda leaves open renewable advocates as a viable possibility, doesn’t it?

          • WakeUp0786

            Enenews just tells the truth about the dangers of nuclear energy, by reporting actual scientific studies and mainstream media sources.

            Enenews is truly THE BEST alternative website out there.

            The pro-nukes hate it because it’s shining the light on the dangers of nuclear energy.

          • Steve Davidson

            Enenews does have credible information mixed in with outrageous rubbish. The problem is most folks aren’t knowledgeable enough to tell which is which. Hence, the warning about it.

            As said above, any web site that goes to great lengths to conceal its identity cannot be trusted. Enenews hides its identity to conceal its true motivation for pushing a radically biased viewpoint.

            WakeUp786, you can believe Enenews if you like. That’s OK. But, there are plenty of other less biased and far more credible sources out there that everyone else can use.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            Nuclear is still the answer as it is less harmful to the environment and in the long run cheaper than gas. I watched Pandora’s Promise again and believe that in the long run that will be answer.
            Radical environmentalists are not shy when it comes to things like this. The API and all the other fossil lobbies are always on the lookout even for smaller prey. They don’t believe in small enemies.

          • Steve Davidson

            Nuclear is cheaper than natural gas? Where did you get that data?

            According to the EIA’s just finalized “Annual Energy Outlook 2014”, the levelized cost of nuclear by 2019 is $96.1/MWh which drops to $86.1/MWh AFTER a $10B federal subsidy.

            There are numerous ways to go with natural gas but the most likely method, advanced combined cycle, costs $64.4/MWh. And that is WITHOUT subsidies.

            Given that, between nuclear and natural gas, which do you suppose electric utility companies will choose to build?

            Fortunately, the answer to that question isn’t a matter of opinion. The EIA tracks that to. According to the aforementioned EIA report, nuclear energy output will remain flat through the year 2040.

            The only new nuclear I’m aware of that are scheduled and funded is the TVA’s Watts Unit 2 and the Vogtile Units 3 and 4. TVA, of course, is owned and paid for by the federal government. Vogtile is largely being funded from a federal loan and other government grants and subsidies.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            The biggest flaw in these economic evaluations is that they don’t take into account damage to the environment. Cost/benefit ratios are always geared to acute damage and not chronic. Those that follow us will have to pay for the damage done by the fossil fuel industry.
            Our current gas availability and cheap costs will be short lived. Nuclear availability is almost limitless.
            France today has very little air pollution and its ground water is not being contaminated. They get most of their energy from nuclear.

            If you believe drilling hundreds of millions of well doesn’t impact ground water, you are not being realistic.

  • gcowan49

    Any transparent plastic bottle is quickly, in a year or two of being outdoors and aboveground, destroyed by sunlight.

    One difficulty with special interest lobbyists who will say anything is that if you try to nail them down to one particular bit of nastiness, as Salazar does when he says “most of the opposition to nuclear power comes from the disposal of used nuclear fuel”, they can switch to any of numerous other deceptive arguments.

    The one argument they can never use, but which is the whole truth and nothing but, is that for every person whose life has been saved by nuclear power, millions of dollars in net fossil fuel income has been kept out of government coffers. That is the special interest humanity is up against: City Hall.

    To be more precise, we’re up against the bad side of fossil-fuel-taxing government, at all levels, not just municipal.

    (Not that private fossil fuel interests don’t get an oar in too. The recent documentary movie “Pandora’s Promise”, which I scored a free viewing of by signing up for a one-month trial with a movies-over-the-internet service, has Gwyneth Cravens recounting an instance where they didn’t bother to cover their tracks. She, at that time young and easily led, didn’t bother to read down to the bottom of their propaganda sheet, where those tracks were.)

    They’ll say anything, but when the things they say, if believed, might lead them to act certain ways, they typically don’t. Fuel in a working reactor, for instance, is ~1000 times more of a radiation hazard than fuel that was used up a few years ago, so a photomontage like the one below should not accurately represent reality, but it does.

    • 21st Century Pacifist

      I didn’t really understand your comment.
      I have had clear plastic bottles in the elements for more than a year and they were not destroyed by sunlight. UV does have an effect on many types of plastic, but it is not that effective that fast. Is this destroyed plastic bottle bio-degradable?
      I didn’t know I was a “special interest lobbyist”. I guess someone must have been cashing my sizable checks all along. I still contend that the major technical problem with nuclear power is the disposal of spent cells.
      I also watched “Pandora’s Promise” (and will watch again to figure out your comment), I didn’t catch the part that you alluded to, I must have been in the bathroom, you know we old folks.
      Are you saying the tax revenue is what is stopping the government from finding alternatives to fossil fuels? I think that the cost of the harm from fossil fuels plus the cost of maintenance of roads more than equal the revenue the government gets.

      • gcowan49

        “21st Century Pacifist” didn’t know he was a special interest lobbyist, seems to think that the compensation would have been “sizable” if he had been, and may well not have been. “The major technical problem with nuclear power is the disposal of spent cells” — major among energy supply problems, or major only among nuclear power problems?

        Resolving the ambiguity the latter way makes for a much weaker claim, perhaps weak enough to be defensible.

        • 21st Century Pacifist

          I am still confused. Do you also talk to people like that?
          Of course I am talking about nuclear power problems. There is no ambiguity. What are you talking about?
          How would it make a much weaker “claim” if there is no ambiguity? Did you ever take logic?
          What is the claim that you are referring to?
          I feel like I am responding to one of those old computer programs that would take words from the question and return generic/nonsensical answers.

          • Schwinn

            I think cgowan49 is on Quaaludes.

          • gcowan49

            Among all energy supply problems, would you say wind turbine fires are a minor or a major one?

            How about spent nuclear fuel disposal, out of that same encompassing set of problems? Minor or major?

  • Steve Davidson

    Despite what some may say, nuclear is probably still a viable energy option. It can’t do it all, but it needs to be part of an “all-of-the-above” global energy strategy.

    It has dangers, yes, but we’ve already seen the worst case scenario at Chernobyl where the plant exploded, leaving fissioning nuclear material burning in the open air. Hopefully, we’ve learned from the dumb mistakes made there.

    Assuming the EIA and the IEA are right, renewables+nuclear won’t replace fossil fuels anytime soon. They say fossils will still be supplying 80% of the world’s energy in the year 2040.

    Natural gas, the cleanest of the fossils with 1/2 coal’s emissions, is the only energy source available in sufficient quantities to reduce emissions and meet world energy needs in the foreseeable future.

    Leverage nat-gas smartly with nuclear and renewables and global emissions can be steadily reduced while renewable technologies mature and expand.

    • 21st Century Pacifist

      Natural gas may be cleaner than coal, diesel fuel or heating oil, but it still produces gases that may contribute to Global Warming (that you don’t believe in). Its production involves the use of large quantities of water (de-watering some formations) and more water to fracture the formations. It also can contaminate ground water that could be used as a source of drinking water.
      Studies have shown that a full 5% of the wells fail cementing tests. Of these some may cause pollution. Due to the large number of wells being drilled, this number is significant.
      This is compounded with the fact that more than 60% of the available potable water in the world is under the ground.
      The oil and gas industry will be responsible for polluting a very large portion of the ground water in the globe. They will not be responsible for paying for the treatment of the water when it is needed in the future as the population increases. There are hundreds of thousands of wells in our country, many of them abandoned improperly. They are today actively contaminating ground water or will in the future.
      We are paying dearly for driving SUVs and macho cars and for destroying our railroads in favor of trucks. You have to admire the oil and gas industry.
      They also have helped to create paranoia against the nuclear industry.

      • Steve Davidson

        On Global Warming…
        What I believe doesn’t matter. Global warming is a fact. Earth’s temperature has risen 0.85 degrees C since 1880.

        It is also a fact that earth’s temperature hasn’t risen since 1998, over 15 years. That is according to the IPCC. The IPCC calls it a “hiatus” in AR5 caused by “decreasing trends in the natural forcings” (natural variability). Specifically they blame low sunspot activity, La Nina and volcanoes. They speculate heat could have went directly into the deep oceans by some mysterious, unexplained mechanism.

        You said above that natural gas “produces gases that may contribute to
        Global Warming”. Shouldn’t we concentrate on what is, rather than what
        might be true?

        On Fracking…
        U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, herself a mechanical engineer who has personally fracked Oklahoma wells, testified before the U.S. Congress on 3/4/2014 that a million wells have been fracked in the United States and that it can (and is) being done safely.

        Jewell is an Obama appointee. President Obama will never be accused of being a “climate denier”.

        • 21st Century Pacifist

          Ms. Jewell hasn’t looked at logs indicating that 5% of all wells fail cementing tests. While not all may contaminate, some will. Unfortunately cause and effect is a very long process in ground water and difficult to document. We can only rely on remote sensing and test results to predict/interpret results.
          Interior depends heavily on oil and gas production in federal lands for its funding and it is politically advisable that it gets on the gas band wagon of the Obama administration. I have written about this before.
          There are a few episodes in which gas has contaminated used aquifers and it has actually come out of faucets in homes.
          The truth is that protecting ground water is not a good political strategy. Those that tried in the 80s found out that there are few clear answers. For the past 30 years the decision of all presidents has been to ignore ground water and if things go wrong, treat the water if necessary.
          Fracking is not as safe as it is presented in the myriad of public media ads. All planning is done mostly using too few data points and many remote sensing interpretations. It is like trying to figure out what the person in a car does by just looking at its outside.

          • Steve Davidson

            If Jewell has not done that, she should be fired. She’d also risk jail time for lying to Congress. Something tells me, though, she is a lot more familiar with well failures, their causes and their quantified dangers than either you or I will ever be.
            You make a litany of undocumented claims about fracking. Document the danger, just don’t say this is true and that is true.

            In article comments, I usually
            document my sources using credible sources. I expect nothing less from
            those with contrary views.

            Ironically, you didn’t even mention the one danger associated with fracking that is a real threat… earthquakes. Evidence of fracking causing earthquakes is accumulating. That danger should be investigated and minimized. It appears that methods of disposing of waste water is a big cause that can and should be mitigated.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            I worked in the underground injection control program at EPA for 27 years, most of them as a National Technical Expert. The UIC regulates all underground injection activities in the country. Fracking has been done to stimulate oil and gas wells for over 100 years. If you believe that this practice is 100% safe, you are an optimist. It is physically impossible for anyone to guarantee that a destructive process, done thousands of feet below the ground and only controlled by remote sensing tools can be completely predictable and safe. The oil and gas industry has been excellent in keeping failures away from the public. I repeat, they have done an excellent job in CYA.
            I wrote a report to Congress in 1985 on hazardous waste wells and we documented a significant number of failures due to fracturing gone wrong. This was a small universe, but the same techniques are used in the oil and gas industry.
            We later found out that a full 10% of wells fail mechanical integrity tests. Granted that the great majority will not lead to pollution, but in the case of oil and gas the huge number of wells make any percentage important. Also Gas Land reports that they have the proof that 5% of all fracking wells fail cementing tests. These numbers don’t surprise me as a former National Technical Expert.

          • Steve Davidson

            No one says fracking is 100% safe. It isn’t.

            Heck, I even mentioned a disturbing link between fracking and earthquakes that’s starting to show up in the literature in the last comment.

            The real issue is whether it is safe enough. In her sworn testimony Secretary Jewell said the technique “can be and is being done safely and responsibly”. However she does not document the percentage of failures.

            Did I just read that your reference source claiming undocumented “proof” that 5% of all fracked wells fail cementing test is the movie “Gasland”?? You’re joking, right? It is as radically biased against drilling as Enenews is against nuclear. Neither are credible. Both distribute exaggerated misinformation.

            Jewell’s sworn testimony is more credible than Josh Fox’s made up statistic.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            The earthquake theory has been around for some time. Probably the best well known is the one caused by an injection well in Colorado. There are also other cases reported as possible in Ohio. Of course the ones in VA that caused the tremors in DC recently were well reported. It is very difficult to prove these. The best theory is that injection/fracking lubricates existing faults and causes movement. There were some recent ones in the mid West and TX.
            As for GasLand, there is some very interesting information that should not be ignored. The claim of the cementing logs was made on documents submitted by the industry. It matches information that I reviewed in the past on cementing in injection wells. You ignore information you don’t like at your own peril.
            Again, even a very few percentage of failures can contaminate a lot of ground water. There isn’t that much of it that can be used as a source of drinking water.

          • Steve Davidson

            “ignore information you don’t like at your own peril.”
            I agree 100% with this statement, as long as the info is independently verifiable.

            If you can provide the industry references documenting the Gasland claim, which doesn’t even seem unreasonable to me, then I’ll believe it.

            “Gasland” – the movie – isn’t credible in any way, shape or form. If it said the sky is up, I’d look up to see for myself.

            Anyone that accepts it as a primary reference for anything puts their own knowledge and credibility into question.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            Watch the video, they document that part of it. Apparently they obtained logs and test results and had them analyzed. I read all kinds of literature, even when it doesn’t agree with what I believe. Have you really watched GasLand?

          • Steve Davidson

            I have, but apparently not close enough. The part I remember most was where Fox watches a guy light the water coming out of an indoor water faucet then proclaims it contamination caused by fracking. It wasn’t. Groundwater methane existed in that area before fracking came along.

            The EPA has investigated and even reinvestigated many of the fracking claims made in Gasland and found them without foundation. The EPA isn’t exactly a tool of the Koch brothers, is it?

            I still need the actual source, not just a Fox video of records claimed genuine, but are from an unnamed place.

            As I said above, the 5% failure rate doesn’t seem wrong to me. What I want to know is what percentage of failures caused environmental damage. That is what is meaningful.

            I looked for such things from industry sources, but did not find it.

            I didn’t look that hard, but it’s not my responsibility to prove someone else’s claim. They have to prove their claim. If they don’t, it’s meaningless.

  • Ray Boggs

    $9.5 cents per kilowatt hour on a solar PPA sounds good until you compare it to $0 cents per kilowatt hour when you pay your lower priced purchased system off at year 4 or 5. Why pay for any electricity with a solar lease when you can make your own electricity for free with a purchased system?

    • Steve Davidson

      There is no such thing as zero cents per KWh electricity.

      There’s this pesky little calculation called the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). Estimates suggest home solar has twice the LCOE than just buying from your local utility.

      You can buy a lot of electricity for the $12,000-$30,000 price tag of a home solar system (after the 30% federal free subsidy financed by your neighbors is included to lower the cost).

      I don’t know about you, Ray, but I would factor that cost into my budget. That is especially true given that you will still have to buy more than half your electricity from the local utility anyway.

      Some utilities let you get energy credits for putting excess solar back into the grid during the day. That is a great thing that lowers your costs. But utilities are getting a lot grumpier about doing that since it doesn’t cover the grid upgrade costs necessary to allow you to do it.

      And I definitely would not assume the system is maintenance free, as you have.

      • Ray Boggs

        Nearly all utilities credit you full retail for month to month overproduction and you fail to consider utility rate increases and all of the other charges that the utility company adds into your bill, many of which are typically tied to the amount of energy usage. And I have considered maintenance in my calculations. Solar panels are warranted for 25 years and the vast majority of the inverters that we offer are also warranted for 25 years. And both have no moving parts.

        Labor cost to remove and replace solar panels and inverters after the 10 years labor warranty expires, runs no more than $200 per incident which is very rare given the reliability of modern PV products.

        • 21st Century Pacifist

          I am all for solar; however, when I looked at the payback it ran into decades. At the time solar aided energy in a home was not a good investment when considering sale price.
          It is very difficult for most home owners to dish out (panel out?) $20 k or more for a system when a new HVAC unit only costs around $6 k and gas is so cheap.
          I may still install solar panels on my roof, but the technology and incentives would have to improve.

          • Ray Boggs

            You should really take another look. Prices have literally dropped by over 75% from where they were just 5 years ago. Today, an average sized 4.75 kW system runs less than $10 K today after the ITC and can pay itself off in just 4 to 5 years. If you’re being quoted more than $3.00 a watt, installed before incentives, for a name brand, grid tie solar system, then you’re paying too much in today’s market.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            Thanks Ray, will look into it. Had a bad experience with a company that guaranteed they would install the panels at a certain date and then kept sending me excuses for over 6 months until I cancelled.

          • Steve Davidson

            Irrelevant comment removed

          • Ray Boggs

            The master strategist who fears the reality that renewables will win in the end has spoken again. Give it up Steve, renewables are the answer. And your crude attempts to stop the spread of the knowledge that solar has reached affordability in the marketplace will not succeed.

            Oil, coal and utility company paid shills should not be allowed to post their propaganda in community comment areas.

            Nearly everyone knows that many inverter manufacturers offer 25 year warranties now. That puts a little dent in your “LCOE” theory doesn’t it Steve. I know your utility company bosses won’t like that little tidbit of information, but that’s too bad.

          • Steve Davidson

            My apologies to you, Ray. Your financial interest in solar is really irrelevant to the facts that you bring to the table.

            The purpose here is to correct misinformation about energy and energy
            policy so that ordinary ratepayer/voters can make informed decisions
            about their energy use where it matters most, their pocketbooks.

            The LOCE for solar isn’t my “theory”. It’s a standard calculation used to determine the actual cost of energy. LOCE is a
            concept used by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If
            its numbers are wrong then the EIA needs to be corrected.

            You are right. Renewables must eventually supply most of earth’s energy. Heck, nobody – myself included – disagrees with that. Fossils are a finite energy resource.

            That being said, EIA data show that fossils will be the primary source of energy in the United States for many decades to come, still around 80% in 2040. EIA data also show that, at the utility level, new solar and wind will decrease substantially after 2015 according to industry data EIA collects.

            Home solar is still a wildcard that will grow and prosper right up until
            disillusioned northerners outside the sunny southwest discover, like
            Germany did, that solar is not cost effective where there isn’t a lot of sun.

            I’ll be writing more energy articles. My next one on solar will be an investigation into the very competitive nickel/KWh PPA obtained by Austin Energy here in south Texas. I’m researching it now.

            Other articles will explain what the state of Texas did to become the
            nation’s renewable energy leader and why it will stay that way.

            You are cordially invited to comment on them as they are published.

          • Ray Boggs

            Hi Steve

            No need to apologize. I do understand LOCE and I apologize for my statement about LOCE being “your theory”. My comments are frequently attacked by oil/coal/leasing company advocates and apparently I made the wrong assumption about your position on the matter, and for that I apologize.

            Sure I’d like to promote my company but my primary goal is simply to educate the public on how truly affordable solar has become. Whether you buy from us or one of the hundreds of other reputable dealers located all over the country that offer the same pricing levels, despite what the leasing/oil/coal companies will tell you, solar is now very affordable.

            I feel strongly that the message of affordability needs to get out. I admit that the tactics that I use to spread the message can be unconventional to say the least but convention is meaningless to me when you consider what’s at stake. While we scramble for solutions to the world’s energy needs, the answer stares us directly in the face everyday we walk outside. It’s time that we take advantage of this affordable, clean, everlasting source of energy.

          • Steve Davidson

            Understood, Ray… to many things get overtly politicized these days.

            Our somewhat rugged start has inspired me to investigate rooftop solar more closely and write about it. I depend on the EIA for much of the energy data I quote and they deal more with utility-scale electric than rooftop.

            You can be sure I’ll do a thorough job properly estimating its LCOE. You may or may not like the result but we can cross that bridge when the time comes.

            I think we both agree on the end result, that renewable dominance will be the end result. Its the path taken and time frame required to get there is where we are at issue.

          • jkubin

            Steve, Ray is not selling, he is providing information. Chill. Readers are smart – they will hear his message and may look at solar, or may not. But to give them that information is ok. We watch the comments. Ray is ok. And no I don’t know him or have a dog in the fight.

          • 21st Century Pacifist

            Thanks Jacquie, that was my feeling also. I actually don’t see any problem with objective information, whether it favors the informer or not.

          • Steve Davidson

            I’ll reserve comments to the facts brought to the table, regardless of the motivations behind them. 🙂

          • Steve Davidson

            Jacquie is correct…
            Ray Boggs, as owner of Solar Home Inc, has valuable industry input that he can add to the conversation.

        • Steve Davidson

          Irrelevant comment removed

          • Ray Boggs

            Did I mention who “we” are ? No. I only provided information that countered your disinformation. If I was pedaling products, I would have mentioned my company’s name. You’re such a child.

          • Steve Davidson

            Don’t have to mention your company name… I already know it, and more.

            It will figure into an article I’m researching on energy subsidies for rooftop solar that I’ll put on CDN. Pros and cons of rooftop solar will be outlined.

            As always, all opinions are welcomed, especially from those, like you, with a dog in the fight. Robust discussion helps folks understand the issues better.