[ RadSafe ] Forwarded: Re: rational thought

Bob Hearn rah at america.net
Wed Oct 5 13:59:07 CDT 2011

Corn (or "wild grasses" for that matter) as a biofuel are not exactly a
renewable resource. The plant matter is formed by extracting materials from
the plot on which it is grown. "Non-renewable" oil is formed from organic
matter as well, just further processed into a more concentrated energy

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Jeff Terry
Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2011 2:44 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Forwarded: Re: rational thought

Please remember to send plain text messages. 


A few days ago, James Salman made some comments (copied below) about
electricity generation that I think deserves a bit of a rebuttal.  James
stated that wind generation is 2 cents/kWh.  That's not quite true.  Best
case estimates for levelized costs (includes production, fuel, and capital
construction) of onshore wind generation are about 9.7 cents/kWh and
offshore is 24.3 cents/kWh (due to high cost of construction).  New nuclear
is 11.4  cents/kWh, comparable to conventional coal, advanced coal and most
gas turbine generation.  Solar thermal is over 31 cents/kWh and photovoltaic
is 21.  In conclusion, if you want low-carbon generation, new nuclear is
considerably less expensive - and that according to Chris Busby is all that
counts, right?  Those figures are from the Energy Information Administration
so it's your government tax dollars at work and you can believe it.  And
incidentally if you look at "old" nuclear, existing plants for which the
capital costs are already pai  d off, then the generation costs are right
around 2 cents/kWh and only existing hydro is less.  And you won't be
building any significant hydro facilities in the US in the near future.  Too
great an environmental impact.  Finally, you cannot forget about reliability
and nuclear runs about 90 capacity factors while wind is 34% and solar
thermal is 18% and PV only 25%.  You cannot run a grid on a power source
that's available on average only 34% of the time and very unpredictable.
And most the public is objecting to expensive, very high voltage
transmission lines if you're going to attempt to pull power from other
distant states . . . 

Lastly, look at the overall carbon footprint and you see that wind and solar
aren't much better there either.  The cost of blade manufacture, concrete
foundations, steel tower manufacture, etc. along with high maintenance costs
yield a carbon footprint very similar to nuclear that is dominated by fuel
production (mining, enrichment, and fabrication) and by decommissioning.
See the report of the UK Office of Science and Technology. 

Bottom line, don't put all your eggs in one basket.  You'll end up with an
ugly omelet.   

Eric M. Goldin, CHP
<Eric.Goldin at sce.com> 

Jeff Terry
Assoc. Professor of Physics
Life Science Bldg Rm 166
Illinois Institute of Technology
3101 S. Dearborn St. 
Chicago IL 60616
terryj at iit.edu

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