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Angering the Environmentalists

Posted November 18, 2010 9:00 AM by Steve Melito

Sweden's steelmakers need affordable, reliable electricity. So do the Nordic nation's chemical producers, forestry firms, and mining companies. Power plants that burn fossil fuel may not be "green", but the country that hosted the very first U.N. environmental conference needs power, too. How will Sweden balance the requirements of industry with the stated centerpiece of its environmental goals – "to pass on to the next generation a society in which the major environmental problems have been solved"?

The trade group that represents these Swedish industries hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to perform a comparative cost analysis. What's the most cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel power plants: nuclear energy, hydropower, or wind power? The results, writes Brian Westenhaus of OilPrice.com, show that "a whole lot of environmental types are not going to be happy that their anti-nuclear claims are found fallacious."

According to the PWC study, both nuclear power and hydropower are more cost-effective than wind energy. In fact, wind power is 65% more expensive than hydro and about 50% more expensive than nuclear power. Environmentalists could counter that nuclear waste is costly - but the PWC study included the expense of waste management and decommissioning.

What do you think Sweden will do?

Sources: OilPrice.com and Fact Sheet

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#1

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/18/2010 9:12 AM

What do you think Sweden will do?

You mean, 'What do you think the politicians in Sweden will do?' They'll ask for another study.

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#2

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/18/2010 10:25 PM

1) Purchase their steel from China?

<giggle>

Milo

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#3

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/18/2010 11:21 PM

The headline's a bit misleading. All clear thinking people are environmentalists, who wouldn't want to be more efficient, cleaner and provide for the future?

Many of us environmentalists already understand we need nuclear power, some environmentalists think we can get enough power from other sources. As the true cost (and power shortages) bite home many will change their tune.

We have the same problem in Australia with water. Inner city dwellers didn't want any more dams, but after the recent 7 year drought (down south) killed their gardens and drove food prices up many changed their minds.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/19/2010 11:23 AM

I agree that clear thinking sentimentalist want a better, cleaner, efficient way that does not destroy the economy. With the exception of a few industries, in the Western World. Who would not want better, more efficient and cleaner power? But it has to work! The only two reliable sources of power out there that are considered non CO2 producing is Nuclear and Hydro.

Even these two have down sides. Nuclear; spent fuel. Hydro flooded lands and Mercury contamination.

In Ontario Canada, we have many potential sites for Hydro. The hard core environmentalists will do any thing to stop them. As for nuclear, which we already have a fair bit of, the wailing gets worse.

Unfortunately all they want is renewable energy that is not suited to our climate and location. Wind turbines (bird whackers) that run 30% of the time. Solar power. Between fall and winter we can for a week with out any sunshine of note.

Note: I do not consider my self to be an active environmentalist. Yet I do my best where I can to reduce, reuse and recycle. There are cost benefits to this. I have no desire for my Grandchildren to grow up, either siting in the dark freezing, or the can not go outside due to the environment.

Unfortunately the thinking environmentalist, needs a better press agent.

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#5
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/19/2010 7:52 PM

Actually there aren't many thinking environmental activists, let alone clear thinking. Most tend to be just emotionally sensitive irrational followers of more charismatic people, who many times while meaning to do the right thing are intellectually definicent to the point of not understanding or comprehending the compexities involved, they simply understand their own personal agendas, and some well are just pawns of political and/or litigeous interests. Afterall you can not sue someone if no one believe their project is not a severe hazard to their own self interests, aesthetics and corrupted childhood memories most often. this is frequently why environmental scientists and environmental engineers want to be clear in distinguishing themselves away from the activists.

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#7
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/21/2010 8:50 PM

I know, I know. I was just trying to be an optimist.

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#6

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/20/2010 12:23 AM

I do everything I can to protect the environment. I also do not have a problem with Nuclear as long as it is done RIGHT with no short cuts in any materials. Nuke plants have come a long way since 9 Mile 2. I do realize the waste and storage issue of older plants. I believe these issues can be kept to a minimum if the latest technology is employed. I also do not agree that Yucca Mountain is the place to store any Nuclear or hazardous waste, ever. Bad idea. As for Solar, Geothermal and Wind, they have their place. Just not 100% able to produce the power requirements for industry. Cogen is another option, but this is not available everywhere. There just are no quick fixes for power problems. I am maxed out with our power company. And we are expanding with 2 more facilities next year. Option 1: Substation. Requires years of planning and millions to bring new lines in. Option2: Cogen. Requires connection to Iriquois Gas line 1/4 mile away. Beginning the process of looking into the feasibility of that now. We rulled out Solar, Wind, Geothermal. We operate 24/7/365. Nuclear is not an option.

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#8
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/22/2010 12:03 PM

Couldn't we just grind the waste really fine and spread it back across Colorado, et. al., where it was mined from. I am not sure it would be any worse than the radiation naturally arising from the soil out there.

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#9
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/22/2010 5:40 PM

Uranium is a naturally occurring element, that even after it has been refined and concentrated is not hazardous unless you put to much together (critical mass) or ingest it. You can safely handle a fuel bundle for a reactor by hand.

It is after, it has been bombarded by neutrons in a reactor that it then becomes a problem. It is the by products that form in the fuel pellets, that are highly radioactive. Grinding it up to dust and spreading it, would turn Colorado into a Chernobyl.

That is that you don't like Colorado?

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#10

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/23/2010 12:04 PM

I get a bit irritated when reading that an 'environmentalist' quotes a 'scientist' to prove a point but without names involved.

This is the same as saying my barber heard from the janitor that the latest astrophysics theory is wrong.

Without storage both solar PV and wind are niche power supplies - possibly helping with the mid afternoon peak demand and not much more.

Hydro (don't know where the mercury came from) and nuclear are the only viable options on the table today.

Russ

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#11
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/23/2010 4:47 PM

I've observed, if you say "hydro" without "re-pumped" in front of it, an 'environmentalist' will say "but there is not enough water".

If you say; That is just a catchment issue: an 'environmentalist' will say; but dams mean "clearing", or "earthworks", or "flooding habitat", or .......

If you say "re-pumped" in front of hydro, an 'environmentalist': an 'environmentalist' will say; but dams mean "clearing", or "earthworks", or "flooding habitat", or .......

Or an 'environmentalist' so thermodynamically vacuous and technology ignorant, that they would rather any fake dream, except; "clearing", or "earthworks", or "flooding habitat", or ....... Deserves to be "Angered"

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#12
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/23/2010 4:56 PM

I remember the spotted owl in Oregon some years back -

I remember the pup fish of California fame -

Today I am reading about the manatee -

And a thousand other varied critters.

Does anyone in their right mind around really believe all these creatures are going to be with us as time goes on?

Just killing things off is not a good practice but if man is to survive and progress many other animals will not.

I like the turbines they want to put in rivers now. Never will make enough power to show up on a pie chart showing various sources - similar to solar today.

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#13
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/23/2010 7:34 PM

The Mercury comes from a drowned forest. This is a problem in northern Quebec. It was cheaper for Hydro Quebec to leave entire swaths of forest to be flooded, than to harvest the timber. The James Bay project flooded 11,000 sq KM of forest. The trace Mercury in the trees has leached into the water. The geology and the method used, was unique to this project. Now it is the rallying cry against any hydro project.

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#14
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/24/2010 1:09 AM

Interesting read in Wiki - thanks for that

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#15
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/24/2010 1:50 AM

Interesting! Thanks.

Russ

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#16

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/27/2010 8:33 AM

Did they evaluate the potential of distributed-input wind power? Instead of big windmills remotely in the ocean, will it work to scatter small wind generating plants in various, more convenient locations? That would ease the requirements on the electrical grid as well as eliminate a huge one-time investment.

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#17
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/27/2010 9:19 AM

Study up on wind and you find it to be totally impractical.

The turbine blades need to be as high up as possible to get into good wind. More or less, the higher the better - meaning 100 meters is better than 50 meters.

Good sites for HAWTs on short towers are few and far between.

Good sites for VAWTs are non existent.

Russ

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#18
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

11/27/2010 11:32 AM

Wind power has to many problems, with out a means of storage. There are base line loads and peek loads. Our base line needs are Nuclear and Hydro. Peak loads are met by fossil fuel plants, and if there is sunshine and the wind is blowing at the right range, than we can use alternative energy.

Where I live in southern Ontario the winds are not constant or predictable. We can go from either nothing, to a 80 KPH wind storm in a few hours. The end result is no wind power. As for solar; forget it. As I write this, we are in our forth day of overcast and no end in sight. For this time of year, this is the normal weather. Have these people bothered to check the climatological records of the area, before they promote and install green energy? The term "White Elephant" is underrated.

Ironically the best place in Canada for wind power is the same province that has the oil; Alberta. In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains the wind is reasonably constant in a usable range. Alas Alberta is a long way form the high population centers of Ontario and Quebec.

Wind power may be the panacea for the glassy eyed arm-chair environmentalists, But they have yet to freeze in the dark.

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#19

Re: Angering the Environmentalists

12/02/2010 10:38 PM

I see one of the answers say they hate how environmentalists quote scientists without naming them, Funny we feel the same about being lumbered together with greenies by the general public.

Nuclear is clean, it is only cheap because it has competition, like LPG, electricity and petrol, the call it supply and demand and put up the price. The issue is not what to use, the issue is control, Get off the grid. as for sweden well it isnt what they should do that will ever happen, it is whta they will do, and they will go nuclear. Tasmaina has a major hydro dam that covered over the only inland sand beach in the world, after they were finished they turned it off, dont need the power. What you believe is happening from TV and what is really happening are two different things.

No global warming? funny the cooktown military air base built in world war two, 1 foot above sea level is now 3 feet under and i have waded through the water, looking at the elevated bomb rails still there not sunk unmoved same as the tarmac. You can believe the energy companies, I prefer to believe what i see. Governments are scum, energy has 30 percent tax, so they are 30 percent partners with the energy companies, do the right thing??? not in a million years. So sweden will go nuclear, make it sound cheap and clean, and own 30 percent of every swede, scum will always be scum

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#20
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Re: Angering the Environmentalists

12/03/2010 3:24 PM

Of course the entire central portion of north america was upto 100 feet under water at one time prior to the recent period of ice ages. Also, have you considered the more substantial effects of ground subsidence? I know part of the US way inland where the ground has dropped almost 10 feet in about 70 years.

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