New term for climate change in advance of Climate Week in NYC: “Existential threat”

The Climate Group Week in New York

attracts every Climate Change dork.

Global Governance bet.

“existential threat”

the Earth is not saved by more pork.

Thanks, Anthony Watts (wattsupwiththat.com) for pointing to this paper:

New climate risk classification created to account for potential ‘existential’ threats

Researchers identify a one-in-20 chance of temperature increase causing catastrophic damage or worse by 2050

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO

A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity.

Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius:
Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change
Report of the Committee to Prevent Extreme Climate Change
Chairs:
V. Ramanathan, M. L. Molina, and D. Zaelke
Published September, 2017
Prominently and up front is a diagram that is supposed to explain everything:
 If we look at the last curve in dotted line they explain everything
BL (CI – 80% & C feedback). They explain that BL beans baseline (whatever baseline they mean is not explained). Then CI – 80%?

What does CI mean?

From the free encyclopedia: The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants (CI), and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information without the consent of the other parties with the intent of malicious, personal or financial gain.

Well, that explains a lot, no need to understand the rest.

The energy in Hurricane Irma

The energy in Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma was enormous, the eye was up to 40 miles in diameter,  the hurricane center core was up to 140 miles wide, tropical storm winds reached 150 miles from the center, it rained up to 200 miles from the center and clouds covered the skies up to 350 miles from the center. The eye of the hurricane covered over 1000 square miles, hurricane winds covered 15,000 square miles, tropical storm winds covered up to 70,000 square miles, rains stretched out over 125,000 square miles and clouds affected up to 400,000 square miles.

A Hurricane takes energy from the ocean and releases it in the form of rain,  wind and radiation into space. We measure hurricanes in categories dependent on the sustainable winds, but the wind energy is so much less than water energy. Nowhere was that more evident than in the case of hurricane Harvey, where nearly all the damage was from rain.

Hurricane Irma was different. It had landfalls in the Caribbean as a category 5 hurricane. At landfall Irma generated about 8 million Megawatts  of wind energy or more than twice as much as world wide electrical energy produced, and Irma made landfall on small islands in the Caribbean, on Cuba, the Florida Keys, near Naples, Florida and once more north of Tampa.

The first landfall was on the little island of Barbuda,size 62 square miles. It has a population of 8000, the power of Irma killed one of the inhabitants and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings on the island. Irma did this using about one tenth of one percent of its wind energy! The Virgin Islands also got a direct hit and a dozen deaths occurred in the rest of the Caribbean.

The situation i Cuba was much different. Irma entered Cuba with 155 mph winds, grazed the coastal archipelago, slowed down to 6 mph forward progress, briefly made landfall on the mainland and exited with 130 mph winds. This 72 hour Cuban visit claimed (so far) 10 lives in Cuba, Cuba absorbed maybe 30 percent of the wind energy from Irma, about 2.5 million Megawatts of wind energy during 72 hours, or about 180 million  MWh, or about nine times more than the yearly power consumption in Cuba.

This is a lot of energy, but it is dwarfed by the energy released in the condensation of the water vapor in the form of rain. This is about 800 million Megawatts, and continued in the case of Irma for 11 days, nearly all of it returning to the ocean from which it was fed. This is about 500 times the worldwide electrical energy produced, and since lasted 11 days, that is the equivalent of about 15 years of worldwide electrical production. Priced at 6 cents per kilowatt-hour this comes to about 12 trillion dollars worth of electricity if it could be harnessed, but instead it is destructive in its path, but usually beneficial in its periphery, since many of the islands it passes over depends on the rain from the hurricanes for its supply of fresh water.

But that is not the only cooling Irma provided. When the Sun shines over water 90 percent of all the sun’s energy is absorbed. The hurricane cloud was large, up to 700 miles in diameter or 400,000 square miles. The sun’s rays has an incoming energy of about 400 Watts per square meter, and the clouds reflect about 90 percent of the sun’s rays back into space rather than getting absorbed in the ocean or over land. The cooling effect of the hurricane Irma from clouds was about 200 million megawatts during peak daytime, or about 1,200 million mWhours. This alone is more than sixty times the worldwide electricity production.

Of course this all pales in comparison when one realizes the sun reaches us with 1,500 trillion Megawatt-hours of solar energy per day, so we are still talking of less than one millionth of the energy we receive from the sun.

The different responses to hurricane Katrina and Harvey.

The hurricane Katrina was our costliest hurricane this far. Not the deadliest, that was the 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6 to 12,000 people. At that time it had passed through the Florida Strait as a tropical storm, so the Galveston people didn’t take it seriously, after all they had an 8 foot seawall. It entered as a category 4 hurricane, the storm surge was 15 feet, topped the seawall and wiped out the city like a tsunami.

I have always been fascinated by hurricanes, the enormous energy they disperse and how beautiful they appear from space. So  it was on Aug 27, 2005 that I watched the press conference with the Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco reassuring the people “I believe we are prepared,” she said in Jefferson Parish. “That’s the one thing that I’ve always been able to brag about.”

Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday.

“We’re going to pray that the impact will soften,” she said.

 

Later the same day in city Hall she is still trying to decide when or if to reverse flow on the highways, she has still no clue on how severe the situation is and refuses to hear the warnings from NHC that warned more or less that an unprecedented catastrophe is coming. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin agreed that he would take care of his people.

The next day the hurricane had grown to category 5 and everybody that could started to evacuate with or without an evacuation order, but it wasn’t until 20 hours before landfall that she ordered mandatory evacuation and reversed direction on all the exit highways. Everybody that could evacuate had already started, so the coaches were picked up by the hotels to evacuate the tourists. The traffic  jams were enormous since everybody tried to get out at the same time. They more or less knew the levies would be topped, but even then Mayor Nagin refused to use the school buses to evacuate. He claimed “My people will not be bused in  school buses, they deserve coaches.

The U.S. government begged repeatedly that the governor would call in  the national guard, but she refused. The Federal government considered calling in the U.S. military, but decided against it, since it is against the law unless the governor authorizes it.

It had landfall as a category 3 hurricane east of New Orleans so the major storm surge, 26 feet high, hit Mississippi and wiped out casinos and other structures at the coast, and hurricane winds affected an area the size of England. New Orleans was on the west side of the path, so New Orleans was spared an over topping of the levees. That is, until the next morning one levee gave way due to incorrect secured footing and New Orleans got flooded.

FEMA was still busy cleaning up from earlier hurricanes, so new people needed to be hired or transferred to other department, but to work for FEMA you needed at least 3 days extra of sensitivity training, so  FEMA paperwork got delayed another week.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but President Bush is still getting blamed for it.

Image result for hurricane Katrina

Not so with Hurricane Harvey. It also grew very rapidly from a tropical disturbance to a major hurricane and was still growing at landfall as a category 4 hurricane. It looked like it was going to get inland fast and follow the normal path and rain out while moving rapidly, but instead it got blocked by two high pressures and decided to stall after rainfall, move back into the gulf, picking up more rain and then rain out over Houston and surrounding areas. The wind damage and storm surge was normal for a category 4 hurricane, but the staying in place for a long time made it the rainiest hurricane ever hitting the U.S. mainland, with some areas around Houston getting over 50 inches of rain.

Yet the hurricane response has been nothing short of excellent. The Governor of Texas acted early in cooperation with the Federal Government to pre-stage national guard and supplies in conjunction with local government. But the thing that made the biggest difference has been the volunteer response from thousands of people with high clearance trucks and boats evacuating thousands of people. About he only thing going wrong was the mayor of Houston discouraging early evacuation when he knew the rains were going to be horrendous.

It is going to be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, but without the volunteer response and excellent cooperation between all levels of government it could have been so much worse.

The American spirit is alive and well in Texas, as is the Trump leadership

The energy in Hurricane Harvey

A Hurricane takes energy from the ocean and releases it in the form of rain and wind. We measure hurricanes in categories dependent on the sustainable winds, but the wind energy is so much less than water energy. Nowhere is that more evident than in the case of hurricane Harvey. It had landfall as a category 4. At landfall Harvey generated about 6 million Megawatts  of energy or about twice as much as the world wide electrical energy produced, but it is reduced rapidly as Harvey is reduced to a tropical storm to less than a quarter of that.

This is a lot of energy, but it is dwarfed by the energy released in the condensation of the water vapor in the form of rain. This is about 800 million Megawatts, and continues in the case of Harvey for 6 days, since it got stuck near landfall and is constantly fed more energy from the ocean. This is about 250 times the worldwide electrical energy produced, and since Harvey lasts a week, that is the equivalent of about 4 years of worldwide electrical production.

The energy was generated by cooling the Mexican Gulf. Since it has been 14 years since the last major hurricane we were overripe for another major hurricane in the Gulf.

But that is not the only cooling Harvey provided. When the Sun shines over water 90 percent of all the sun’s energy is absorbed. The hurricane cloud is large, up to 500 miles in diameter or 200,000 square miles. The sun’s rays has an incoming energy of about 400 Watts per square meter, and the clouds reflect about 90 percent of the sun’s rays back into space rather than getting absorbed in the ocean or over land. The cooling effect of the hurricane Harvey from clouds is about 100 million megawatts during daytime  as long as the clouds exist. This alone is more than thirty times the worldwide electricity production.

 

Switching from coal to pellets to save the environment?

One way governments have been trying to combat climate change is to subsidize renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass. Wind and solar makes some sense since they do not emit any CO2, but biomass?

Ever since the people began to use fire to cook their food, biomass has been the  fuel of choice. In forested areas wood was preferred, but if there were no trees grass was used, and if there was no grass people used and still use dried cow dung. It is used to cook the meal of the day in an open fire, a primitive stove or a clay oven. It is very polluting, and the fertilizing properties of cow dung is lost, depriving the land of replenishing the ground. The environment would benefit immensely by switching to electric. The fastest and least expensive way to electrify developing countries is to build coal fired plants. The only benefit of cow dung is that it is locally produced, and transportation is one of the hindering factors for modernizing.

The lawmakers in the British parliament are very concerned about Climate Change, and to that end they legislated a de-carbonization project. The DRAX group jumped at the opportunity.

DRAX  is not a take off of Drax the destroyer, it is actually worse.

They used to burn coal. Now they burn biomass.

And it is dirtier.

emissions of particulates from the site [DRAX] were 897 tons last year compared to 382 tons in 2008 when they were still burning coal.”

The power station uses about seven million tons of biomass or wood pellets a year, much of it imported, particularly from the US”

“Last year, DRAX received subsidies of £558 million for its biomass operation, a figure that is expected to rise to around £800 million this year as the third biomass unit comes on stream.”

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/drax-power-station-biomass-emissions-dangerous-worse-than-coal-claim-environmentalists/

So they switched from coal to wood pellets and subsidized it to the cost of about 100 dollars a ton, and since they are producing electricity it is running at less than 40% efficiency. It would be far better to burn them in a cast iron wood/pellet stove, and burn clean at about 80% efficiency. No subsidies needed. Wood pellets or wood briquettes provide a wonderful heat, and it works even if the electricity is gone in an ice storm. And it burns much cleaner than coal or improperly dried wood.

Rising CO2, more clouds, a blessing or a curse? A Limerick.

The clouds that we see in the sky
is really the reason for why
we will not overheat;
Shields us from solar heat.
A feedback on which we rely.
I am a climate realist, that means I look at the totality of what is happening to the climate with increasing CO2 levels, and what it means for our future.

Climate alarmists and IPCC believe that the thermal response to increasing CO2 is a positive feedback from increasing water vapor that results from higher ocean temperatures, melting permafrost releasing Methane and melting of the polar ice caps. All this leads to much higher temperatures. Current climate model averages indicate a temperature rise of 4.7 C by 2100 if nothing is done, 4.65 C if U.S keeps all its Paris commitments and 4.53 C if all countries keep their part of the agreement. In all cases, with or without Paris agreement we are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

As the chart indicates, implementing all of the Paris agreement will delay the end of mankind as we know it by at most 4 years.

Myself and quite a few scientists, meteorologists, but mostly engineers believe the feedback loop in nature is far more complicated than that, in fact, there is a large negative feedback in the system, preventing a temperature runaway, and we have the observations to prove it.  The negative feedback manifests itself in 2 ways:

Inorganic feedback, represented by clouds. If there were no clouds, the tropics would average a temperature of  140 F  thanks to the greenhouse effect. The clouds reflect back up to 300 W/m2 into space rather than the same energy being absorbed into water or soil. Clouds are highly temperature dependent, especially cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The figure below shows temperature at the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Cumulus clouds are formed in the morning, earlier the warmer it is, and not at all if it is cold, thunderstorms appear when it is warm enough. The figure shows how temperature in the equatorial Pacific rises until about 8:30 a.m, then actually declines between 9 and 12 a.m. even as the sun continues to rise. The feedback, which was positive at low temperatures becomes negative at warmer temperatures, and in the equatorial doldrums, surface temperature has found its equilibrium. No amount of CO2 will change that. Equatorial temperature follows the temperature of the ocean, warmer when there is an el niño, cooler when there is a la niña. Here is a chart of temperature increases since satellite measurements began as a function of latitude.

The tropics follow the ocean temperature closely, no long term rising trend, the extratropics are also stable.

Not so at the poles. the temperature record indicate a noticeable warming with large spikes up and down, up to 3 degree Celsius difference from year to year, especially the Arctic. So, how much has the Arctic melted? Here is a chart of Arctic ice cover for 31 May for the last 39 years.

If this trend continues, all ice may melt in 300 to 400 years, faster if there is further warming and nothing else is changing. Let’s take a look at the Arctic above the 80th latitude, an area of about 3,85 million square kilometers, less than 1% of the earth’s surface, but it is there where global warming is most pronounced. Here are two charts from the last 2 years, ending with Jul. 19,  2017.

Starting at summer 2016, the Arctic was melting quite normally, but something else happened that is not shown in the chart. Every 5 years or so, the Arctic suffer a large storm with full hurricane strength during the summer. In 2016 there was not one, but two such storms, and as they happened late in the season when the ice is rotten they result in a large ice loss, making the ice minimum the lowest on record, and the ice volume nearly 4,000 Gigatons (Gt) less than the 10 year average. Then the temperature from October thru April did run 7 degree Celsius warmer than normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees warmer. Yet today the deficit is down to less than 100 Gt. What happened? It snowed more than normal. In the Arctic, it gets warmer under clouds, warmer still when it snows. Take a look at Greenland and what has happened this freezing season. It has snowed and snowed and Greenland has accumulated 150 Gt more ice than normal. So, at this point in the season we are a total of 1650 Gt ahead of last year at this date (July 21), and this is with Arctic temperatures being seven degrees warmer than normal during the cold season. The counterintuitive conclusion is that it may very well be that warmer temperatures produces accumulation of snow and ice, colder temperatures with less snow accumulates less. What happens during the short Arctic summer? With more snow accumulated it takes longer to melt last years snow, so the temperature stays colder longer. This year the Arctic temperature has been running colder than normal every day since May 1 with no end in sight. If this melting period ends without melting all snow, multi year ice will accumulate, and if it continues unabated, a new ice age will start.

The second feedback loop is organic. More CO2 means more plant growth.  According to NASA there has been a significant greening of the earth, more than 10% since satellite measurements begun. This results in a cooling effect everywhere, except in areas that used to be treeless where they have a warming effect. The net effect is that we can now feed 2 billion more people than before without using more fertilizer. Check this picture from NASA, (now they can publish real science again) showing the increased leaf area extends nearly everywhere.

In addition, more leafs changes the water cycle, increases evapotranspiration, and more trees and vegetation reduces erosion and unwanted runoff. Good news all around.

In short, taking into account the negative feedback occurring the earth will warm up less than 0.5 degrees from now, not at all in the tropics, and less than 3 degrees at the poles. Without the Paris agreement there will be no increase in the death rates in the cities, except from the slight increase of city temperatures due to the urban heat effect. With the Paris agreement we will have to make draconian cuts in our use of electricity, meaning using much less air conditioning and even less heating, and life expectancy will decline.

We need energy. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the planet. Developing nations should be encouraged to use electricity rather than cooking by dried cow-dung. Coal is limited, and we should leave some for our great great grandchildren. Oil and gas should be preserved for aviation, since there is no realistic alternative with a high enough energy density. Therefore I am an advocate for Thorium based nuclear energy, being safer than Uranium based nuclear energy, and, properly implemented will produce about 0.01% of the long term radioactive waste compared to conventional nuclear power plants. And there is a million year supply  of Thorium available. Once the electricity power plants have fully switched away from coal and gas, then and only then is it time to switch to electric cars.  https://lenbilen.com/2017/07/14/twenty-two-reasons-to-rapidly-develop-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/

Twenty-two reasons to rapidly develop Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

We need badly to develop a Thorium based molten salt fast breeder nuclear reactor to develop our energy needs in the future. Lest anyone should be threatened by the words fast breeder, it simply means it uses fast neutrons instead of thermal neutron, and breeder means it produces more fissible material than it consumes, in the case of Thorium the ratio is about 1.05.

Here are 22 good reasons for Thorium:

1. Cheap and unlimited raw material.

2. Much less TRansUranium waste, 0.01% waste products compared to a Uranium-235 fast breeder.

3. Produces Pu-238 as one of the final TRans Uranium products, in short supply and much in demand for space exploration nuclear power.

4. Radioactive waste decays down to background radiation in 300 years instead of a million years.

5. Does not produce Plutonium 239, which is the preferred material used in nuclear bombs.

6. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

7. Thorium Nuclear Reactors are earthquake safe.

8. No risk for a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

9. Very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

10. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

11. Virtually no spent fuel problem, no storage or transport.

12.  Scales beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

13. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

14. Rapid response to increased or decreased power demands.

15. Lessens the need for an expanded national grid.

16. Russia has a Thorium program.

17. China is having a massive Thorium program.

18. India has an active Thorium program.

19.Lawrence Livermore Laboratories is developing a small portable self-contained Thorium reactor capable of being carried on a low-bed trailer.

20. The need for a Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility will eventually go away.

21. Produces electricity at a cost of about 4 c/kWh.

22. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

1. Cheap and unlimited raw material. There is enough Thorium around for a million years at today’s worldwide energy generation level , and not only that, it is a by-product of mining heavy metals and rare earth metals. The price is the cost of extracting and refining, which can be as low as $40/Kg. No extra mining required for extracting the Thorium.

2. Much less TRansUranium waste, 0.01% waste products compared to a Uranium-235 fast breeder. The Thorium process has a much higher efficiency in fission than  the Uranium process. See the figure below.

3. Produces Pu-238 as one of the final TRans Uranium products, in short supply and much in demand for space exploration nuclear power.

NASA relies on pu-238 to power long-lasting spacecraft batteries that transform heat into electricity. With foreign and domestic supplies dwindling, NASA officials are worried the shortage will prevent the agency from sending spacecraft to the outer planets and other destinations where sunlight is scarce. Thorium reactors produce PU-238 as a “free” byproduct.  In 2009 Congress denied a request to produce more Pu-238 by traditional means, instead relying on Russia to sell us the plutonium. (Remember the Russian reset?) Russia made their last delivery in 2010.

4. Radioactive waste decays down to background radiation in 300 years instead of a million years. Initially a Thorium reactor produces as much radioactivity as other nuclear reactors, since fission converts mass to heat, but the decay products have a much shorter half-life. See the figure below.

5. Does not produce Plutonium239, which is the preferred material used in nuclear bombs. The higher Plutonium isotopes and other TRansUraniums are about as nasty as they get, and need expensive protection against terror attacks, and need to be stored for a very long time.

6. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers. For decades, medical researchers have sought treatments for cancer. Now, Alpha Particle Immunotherapy offers a promising treatment for many forms of cancer, and perhaps a cure. Unfortunately, the most promising alpha-emitting medical isotopes, actinium-225 and its daughter, bismuth-213, are not available in sufficient quantity to support current research, much less therapeutic use. In fact, there are only three sources in the world that largely “milk” these isotopes from less than 2 grams of thorium source material. Additional supplies were not forthcoming. Fortunately, scientists and engineers at Idaho National Laboratory identified 40-year-old reactor fuel stored at the lab as a substantial untapped resource and developed Medical Actinium for Therapeutic Treatment, or MATT, which consists of two innovative processes (MATT-CAR and MATT-BAR) to recover this valuable medical isotope.

7. Earthquake safe. Thorium reactors have a very simple and compact design where gravity is the only thing needed to stop the nuclear reaction. Conventional Nuclear reactors depend on external power to shut down after a SCRAM, where poison rods fall down to halt the reaction.  The next figure shows the concept of a Thorium reactor.

The idea is to empty the fissile U-233 core through gravity alone. Since the fuel is already molten, it can run out into channels like pig-iron into cooling heat exchangers with  water supplied through gravity alone.

As we can see the reactor hardened structure is compact, and can be completely earthquake and tsunami proof. What can be sheared off are the steam pipes and external power, but the shutdown can complete without additional power.

8. No risk for a meltdown, the fuel is already molten. The fuel in a Thorium reactor is U-233 in the form of UraniumFluoride (UF4) salt that also contains Lithium and Beryllium, in its molten form it has a very low vapor pressure. The salt flows easily through the heat exchangers and the separators. The salt is very toxic, but it is completely sealed.

9. Very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control. This is another beauty of the molten salt design. The temperature coefficient is highly negative, leading to a safe design with simple and consistent feedback. What does that mean?  It means that if temperature in the core rises, the efficiency of the reaction goes down, leading to less heat generated. There is no risk for a thermal runaway. In contrast, Chernobyl used graphite moderated Uranium , and it suffered a thermal runaway as the operators bypassed three safety circuits trying to capture the last remaining power during a normal shut-down. The reactor splat, the graphite caught fire and the rest is history. Five days later two nuclear installations in Sweden shut down their reactors due to excessive radiation, but it took a while before they could figure out what had happened. First then did the Soviets confess there had been an accident.

10. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions. Materials subjected to high radiation tend to get brittle or soften up. Thorium reactors operate under atmospheric conditions so the choice of materials that can withstand both high temperatures and high radiation is much greater, leading to a superior and less expensive design.  There is no high pressure gas buildup and the separation stage can be greatly simplified.

11. Virtually no spent fuel problem, no storage or transport. I am following the events at Fukushima Nuclear Power plants with great interest. How ironic that the greatest risk is with the spent fuel, not with the inability to shut down the working units. The spent fuel issue is the real Achilles’ heel of the Nuclear Power Industry. Thorium power works differently as nearly all fuel gets consumed as it is generated. When the process shuts down, that is it. Only the radioactivity that is en route so to say will have to be accounted for, not everything generated thus far in the process. The difference is about 10000 to one in the size of the problem. Time to switch over to Thorium.

12.  Scales beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants. One of the first applications was as an airborne nuclear reactor.

 Granted this was not a Thorium breeder reactor, but it proves nuclear reactors can be made lightweight. Thorium reactor may be made even lighter as long as they are not of the breeder type.

13. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas. Thorium reactors operate at atmospheric pressure and have a very high negative temperature coefficient, so there is no risk for a boil-over. They are easily made earthquake-safe since no pressure vessel is needed.

14. Rapid response to increased or decreased power demands. The increase in power output to increased power demand is faster than in coal-fired power plant. All you have to do is increase the speed of flow in the core and it will respond with raised temperature.

15. Lessens the need for an expanded national grid. The National Electric grid is at the breaking point. It needs to be expanded, but neighborhood resistance is building in many areas where they need an expansion the most. The grid is also sensitive to terrorism activities.

 As we can see the national grid is extensive, and under constant strain. A way to lessen the dependency on the national grid is to sprinkle it with many small to medium sized Thorium Nuclear Power generators.  They can be placed on barges in rivers and along the coast, giving the grid maximum flexibility to respond in  case of an emergency.

16. Russia has a Thorium program This is a self-contained Thorium Nuclear Reactor on a barge. Coolant readily available. Hoist it a couple of cables and the town will have all the power it needs.

17. China is having a massive Thorium program. The People’s Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology, it was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) annual conference on Tuesday, January 25. An article in the Wenhui News followed on Wednesday. Chinese researchers also announced this development on the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum. Led by Dr. Jiang Mianheng, a graduate of Drexel University in electrical engineering, the thorium MSR efforts aims not only to develop the technology but to secure intellectual property rights to its implementation. This may be one of the reasons that the Chinese have not joined the international Gen-IV effort for MSR development, since part of that involves technology exchange. Neither the US nor Russia have joined the MSR Gen-IV effort either. A Chinese delegation led by Dr. Jiang travelled to Oak Ridge National Lab last fall to learn more about MSR technology and told lab leadership of their plans to develop a thorium-fueled MSR.The Chinese also recognize that a thorium-fueled MSR is best run with uranium-233 fuel, which inevitably contains impurities (uranium-232 and its decay products) that preclude its use in nuclear weapons. Operating an MSR on the “pure” fuel cycle of thorium and uranium-233 means that a breakeven conversion ratio can be achieved, and after being started on uranium-233, only thorium is required for indefinite operation and power generation.

18. India has an active Thorium program. • India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032.  It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050. • Because India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty due to its weapons program, it was for 34 years largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, which has hampered its development of civil nuclear energy until 2009. • Due to these trade bans and lack of indigenous uranium, India has uniquely been developing a nuclear fuel cycle to exploit its reserves of thorium. • Now, foreign technology and fuel are expected to boost India’s nuclear power plans considerably.  All plants will have high indigenous engineering content. • India has a vision of becoming a world leader in nuclear technology due to its expertise in fast reactors and thorium fuel cycle. • India’s Kakrapar-1 reactor is the world’s first reactor which uses thorium rather than depleted uranium to achieve power flattening across the reactor core. India, which has about 25% of the world’s thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, following which five more reactors will be constructed. Considered to be a global leader in thorium-based fuel, India’s new thorium reactor is a fast-breeder reactor and uses a plutonium core rather than an accelerator to produce neutrons. As accelerator-based systems can operate at sub-criticality they could be developed too, but that would require more research. India currently envisages meeting 30% of its electricity demand through thorium-based reactors by 2050.

19.Lawrence Livermore Laboratories is developing a small portable self-contained Thorium reactor capable of being carried on a low-bed trailer. A Democratic member of the United States House of Congress (Joseph Sestak) in 2010 added funding for research and development for a reactor that could use thorium as fuel and fit on a destroyer-sized ship.  Lawrence Livermore national laboratories are currently in the process of designing such a self-contained (3 meters by 15 meters) thorium reactor. Called SSTAR (Small, Sealed, Transportable, Autonomous Reactor), this next-generation reactor will produce 10 to 100 megawatts electric and can be safely transported via ship or truck.  The first units are expected to arrive in 2015, be tamper resistant, passively failsafe and have a operative life of 30+ years.

20. The need for a Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility will eventually go away. Since Thorium consumes the fissile material as it is getting created, the need for a long term storage facility of the Yucca Mountain type will eventually go away. In remote locations there can be built Thorium Nuclear Power generators that consume spent material from other nuclear processes. The need to do it in remote locations is the hazard of the already existing nuclear wastes. It should be possible to reduce the existing stockpile of nuclear wastes and nuclear bombs by about 90% and make electricity in the process. The cost to do this is higher than the normal process due to the additional cost of security.

21. Produces electricity at a cost of about 4 c/kWh.  The cost to produce electricity with Thorium generators should be about 40% less than Advanced Nuclear and about 30 % less than from Coal (with scrubbers). Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the generation capacity has to be there even when the wind doesn’t blow, so the only gain from wind power is to lessen the mining or extraction of carbon.  Even if we double the renewable power we will only go from 3.6% to 7.2% of total energy needed.  Hydroelectric  power is for all practical purpose maxed out, so all future increase must come from Coal, Natural Gas, Petroleum or Nuclear. Thorium powered Nuclear Generators is the way to go.

Many of the pictures are from a slide presentation given by David Archibald in Melbourne Feb 5 2011. He posted it “for the benefit of all” which I have interpreted as waving the copyright of the pictures

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/12/david-archibald-on-climate-and-energy-security/