Jul 292019

Pablo Picasso Massacre in Korea 1951


It’s been a long time since I wrote anything at all about nuclear energy. And even then I thought the whole discussion had been wrapped up and thrown away. But I guess it’s inevitable that as the climate change debate develops, there’d be parties seeking to revive the nukes ‘discussion’, because there’s so much potential profit in there. And then today I came upon this report, and a few interpretations of it, that set me off again, and brought back the whole Yucca Mountain issue to mind.

Please note that in all that follows, there is ONE very obvious notion to keep in mind: nuclear energy is a huge economic loss-maker, no matter how and where you look.

And that makes nukes, right from the get-go, completely unfit to replace anything fossil-fuel based, because coal and oil and gas are sources that do the opposite: they generate huge profits while nukes generate huge losses, i.e.: you can’t run your economy on nuclear. You can not run an economy on any energy source that generates economic losses. It does NOT get simpler than that. It’s the economics of energy, and for once economics are right (though not economists, name me one who understands this. Hi, Steve!).

Mind you, you can’t run our present complex economies and societies on renewables either, no more than you can run them on nuclear. Much simpler economies, sure, but then you will have to figure out how you’re going to pay for that. It’s hard to comprehend to which extent fossil fuels have shaped our world, but we have no choice but to try, because this is one thing you don’t want to get wrong.

The report comes from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), which studied 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951. Their own abstract says the following:


Nuclear Power Is Not an Option for the Climate-Friendly Energy Mix

The debate on effective climate protection is heating up in Germany and the rest of the world. Nuclear energy is being touted as “clean” energy. Given the circumstances, the present study analyzed the historical, current, and future costs and risks of nuclear energy. The findings show that nuclear energy can by no means be called “clean” due to radioactive emissions, which will endanger humans and the natural environment for over one million years. And it harbors the high risk of proliferation. An empirical survey of the 674 nuclear power plants that have ever been built showed that private economic motives never played a role.

Instead military interests have always been the driving force behind their construction. Even ignoring the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, private economy-only investment in nuclear power plant would result in high losses— an average of five billion euros per nuclear power plant, as one financial simulation revealed. In countries such as China and Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, private investment does not play a role either. Nuclear power is too expensive and dangerous; therefore it should not be part of the climate-friendly energy mix of the future.

In other words, nuclear energy is already a huge economic loser even before decommissioning and waste storage are taken into consideration, and those last two costs are by far the largest. So much so that it even makes precious little sense to calculate nuke costs without including decommissioning and waste storage costs. But people do it, and they get paid for that….

A site called Renew Economy, which appears to be Australian, has this comment on the DIW report (they’re one of the few I found that had any comment at all):


Nuclear Energy Is Never Profitable

A new study of the economics of nuclear power has found that nuclear power has never been financially viable, finding that most plants have been built while heavily subsidised by governments, and often motivated by military purposes, and is not a good approach to tackling climate change. The study has come from DIW Berlin, a leading German economic think-tank, and found that the average 1,000MW nuclear power plant built since 1951 resulted in an average economic loss of 4.8 billion euros ($7.7 billion AUD). The report comes amid a hot debate over the future of nuclear power in both Germany and Australia.

The report published by the German Institute for Economic Research (known as DIW Berlin) reviewed the development of 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951, finding that none of the plants was built using ‘private capital under competitive conditions’. “The results showed that in all cases, an investment would generate significant financial losses. The (weighted) average net present value was around minus 4.8 billion euros,” the study says. “Even in the best case, the net present value was approximately minus 1.5 billion euros. The authors included conservative assumptions with high electricity prices, low capital costs, and specific investment. Considering all assumptions regarding the uncertain parameters, nuclear energy is never profitable.”


click to enlarge in new tab


The report authors are also pessimistic about the future of nuclear power, concluding that nuclear power will remain unprofitable into the foreseeable future. Unlike Australia, Germany has a history of nuclear power use, which as recently as 2010, supplied around a quarter of Germany’s electricity. The government led by Angela Merkel has committed to the complete phase-out of nuclear power by 2022. The report found that when nuclear power plants were built using private investment, that “large state subsidies” were used to make the projects viable, and that in most cases, nuclear power stations were built at a loss.

DIW Berlin calculated that for every 1,000 Megawatts of nuclear power capacity that has been built since 1951, there were average economic losses of between 1.5 to 8.9 billion Euros. “Nuclear power was never designed for commercial electricity generation; it was aimed at nuclear weapons. That is why nuclear electricity has been and will continue to be uneconomical. Further, nuclear energy is by no means ‘clean.’ Its radioactivity will endanger humans and the natural world for over one million years,” Christian von Hirschhausen, co-author of the study said.



The DIW Berlin report stressed that governments should not be seduced by claims that nuclear power was a solution to the climate crisis. “Nuclear energy for climate protection” is an old narrative that is as inaccurate today as it was in the 1970s. Describing nuclear energy as “clean” ignores the significant environmental risks and radioactive emissions it engenders along the process chain and beyond,” the report concluded.

Another site called Recharge Transition finds basically the same:


Nuclear Has Never Been Economic And Is Dangerous

Nuclear power is economically unviable, dangerous and should not be labelled as a clean form of energy, the renowned German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) said, pointing to research it has carried out on the profitability of investments in nuclear power plants. DIW Berlin is one of the leading economic think tanks in Germany. According to “numerous scientific studies,” none of the world’s more than 600 nuclear power stations have ever been economically viable, and the plants could only be operated for years due to government subsidies, the institute claims.

“That nuclear energy has never been economically competitive comes as no surprise as electricity production has always only be a by-product. Military and geo-strategical interests have always come first and this energy source has been massively subsidised,” the study’s author Christian von Hirschhausen said. “Now it is also certain that it won’t be profitable in the future either to invest in atomic energy – neither in new nuclear power plants, nor in the extension of existing ones. “If in addition you consider that nuclear power absolutely isn’t safe, the fairy tale of a climate friendly alternative to fossil energy sources completely collapses.”

And you know what’s “funny” is that as mentioned before, the report never even talks about decommissioning and storage. For me, this was a closed topic, got it, move on. But I looked it up anyway. I couldn’t remember the dates the judge had set. I knew he had thrown out the EPA’s 10,000 years for guaranteed storage safety.

10,000 years is already way beyond man’s powers to guarantee anything at all, it’s pure hubris. According to YuccaMountain.org, the latest a judge mentioned is at least 300,000 years. You know, half-life and all that. I didn’t remember if it was 100,000 or 1 million, and it makes no difference at all, man can make no claim of being capable of doing either, or even 10,000.

The Court’s Ruling

On July 9, 2004, the Court of Appeals ruled on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Lawsuits. The judges dismissed almost all of the State’s claims except a key challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Court ruled that the EPA’s 10,000-year safety standard on radiation containment at the site was arbitrary and inconsistent with the congressionally-mandated recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. The Court also struck down the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing standards insofar as they include a 10,000 year compliance limit.

The National Academy of Sciences said the radiation safety standard should be set at a higher limit, when the waste would be at its peak radiation levels – at least 300,000 years from the time the waste is sent to Yucca. The EPA was required by law to base its rule on NAS’ recommendation, but chose to set the standard at 10,000 years instead.

[..] State officials believe the ruling will significantly delay or even scrap the project. State Attorney General Brian Sandoval claimed a sound victory for Nevada, saying that the EPA would have to form a new rule with a tougher standard – a standard the Energy Department would not be able to meet due to Yucca Mountain’s inferior geology. This “is a fatal blow to the repository ,” Sandoval said. DOE itself has expressed doubts in the past about being able to meet a longer time limit. As quoted by the Court, former project director Lake Barrett wrote in 1999 that a safety standard significantly longer than 10,000 years would be “unworkable and probably unimplementable.”

Yeah, there are dozens of nuclear plants either under construction or in planning phases as we speak. We are told to see Chernobyl and Fukushima as unfortunate accidents, and there are plenty nuclear plants that never have accidents like those, but even then they are all of them gigantic economic loss-makers, and that’s before decommissioning and waste storage, which generate additional behemoth financial losses, and in the end are incapable of solving the problems they themselves generate. It’s all exclusively about profit, damn humans or other lifeforms, and damn the torpedoes.

And the little green Martians out there in space somewhere are watching us saying ”A potentially smart species. Too bad they’re doomed by their own ultimate hubris. But why would they volunteer to nuke their offspring?”

One more time: you can not run an economy on an energy source that generates economic losses. It is NOT an option. Our present economies have been made possible by fossil energy sources that gave us 10-100 times more energy than we put in to extract them. Those days are over. Please adjust your lifestyles accordingly.





Home Forums Nuclear Energy, the Ultimate Hubris

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #48864

    Pablo Picasso Massacre in Korea 1951   It’s been a long time since I wrote anything at all about nuclear energy. And even then I thought the whol
    [See the full post at: Nuclear Energy, the Ultimate Hubris]


    I really truly wonder how many people understand that you cannot run an economy on a energy “resource” that generates economic losses. I often ask myself that when I read stories about renewables and nuclear, and how many people line up behind them, thinking: do you know what an energy source is at all?

    But then, you know, all sorts of people are talking about unlimited energy from one potential source or another, and I just think: given what I see we’ve done with oil, which at least has a -future- limit, I don’t want to imagine what we would do with an unlimited source, because the 2nd law would still apply: unlimited energy means unlimited waste.

    John Day

    The economy runs on economic-loss-producing-energy just fine, until the catastrophic realization of the losses destroys the pretext, upon which all trust in the economy is based.


    “Please adjust your lifestyles accordingly.”

    The richer the person, the later will be the adjustment of lifestyles.

    The poorest person cannot make any more adjustment to their lifestyle.

    Where do the blood donations come from?
    Who will get the last blood donation?
    Who will be doing the coercion?

    “Please adjust your lifestyles accordingly.”

    John Day

    At the Center of U.S. Iran policies is an Israel-born Treasury official named Sigal Mandelker. The Atlantic writes that her ‘hand is on the lever’ of crippling economic sanctions meant to force Iran’s ‘capitulation or demise’… meanwhile the Treasury Department refuses to divulge whether Mandelker is still an Israeli citizen… (Iran has long been in Israeli crosshairs) By Alison Weir (Thanks Cat. Totally overt…)

    Israel-born Treasury official is at the center of U.S. policies on Iran

    History is weird. Oliver Cromwell was an “end days” religious zealot, and then…
    Here is a summary of 4 centuries of history of Christian sects jockeying for position for seats to the end of the world.
    Thanks Eleni.

    Reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) is seeking legislation that will expand government ability to declare it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover intelligence agents will inevitably lead to major abuse when some clever bureaucrat realizes that the new rule can also be used to hide people and cover up malfeasance.
    A law to protect intelligence officers already exists. It was passed in 1982 and is referred to as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (I.I.P.A.). It criminalizes the naming of any C.I.A. officer under cover who has served overseas in the past five years. The new legislation would make the ban on exposure perpetual and would also include Agency sources or agents whose work is classified as well as actual C.I.A. staff employees who exclusively or predominantly work in the United States rather than overseas…
    Kiriakou also explains how the “…implementation of this law is a joke. The C.I.A. doesn’t care when an operative’s identity is revealed — unless they don’t like the politics of the person making the revelation. If they cared, half of the C.I.A. leadership would be in prison. What they do care about, though, is protecting those employees who commit crimes at the behest of the White House or the C.I.A. leadership.” He goes on to describe how some of those involved in the Agency torture program were placed under cover precisely for that reason, to protect them from prosecution for war crimes…
    The new legislation is an intelligence agency dream, a get out of jail card that has no expiry date. And if one wants to know how dangerous it is, consider for a moment that if it turns out that serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was indeed a C.I.A. covert source, which is quite possible, he would be covered and would be able to walk away free on procedural grounds. Thanks Eleni

    No Accountability in Washington. The CIA Wants to Hide All Its Employees

    Ron Paul (Story by Helen of DesTroy) :
    “I think we should never use the word ‘Russiagate’ again. I think we ought to use the ‘FBIgate’ because there was a conspiracy to try to frame Trump.”

    Tom Luongo:
    The true third rail of U.S. politics is empire. Any candidate that is publicly against the empire is the enemy of not only the state, it’s quislings in the media, the corporations who profit from it and the party machines of both the GOP and the DNC.
    That is Gabbard’s crime. And it’s the only crime that matters.
    For that crime Google acted to blunt interest in her campaign in the critical hours after the first democratic debate. So, Gabbard, rightly, sued them.
    The two main points of her lawsuit are: 1) suspending her Google Ad account for six hours while search traffic for her was spiking and 2) Gmail disproportionately junked her campaign emails.
    This represents an intervention into her ability to speak to voters and, as such, is a violation of not only her First Amendment rights but also, more critically, campaign finance law.

    Inverting The Time Value Of Money Business Model , Eleni sent this piece, which I like for the elegance of the analysis it presents. By this analysis, the drop in interest rates, such as home mortgage rates, has not actually lowered effective interest rates, considered from production costs, proceeding to total payments, but raised them to the +10% range, moved their payoff way forward in time, eliminating bank risk, and setting the stage for the mess to blow up in the future, while getting something like a taxpayer bailout or buyout to save the system. The key was the tripling of assessed “value” while cutting rates on that assessment, then “taking profits” right away. “Subprime” systemic fraud. Thanks Eleni.

    Inverting the Time Value of Money Business Model

    Erdogan had a long overt and covert relationship with Israel, which was already souring some before that coup attempt, which Russia saved him from at the last moment. He’s generally open to negotiation, though, if he wants something, and he always does.
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed a recent wave of terror and bloodshed waged by Israel against the Palestinians, saying Ankara will oppose anyone who supports the Tel Aviv regime.
    “Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them,” said Erdogan while addressing senior provincial officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Saturday.
    The remarks came amid a new wave of Israeli crackdown in the occupied Palestinian territories as regime forces continue with demolition of the Palestinian houses in occupied areas in the West Bank and in the Jerusalem al-Quds.


    Siri ‘regularly’ records sex encounters, sends ‘countless’ private moments to Apple contractors Thanks again, Helen.

    It is illegal, under federal law, to possess the confidential medical information Apple obtains this way.
    That opens Apple to lawsuits if they don’t destroy it upon recognition.

    Limey expat. in France, long time journalist, John Ward, demoted to the blogosphere for his honesty, has a good take on nuevo UK Prime Minister BoJo. “The Slog” has wit, as usual, and also a lot of insight. (John is not so different in his conclusions from Ambrose Evans Pritchard, in a piece, paywalled, that somebody slipped me for free. Good company, that.)
    Few people have a lower estimation than me when it comes to the ethics, innate corruption and auto-mendacity of Boris Johnson. But when you need a new weapon to terrorise the overwhelming forces of even more depraved enemies, the bastard will always make for a better and bigger blast. I discern signs in the behaviour of the Boris Cabinet (and the tone of Ms Symonds’ spin on its behalf) that the Prime Minister’s gamble is even more audacious – and far more cunning – than most commentators realise.
    ANALYSIS: is Boris banking on a Trump card to beat Brussels?


    Nuclear Energy is fundamentally flawed in the low opportunity very high loss risk assessment. I think in terms of what to do in 10000 years they think smarter people and technology will fix it but in fact IQs are getting lower every decade.

    I am struggling with the concept that renewables cannot impact fossil fuels. I understand the sun does not alway shine. We purchased solar panels this year and from a purely financial standpoint I could not be happier.  The payout is way more than  double the payout with a 30 year bond at the current yield  And what could be a lower risk investment. I know there are a lot of anti solar arguments but the fact is that solar panels can generate enough power to reduce coal and fossil fuels. Unless I am missing something I think if every suitable home had roof top solar there would be so much power that less efficient methods for storage will still work. heat and turbines. flywheel or some other method beyond my understanding. If we stop wasting the oil that is left we should have enough to continue to make renewables.
    I agree that the cluster**** we made out of oil as energy makes the unknown risks of low cost power scary. I dont understand the laws of thermodynamics as well as I should but I think you are saying that the effects are unknown. And given the propensity of greed in human nature a high risk at that.

    Diogenes Shrugged

    Nuclear waste disposal done right — in Finland:

    Take a drive into the disposal site:

    The walls of that tunnel aren’t native rock. What you’re seeing is the heavy concrete layer sprayed on the walls and ceiling to prevent spalling. The ventilation has to run 24/7 to prevent build-ups of radon gas as well as carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust. Very expensive when also considering how much rock has been blasted and removed, and the geologist is talking about back-filling someday with bentonite (swells to reduce permeability when it gets wet) after the nuclear waste is positioned. Luckily, most of the the rest of the world won’t have to deal with these expenses. Just accumulate the stuff and pretend not to have forgotten about it.

    In the absence of petroleum, here is what the western world would look like today (sans automobiles). You aren’t seeing any windmills and solar panels there, either, because … well, haul trucks.


    Diogenes Shrugged

    Sorry, lost a paragraph there. I read somewhere that a fully-loaded haul truck, like you see at open-pit mines, were they powered by solar panels and windmills, would require a battery bigger than the haul truck itself. And that calculation did not include the weight of the battery. As Stoneleigh and Ilargi have often pointed out, petroleum is portable. So without petroleum, you’re looking at coal-fed steam engines or giant batteries for moving people and fully-loaded haul trucks around. But there’s a bright side. No airports and no TSA. No oil tankers. Just sailboats, horses and bicycles. Sounds like a vacation.


    loved the video I understand the batteries will not work in the giant hauls trucks – A couple of thoughts We should be using fossil fuels where they are the only thing that will work. not in lawn mowers and gas guzzling suvs and to my earlier point not to haul beans thousands of miles to put then in a can and ship them back. there just has to be a better way. the second thought is batteries are sometimes not needed I lived in Chicago and they had the elevated electric train that went all over the city. I am just saying there are out of box solutions that smarter people than me could figure out. People know the resource is limited and critical to our existence yet it seems like we as a people are not focused on solutions. The main reason is that the solution is too big for a corporation to profitably address. To Jim Knustlers point in the long emergency, We may have to get closer to your video and out of the suburban style drive everywhere life style.


    According to the latest IPCC report 85 different scenarios were considered to keep global warming at 1.5c by 2050. In EVERY scenario the use of nuclear power will be needed to meet the 1.5c target. Just to show how crazy the IPCC’s plan is, in the most likely scenario nuclear power generation will have to increase by 100% of 2010 level by 2030 and 500% by 2050.
    The negative economic consequences of nuclear power is noted but what will be the economic consequences in the future when the planet warms by 2c? What will be the cost when weather extremes cause crop failures, category 6 hurricanes, flooded coastlines and displaced people? As an example what happens when millions of Bangledeshis have to move to higher ground in India but there won’t be enough fresh water because the glaciers in the Himalayas have melted?
    I’m definitely not pro-nuclear but I’m pointing out that all of the good options for dealing with climate change are now gone. We will be facing costs no matter what course of action or inaction we take and as uneconomic nuclear power is it may be our least worst option.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.