28 March 2012


Statement of Dr. Benjamin Zycher Visiting Scholar American Enterprise Institute
Committee on Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure. 
March 27, 2012
No analytic difference between inefficient ditch digging and inefficient power generation

Start at 34:08 and watch a measured destruction of the economics of renewables. In particular, Dr Zycher's simplification of a main plank of the disciples of renewable energy - the creation of 'Green Jobs' - is soul destroying to me (as an avowed opponent of renewables) because it magnifies the idiocy of Governments worldwide, who are driven by 'experts' from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the likes.

At 36:57, - "The Green Jobs Rationale borders on the preposterous". To paraphrase:  Governments should outlaw the use of heavy equipment for digging ditches and mandate the use of an army of workers using spoons...."There is no analytic difference between inefficient ditch digging and inefficient power generation as tools with which to pursue increased employment"

27 March 2012

Expensive Wind Power: is little more than a convenient fairy tale

Professor Gordon Hughes
Dr Gordon Hughes is a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics.
The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment resources to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Markets have to be rigged in order to persuade investors to fund the investment that is required. The economic cost of fixing  markets in this way, especially if there is a possibility of making mistakes, is very high. Before proceeding along this path, any Government ought to be very sure that (a) the economic and environmental benefits outweigh the substantial costs incurred, and (b) the risks of pre-empting better options that  may emerge in future have been minimised.


In reality, neither of these conditions is close to being satisfied. To misquote another aphorism, unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake,
it will be a blunder.

10. Final Thoughts
In a speech to a group of prominent business leaders the previous Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change gave an extended soliloquy on his vision of greener growth for the UK – Huhne (2011). Nothing could better illustrate the gap between do-it-yourself economics and the realities highlighted by concrete economic analysis as presented in this paper. In Mr. Huhne’s world all investment that comes under the category of greener growth is a good thing, irrespective of whether it generates adequate returns on capital that has to be diverted from other uses or whether it reduces emissions of CO2 in practice.
The casual assumption that expenditures on green technology represent an efficient and economic use of scarce resources is little more than a convenient fairy tale for troubled times. Reality is rather different. Some green technologies will pay off – yielding satisfactory returns to both investors and users – but many will not. Ample experience tells us that any returns are likely to be smaller and take much longer to be earned than the enthusiastic projections produced by enthusiasts and lobbyists.

23 March 2012


Members of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth now is the time to use your common sense. Stop listening to the siren calls of your 'experts'. You know that the Capacity Factor (CF) of wind turbines is pathetic and if you look up at one of these things, common sense should tell you that a great deal of resources and energy has been used to make and erect them. For every kWh of electricity you get out, tonnes of steel, concrete and neodimium has been used and the planet desecrated that much more.

You know there is an insurmountable issue of intermittency. Common sense should again tell you what the 'solutions' from your 'experts' mean:  More desecration - back-up CCGTs (more desecration) or batteries (more desecration) or pumped storage (more desecration) or inter-regional/international smart grids (more desecration).

 Please - use your common sense and come over to breeder reactors (the small modular versions). They can provide all of the energy requirements of every individual on the planet (at developed world standards) for as long as Homo.s can exist on Planet Earth.

You just have to decide if you want the 'Liquid Metal - Uranium' one or the 'Molten Salt - Thorium' one.

I know which I prefer - do you need any help making your mind up?

22 March 2012


Breeder reactors: A renewable energy source  (Am. J. Phys. 51(1), Jan. 1983)
Bernard L. Cohen
Department of Physics. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
     Since energy sources derived from the sun are called “renewable,” that adjective apparently means that they will be available in undiminished quantity at present costs for as long as the current relationship between the sun and Earth persists, about 5 billion years. It is the purpose of this note to show that breeder reactors using nuclear fission fulfil this definition of a renewable energy source, and in fact can supply all the world’s energy needs at present costs for that time period......

.....We thus conclude that all the world’s energy requirements for the remaining 5 [billion] yr of existence of life on Earth could be provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising by as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that  term is generally used.
     Nuclear fusion has been advertised as a method for “burning the seas.” We see that nuclear fission with breeder reactors is an alternative method for “burning the seas,” and it has the considerable advantage that the technology for doing it is in hand.

So, 29 years ago the calculations were done, to prove we had enough fertile isotopes of thorium and uranium to last 'forever'. All we need is a breeder reactor to deliver it safely and cheaply and everyone on Earth can have a decent standard of living, from a source which does not pollute the environment and degrade the chemistry of the atmosphere any further. 

  Foot-soldier-members of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth:For goodness sake,use your common sense! You must stop listening to the deluded siren calls of your 'experts' and their  Energy [R]evolution wish-list.

If you get behind LFTRs you have the experience and wherewithall to make it happen, and make it happen quickly! 


21 March 2012

Breeder Reactors it is - But will it be 'Fast (Metal Cooled - Uranium) Breeders' OR 'Thermal (Molten Salt - Thorium) Breeders' ?

The Japanese Nuclear Crisis: Dr. James Mahaffey Responds
Dr James Mahaffey
'Atomic Awakenings' http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6600498-atomic-awakening  outlines nuclear energy's discovery and applications throughout history. Mahaffey's brilliant and accessible book is essential to understanding the astounding phenomenon of nuclear power in an age where renewable energy and climate change have become the defining concerns of the twenty-first century.

This is the way it will be:  My purpose is not to sell nuclear power, because there is no longer a reason to sell it. Nuclear power, waiting quietly in its coma, has now become inevitable. That is, the ultimate need for nuclear power has finally caught up with its mad dash to develop. Whether you like it or not, the industrial world no longer has a choice. The age of burning coal and gasoline is over as atmospheric chemistry and general environmental pollution have approached states of crisis and hydrocarbons are becoming too expensive to burn. We need wind power, solar power, geothermal and hydro and anything else we can think of, but the base power must be constant running, high output nuclear stations. The real expansion of nuclear power is just awakening.....                              
Tom Blees is the author of Prescription for the Planet - The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises. Tom is also the president of the Science Council for Global Initiatives  http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/

The Science Council for Global Initiatives is a growing international group of scientists, politicians, activists and other concerned men and women working together to articulate cohesive, efficient policies for solving the most serious problems ever faced by mankind. Resource wars, globe-girdling pollution, the threat of serious climate disruption; these challenges demand immediate international cooperation and inspiration on an unprecedented level. The world-class members of SCGI are creating the foundations for political and social structures that will enable us to meet the formidable challenges of the 21st century.


Two super-cool, undemonstrative, tell-it-as-it-is, professional communicators who know that energy from breeder reactors is sustainable - from the inexhaustible fuel sources of uranium and thorium, until the end of (Homo.s) time. And, within 2 or 3 decades, Breeder Reactors will be the main source of base-load energy for all of humankind.

But why do they only mention Fast Breeders, without even a nod or a wink towards Thermal Breeders which are so much more efficient and require only a fraction of the amount of fuel and therefore size of vessels, pumps, valves, etc..

But that's just a minor benefit of Thermal Breeders over Fast Breeders. There's a catalogue of other reasons why Fast Breeders should be second in the queue:

Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors (LMFBRs), or any other acronym that fits, use highly reactive sodium as a coolant, exchanging heat with pressurised water. Sodium explodes on contact with water (and burns on contact with air) - so the system has a potent 'driver' to expel radiotoxic substances upwards and out into the environment.

Molten Salt Breeder Reactors (MSBRs) are thermal breeders, operating at atmospheric pressure, with both reactor and coolant salts of low chemical reactivity; there is no high pressure or chemically reactive ‘driver’ to expel radiotoxic substances into the environment. A reactor vessel leak or breach would result in the molten salt glug-glug-glugging down the side of the vessel into non-critically configured drain tanks, designed to remove decay heat.

LMFBRs operate at atmospheric pressure on the primary circuit side, but they do need large pressure vessels on the secondary side for steam generation - although nothing like the gigantic proportions of Light Water Reactor  (LWR) steam generators. Materials are competitively priced stainless steel, but plant and equipment is larger than equivalent MSBRs. Also, a separate and expensive, on-site fuel reprocessing plant is preferable to importing already processed fuel.

MSBRs also operate at atmospheric pressure, but the heat exchanger with the gas turbine fluid and coolant salt circuit (within the heat exchanger only) has to withstand high pressure. Also, the material to handle the molten fluoride salts is sophisticated Hastelloy N  which is expensive. However, because the plant is smaller and the fuel reprocessing 'built-in', it is likely that MSBRs come under the price of equivalent LMFBRs.

LMFBRs, at relatively low temperature, use steam turbine power, which might reach 38% efficiency of conversion of heat to electricity.

MSBRs use gas turbines at 48% efficiency - this means you get 25% more electricity for your (fuel cost) money.

Although both forms of breeders are roughly equivalent in respect of most other attributes, MSBRs have a substantial efficiency advantage over LMFBRs, when it comes to the development of a 'Hydrogen Economy'.

Hydrogen Economy
LMFBRs, because of their low-temperature operation, would have to produce electricity first, before that could be used to get to the temperatures required to produce hydrogen. A guesstimate might be 50% efficiency. 

MSBRs can output 750 °C process heat, which is capable of producing hydrogen directly and the efficiency is maximised.

The importance of a Hydrogen Economy cannot be overemphasised. See: 'Benefits of LFTRs.

Note:  LFTRs are the configuration of MSBR most suited to electricity generation. Other configurations of MSBRs may be better suited to 'burning' nuclear 'waste' and the plutonium stockpiles.

New Take on Impacts of Low Dose Radiation

Mina Bissell is Berkeley Lab’s “Distinguished Scientist” and one of the world’s foremost breast cancer researchers. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab)Mina Bissell is
Berkeley Lab’s
“Distinguished Scientist”

Risks from low levels of radiation are generally assessed with the Linear No Threshold (LNT) theory. This theory states that the risks of cancer are in direct proportion to the amount of exposure, even for very small exposures. This methodology of risk assessment is supported by a series of reports called the BEIR reports: Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. BEIR I through BEIR VII....

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), through a combination of time-lapse live imaging and mathematical modelling of a special line of human breast cells, have found evidence to suggest that for low dose levels of ionizing radiation, cancer risks may not be directly proportional to dose. This contradicts the standard model for predicting biological damage from ionizing radiation – the linear-no-threshold hypothesis or LNT – which holds that risk is directly proportional to dose at all levels of irradiation.

The research is analogous to pointing out that:  BEIR says that if 100 aspirins taken at once is lethal, and 100 men each take one aspirin apiece--one of those men is going to die. That would be a linear response to low dosage aspirin consumption.

Now where does this leave the Japanese Government's decision to the evacuation of the entire population of an exclusion zone, when:  Fourteen elderly Japanese died during the evacuation, as a direct result of their bus trips, problems with IVs and hydration, etc..

More to the point, was their decision driven by the outlandish rantings of anti-nuclear campaigners - if so, both groups should acknowledge direct responsibility for those deaths.

15 March 2012


But Sir David King does disagree with you:  
"..... power outages could occur as early as 2017 as old nuclear, oil and coal-fired power stations are closed because not enough is being done to replace them. The school's study shows Britain can’t meet its goal of cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 without ramping up nuclear power and electrifying both transport and heating....."

What else did he say?  "".....switching all generation to renewables would be 
“enormously expensive” because everything 
would need to be backed up by equivalent 
gas-fired capacity for when the wind doesn't blow. The power grid could support a maximum of 20 percent large-scale wind power alongside smaller turbines, solar panels and geothermal heat pumps fitted to homes....""

Every UK member of Greenpeace must leave the sanctuary of their Disney World existence, forget the delusion of their Energy [R]evolution policy and come into the real world, where nuclear really does do the job of keeping the lights on - all of the time!

But each and every one of you can help to make the Government sit up and take notice of LFTR development. If LFTRs provide the UK's future nuclear capacity, they will allay all your fears about safety and long term storage of waste.

You can either sit on the sidelines chanting your mantras as new PWR nuclear power stations get built, or join the LFTR movement and get action on a safer and greener alternative. See the above links to the "38 DEGREES" and "E-PETITION" campaigns.

14 March 2012


    Malaysian protesters gesture during a protest against a rare earth refinery being built by Australian miner Lynas amid fears of radioactive pollution in Kuantan, eastern Malaysia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Photo: Lai Seng Sin / AP 
The protesters have beengiven an emotive issue in the form of a mid-1980s rare earth processing facility developed in 1985 by Mitsubishi Chemical at Bukit Merah in northern Perak state near the city of Ipoh that turned into an environmental disaster. 
The facility was closed in 1992 amid allegations that it was causing widespread 
groundwater and other environmental contamination and was responsible for 
deaths from leukaemia as well as birth defects in children living nearby.

The Bukit Merah site, 20 years 
later, remains one of Asia’s largest radioactive waste cleanup sites despite the fact that Mitsubishi has owned up to the pollution and poured an estimated US$100 million into the cleanup. 

Pictures purportedly of dying 
individuals and deformed babies have been given wide circulation both on the Internet and by other means throughout the country. Extract from: http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4331&Itemid=164 

"An industrial scale wind turbine uses more than a ton of magnets, 35 percent of which is dependent on neodymium.... To extract rare earth metals, aggressive acids are pumped into well-like bore holes where chemicals dissolve the deposits. The slurry is then pumped into ponds at high occupational and environmental risks".


From a Presentation by Dr. Per Peterson, professor and chair of nuclear engineering at Berkeley, the following figures for the mining needed to produce 1 megawatt.year of electrical energy (1MWe.y) for each technology is as follows:

676 tonnes (0.74t steel + 8.44t concrete + 666.7t U ore at 300ppm)
680 tonnes (123t steel + 557t concrete)
~5,500 tonnes (4.19t steel + 16.4t concrete + 5,500t coal)
Combined Cycle Natural Gas
963 tonnes (0.147t steel + 2.88t concrete + 960t gas)

Finally, the figure for nuclear power assumes the use of light water reactor technology.... it is likely that most new nuclear capacity will be breeder reactors....  so the mining requirement shrinks to 0.5% of that figure. This would bring down the fuel mining figure for nuclear power from 666.7 tonnes to 3.35 tonnes.

Nuclear (Breeder Reactors)
12.53 tonnes (0.74t steel + 8.44t concrete + 3.35t U ore at 300ppm)

Wind ÷ Breeder Reactor = 680 ÷ 12.53 = 54

So:  How Green is Greenpeace?
This is from their Energy [R]evolution policy:

"In the long term, wind will be the most important single source of electricity generation". 

This can now be paraphrased as:  We can ruin the planet 54 times more quickly!


A letter to Mr. Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council:

Dear Mr. Fauchon,

At the recent meeting of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron, they said:  ".....As two of the world’s wealthiest nations, we embrace our responsibility as leaders in the development that enables people to live in dignity, health and prosperity....." 

When you launched the 6th World Water Forum this week, you succinctly described what needs to be provided for 'people to live in dignity, health and prosperity', when you said ".....first and foremost, energy and water so they can finally pull themselves out of poverty....." 
The developing world is now and will be, for a couple of decades to come, spending £billions or maybe even £trillions on coal fired power stations. And who can blame them, with 40,000 people per day dying from preventable diseases, for the sake of affordable energy and potable water? 
Coal fired power stations use and contaminate vast volumes of fresh water to cool the waste heat from the steam turbines used to generate electricity. This heat, which contains nearly two thirds of the heat from the coal, is truly wasted. 
In the 50s and 60s, whilst the UK trod a path to a nuclear technology dead end, the US Administration withdrew funding to technological development of Molten Salt Breeder Reactors (MSBRs) in what is surely the 'Saddest Accident of History'. See:   http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/2012/03/follow-up-to-i...  . 
MSBRs, now known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs), use gas turbines to drive the electrical generators and the 'waste' heat from these (just over half of what the reactor produces) is at a high enough temperature to desalinate water. So, nothing is 'wasted'; huge volumes of potable water can be produces from brackish ground water or sea water - and the running (energy) costs are next to nothing. 
Can your Organisation communicate this information to the  Heads of State of the developing world, to create an opportunity for them to urgently debate this issue? Getting the first-of-a-kind LFTR up and running, for a minuscule amount of money will get investment stimulated to the point that venture capitalists and fund managers should be knocking the door down to get into the most essential technology of the 21st Century. 
In the days of slide rules and compasses, when all machining and planning was done manually, the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) was funded in 1960, switched on in 1965 and ran for many thousands of full power hours until 1969. The MSRE was two thirds of what a LFTR is, so in these days of CAD/CAM, computerised 3D modelling and planning, with the right will, a LFTR could be ready for action in 5 years. Within not much more than a decade, we could have factory built, transportable modular units coming off production lines. Their safety is inherent, their 'greenness' unrivaled and their affordability half that of equivalent, conventional nuclear power plant. See:  http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/p/benefits-of-lftrs.ht...

And, incidentally, LFTRs emit no CO2 or other greenhouse gasses, so political Nirvana awaits developing world politicians, who can not only satisfy their own National needs, but reap the benefits forthcoming from the grateful communities of the developed world, stupefied by fears of global warming.

In hoping you can help and take some action, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Colin Megson.  


"China will.....put an end to..." - Renewables!

Cartoon: WIND POWER (medium) by barbeefish tagged bomb 

If China is getting out of renewables, will the rest of the world follow? At long last, instead of pouring money down the drain for every intermittent kWh these hyped-up technologies produce, will they be relegated to their natural place in the order of things - powering remote rural communities and making up a low single figure % of total energy produced?  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/13/1074145/-China-s-Energy-Future-Less-Solar-and-Wind-More-Nuclear-and-Hydro 

08 March 2012

The Follow Up to 'A is for Atom': 'The Saddest Accident of History'

Dear Mr. Curtis,

Someone, and I hope it will be you, has to tell the general public that Alvin Weinberg, who features in  your 'A for Atom' film , may be the most important individual in recorded history to beneficially influence the wellbeing of humankind. Such would be the result of the widespread deployment of a uniquely safe and affordable type of nuclear reactor, he developed during his time as Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

In the saddest accident of history, Alvin Weinberg, who designed and patented Light Water Reactors (LWRs), was removed from his Directorship of  ORNL (1953 - 1971) because of his opposition, on the grounds of safety, to using LWRs for civil power generation. He predicted the loss-of-coolant accidents and core meltdowns that were witnessed at Three Mile Island and Fukushima-Diiachi.

In Alvin Weinberg, we are not talking about an 'ordinary' scientist or human being; this man worked on the Manhattan Project with Nobel Laureates such as Fermi, Seaborg and Wigner and in 1980 he won The Enrico Fermi Award  -  an award honouring scientists of international stature for their lifetime achievement in the development, use, or production of energy. This man's views on the way forward for energy need to be taken to heart by the general public, politicians, scientists, technologists and the media.

In his autobiography, Weinberg dreamed of an Energy-Utopia for humankind, brought about by the Breeder Reactor, when he said:  ""…..I spoke of "Burning the Rocks": the breeder, no less than controlled fusion, is an inexhaustible energy system........But, because the breeder uses its raw material so efficiently, one can afford to utilize much more expensive—that is, dilute—ores, and these are practically inexhaustible. The breeder indeed will allow humankind to "Burn the Rocks" to achieve inexhaustible energy!
Until then I had never quite appreciated the full significance of the breeder. But now I became obsessed with the idea that humankind's whole future depended on the breeder. For society generally to achieve and maintain a living standard of today's developed countries depends on the availability of a relatively cheap, inexhaustible source of energy……""

When Weinberg talked about the 'breeder' he was talking about breeding the fertile Thorium232 fuel to fissile Uranium233 in a thermal spectrum Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), which he had developed at ORNL. His Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was given the go-ahead in 1960, in the days of slide-rules, tee-squares and manual machine tools; it was 'switched on' in 1965 and ran as a working reactor for many thousands of full-power hours, until 1969. At the stage when a follow-up, commercial sized 60 MWe reactor design was being finalised, Weinberg got his marching orders because of his vociferous opposition to the use of LWRs for civil purposes. Work on MSRs virtually ceased and over the next few decades, the equipment and personnel 'evaporated'; all that remained was a paperwork archive. The technology with the potential to give hope for a brighter future was compacted into the corner of a room and covered in dust for 30 years, until its rediscovery in 2000.

Widespread deployment of LFTRs means affordable, clean energy for everyone, forever. If that now 40 year delay in the introduction of this technology is not the saddest accident of history, I don't know what is.

The story needs to be told on mainstream TV for the technology to have any chance of taking hold in the mind of the public at large; this has to be the best chance of getting anything moving quickly into the political arena. Are you prepared to give such a documentary project your serious consideration?


Colin Megson.

Weinberg's sagacity shines at 17:45 and 36:06:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS01DaQUu3g 


Countries and Regions of the developing world will be spending untold £billions on coal fired power stations, which need to be sited near huge bodies of water to deal with the useless waste heat from their steam turbines. Inefficient transmission lines are needed to get electricity to arid regions and then the electricity can be used to desalinate brackish ground water or sea water. The overall efficiency of such complexity might just be 10%, but it could be much less.
I had to comment on this Report:   http://www.euractiv.com/specialreport-waterpolicy/water-sanitation-opportunity-donors-analysis-511318#comment-3014   and as I did so, I though what a piddling amount the £300 million is, to get the first-of-a-kind LFTR built, which offers the prospect of getting potable water for next to nothing!

If only the heads of the Heads of States could get together, to begin to appreciate the enormity of the economic value, as well as the environmental value of kick-starting a LFTR manufacturing programme.

Is there an individual politician, technocrat, business man or organisation out there who can drive this message home, to those Nations and Regions that can benefit so much?

01 March 2012

All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Thorium Energy - The Weinberg Foundation Breaks Through!

Have just received an email from the Weinberg Foundation, headed:  Safer, cleaner nuclear alternative tops the agenda for new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy
World’s first coalition of cross-party legislators formed to examine thorium-fuelled nuclear power

With the following Information:

The list of founding members of the APPG is as follows:
Chair: Baroness Worthington (Lab)
Vice-Chair: Dr Julian Huppert MP (Lib Dem)
Treasurer: Lord Lucas of Crudwell (Con)

Lord Clark of Windermere
Mike Crockart, Lib Dem
Tony Cunningham, Labour
Lord Deben, Conservative
Barry Gardiner, Labour
Lord Grantchester, Labour
Viscount Stephen Hanworth, Labour
John Hemming, Lib Dem
Lord Jay, Cross bench
The Rt Reverend Bishop of Hereford, Antony Priddis
Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan, Labour
Lord Oxburgh, Cross bench
Baroness Smith, Labour
Lord Stoddart, Independent Labour
Lord Taverne, Lib Dem
Lord Teverson, Lib Dem
James Wharton, Conservative
Heather Wheeler, Conservative
Lord Whitty, Labour
Simon Wright, Lib Dem
Tim Yeo, Conservative

If you have any questions, comments or information for any or all Members of the APPG, you can find email or snail-mail data at:  http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Please let's give them all the support we can!

Contact your local MP and do your best to persuade them to join!