As the Clock Runs Out on 2023....

Copyright 2023, Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC

....there are reasons for optimism on the climate front and, maybe, the economic front as well. Here are some thoughts on prospects for the New Year. 

Economically, new data indicates U.S. productivity (key to rising wages and prosperity) is increasing rapidly (the blue line at far right): absolutely essential for growth.
While there were people early in the Biden Administration who were drifting toward the (illusionary) benefits of socialism (example, here), that boomlet seems to have dampened down a bit -- always a good thing. Of course, we need to get back to a truly free enterprise system rather than the crony capitalism we suffer with these days, regardless of which party is in power.

The Actual Climate and the Climate Movement 
As reported at the time, the U.S. summer of 2023 was nothing special -- in spite of what Big Climate and their lackeys in government and the MSM wanted you to believe. The data is here

Big Climate even rolled-out a new focus-grouped phrase:
Of course, the majority people in the U.S. who didn't experience an extraordinary summer (the Southwest was the exception, it was truly hot) simply laughed. 

Looking forward, there are people who want to continue their lives with carbon footprints the size of Alaska (private jets, multiple mansions, imported kobe beef and lobster, plus international travel) while attempting to require the rest of us purchase only expensive and highly limited electric cars and eat plants (only) or even bugs for dinner (video here) to fight "climate change." They want to ban gas furnaces and stoves while they continue to use them. Rejoice! We have an opportunity to vote some of them out of office this year. 

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., opines on why international climate agreements keep failing:

The simple explanation for this track record of failure is that the UNFCCC pits the rich world against everyone else — some 6+ billion people around the world who legitimately want to achieve global economic and energy equity.

It is immoral to condemn people in less privileged parts of the world to poverty because we are focused on signaling virtue rather than solving problems. It is especially galling when the condemnation comes from some of the worst hypocrites in history. 
Announced just Thursday
The failure of wind energy is being recognized throughout the worldIn the real world, it was announced just before Christmas that two U.S. wind farms will torn down -- perhaps the powerful wind lobby has reached its limit given the performance (unreliable and expensive) of the windmills they champion. 
It will cost Enel Energy $300 million to
remove the turbines. 

I don't want existing wind farms torn down - we need all of the electricity we can get -- but I don't want any more utility-scale wind farms constructed

It isn't just me. Former proponents of wind are flipping positions all around the world.
Even though he is Australian, Bob Brown -- for decades -- was internationally 
known for being an iron-clad proponent of wind and solar.
The fact that he has flipped on wind is remarkable.

Instead, we should begin a vigorous campaign to build modular nuclear power plants and accelerate next generation nuclear development. 

Data: Britain Remade

Note it costs the most to build a nuclear plant in the U.S. From Roger:

The costs span a very large range, from $2.03 million per MW to $13.61 million per MW. Britain Remade also averages the costs-per-plant for post-2000 completions by country, expressed in Great Britain Pounds (multiply by 1.25 to convert to U.S. dollars). South Korea, India, China and Japan come in with the lowest costs. The UK and US bring up the rear.

Part of the cost is safety. But, that is not the biggest expense:

. . . “first of a kind” nuclear plants rarely go up without some hitch. Reactors are, after all, complex beasts, and contractors have to learn the hard way how to build them. The payback only comes when those clued-up workers build fleets of similar units, perfecting the supply chain that allows for consistent delivery and more efficient techniques. (In a recent paper, the US Department of Energy estimated it might take “10 to 20 reactors” for the optimal point to be reached, with each successive unit before then costing steadily less.) It is why South Korea, having built programmatically since the 1980s, can throw units up for $2,000-4,000 per kilowatt of capacity, against close to $10,000 for Vogtle 3 [in Georgia].

The recent DOE report ... suggests that it will take building as many as 20 identical nuclear power plants to fully understand how much it actually costs to build a nuclear power plant, which they project might be as low as $3.6 million per MW:

This is the problem we have discussed many times. For reasons I have never understood, with the possible exceptions of Wolf Creek in Kansas and Callaway in Missouri, all of the U.S. nuclear plants have been one-off designs rather than modular. That included the most recent, Vogtle. The other problem, in part because every design has been different, is licensing -- which takes far too long -- allowing costs to increase while nothing useful occurs. 

As Westinghouse CEP Patrick Fragman explains:

“You do well what you do often. If you asked GM or BMW to build a car every 20 years it will for sure be very expensive and take much longer than you expected.”

We must, if we are to decarbonize while increasing reliable energy supply, first build modular and then next-generation nuclear. 

Many ask, isn't there a way to make 'green' energy work? Both from theory and 20+ years of real-world experience, we know (via LinkedIn):
  • Per unit of energy delivered, there is at least 10 times less concrete, cement, steel and other natural resources in nuclear power plants (NPP) than in solar panels or geothermal wells. The capital expenditure of nuclear is much lower than that of renewables. It's about energy density which is far greater for nuclear than wind or solar.
  • Nuclear doesn't need decentralized grids and it doesn't need energy storage. Another big saving.
  • Nuclear has a much smaller footprint than wind or solar, plus nuclear provides electricity far more reliably. It doesn't depend on the wind blowing between 6 and 26 mph, or clear skies and snow/dust not covering solar panels. 
  • The life of a modern NPP is 100 years; solar and wind are 20 years.
  • A NPP requires a lot of upfront money. The savings play out over the life of the plant.
For those of us still paying for the February 2021 cold wave via surcharges in our monthly gas or electric bills (a point Big Climate never acknowledges*), the more reliable, fixed-cost power like nuclear, the better. Remember: the blackouts and brownouts during those terribly cold days around Valentine's Day 2021 were caused by overcast skies and calm winds -- which caused wind and solar to utterly fail. Because the cost of a kilowatt exploded something like a factor of 200 in some areas -- and few could afford a $5,000 electric bill the following month -- we still have to pay as state utility boards evened out the cost. In some areas, we have another eight years to go.

We have a way to go to get the all-too-extreme climate movement back on a constructive track that allows us to decarbonize (a great idea, climate concerns or not) while allowing humanity to flourish. 

We have an election coming up that is vitally important to our future. Support the candidates you like beyond voting: contribute cash, knock on doors, whatever you can to help.

*They don't have to acknowledge it. In the political center of Washington, and media center of NYC, virtually none of their power comes from wind or solar -- thus, they didn't have to deal with these costs and the blackouts. We are their guinea pigs. As one wag said on Twitter last summer:
   The people who believe government genuinely cares about them are probably the people who think strippers love them.


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