Nuclear sabotage of G&O is a stretch:

Our local anti-nuclear resident recently wrote that the ELEA/Holtec Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) ‘could’ sabotage the G&O industry here in New Mexico. Well, after chatting with a few of my oil buddies there was no ‘fear’ create by that article. In fact, quite the opposite occurred when I explained how G&O would benefit from the presence of the SNF storage in New Mexico. Holtec has already patented a heat exchanger that can capture the 190C (that’s 374F degrees) decay heat generated from the canisters in storage for the purpose of large industrial water purification. And everyone in New Mexico realizes how valuable clean potable water is, especially during our drought years.

So will the ELEA/Holtec CISF project really sabotage the G&O Industry? NO. Actually, the ELEA/Holtec project will complement the G&O industry greatly, especially with a very cheap and practical way to distill New Mexico’s natural saline water into potable water needed in the drilling and fracking processes. After the fracking process, G&O has a lot of ‘dirty’ water that needs to be recycled and reused at the next well head. Water and energy are both a major cost item, so when both can be produced cheaply and locally, that is an attraction that G&O could never pass up. Holtec International and Elysium Industries have confirmed that 190C is more than enough heat to distill potable water and produce electricity at the same time from the same heat source.

I have already written an article about my opinion of calling the ELEA/Holtec project ‘interim’ storage because storing a nuclear fuel with an energy density to supply all the fuel needed for generating electricity over the next 400 years in just the US, is not interim. If every one of our current water cooled nuclear reactors were replaced with an advance fast spectrum molten salt reactor (all 99) this stored nuclear fuel along with the deleted uranium stored at URENCO could last 4,000 years with each individual reactor producing 30% more electricity than today’s fleet. So, the conclusion for me is that ELEA/Holtec project is not just about storing SNF but about a whole new industry of industrial heat for clean water, clean electricity, medical isotopes and of course nuclear fuel for the next centuries.

The one major benefit that I have not touched on yet is the billions of dollars to the State of New Mexico. Of course, there will be storage fees for the SNF but there will also be hundreds of very well paying jobs from construction to operation and everything in between and secondary businesses that always pop up around every major industry. The primary taxes like corporate taxes, income taxes, gross receipt taxes alone will increase the state revenue source so that schools, roads and other social needs can be addressed instead of always waiting for the next year’s state budget. I think everyone could appreciate that.

So where is the sabotage? Our local anti-nuke activist has really not explained how the ELEA/Holtec project will sabotage the oil industry other than to say – radiation is harmful. Well, as I have written in previous articles I will remind everyone again that life requires radiation and without it, all life dies. There is a threshold of acute radiation that can kill and after 3 nuclear power plant meltdowns and 2 atom bombs studied over the last 60 year (the beginning of the commercial nuclear age), a ‘safe level’ has now been determine to be a very conservative 350 mrem annual dose by the World Health Organization.

The web site has a personal radiation calculator that you can determine what your body absorbs annually based on your life style. We are all different and I am getting an annual dose of ~377.078 mrem, mostly because of medical diagnostic procedures. I am also getting ~ 0.0009 mrem from WIPP which is considered part of background radiation dose (240 mrem US average) for this part of New Mexico. If you live in Santa Fe or Denver, add another 50 mrem per year because of elevation. And for the jet setters, you’ll probably max out wherever you live.

Every industry has a risk factor of something going wrong. Just recently, Tri-Chem Industries in Texas had the most unusual (freaky) fire/explosion accident that killed one,  injured two and released tons of toxins into the atmosphere. Tri-Chen provides chemicals for the G&O industry. A few years back, a fertilizer plant exploded in West Texas where 15 people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings damaged or destroyed. Basically, part of town was wiped off the map. West Fertilizer Company had supplied chemicals to farmers since it was founded in 1962. The commercial nuclear industry, both power plants and waste management facilities, have had zero deaths caused by radiation exposure because it is so heavily regulated for safety.

Maybe other industries should take heed and be as responsible for their operations and waste too.


Batteries not included:

I recently had another conversation with someone here in Roswell that is absolutely convinced that renewable wind and solar is the only energy solution we need for our electricity needs. We have a very large solar farm tracking the sun northeast of Roswell that can provide electricity for 40,000 homes at its peak capacity which is about 8 hours during the day. There is also a small wind farm north of Roswell that is capturing the wind, when the wind is blowing.

When I ask a very simple question like: “What happens when the sun isn’t shinning and the wind isn’t blowing?” I get the following answer – batteries. Unfortunately, batteries were not included in either of those energy farms north of town so what we are replying on for backup are the XCEL nuclear power plants and combined coal/gas power generators, which do not need battery backups.

Elon Musk, who is known for his SpaceX program and his Tesla electric cars is also a big advocate of battery storage systems for the renewable energy industry. Musk’s battery storage system is designed to overcome one of the main obstacles to greater reliance on renewable power sources — they can store up power produced while the wind blows or the sun shines, and then release it steadily to the grid later when generation stalls.

Yes, this is technically true but the real question becomes: for how long? His recent venture in the outback of Australia proved the concept and stored enough energy for quick energy backup in emergency situations for a short period of time. Then fossil fuel backup kicked in. In order for renewable to service the requirements of an energy hungry world we need to build bigger wind turbines and more and more solar farms to capture the energy that would then be stored in bigger and more batteries. There has to be a better way.

The part of the discussion that needs attention is how big can we build wind turbines until there is no more engineered capacity possible and all we can do then, is populate more of the landscape with them. Solar has a slightly different path. Solar does have an increase capacity potential with newer conductive materials, but we are already locked in to silicone’s low capacity capture rate that will also need more landscape to produce more electricity for the masses and industry. And both will always need battery backup systems just as massive.

What is also missing from the energy discussion is renewable waste. Wind turbines will last about 20 years with constant maintenance for all it mechanical parts lubricated with petroleum products as its capacity rate declines year after year. Then they will need to be replaced and the old stuff disposed of in a special landfill near someone’s back yard. The billions of silicone solar panels are already destined for another landfill within 10 years as its yearly capacity rate diminishes. China is building billions more of these silicone panels because no one can afford to switch to newer more efficient conductive materials like graphene (a nanocarbon product). We are just now starting to populate the world with lithium-ion batteries everywhere and those things will last ~10 years before they create an enormous toxic waste problem, potentially hundreds of times worse than nuclear or natural gas.

The renewable energy system is properly named because the source of energy is always available somewhere on earth. What makes more sense to calling it renewable is the fact that all the capture and storage components have to be renewed every 10 to 20 years. Maybe a more appropriate term to use is the energy recycling system. The real down side of wind and solar is that they are both real-time capture systems that when you don’t use it, you lose it. That is why battery storage is now becoming the add-on component to make the wind and solar renewable energy system work better. But, will it be enough?

When it comes to the efficiency of an energy power system there is nothing that comes close to the capacity factor/rate of nuclear power. It starts with the energy density of the stored fuel itself. Both uranium and thorium have a million times more energy density than fossil and another million times more than wind and solar. The current nuclear power plants have the technical longevity of 100 years and the newer advance molten salt reactor (MSR) designs even longer than that with minimal moving parts. When it comes to cost, that long life is a nice ROI factor to have on your investment. And the best part is that – batteries are not included as storage systems to provide backup energy to the grid.

In order for the world to switch to everything electric and portable, there must be a reliable electricity generating system to recharge all those batteries. Wind and solar is a partial solution but nuclear (and fossil) is a guaranteed ‘always on’ system.

The consensus of evidence:

When it comes to trying to understand the consensus of consensus, I have a difficult time clarifying why 97% of the climate scientist confirm that global warming climate change (GWCC) is caused by human behavior, but when it comes to solutions to address GWCC these same scientist are nowhere to be found in support of the only technology that can really have an environmental impact – nuclear energy.

I just completed a class on scientific consensus of climate change and nuclear was mentioned once base on a German Study that only used data from their own 17 nuclear power plants to explain why cancer rates were higher among children living next to the plants. Their data was apparently accurate for their country but did not include a worldwide nuclear industry consensus which proved differently.

Germany’s study was based on the linear-no-threshold (LNT) model for radiation which has been proven incorrect over the last 60 years with observable data from TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents which actually disputes the German study by the World Health Organization. So did nuclear radiation from the German nuclear power plants really cause the cancer rates of children to increase or was there something else, like anti-nuclear politics?

It is unfortunate that solutions for GWCC are not driven by observable scientific facts, but more by political economics of picking winners and losers. The current winner in developed countries is renewable wind and solar and the overall loser is humanity because neither will provide world energy requirements and mitigate GWCC at the same time. Intermittent renewable wind and solar will always require nuclear or natural gas as a backup – so why bother with those grossly large (and getting bigger) wind turbine. Solar does have a place but not as the farm, but on a farm pumping water.

I can support the position of GWCC but I do not support the idea that renewable wind and solar farms are the solution. Nuclear is the final solution for GWCC, but in the meantime, G&O will continue to dominate the world energy stage. The next phase for G&O is to keep improving their product line to reduce their carbon footprint. This will probably be difficult, but hey, so was horizontal drilling with fracking that has given us another abundance of energy for decades and probably centuries. The world carbon economy will dictate when we will be able to decarbonize, if ever.

So why are these climate scientist not recommending nuclear energy as a solution for climate change? Apparently they are from the same core of people that were taught that nuclear was bad. Some of the points made against nuclear solutions for climate change are:

  • Nuclear weapon proliferation: This has nothing to do with nuclear power plants producing clean electricity. The nuclear fuel source and the spent nuclear fuel do not have the enrichment levels to produce nuclear bombs. Nuclear weaponry can be developed through intellectual transfer and material transfer at the right price.
  • Possibility of catastrophic accident: Well, there have been 3 different nuclear accidents with reactor core melt down over the last 60 years. None of those accidents are considered a technical catastrophe. However, there has been an unjustified pre-existing fear that has made all three a financial disaster in the recovery cleanup process. For the last 60 years, nuclear energy has been the safest and cleanest energy source based on harm against humanity and the environment.
  • Waste disposal problem not solvable in near future: This issue is 100% political because there has been technical solutions for decades. Every nuclear power plant (NPP) is safely storing their spent nuclear fuel at the NPP site in wet and dry storage. The Federal Government has passed laws that give them ‘title’ of the material and responsibility for long term storage. A Consolidated Interim Storage Facility is the current solution until Fast Molten Salt Reactors are available to use up the waste (burn it without fire and CO2) as nuclear fuel.

While the climate scientist, as a consensus, are not overwhelming supportive of nuclear technology as a reasonable solution to their concern over global warming climate change, there is a small contingent that is starting to become more focal on the topic of advanced fast molten salt reactor designs that will not melt down, will not produce waste and will restrict proliferation of weapon grade fuel. James Hansen, professor at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, considered the father of climate change environmentalisms and a recent convert to nuclear energy has recruited many followers in recent years including Michael Shellenberger, a pro-nuclear environmentalist running as a Democrat for the Governorship of California. What Shellenberger needs is a consensus of voters to help him clean up the political corruption so prevalent in that environmentally beautiful state.

Decarbonizing energy may never happen:

Let me start out with a strong statement – decarbonizing the United States or the world is not going to happen any more than electrifying everything with nuclear energy. G&O is not going away because the world economy would collapse without it and that would be the start of the sixth extinction. Ever since the discovery of controlled fire, mankind has forever experienced the good life over what was there the day before. Why have cold cuts when you could have hot pastrami?


Early mankind feared fire until they learned everything they could about how to control and leverage it for heat and light. Here we are two hundred thousand years later and mankind still fears the burning of fossil fuels. We have another name for that fear that we now call global warming climate change and the only way to solve that phenomenon is through decarbonizing all our energy sources, especially hydrocarbons.


The reason I take such a strong stance on the world’s inability to decarbonize in the next century or two is because the world economies are based on 87% carbon energy. Individually, oil presents ~33% usage from heat to transportation fuels to petrochemical products and their will not be much change in that percentage except to increase. Coal presents ~30% with very little net change as developed country reduce their use of coal (except for Germany and Japan) by increasing their use of natural gas and of course, developing countries increasing their use of the cheapest energy available – coal. Use of natural gas (NG) at ~24% is definitely on the rise especially in developed country as an alternative to coal and a backup to renewable.


Some of the earliest forms of producing clean power was done by the water wheels along rivers before the rivers were dammed for hydroelectric power. Today hydro represents ~7% of the cleanest electricity produced but most rivers have been dammed to their limits. I don’t see this changing much in the future as some countries/states are removing dams for environmental reasons while others are building (especially China) and in some cases, displacing large population centers and covering critical natural resources. Nuclear, which is the newest of all energy sources, is currently at ~4% in the world and increasing at a very slow growth pace. This I find unfortunate because nuclear is the cleanest, safest and most reliable year around energy anywhere there is a need for electricity with the least environmental impact. And then there is renewable, wind and solar the oldest source of energy that has been around since the beginning of mankind, only representing ~2% of the world electricity. Renewable is trending at the moment because of huge government subsidies and will eventually fall to the wayside like they did the last time they were trending because of subsidies, leaving another huge waste deposit of non-degradable toxins on our earth.   


There is a case study of one country planning to decarbonize – Finland. Currently electricity only accounts for roughly a third of their energy related emissions. Industrial processes, space heating and hot water use, along with liquid fuels for transportation make up most of their other energy demands. This energy use also needs to be decarbonized by mid-century, either by electrifying it cleanly or by replacing burning fuels with other means – for example, hydrogen generated from nuclear power plants.


The first problem with any country like Finland or Sweden or states like California or Washington making this transition to decarbonize is that they are part of a world economy and without the entire world going down the same path, their impact will make very little difference. There is a consensus of evidence that global warming climate change is caused by mankind and only mankind can make the correction to effect this.


There is a new fire that could make a difference that is not a polluting combustion, but a splitting of atoms in complete containment. The emerging focus of advanced nuclear is taking some in Washington DC by surprise, and bringing lots of attention to the huge economic and security benefits. What I would also like to see is an investment by G&O in a nuclear fuel source for electricity generation instead of wind and solar. At the same time, continuing to develop advanced fossil fuel energy extraction and refinement that doesn’t create the much disputed greenhouse gases. The future is with G&O in the energy mix and I suspect they will adapt like they did with fracking to improve their product line.


In the meantime, you can do your small part in keeping our planet a beautiful place to live. To start with we can all declutter our lives a bit of all that extra crap we hang on to and start to be more conscience of how to conserve our personal energy usage.  


Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants:

During the 1950’s President Eisenhower approached the United Nation with a proposal to share nuclear technology with the entire world through a program known as ‘Atoms for Peace’. At that time only the US and USSR had atom bombs and both had just developed the hydrogen bomb that was hundreds of thousands times more powerful than what was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during WWII. Several other countries were also developing their nuclear bombs and it was very important, even then, to control the use of nuclear weaponry and not wage another world war. If they had, it would have been the last war, maybe.


Here we are 60 years later with 450 nuclear power plants (NPP) around the world producing the cleanest and safest electricity of all other generating systems, whether fossil or renewable. And most importantly, no thermal nuclear weapons have been used in the act of war. While nuclear energy is rapidly expanding in developing nations like China and India, it is also decreasing in developed nations like the US, Germany and Japan.


Six years after Japan completely shuttered all 45 of their NPP immediately following the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami/meltdown, they have completely reviewed their nuclear energy policies and have decided to slowly restart about half of them while continuing to use fossil fuels to make up the difference in their electrical requirements. Germany, on the other hand, has decided to shutter all 17 NPP because of political pressure from the NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) Green Party and replace with renewable (wind, solar, and wood). Yes, Germany considers wood as renewable even though it is part of the hydrocarbon family, i.e. fossil fuel. The US has a slightly different issue and that is cheap natural gas competition. Five nuclear plants have been shuttered in recent years because of cost to operate and lack of electricity requirements. Several other NPP were being considered but individual states stepped up to financially protect these environmentally clean and safe sources of electricity generation.  


France and South Korea also considered limiting and even reducing their nuclear fleet but have since reconsidered the role of NPP to the Paris Climate Accord’s recommendation to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. A number of environmentalist have come forward with strong statements that climate change cannot be effectively addressed without a lot of nuclear energy in the mix. One of those environmentalist is Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress, whose name you will be hearing a lot about in his campaign for Governor of California. Michael has resurrected the ‘atoms for peace’ ideology as part of his campaign message and he personally influenced the states of Illinois and New York to keep their investments in NPP. He was also very instrumental with South Korea and France in making their recommitment to nuclear energy.


California has shuttered several technically sound NPP over the last 20 years for political reasons with only one NPP left, Diablo Canyon along the CA coastline. CA legislature has voted to shutter it by 2024. All those shuttered nuclear plants have to be decommissioned and the low-level irradiated components need to be stored someplace safe like the licensed Waste Control Specialist (WCS) in Andrews, Texas. All of the high-level radioactive spent nuclear fuel remains at each decommissioned NPP site in dry storage canisters. However, the anti-nuclear NIMBY CA legislature has written laws requiring that the SNF must be removed from the state. That is where New Mexico comes into the picture. As Governor of CA, Michael Shellenberger will not shutter the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and will also recommission the San Orofre Nuclear Power Plant (SONGS), both along the California coastline. He will also try to influence the high tech industry in CA to invest in nuclear technology again in order to electrify the state to support the ‘autonomous electric vehicle’ industry.


There are several location to store low-level irradiated NPP components but there is no licensed locations to store the SNF (unused fuel rods). Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) is the New Mexico solution for the Federal Government to exercise their requirement to relocate all SNF from the decommissioned NPP sites in the US. There are hundreds of dry storage canister at active and decommissioned NPP that are ‘titled’ to the US Government (they own it) that are technically safe and secured right where they are. However, there is a cost to leave them and the US Government needs to either change the law or move the nuclear fuel to a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) locations (Yucca Mountain will probably never be used – what a boondoggle).  US Utility Companies are already suing the Federal Government to get their money back from the Nuclear Waste Fund and to also charge the Feds storage fees to keep the SNF at the active NPP sites. I personally do not see that strategy to work because many communities are not friendly (NIMBY) to the idea. ELEA/Holtec has already applied for a license as a CISF and are part of a nuclear friendly community willing to take ownership of the SNF and the billions of dollars that comes with it.


Response to Melanie anti-nuclear article #3 – Fukushima vs. ELEA/Holtec CISF

Paragraph 1 – about explosions: Yes, there was a hydrogen explosion and destruction with some minor injuries outside of the nuclear containment structure. There was no injuries from radiation exposure. Just recently, two people lost their lives here in SENM when a G&O pumper storage tanks blew up. No outrage about the hundreds that die every year from G&O accidents. Nuclear is by far safer, and a whole lot cleaner to the environment.

Paragraph 2 – tsunami was the disaster: Yes, there were multiple disasters on March 11, 2011 starting with the worst earthquake (9.1) recorded that impacted Japan enough to automatically shutter all 45 nuclear reactors safely, as designed. Then one of the largest tsunamis to hit the east coast of Japan occurred and destroyed miles of coastline and inland killing ~20,000 people that were not able to get to higher ground. The tsunamis also flooded everything including the backup electricity needed to keep the nuclear reactor cooling system operational. The complete lack of power caused the reactors to heat up and melt the fuel rod inside the reactor core which reminded completely sealed. The government’s reaction to the meltdown ordered a ~40 km evacuation which cause tremendous stress on many people where another ~1,300 people actually died (heart attacks and suicides). In hindsight, only 10km was needed and these people did not need to be evacuated and would have survived.

Paragraph 3-4 – not all radiation is bad: Yes, there was low levels of radiation release both in the air and into the sea. There are roughly 30 thousand-trillion Becquerel (PetaBecquerel) of Fukushima radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean….a number so colossal it is hard to get one’s mind around it. Let’s compare that to the isotopic levels we would find in the Pacific Ocean if Fukushima never happened. Here are the top five… (1)
1 – Potassium-40 = 7.4 billion-trillion Bq
2 – Uranium, isotopes 238 and 235 = 22 million-trillion Bq
3 – Rubidium-87 = 700 million-trillion Bq
4 – Carbon-14 = 3 million-trillion Bq
5 – Tritium (Hydrogen-3) = 370 thousand-trillion Bq.
Although 30 thousand-trillion (Fukushima’s number) is an astonishing number in-itself, when we compare it to the roughly billions-of-trillions of Becquerels that exist naturally, it literally takes the scare-factor out of the equation. Nuclear energy opponents often use big, scary Fukushima numbers in isolation from what we find in nature because it shocks people and fulfills the antinuclear agenda. When placed in a real-world context, the impact diminishes mightily.

Paragraph 5 – Fukushima is safe today: Foods from Fukushima farms were banned from the Japanese marketplace until a monitoring program could be put in place to insure safety. Some species of seafood were found to exceed Japan’s highly-restrictive limits for marketing, and were banned. Milk and dairy products from Fukushima were confiscated to prevent possible ingestion of radioactive Iodine. In the months and years that followed, Fukushima produce and seafood were given detailed monitoring, and none exceeding the national standards ever made it to the consumers. As time passed, nearly all foods were found to be less radioactive than national standards and were available for marketing. The only exception has been a few species of food-fish. However, fear of the possibility of radiation, combined with distrust of the government, caused an on-going boycott of all foods associated with Fukushima Prefecture. Four years after the accident, nearly 20% of the consumer demographic continued to shun all foods from Fukushima, even though contamination was undetectable. (refer: Hiroshima Syndrome)

Paragraph 6-7 – Fukushima is not a medical disaster: There have been no deaths or incidents of medical harm to any member of the public due to radiation exposure. Thorough medical examinations have been given to the mandated evacuees, and many concerned residents from outside the no-go zone, free of charge. Nearly a third of a million children who were age 18 or less at the time of the accident have been screened for thyroid issues; specifically cysts more than 0.5mm in diameter and/or nodules more than 5mm in diameter. In early 2015, roughly 125 children had been discovered with these (pre-cancerous) anomalies, and about 70 have had surgery to remove them. Because no such testing had ever been done before on Japan’s children, Fukushima University medical team extended the screenings to three prefectures hundreds of kilometers from Fukushima Prefecture. It was found that the rate of these anomalies in Fukushima children was actually a bit less than with each of the three prefectures unaffected by the nuke accident. It appears that Tokyo’s immediate banning of all Fukushima dairy products has prevented a recurrence of the child thyroid cancer situation following the 1986 Chernobyl accident. (refer: Hiroshima Syndrome)

Paragraph 8 – Fukushima was about nuclear reactors, not SNF storage: The Holtec canisters are stored in-the-ground in concrete & steel cavities that make them essentially impregnable to the societal threats that have emerged in the 21st century. The HI-STORE CIS storage facility, consisting of HI-STORM UMAX vertical ventilated system, is engineered to be immune to extreme environmental phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes. HI-STORE CIS is designed to withstand a crashing aircraft or an (improbable) on-site fire without any radiological consequences. The facility is environmentally benign releasing no effluents or emitting no emissions. The radiation dose at the site boundary computes to a small fraction of the cosmic radiation that bathes our planet. HI-STAR 190 will be our workhorse for transporting the canisters from the on-site ISFSIs to the Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in southeast New Mexico, called HI-STORE CIS. The HI-STAR 190 is the most heavily shielded, most versatile and most rugged cask in the nuclear industry.

Paragraph 9: see paragraph 2 above.
Paragraph 10 to end of article – Nuclear is for life: Would have, could have, and should have. Hindsight is always 20/20. What Fukushima proves is that nuclear power plants are not that dangerous. But ELEA is not about nuclear power plants. It is about storage of spent nuclear fuel and there has not been any nuclear storage accident that have resulted in any harm to the health of humanity and the environment.

Energy Capacity Factor:

Every time there is a discussion about wind and solar as a renewable energy for the future there is this misunderstanding about what is the real capacity of the individual wind turbine or solar panel and how much electricity is actually produced by them. There is the ‘rated’ capacity of energy which is what the manufacturer stamped on the outside of the packaging and then there is the capacity factor which is the actual energy produced by the wind turbine and solar panel equipment.

There is no energy source that has a capacity factor of 100%, except occasionally nuclear. There are a variety of reasons for the production interruptions such as; no sun, no wind, too much wind, drought, water needed for other proposes, polar vortex freeze, fuel interruptions and scheduled maintenance. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that utility-scale solar photovoltaic installations in the US had an average capacity factor of 27% in 2016, with utility-scale wind farms at 35%, hydroelectric at 38%, coal plants at 55%, natural gas plants at 56% and nuclear power plants at 92%. The capacity factors for 2018 have not significantly increased so wind and solar percentages may have peak.

When it comes to energy, density is the more important criteria to consider for the cost of the energy. Yes, there are other considerations but when you have energy sources like uranium and thorium that are one million to two million more energy dense than all other equivalent energy sources; coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, hydro, wood, wave, and any other creative and innovative way to generate electricity and heat sources. Also important to consider is the environment and the ideal would be an environmentally clean and cheap energy.

Nuclear energy, discovered only 100 years ago, was always going to be the future energy solution for a clean, safe, cheap, abundant, sustainable fuel source on earth and even on the moon, Mars and other deep space travels. For the last 60 years, nuclear power generation has been the safest energy for humanity and the environment. The initial fuel source of uranium was mined and enriched to be used in the first three generations of nuclear reactors, the solid fuel water cool reactors. These reactors produced ~trillions of megawatts of electricity and manufactured enough unused nuclear fuel to be stored for the next generation of liquid fueled molten salt reactors (MSR) that will sustain energy for thousands of years at current electricity usage.

There are basically two formats (paths) of energy fuels; those that are already stored, or easily stored, for anytime access and those that are real-time and have to be used immediately in a onetime pass through process. Stored fuels like coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, thorium, geothermal and water retain their energy indefinitely or until it is accessed and used. Real-time fuels like wind, solar and wave are available at point of capture and have to be use immediately for electricity generation and in some cases can be temporarily stored in batteries. Real-time fuels therefore require very large swath of land or sea to erect massive mechanical structures to capture enough wind or sun to provide electricity for the masses in urban population centers. Backups for this intermitted production can be provided temporarily from batteries and a more permanent basis with natural gas turbines or other stored fuel systems like nuclear, hydro, oil, coal and even wood.

Real-time energy is proving to be a very expensive electricity generation process because of all the raw materials and real estate required to erect wind, solar or wave farms for industrial and commercial use. The weather dependent intermittency requires stored fuel backup systems and adds a redundant cost. Germany has always been a leader in renewable with wind and solar. They have had to increase their use of coal backup to supplement their weather patterns and have increased their CO2 levels instead of lower them as they committed to at the Paris Climate Accord.

The cost of renewable in the US goes beyond all the raw materials and labor to build and maintain the energy farms. The renewable developers were given substantial discounts, tax credits, subsidies or other backroom deals all at the expense of the tax payer and the Utility rate payer. The State of Oklahoma is now questioning the continuation of credits for renewable because of the serious impact it is having on the state budget. As the state was experiencing an $868 million budget shortfall this last year, a growing resistance to continue large credit amounts that could bankrupt the state was forming. Out of state wind companies who derive great profits from the state credits was also very concerning. The largest new wind farm project, the $4.5B Wind Catcher with its $2B in so called savings to the customers, is now in jeopardy within Oklahoma.

Let this be a warning to New Mexico that Oklahoma’s G&O tax revenue, with tax credits, cannot make up the extreme cost of renewable credits in their state budget. Even though NM G&O is booming right now, NM should not extend its budget too far with renewable credits or may find itself in the same situation as our neighbor.

Update: 2/12/2018

Dear Martin,

Between 2016 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose three times more than they did in the rest of the United States, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

The increases came despite 2017 having had the highest output of hydroelectricity — the state’s cheapest source of electricity — since 2011.

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally.

Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for residential, commercial and industrial electricity.

California’s high penetration of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are likely a key factor in higher prices.