Author Archives: Martin Kral

About Martin Kral

Retired, just having fun writing about energy.

From Blue Wave to a Tsunami:

While some local dairy farmers, pecan growers and oil investors were busy protesting the possibility of an expansion of nuclear fuel and waste storage in New Mexico, they ended up being the targets by the people they probably voted for in the last state election. That 2018 blue wave that hit New Mexico Legislature has turned out to be an actual tsunami of 1370 introduced bills, and counting. Here, take a look: http://www.nmlegis.gov.

Energy and Natural Resources is the subject category that is of most interest to South East New Mexico (SENM) because that is where Santa Fe gets 40% of it’s revenue base. Any interruption to that revenue stream has to be made up through increases in taxes from other sources or cut programs. There are several proposed clean energy bills that will have a negative and positive effect on state revenue streams coming from the energy and natural resource sectors.

The mix of clean energy bills effecting the tax structure and revenue stream include coal, oil and gas, wind and solar, nuclear unused fuel and waste and biofuel. What are missing is legislation on geothermal and hydroelectric energy which are part of the Clean Energy Policy (CED NM), but not practical energy sources for New Mexico. Nuclear and natural gas are not considered clean energy by the current New Mexico Legislature. Wind and solar are the preferred solution for electricity generation by this state administration. Why?

For many energy people the answer is obvious: ignorance. What the Green New Deal (GND) and CEP NM are missing is the latest ‘clean energy technology’ for fossil fueled electricity and nuclear power reactors. It is like the GND and the CEP NM only see and understand 70 year old technical and psychological ideology about power generation.

In fact, GND use to be called ‘New Apollo Project’ back in 2003. There was $300 billion for a green agenda of advocating taxpayer money for efficiency and renewables that the Bush Adm ignored. Then another attempt was presented to the Obama Adm in 2009. Billions were spent to stimulate a new energy direction. Today, ‘they’ are talking about trillions for a Green New Deal without nuclear and fossil energy within 10-12 years. That is just not going to happen.

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Green New Deal needs Nuclear:

Green New Dealers, which includes our new Governor Lujan-Grisham and all her blue legislators, are now proposing to spend taxpayer dollars weatherizing every building in New Mexico and supplying them with electricity from wind and solar farms. In other words, they propose to decarbonize New Mexico.

In the last ten years that I have been studying nuclear science and technology, I discovered two things about surviving recent trends to mitigate every iteration of the term climate change. Decarbonize is one of those iterations. First, no nation has decarbonized its electricity supply with only solar and wind. Second, the only successful decarbonization efforts were achieved with nuclear.

Just look at France and Sweden. In the 1970s and 1980s, they built nuclear plants at the rate required to achieve the alleged climate goals of the Green New Deal. Sweden in 2017 generated a whopping 95% of its total electricity from zero-carbon sources, with 42 and 41 coming from nuclear and hydroelectric power. France generated 88% of its total electricity from zero-carbon sources, with 72% and 10%, respectively, coming from nuclear and hydroelectric power with the remainder from wind.

Meanwhile, the two poster children for wind and solar — California and Germany — have become models of how not to deal with climate change. Germany spent $580 billion on renewables and its emissions have been flat for a decade. And all of that unreliable solar and wind has made Germany’s electricity the second most expensive in Europe. Emissions in California rose after it closed one nuclear plant and will rise again if it closes another.

Bottom line? Had California and Germany spent on nuclear what they instead spent on renewables, both places would already have 100% clean power. That leaves us with nuclear power as the only truly scalable, reliable, low-carbon energy source proven capable of eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector. However, this will take 100 years, not 10 years.

So, Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, you need O&G with their fracking process if you plan to address climate change. More importantly, the state needs to invest in nuclear energy for it’s future electricity and we can start by approving the HI-STORE CISF to store and later manufacture nuclear fuel for the advanced nuclear molten salt reactor (MSR) technology being developed in Canada.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), a media phenomenon:

This last week, without a doubt, was the week of the Green New Deal (GND), a non-binding resolution introduced by several members of Congress 2019. I read a lot of science and technology articles, listen to a lot of podcast about technology and view videos of current presentations about technology both here in the US and also certain sources in Europe. The Green New Deal has taken the media by storm and no one knows what it really is, even Alexandria. The best consequence of her media phenomenon is that everyone is talking about nuclear energy as a missing piece of her Green Dream.

An influencer is a person who has the power to influence many people and would be supportive for or against something and in the case of the GND, nuclear and O&G are both on the ‘against’ platform. It is Alexandria’s media charm that has gotten everyone talking, and joking, about how ridicules the GND is but it has actually taken the technophobia out of nuclear energy. Yes, Alexandria has created more positive press and exposure for nuclear energy than world renown Jim Hanson (environmentalist) or Bill Gates (philanthropist). However, there is very little Alexandria will be able to do for nuclear energy in only 2 years.

Last September, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA). The law calls for construction of a versatile test reactor at Idaho National Labs (INL) by 2026. NEICA also directed the Department of Energy to establish a National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC), a place where private-sector companies can come and demonstrate advanced reactor concepts. Passage of this key piece of legislation shows that this President and last years Congress understood nuclear energy’s importance to the nation’s economy, national security and environment.

Back in 2012, a Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on America’s nuclear future submitted its final report to the Secretary of Energy recommending immediate efforts to commence development of at least one geologic disposal facility and at least one consolidated interim storage facility (HI-STORE CISF in Carlsbad New Mexico), as well as efforts to prepare for the eventual large‐scale transport of unused nuclear fuel from current storage sites to those consolidated facilities via railroad (BNSF current upgrades). Let the nuclear renaissance begin.

NOTE: Check out the fingers! Ms. Spock?

The year of the extreme:

Here we are, and it is only February,  hearing a lot of chattered about some of the most extreme of the extreme policy recommendations from both the Congress and our State Legislature. There is a radical political shift in the United States that neither the Democrats or Republicans of the old guard are comfortable with. Not only has there been a political shift, there has also been an environmental shift over the last 70 years now. There is a new normal and I am not sure it is the right path to be taking.

Remember when the weather was just the weather and we referenced the almanac (pre milleninual) to predict what would ‘probably’ occur based on the astronomical or meteorological information, usually including future positions of celestial objects, star magnitudes, and culmination dates of constellations (farmers understood this). Well, we seem to have gone from simple unpredictable weather assessment to computerized data modeling using algorithms someone developed based on historical data from the recent past to determine trends.

A couple of those trends were the temperature cooling of the 1970’s, followed by an uptick starting shortly after called ‘global warming’. When warming slowed to almost non-existence, a consensus of climate watchers decided to change the term to ‘climate change’. The climate changes constantly and even that term wasn’t working out politically. Therefore, a new term more precise has been introduced as ‘extreme weather’. This allows any weather front that seems out of the ordinary to be referred to as ‘extreme weather’.

The most recent Arctic blast, dubbed a Polar Vortex, is an example of extreme weather except that it was actually more normal than extreme. The last one was just in 2014, so does two extremes make one normal? The California drought has been bombarded with fire and rain the last several years now. Are these extremes or is this just what happens in the weather cycles around the globe. What are the influences? Sun? Man? Or Physics itself?

The same confusion is occurring in the energy sectors too. The positions of the Green New Deal and the New Mexico Governor’s policy to decarbonize the state is definitely an extreme.

Go along to get along:

This world of ‘go along to get along’ mentality, that is, to conform to general expectations so as not to disrupt or endanger one’s sense of security or belonging is not working out so well. Trumpism has completely changed that approach in just about every sector of society. The US has had a two party system for a long time but occasionally the party name and ideology changes. Today we have Trumpism versus the traditional Republican and Democrat Congress. Then, there is the rest of us.

Today’s decisive resistance within all three branches of our Republic is spilling over into science and technology also. When Government picks and chooses and makes the wrong choices, it is extremely difficult and very expensive to disrupt that path, be it energy, health, or foreign policy.

In the years that I have studied the nuclear energy evolution, it is very pronounced that the Government picked the wrong nuclear power reactor design. It should have allowed competition so the better designs would have prevailed. Now, sixty years and trillions of dollars later, the government has finally decided to get out of the way for nuclear energy to prevail on its own.

The Government also needs to get out of the way of the Renewable (wind and solar farms) energy platform as well. Sixty years and trillions of dollar from now, we will be saying the same thing about Renewable too. The best logical reason for the Government to have picked wind and solar as their energy of choice is because it creates many construction jobs for the many decades it will take to completely de-carbonize our economy. Yes, that is the goal of the Green New Deal being proposed by a few radical disruptors in Congress 2019. These disruptors are not part of Trumpism or even capitalism for that matter.

Now Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered New Mexico to join a national coalition of states seeking to combat the effects of climate change, as part of a far-reaching plan to shift the state toward a renewable energy economy, without nuclear or O&G. Why?

Governor’s State of the State for Energy 2019:

“And I will direct each state agency to participate in developing a comprehensive climate plan for New Mexico that responds to the threat of a warming planet by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution.” stated Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham. “I have committed to increasing our renewable portfolio standard — 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 80 percent 10 years after that, and I ask you to fulfill that commitment with me. Not as a ceiling but a starting point, with an ultimate goal of even greater renewable production. This is our promise to future generations of New Mexicans.”

What does that really mean? It means that the Gov. is proposing the low power density of wind and solar farms that requires large masses of land to generate a few megawatts of electricity. The Governor’s plan makes no mention of high density energy like nuclear or natural gas sources. Her focus is on spending money (subsidies) on construction jobs, building materials, hauling transportation and of course land leases for siting all this wind and solar equipment along with necessary road and power grid infrastructure to get a few megawatts of electricity to sell to other markets, like California.

The Governor is going along to get along with what is trending on the national scene for her energy policy. The Democrats in the new 2019 Congress are proposing a program dubbed the Green New Deal. There is nothing green about it except that it will cost a lot of hard green cash (or more likely, credit). The path of least resistance right now is to support renewable energy in the form of wind and solar farms to save the planet from the alleged climate change (aka: global warming). She is doing this to spite the hand that feeds her state budget – the O&G industry.

After the last election, we have a whole new batch of Democrats that are ill-informed about how safe and clean nuclear energy really is. Their knowledge is either left over from the 1960’s or they bought into the propaganda carried forward in your education system.

Go along to get along:

This world of ‘go along to get along’ mentality to conform to general expectations so as not to disrupt or endanger one’s sense of security or belonging is not working out so well. Trumpism has completely changed that approach in just about every sector of society. The US has had a two party system for a long time but occasionally the party name and ideology changes. Today we have Trumpism versus the traditional Republican and Democrat Congress. Then, there is the rest of us.

Today’s decisive opposition within all three branches of our Republic is spilling over into science and technology also. When Government picks and chooses and makes the wrong choices, it is extremely difficult and very expensive to disrupt that path, be it energy, health, foreign policy, etc. In the years that I have studied the nuclear energy evolution, it is very pronounced that the Government picked the wrong nuclear power reactor design. It should have allowed competition so the better designs would have prevailed. Now, sixty years and trillions of dollar later, the government has finally decided to get out of the way for nuclear energy to prevail on its own.

The Government also needs to get out of the way of the Renewable (wind and solar farms) energy platform as well. Sixty years and trillions of dollar from now, we will be saying the same thing about Renewable too. The best logical reason for the Government to have picked wind and solar as their energy of choice is because it creates many construction jobs for the many decades it will take to completely decarbonize our economy. Yes, the is the goal of the Green New Deal being proposed by a few radical disrupters in Congress 2019. These disrupters are not part of Trumpism or even capitalism for that matter. It is part of the socialist evolution in the Republic of the United States of America.

As I said above, once you go down a particular path it will be very costly to everyone if that path was the wrong choice. The good news is that we always have the power to change.