- Date published:
6:00 am, December 18th, 2022 - 74 comments
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Open mike is your post.
For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.
The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).
Step up to the mike …
Spend an hour (on a rainy day) informing yourself.
I am watching this and basically agree with the general thrust of what I am seeing – albeit with some quibbles. For instance at the 41 min mark he shows a key table that sums up total estimated metals requirement and then divides by 2019 production and arrives at some very long timeframes indeed.
Yet the production figures for just two of those metals – lithium and vanadium are already out of date. I was deeply involved last year in a project that increased battery grade lithium production from the 95,170 tonnes figure he quotes by another 48,000 tonnes. And next year I will be involved in doubling it again and the same again for the next four or five years to a total of almost 250,000 tonnes. And this is just one project globally. Nonetheless I agree I with his conclusion, there is not enough known lithium reserves globally to ever be the dominant battery chemistry.
As for vanadium – just last week I was speaking with the PM for a brand new Australian site that will increase production of this metal referenced 96,000 tonnes by another 20,000 tonnes. And this is a relatively modest site.
So I have first hand knowledge that at least some of his numbers are squishy. Yet that does not take away from the broad conclusion he reaches and one that I have been making for a while; that the proponents of SWB renewables are guilty of glossing over some of the innate constraints they face.
We have discussed alternatives to copper elsewhere – although again oddly enough this next year I will be spending about a third of my time consulting to a massive new copper concentrator.
My point is that the kind of projection Michaux is making here is not easy to get correct in the detail – but he can still be correct in the big picture.
As he qualifies, the numbers are broad based and conservative, and 2019 production figures are used for good reason.
In the grand scheme of things when you conservatively estimate over 7000 years of annual copper production (nevermind the reserves) required in the next 20 talk of solving these issues with recycling is a nonsense.
As he states near the end, as its impossible it will not occur.
OK so I have gotten through the entire thing – but only the lightest possible mention of nuclear. While he praises it's high performance he then airily dismisses it as 'taking too long' and recycles the old waste storage myth. And there is a brief mention in the Q&A of Gen 4 and thorium, but still no data.
On the whole however I fully agree with the broad thrust of his argument; that we have grossly underestimated the challenge of replacing just our current fossil fuel energy consumption, much less the future requirement necessary to support human development this century. Depending on the assumptions made, we will need somewhere between 3 to 8 times our current energy. Which is of course impossible with any projection of current technologies – except Gen 4 nuclear.
In my mind I keep returning to the Kaya Identity as a guide to this puzzle. It essentially tells us there are four levers we have to the carbon problem:
Of these four levers only one of them can be physically driven to zero – and that is the last term – Carbon Intensity. And there are only two technologies that can deliver on zero carbon:
Essentially Michaux clearly demonstrates that due to the diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind renewables the amount of material necessary to build them is impossibly large given current technologies. (On the basis of far less data and rigor I have been making the same argument here for ages.)
Nuclear by contrast is a highly dense and reliable energy source which is the primary reason it can deliver the energy needed within a sane resources budget. But to get there we have to throw away many of the out of date assumptions we have about it:
If we build factory build nuclear plants using the same methods we use for large ships, the time and costs will be better than for existing coal or gas.
If we build nuclear plants using anything but conventional PWR technology – they will be innately lower cost, far easier to operate, produce far less waste and make it reasonably possible to scale nuclear energy's already superb safety record to the numbers of reactors required. All this I have covered in detail elsewhere.
And the old chestnut of waste storage is an entirely solved problem.
The outstanding challenge is regulatory; all of which is based on a fraudulent LNT model of radiation harm that adds utterly unjustified costs, delays and uncertainty to any nuclear project. Which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that Michaux repeats, that nuclear is too expensive and slow.
And to repeat myself – I do not advocate that AU or NZ need to be pioneers in this; we have the enormous luxury of having an excellent solar and wind resource we can use to bridge for several decades or more until mass scale, low cost nuclear becomes mature. In the meantime – can we please quit with the nihilistic 'the end of the world is nigh' sackcloth rendering – that only serves to alarm and discourage people from believing in their children's future. Enough already.
He addresses nuclear with a little more depth in other podcasts….his two main issues with it are again the same, scale and time.
There is not enough of either.
Again – both are myths based on out of date projections. It is exactly like examining WW2 radio technology and insisting from this study that cell phones are impossible.
(Just for laughs – yes I have seen and operated a ZC1 many years ago – quite a remarkable beast for the era it was built in, but generations out of date now. PWR nuclear reactors were also first devised in the 1940’s.)
Michaux displays no antipathy to nuclear energy any more than he does to e.g. copper…. he has simply looked at whats required and determined that its not viable, even less so than renewables, which as you have agreed he has demonstrated.
As he stated all of these figures dont include the energy/materials for the likes of earth works or concrete….that is all additional.
Again based on demonstrably out of date assumptions that inevitably lead him to the wrong conclusion. As I said above – if all you knew was WW2 radio technology you would incorrectly project that cellphones were impossible. You know this would be a stupid rookie mistake, yet somehow well informed, intelligent people are happy to repeat it when it comes to confirming their biases around nuclear. An odd blind spot.
Note the bolded emphasis I made in my comment above – density and reliability are the fundamental engineering drivers that distinguish SWB renewables from nuclear. Get your head around this and everything else follows.
The problems are numerous and he is probably across the latest developments more so than you are….if you wish to critique his argument then listen to what he has to say on the issue.
He covers nuclear in more depth in his discussion with Nate Hagens (along with other articles)
I watched your first clip and responded in depth. That is way more respect for the argument than you routinely give me.
If you want me to invest another hours worth of my attention you will need to explain why. And perhaps put some effort into responding to my carefully constructed argument above.
Do you want information or not? The link is there, listen or not, its up to you.
I have invested several thousand hours this past five years or so educating myself on nuclear energy and the issues. If I watch this video I predict that Michaux will make the following claims:
That there is not enough uranium to last more than a 100 years or so
That the thorium cycle although more abundant is more complex and less efficient and does not solve the problem.
That Gen 4 reactors are no different and merely make the problem bigger.
That the resulting waste pile is enormous and cannot be dealt with because the future is too uncertain.
Does that cover it off?
It covers some of the points…but misses the main constraint…there is simply not enough time to build the required plant even if all impediments are removed.
I have attached a link to his research which covers all the scenarios he investigated and add his recommendations here
The following recommendations are made:
• Nuclear power is used to service heavy industry operations and heating requirements directly.
• Expansion of the fleet should be planned to a little bit larger in scope than reference scenario to make resources last.
• It is also recommended to develop a robust back end SNF handling system. The proposed storage of SNF and MOX fuel manufacture in the Generation III+ simulation is ambitious. It is recomended that a more practical version of this plan is developed.
• It is recomended to resource the development of Generation IV and thorium nuclear power technology.
You may note from the original podcast that he models expanding existing nuclear generation alongside the renewable implementation.
OK so for the sake of argument let us remove the technical and regulatory constraints. And yes absolutely if we build reactors in the conventional fashion as massive onsite projects you and Michaux would be right – it would indeed take too long.
(Although I must add that having squandered 60 years of not doing nuclear properly, I have little sympathy for those who complain we have now run out of time. But I'll set that one aside too.)
But that is not how to do Gen 4 reactors. We already have all of the engineering capacity to deliver new reactors far faster than we could even with solar and wind. Here is how:
Now I can understand Michaux not including this rapid build pathway because the data would be speculative. But to use this self-imposed limitation of his own study to claim that it cannot be done is not reasonable either.
@ Roblogic…it may be , especially if they can develop fusion. However that will require a functioning society if it is to occur and if the problems are not resolved PDQ there wont be such an environment.
I should add that I do not want to come across as overly critical of Michaux. My first comment still stands – there is a lot of solid work in what I have read so far. I am scanning that pdf now and agree with much of what he is saying.
In particular he underlines just how challenging it is to replace our current fossil energy systems – and explains why in an accessible manner.
But in tackling such an ambitious scope it is inevitable that he will also skate past important details and innovation in specialist areas like nuclear.
How long have you been advocating this plan Red?…3 or 4 years? Where are they?
He is right not to include speculative ideas…that is no basis for analysis….after all aliens may arrive tomorrow and present us with an instant energy solution but i wouldnt waste too much time or energy on planning for it
Not quite that long. But now you have re-introduced other constraints to the timeline.
My inside info is that if Thorcon could ignore all regulatory requirements and supply chain issues – they could have the first one up and going within 6 – 8 months. As it is they are making steady progress, appointing a Certification Authority being an important and relatively mature milestone.
Comparing this to aliens arriving is frankly idiotic.
"Not quite that long. But now you have re-introduced other constraints to the timeline."
I have introduced nothing….these are unproven and there is no evidence they will perform as promoted….if these are to be any part of a solution they are rapidly running out of time to make an appearance.
I was responding to your first condition:
Well I demonstrated that this is not true – shipyard building can achieve the speed and scale needed – if all the impediments were removed. So then you effectively re-introduced the constraints that a real world developer like Thorcon have to work with by demanding to know why they have not delivered by now. Well if you cared to ask them as I have, it is meeting onerous, time consuming, sometimes capricious regulatory requirements and supply chain issues around accessing startup fuel that are the primary constraints they face.
(One of the most frustrating and perverse constraints is that the US DOE has a small stockpile of U-233 that would be an ideal startup fuel for thorium cycle based reactors – yet for reasons no-one can sanely explain hundreds of millions are being wasted downgrading it to uselessness. An entirely self-inflicted delay.)
The best time to have done nuclear would have been 60 years ago – today being the second best.
Thorcon is using a nucleonic design very similar to one already proven to work in the famous MSR-E in the 1960's. There is ample, rock solid evidence that it will perform as intended.
But we have been over this ground before. If you are going to cling to the the ‘it hasn’t been done therefore it cannot be done’ excuse – I have nothing more to add.
You appear to misunderstand my position.
I do not dismiss what you propose because it has not been done before…i question why it has not been achieved to date.
Consider…there are at least 32 countries with access to the required material in a world crying out for energy. even if the US regulators have been nobbled, if you have a viable proposal to provided energy ( and all that flows from that) then somebody will have provided the wherewithal for this 'proven' method to be developed….the fact that nobody to date is evidence there are issues that are not readily apparent
Also the fact that someone like Michaux, with his obvious interaction with the energy sector, hasnt deemed it worthy of consideration is also indicative.
The best way to make a case is to demonstrate capability….if and when that happens it cannot be denied.
I have now read through Michaux's document that you linked to. I skimmed most of it looking for the Gen 4 analysis – and yes it is there. Actually it is better than I had hoped. He concludes that it would definitely be the best of the four main nuclear scenarios he considers. However he boxes himself in on five fronts:
In essence we don't need Gen 4 fission to solve our energy problem for millennia into the future – we really only need it to bridge the gap for maybe 50 – 100 yrs until fusion becomes cheap and abundant. And that eliminates all of the constraints Michaux describes.
'IF 'fusion becomes available…but you miss his main point…even with a 5 year build time (not going to happen…we cant build one (average output) inside 10 years currently…we sure as hell arnt going to build 25 per annum on a 5 year time frame in the next 10-20 years)…we will not replace the energy lost from fossil fuels in the forseeable….and that means LESS output!
A downward spiral.
Yes but that statement may well be true, but it is only useful if you understand why we are currently building them too slowly. The reason is not a physical constraint we cannot overcome – it is mostly a political one that is almost entirely within our control.
Hell back in the 70's and 80's there was no problem building reactors fast and cheap, and most of them are still running just fine today. And that was using Gen 2 designs that are far harder to build. The absurd 10 or more year builds that have been taking place since then have nothing to do with how long it takes to build them, and everything to do with a regulatory framework designed to prevent them from being built.
As I have said a few times before – the solutions are there, we are just choosing not to take them.
Tom Lehrer has put all his songs online, including lyrics and sheet music, and given away all rights to them. (the site will be up for a short time).
Interesting article by Andrea Vance this morning.
”Does Christopher Luxon have the balls to write the final act of Winston Peters’ career?”
I suspect the answer is no.
Key made his choice based on the circumstance in 2008 and the goal of NZF (then in coalition with an outgoing Labour admin) going under 5% was realised. This allowed his National and ACT or MP governing majority of the 2008-2017 era.
This time NZF is campaigning from an opposition to the current government, and Key's advice is to consider a National and ACT or NZF strategy. Puting NZF into the role played by the Maori Party in his time. That allows the opportunity for National to reduce the influence of both on government policy (given ACT and NZF have significant differences), an approach designed to gather as many centrist votes to National as possible.
Peters own strategy is to note those on the centre right who voted Labour to give them a majority without the Greens. He wants some of these voters to go with NZF to counter a NACT government further to the right than they would want.
I went to Winston’s rally when he came to my area. I have never gone to any political rally before. But I had time on my hands, and the person who wanted me to attend with them sucked me in by saying there would be ''finger food'' at the venue.
As per the link Winston started with the concept of freedom, mentioning both the ''baby blood saga'' and the many ''ordinary'' Kiwis he had met at the parliamentary protest who had lost jobs because of the vaccine mandate. He made a clear demarcation between ''crazies'' and ''ordinary'' protesters.
I couldn't help thinking Winston was missing the mark with the assembled audience. The audience was younger than I'd have expected. I was surprised at the Maori and young folk in attendance. Maybe they thought there would be ''finger food'' on tap too?
All in all, a flat lifeless presentation by Winston until… until the floor was opened for questions. Then the charismatic Winston came to the fore. One liners, quips, barbs for the media and political opponents. He became a different man. Watching the enigma that is Winston Peters was a fascinating experience.
My guess is NZ1 will plop over the 5% line.
Interesting. I had dinner one evening in 2001 at the Green Parrot with Winston holding court at a nearby table, and how entertaining was that! Whatever you might think of his politics, Peters is a remarkable politician and NZ Parliament would have been the poorer without him.
I agree. I believe the Green Parrot was his favourite haunt, since closed?
Winston First… he doesn't care about anything except his ego.
David Lange once described Winston Peters as the "only member of Parliament to have a concrete block named after him and I can understand that".
He also noted that Peters, not present to hear his valedictory speech to Parliament in 1996, "would have been with us today if he hadn't been detained by a full-length mirror".
My guess is that NZ1 will plop.
But I still want to know about the finger food
What was it? and was there enough?
There was no ''finger food.'' My naivety regarding political rallies was evident. Given there was about 200 people present, and Winston was passing the hat around, we would have considered ourselves luck if we saw a picture of finger food. I did however have one mini Mars Bar. A delightful old biddy sitting next to me smiled and said ''take one.'' ''One'' was emphasised. Obviously she sensed my low blood glucose, but at the same time my feral looks probably urged her to be cautious in case I snatched all three Mars bars in the packet.
I have never been what you would consider a real socialist. I'm a swing voter as I have already stated. Hence X instead of EX.
''The letter "x" is often used in algebra to mean a value that is not yet known.''
Mickey Savage made the same mistake. The thing is I read he's a lawyer(?) You aren't. Fify.
''What happened to National’s policy machine?''
16 November 2022 at 8:38 pm
''You can guarantee from his name that he was never ever a socialist.''
Nobody here is making any mistakes regarding your political leanings. In fact, shortly (a week) after you started commenting on this forum under your current user name you made this declaration:
Your debating skills are poor and you don’t comment here in good faith. Unfortunately, this takes up a lot of bandwidth from other commenters and they’re wasting their precious time & effort on you, IMO. I knew this would happen as soon as I released you back onto the reserve – it is déjà vu all over again
Current user name! Are we allowed to play a game of guess the old name?
Reminds me if a master baiter of a certain collour.
Leave it to the Mods, thanks. They know what they are doing.
Ian Powell nails it
To quote Mandy Rice Davies…'Well he would say that wouldn't he?'
Ian Powell used to have my attention. I regard him now as a perpetual nay sayer with no good ideas but plenty of criticism and this has been his modus operandi.
It has probably got to with the nature of the people he represented as Executive Officer. Many union commentators have a world or NZ view of politics that informs their work
A very good article Anker.
We can argue the merits of mass vaccination, lockdowns and so on, quoting expert research and analysis until the cows come home. But the issues raised by Malloy are all solid management and political questions that are well within our wheelhouse to consider.
The Royal Commission NZ is holding into the COVID response is a promising sign that the system is prepared to consider learning from the experience. Arguably not everything we did was worth doing, and some things may well have had a higher cost than benefit.
The aviation industry learned decades ago the correct path to real safety; installing black boxes and cockpit voice recorders, and intensive 'no blame' investigations after every incident to properly uncover the root causes and the chain of events. It has proven to be a remarkably effective model.
Reads like anti-Labour polemic. Does the Govt get any credit for a world leading pandemic response, and saving thousands of lives. Nope. Zilch. Does Covid, or the failing DHB model get mentioned as a factor in the present difficulties? Nope.
The reforms were needed, there is never a perfect time to make these kinds of fundamental changes, but we could not carry on with whole regions getting hacked (Waikato DHB) and people having to shift around the country just to get a fscking appointment
Ran out of time to quote from the link above
ian Powells article on the health system
“To cap off this leadership failure, the Government made the inexplicable political call to restructure the health system….in the midst of a health pandemic”
”It took this extraordinarily irresponsible political step in the full knowledge that public hospitals and general practices did not have the capacity to cope with the pandemic pressure”
The quote illustrates my point beautifully.
So nothing in his article to say when would have been a good time, what would have been the arguments for and against and then caps it all off by saying health union leaders have not been commenting on the issue. Perhaps on balance union leaders believe that the restructure has more going for it than against it, in the long term.
Results for the Fiji election are due this afternoon- barring interestingly timed delays, such as happened on Wednesday night. Fijian immigrants to Aotearoa, that I have talked to; are a bit worried about what is happening back there. Yes, the head of the military has vowed not to interfere, but Rabuka was only a senior officer, not head of the military (though Bainimarama was), with the support of a couple dozen soldiers when they did their first coup. The provisional numbers seem to be set to give the combined opposition a majority (once subthreshold votes are excluded), if they can work together:
And the likelihood of opposition parties working to form a coalition government seem to have increased by alleged irregularities in this election. Rabuka was leader of SoDeLiPa in the 2018, and there is reportedly not much love lost between him and his successor (by intraparty coup), but they both seem more opposed to the present Prime Minister's government more – for now.
Rabuka was brought in for questioning by the police after questioning the election process. And other party's members are apparently under investigation. But maybe more important in the Fiji political culture is this:
I would say it's popcorn time this arvo, but the consequences are so dire if it goes pear-shaped that I doubt I will have much of an appetite.
It's nearly an hour since the final results should have been out, and still nothing in RNZ. Which is a bit concerning. This was from earlier:
I don't know that I agree with the RNZ assessment. If SoDeLP do make it over the Threshold that is 92.5% total votes with 7.5% subthreshold. Which gives Fiji First roughly 46% to the combined opposition's 54%.
Does Fiji's constitution enable coalitions to form government if another single party has a higher individual vote?
It would appear so; Sacha. However it is a very new constitution brought in by Bainimarama after a coup, with significant ammendments from the original proposal – in particular about declaring states of emergency, and leniency for military action against the government. There have only been two elections under this constitution so far (2014 & 2018) and neither have resulted in a coalition government.
Results are now 3 hours late. But if the results are accepted by those currently in power, then a coalition of the present opposition parties seems likely:
Though that seems to be Stuff (or possibly Ratuva) working from a previous election model, as the number of seats increased to 55 this year.
Thank you. Cannot picture Bainimarama ceding power gracefully somehow.
Send in Winston 🙂
Zelensky and staff talked to The Economist about Russia, the war being on the edge, Ukrainian reluctance to compromise on territory, and prospects for the coming year.
In recent days The Economist has interviewed the three men at the crux of Ukraine’s war effort. One is Mr Zelensky. The second is General Valery Zaluzhny, who has served as the country’s top soldier for the past year and a half. The third is Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrsky, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces, who masterminded the defence of Kyiv in the spring and Ukraine’s spectacular counter-offensive in Kharkiv province in September. All three men emphasised that the outcome of the war hinges on the next few months. They are convinced that Russia is readying another big offensive, to begin as soon as January. Whether Ukraine launches a pre-emptive strike of its own or waits to counter-attack, how it garners and distributes its forces, how much ammunition and equipment it amasses in the coming weeks and months—these looming decisions will determine their country’s future.
Two different worlds
More interesting reading from Lawrence Freedman re Putin and security.
”Putin’s insecurity might start with anxiety about his personal future, but he has extended this into a vision for Russia that involves a permanent struggle with the West and its liberalism. There is little NATO can do about this vision except to ensure Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. “
You know The Daily Blog has completely lost it when they print a Tremain cartoon. They are usually only given the light of day in NACT meme groups and troll farms.
Did it have the word 'woke' in it..
WTF is wrong with National MPs? Barbara Kuriger has been misusing her MP status to run interference for her son (he was prosecuted for animal mistreatment), and run a campaign of attacks against Fonterra and MPI
MP's Emails Show Pattern Of Personal Attacks On Ministry | Newsroom
This was up yesterday about Kruger's emails and misuse of her position.. Yes a window on their world of entitlement… but Nania Mahuta gets pilloried by those Nats.
Yet another example of Luxon’s weakness. He has no control of his caucus.
Expect the Nats to run media rounds tomorrow with her either being removed or defended, depending on their internal polling about it.
Actually worth listening to – 6 mins of Garner just telling the truth about housing policy over the last decade or so.
Only noticed after posting that it was from September. Has he done any similar pieces since?
What did he think was going to happen?
Well, he can buy reddit next, and all the emails, dms and shit that come with it. Just like he did with twitter.
Doxing bad when its people we like, doxing good when its people we don't like.
It's called "abuse of power" when used to punch down on those who cannot fight back.
It's called "whistleblowing" or "accountability" or "journalism" when used against the powerful to reveal things they would prefer to remain hidden
Ahhh, so who is who in your scenario?
Billionaires are the enemy of freedom & democracy & human rights, so they should be uncomfortable when the truth about their vast crimes is revealed
Over at DailyKos, Thom Hartmann chronicles 40 years of Reaganism and the unfolding destruction of the common wealth of the USA by the predatory 0.01%. It's a hard read. But in the middle of it is a shining reminder of a brief moment in history when pro-social values held the political high ground
Sadly, we see even in New Zealand this is not the norm, but something workers and democracy-minded parties have to actively fight for. Because powerful moneyed interests prefer their exploitations and scams not to be subject to inconveniences like ethics or law.
Is he gonna do Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama next?