Climate ‘consultant’ dismissing nuclear power owns solar power business

By Rob Roper

At the September 2 meeting of the Cross Sector Mitigation subcommittee of the Climate Council, member Christine Donovan asked hired consultant David Hill a reasonable question, “If we have missed an important pathway [to decarbonization] or have been promoting a pathway that isn’t really a highly effective pathway for the state moving forward will you all be telling us that?”

Rob Roper

The expected answer would, of course, be “Of course!” If there was some way to meet the carbon reduction benchmarks mandated in the law then one would expect the person you’re paying good taxpayer money to help find a solution to say so. Not so David Hill.

Modular nuclear reactor

His answer, “We’re not looking into the small modular nuclear reactor pathway for Vermont right now. It’s not been discussed. It’s not been put forward…. By the end of this report we will not be coming out with something that says you really should be doing small modular reactors or carbon sequestration.”

First reaction: Why didn’t a single member of the subcommittee loudly follow up with, “Well, why the hell not?” The committee might find at the end of their research that the small, modular nuclear reactors are not the right solution for Vermont, but to not even look into it – technology that provides large quantities of baseload energy with zero carbon output from a small geographic footprint – is inexcusable and negligent.

Other states are looking into and moving forward with small, modular nuclear power for economic and climate related reasons. Idaho has a pilot project going called the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) involving six 77 MWe NuScale Power Modules which is expected to be on line in 2030. Montana is also revamping its regulatory structure to pave the way for a small modular nuclear future.

Vermont should at least be considering this technology. It’s worth noting, the six 77 MWe modules of Idaho’s little pilot project could power every household in Vermont with some left over and could do so in such a way as to preserve our ridgelines and pastures from massive, ugly and less reliable wind and solar facilities. NuScale, a company that builds the reactors in question, has a video on their website comparing the geographic and environmental footprints of carbon free energy producers. To make 1000 megawatts from wind, for example, would require 94 square miles of Vermont ridgelines. The same amount of solar would require 17 square miles of open fields. Small, modular nuclear could do the job on just 0.14 square miles in any out of the way place we find appropriate.

So, why isn’t the Vermont Climate Council at least curious about the small modular nuclear pathway?

This from David Hill’s LinkedIn description with emphasis added: “David is the Principal Investigator for the Vermont Solar Market Pathways project supported by the US DOE’s SunShot Initiative. He is also leading work on the development and launch of SunShares a subsidiary of VEIC providing a unique community solar business model pairing employers with employees…. David is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Solar Energy Society.”

Hmmm…. A cynical person might draw certain conclusions from this. One might also look at who donates money to the party and politicians who lead in the Vermont legislature – wind and solar developers vs. small modular nuclear manufacturers – and wonder if all this legislative activity is less about saving the planet and more about feathering the nests of the politically connected.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Categories: Commentary

7 replies »

  1. It is worthwhile getting and reading “The health hazards of NOT going nuclear”.
    Book by Petr Beckmann

    It also helps if you understand the need for reliable base load electricity.

  2. Vermont Climate Council = a represenative group of the Global Federation – George Soros Open Societies – Al Gore, John Kerry, et al – the merry band of nihilists. The only goal here is to separate every citizen from their money and possessions – except those who are culled in the meantime. They will freeze and starve you to death and proclaim it’s all our fault for not buying an electric car.

  3. OK–But WHERE do we “store” the waste? A smaller “modular” reactor still produces waste that has a half-life of some 750,000 years. And in the next 10 years about half the nations 109 nuke plants will run out of “lagoon” space and be forced to store above ground. Also, no mention here of the “carbon footprint” required to mine, transport, refine, and process the nuke fuel, ever seen the uranium “mines”? They are very ,very large open canyons where giant Euclid dump trucks are filled at the bottom and meander their circular track to the top to a giant ore facility where the “hot” stuff is separated and the ground & water contaminated for miles around. All this requires massive amounts of energy to “refine”, don’t take my word, look it up for yourselves. Sure, it’s real easy for US in Vermont to say “just ship the waste out to Yucca Mountain” (Nevada) or some God forsaken place in Texas or South Carolina now isn’t it? This is seriously incredibly nasty dangerous toxic muto-genic carcinogenic waste and until we get a “storage” facility better think twice about creating any more of it, no matter the siren song of it being “carbon free”.

  4. Steve, we could recycle the waste as do the Europeans. That would require a change in federal law, but Leahy and Sanders could make that happen. That would solve in great part both the waste problem you mention and the need for mining. As for your comment about the ““carbon footprint” required to mine, transport, refine, and process the nuke fuel…” How about we cross out those last two words and substitute all the stuff necessary to make and install wind turbines, the rare earth metals necessary for solar panels and EV batteries, etc. No power source is perfect. And, hey, if the earth is going to burst into flames in 9 years if we don’t reduce carbon emissions, who needs to worry about the other 749,991 of radioactive half-life anyway? It’d be a moot point, no?

  5. Two weeks ago, MIT announced a major advance toward viable fusion energy, … new superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records, paving the way for practical, commercial, carbon-free power.

    Fusion is the answer – but it is likely more than a decade away. So why do we, here in Vermont, bother with solar, wind and, yes, next-generation nuclear fission – e.g. the Natrium sodium fast reactors or the NuScale SMR light water reactors… and yes, nuclear waste is reduced but still an issue.

    The more time and effort we spend on the pipe dreams of wind and solar power, the less time and effort we spend on Fusion and infrastructure. And investing in the NuScale or Natrium reactors, while much safer and more efficient than past fission reactors, will only delay the ultimate Fusion finale, at least until the investments in the new fission reactors are fully depreciated, which will likely be at least 50 years from now.

    This question is especially relevant to Vermont. We don’t have massive energy demands, as do major metropolitan and industrial areas. But what we do have readily available, just to our north, is Hydro-Quebec, the fourth largest energy supplier in the world that can provide Vermont all the power it needs for at least a couple or three decades, at costs that are less than half that of wind and solar and likely a fraction of the cost of a $4000-$5000 per KW next generation nuclear fission plant.

    Vermont already purchases 30% of its power from HQ. We should buy as much as we can from HQ and use the savings to make our infrastructure more efficient.

  6. “You’re all going to die in fire unless you all submit to a global super state right now!”
    “Or we could just use nuclear power?”
    “No, it’s global communism or death!”

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