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By Robert Rapier on Nov 12, 2010 with 25 responses

Cleantech, Globalization and Energy Independence

The following guest essay is by Kevin P. Kane. Kevin is an Oil & Gas analyst and cleantech business consultant living in South Korea. Kevin previously published two widely circulated essays: American Freedom from Oil: A Bipartisan Pipedream and Energy Security Populism: Oil Prices, American Leaders, and Media.

In this essay Kevin examines the green energy marketplace with a focus on globalization.

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Green Global System Integration, Joint Ventures, and Partnerships:

How Renewable Energy Accelerates Globalization & Reduces Energy Independence

By Kevin P. Kane

Many private investors and financial institutions are betting on who will win the green race, but contrary to how our national leaders and media outlets make things appear, they are not wagering on countries: not the U.S., not Germany, not China, and not South Korea. Even though there is a nationalistic slant to the way we frame green energy as a race between nations, it’s all a fictional bubble that no country can win.

To understand why this is true, we must exit a dream similar to how Neo in the movie, “The Matrix,” chose the famous red pill; after ingestion, he escaped the machine-created fantasy and experienced reality for the first time. Like Neo, let us escape the media and nation-created fantasy and experience the reality of green energy and globalization. Follow me, swallow the red pill, and escape through the sequence of logic outlined in these four steps:

  1. Recognize that companies win in the market place, not nations or their people
  2. Accept that despite a local company’s best efforts to develop its own technology, it must integrate core technology and components into its final product from diverse foreign partners due to the cutting-edge complexity of green energy
  3. See that this systems integration-requirement spawns transnational partnerships and joint-ventures (JV), which reduces national borders and accelerates global financial and production-network integration
  4. Awaken to a reality where global economic connectedness binds economies into one unit, thus creating a single common energy security fate for every country regardless of their national energy mix: making self-reliance impossible without returning to the stone age

Escaping “The Matrix”

In 2009, Pew Research published a report titled “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race,” ranking green energy investment by country among G20 members. Forward thinking opinion-leaders like Thomas Friedman continue to warn Americans how China is taking the lead in green energy. Oil industry pioneers like T. Boone Pickens argue that green energy and natural gas will facilitate national energy self-reliance by eliminating oil imports. All of these arguments frame the issue of energy through the lens of the nation: creating an imaginary world in our minds, not the real one around us.

Starting with step 1 of the red pill as your roadmap to escape “The Matrix,” we must recognize that only companies participate in the free market space: certainly not countries. Consider that Samsung, Siemens, ExxonMobil, LG Chemical, General Electric, BP, RWE, and Tesla Motors, belong to stockholders. Their market place victories do not belong to the nation or the welfare of its people, even where their headquarters office presides. Even nationally owned companies like Sinopec and Korea National Oil Corporation aim to behave exactly like their privately owned competitors by maximizing returns, doing their best to escape the distortionary influence of government, and expanding into new markets. Thus, the private sector shapes the global landscape of green energy, not the nation.

Transitioning Power from the Nation to the Free Market

All companies, whether large or small, aim to advance personal and investor-stockholder—not government or national—income and power. They are loyal to only themselves. So why do we talk of a green energy race between nations if companies are the real actors? Perhaps this is because we design everything in our minds around the nation coupled with the words of our national leaders, and so we struggle to hold on to something that does not match with reality: a world increasingly and irreversibly led by free individual actors and private companies indifferent to borders, from venture capitalists, environmental activists, investment banks, small and medium enterprises, to multinational corporations. The world is merging into one economic unit, and green energy accelerates this process: does not reverse it.

Successful Green Companies are Globalized Systems Integrators

New renewable energy and cleantech relies on technology under-development, not yet economical, not yet at grid parity, or still in conceptual phase: including smart grid, long-range electric vehicle sedans, energy storage systems, solar and wind power, et al. This brings us to step 2 of the red pill; deploying highly-sophisticated forms of green technology requires the world’s best concepts, engineers, components, and raw materials that can never exist in any single country. This suggests that the development of new renewable power and cleantech results in an unintentional process we can label, a “Global Manhattan Project.”  Such a project is defined by an innate process reflecting the need for transnational partners—not by any individual design. This process evolves out of a cooperative pursuit to develop green products composed of a hodgepodge mix—systems integration—of diverse core components, labor, innovative ideas, and financing from many countries across many continents. New renewable energy and cleantech such as cost-effective high performance buildings,  wind and solar power,  energy storage, and smart grid, all require cross-cultural and cross-border corporate partnerships since no single country possess the skill, materials, or market structure to supply every component to any given green energy final product.

JVs and Partnerships Emerge

The nature of this “Global Manhattan Project” brings us to step 3 of the red pill: the type of business model that will thrive in such a globalized product development network: the JV.

These winning JVs will not focus on developing every part of the final product’s core technology, but instead on understanding how to create value added by integrated multiple core technologies into one final product, such as a smart grid or electric vehicle. This reality portends that smart companies will prioritize sales over corporate culture or control, and thus partner with firms from other countries, perhaps in the form of a JV model similar to the one between Tesla Motors and Toyota: a small innovative firm complementing a large producing one.

Renewable Power and Cleantech Accelerates Globalization, Thus Reducing Energy Independence

As international production networks, investment, and financing accelerates with new renewable energy and cleantech projects, the world will further integrate, break down borders, and shift economic power away from governments to the unforgiving free market place. This brings us to the final step to escape “The Matrix”: point 4 of the red pill.

Green energy accelerates trade and cross-border financing, which in turn increases economic integration: further merging the world into one single free market space. The 2008 Financial Crisis delivered us one key lesson: one nation’s economic error tears down perfectly healthy nations on the other side of the world. The same will be proven true with energy. The 2008 Financial Crisis coupled with the globalizing nature of green energy portends a future where an energy shock in one country will shatter the economy of a supply-energy independent economy on the other side of the world.

In Reality at Last

As you exit “The Matrix,” you should now see the world through the lens of the free market, and not the nation. You should also see that new renewable energy and cleantech further seals the world’s shared economic and energy security fate into one unit, thereby rendering individual energy self-reliance and supply security initiatives misguided and financially wasteful.

Global Solutions to One-World Market Problems

With the first step of recognizing reality in the past, we may now discuss positive-sum methods to sustain global economic growth, employment, and energy supply for every country.

First, we must decouple the relationship between nation and industry, and instead embrace the global market place with international JVs and profit sharing across borders; this will accelerate consumer welfare, increase employment, and galvanize economic output. Remember that companies in markets create economic growth, not governments.

Second, we must promote global free trade and prepare our populations for a reality they cannot escape: globalization results in the evolution of one single market accelerated by green energy.

Third and last, we can embrace globalization, look at the bright side of change, and identify how to profit and increase human welfare from it through global free trade, or we lie to ourselves and imagine there is something that can escape us from global mutual insecurity, whether it’s green energy or some other fantasy.

Prepared or unprepared, with or without renewable power and cleantech, the world will converge, and there will be winners and losers in the emergence of green energy. Losers will hold onto the nation as a frame of reference. Winners will embrace green energy as a means to advance freedom and liberalization in the market place.

Email: KevinPKane@Gmail.com

LinkedIn: http://kr.linkedin.com/in/kevinpkane

Website: Energy-Fanatic.com

  1. By OD on November 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    A large percentage of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. They are not going to be particpating in this ‘green’ transition, they will be doing without. Their transition will be individual and self-reliant. A fate that perhaps most of us will share at some point in the future.

    I would also argue there is a good chance that many leap forwards in technology could come from government militaries and not the private sector, but the private sector will definitely play a role as well.

    I’m just not buying that we either become this global utopia you put forth or must return to the stoneage. Obviously, there is a lot of grey area.

    It is entirely possible I have taken the wrong stance on your essay, as it has been an extremely long day :-) .

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  2. By Rufus on November 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Chevy Cruze

    Chevy Cruze

    138 HP, 3,000 lbs, 42 MPG – next iteration will be Flexfuel, probably with virtually the same mileage.

    2012 Ford Focus – 40 MPG, already flexfuel.

    RFS2 – 36 Billion Gallons of Ethanol by 2022.

    You do the Math.

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  3. By Rufus on November 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Everyone’s asking the wrong question. They keep asking, “where are we going to get 140 Billion Gallons of Gasoline (or equivalent)/yr,” when they should be asking, “where are we going to get 30 Billion Gallons?”

    We’ll have to refine a bit less than 4 million barrels oil/day to get 30 billion gallons of gasoline/yr.

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  4. By Kevin Kane on November 13, 2010 at 4:28 am

    OD,

    Thank you for your comments. I think the point is that we have already arrived at an era where one country’s performance is linked to the performance of another, and vice versa. My point is that our economies are already merged into one, and this connection makes reducing importing energy not very effective unless every global economy is equally as secure.

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  5. By Kit P on November 13, 2010 at 11:27 am

    “A large
    percentage of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.”

     

    I agree OD, what is
    needed most most for the world’s poor is clean drinking water and
    sanitation which requires electricity. Poor people need a big old
    coal fired power plant. Once you are not wasting resources treating
    cholera, you can work on further raising the standard of living.
    People then want more electricity so maybe they did some nukes too.
    After a while no one remembers cholera, so they want ‘green’ energy.

     

    Kevin uses ‘green’
    about 25 times without defining what it is. The word ‘green’ is
    nothing more than a marketing scam aimed at third generation rich
    kids who got advanced degrees in basket weaving.

     

    How did South Korea
    go from one of the poorest counties without natural resources to one
    of the richest in 40 years? They built efficient coal and nuke
    plants to power industry. South Korea recently won one of the
    biggest contracts to build 4 nukes in the middle east.

     

    In contrast North
    Korea remains one of the poorest counties a $5 a day per capita GDP
    and electricity production at 20.9 billion kWh (2007 est.). In some
    years North Korea relies on food aid to prevent mass starvation.

    South Korea is at
    $80 a day and electricity production at 440 billion kWh (2008 est.).  (source: CIA fact
    book)

    Without living
    someplace, it is hard to tell how the wealth is distributed. South
    Korea clearly understand the importance of ‘Cleantech, Globalization
    and Energy Independence’ by becoming a world leader in nuclear power
    development.

     

    So what else is
    Kevin wrong about? From his web site:

     

    “There appears to
    be a group of policy makers who are advocating small electric
    vehicles as the first movers on the domestic market for
    electric-powered cars, and I strongly believe this direction could
    ruin the process of customer acceptance since small vehicles offer
    shorter ranges and less attractive designs.

     

    I will soon
    publish—including cost-per-mile in the context of Korea’s high
    gasoline and low electricity prices as well as projections for their
    share of demand from peak load power generation through 2020 …

    Smaller electric
    cars have smaller batteries that increase the frequency of charging,
    which increases the chance for exceeding peak load capacity if they
    eventually number in the millions; thus, short range, small electric
    vehicles can result in electricity black outs while long-range
    sedan-size highway-capable vehicles may not; and …”

     

    Small EVs are idea
    for compact urban setting. EV are also idea when hydro or nuclear
    can can suppy the electricity.

     

    “South Korea has
    the sixth-highest nuclear generation capacity in the world. Its first
    nuclear plant was completed in 1978, and over the following three
    decades, South Korea directed significant resources towards
    developing its nuclear power industry. Korea Hydro & Nuclear
    Power Co. currently operates South Korea’s four nuclear power
    stations, with 20 individual reactors. Twelve additional reactors are
    scheduled to be completed by 2022, with the goal of generating nearly
    half of the power supply from nuclear sources. Emerging as an
    international leader in nuclear technology, Korea is pursuing
    opportunities to export its technologies. In December of 2009, KEPCO
    won a $20 billion contract to build four 1,400 megawatt nuclear
    reactors in the United Arab Emirates, the first of which is expected
    operational by 2017.”

     

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/ca…..icity.html

     

    I would say 12 new
    1400 MWe reactors can charge a lot of batteries.

     

     

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  6. By perry on November 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I think you’ve got it backwards Kevin. Governments pick winners and losers in green tech, not companies. China ensured that Chinese companies would win global solar business through subsidies and export credits. The US made certain that ethanol used domestically would be 100% American through subsidies and tariffs.

    Nothing in this world is free. Least of all trade. What the world can use more of is “fair trade”. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for countries to encourage energy independence through legislation. Even if that legislation discourages foreign competition. Food and energy are two things that should never be outsourced. The US made a big mistake relying on other countries for energy. They have us by the gonads, and their grip is tightening.

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  7. By Kevin Kane on November 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Dear not-informed Kip,

    First, I calculated down the last kilowatt the electricity impact of small electric vehicles (smaller batter = more frequent charging) versus long range sedan electric vehicles (larger size = larger batter = less frequent charging) and even with a smart grid, even with 18 more nuclear reactors built, South Korea will experience black outs as a result of charging from just 1.5 million small electric vehicles. Try again cut-and-past professor!

    In regards to rich children, as I told you before, I served 7 years in the U.S. Army, worked my way in life from no help to where I am, and so I owe no consideration to trolls like you who blame the world for your failures.

    Perry,

    I do not think you read the essay carefully. Toyota is more American than Ford, and some Chinese companies are more American than Exxonmobil. Exxonmobil and General Electric are not even American companies. They belong to stockholders from every country.

    The investment coming from government is a factor, and China’s government recognize its irrelevant anymore, but even with their support, at the end of the day, over the long term private companies are the one’s that decide. “We” are not losing, because “we” are not racing. Companies are. America has nothing to race with, because it does not have companies. Stockholders have companies. Sorry, the age of the nation in economics is over, gone!

    Yours truly, Kevin

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  8. By perry on November 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Kevin Kane said:

    Sorry, the age of the nation in economics is over, gone!

     


     

    Impossible Kevin. The economic realities in place won’t allow it. A nation that runs persistent trade deficits suffers the consequences, even if we hold hands across the oceans while singing kumbaya.

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  9. By Kit P on November 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “Governments pick
    winners and losers in green tech, not companies.”

     

    Perry I do not think
    you can make a universal statement about energy companies. I can
    give you examples in the US, France, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and
    of course China where large energy companies are semi-autonomous
    government companies.

     

    Of course the way to
    determine what winner is by judging how much energy is produced. I
    suspect that the present will not look good when we look back. For
    example, 10 years of George Bush’s policies (starting as governor of
    Texas) has resulted in more electricity being generated with wind.

     

    Ethanol is another
    example. In both these cases, neither the technology or nor the
    companies were picked. The winners were the companies that were
    ready with the technology.

     

    The loser will be
    the bad idea. At least for the next 20 years solar and EV will only
    provide pretty pictures. When someone tells you about their EV or
    solar panels, don’t ask about performance.

     

    The fundamental
    reason ‘green’ energy will fail is that it is does not have a lower
    environmental impact. It sound great it until you look close. This
    is why off-shore wind is being pushed. It is really hard to drive by
    it.

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  10. By Kit P on November 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    “First, I
    calculated down the last kilowatt ”

     

    You mean kwh Kevin.
    It is not the frequency of charging but the duration of charging that
    determines how much electricity is used. Longer range means more
    batteries, means more weight, which means larger power requirements,
    which means more batteries and longer charging.

     

    “just 1.5 million
    small electric vehicles”

     

    That sounds a little
    optimistic Kevin. In any case, I can build nuke plants faster than
    you can build BEVs. Kevin you are making up a scenario to fit your
    argument. Black outs will not occur either. Where do you get that
    idea?

     

    Somewhere between
    zero BEV and 1,500,000 BEV I think that the people who make
    electricity can figure it out. Assuming the average charging
    requirements for a small BEV is 20 kwh and the overnight charging
    duration is 10 hours, that would a require a 2 kw (0.002 MWe)
    charging station.

     

    According to the
    link I provided (Try again cut-and-past professor! ), KEPCO is
    planning on adding 1350 MWe of capacity a year. That means you can
    charge 675,000 a year new BEV a year.

     

    Assuming 10,000 new
    BEV a year, that is a design margin of 665,000 Kevin.

     

    “I served 7 years
    in the U.S. Army”

     

    But not making
    electricity! That is what I did in the navy for 10 years. Kevin you
    sure sound like like you have an advanced degree in basket weaving.
    I can excuse rich pampered children doing that but an army guy I
    would have higher expectations of having a think skin. If you want
    to try again with calculation fine but is sounds like you are writing
    essays from the ivory tower.

     

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  11. By Kevin Kane on November 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Kip, Kip, Kip…,

    Your analytically wrong on every level, and your craz if you think you can build nuclear plants in reality that fast. Much planning goes into them: 5 years per reactor.

    No Kip, when calculating load demand you use kW.

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  12. By Wendell Mercantile on November 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    KK~

    You will soon realize the futility of discussing an issue with Kit P.

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  13. By Kevin Kane on November 14, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Kit,

    Judging by the nature of your comments, I suspect you are a lonely, friendless, and career-disatisfied man. If you want to feel better about yourself by incorrectly and inaccurately attacking my arguments, than please do so. I am willing to take insults from you if it makes you feel better about your failures in life and disappointment in yourself.

    Kevin

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  14. By Kevin Kane on November 14, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Kit, Kip, Professor Cut and Paste, Troll, whatever your name is. lol.

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  15. By Kit P on November 14, 2010 at 10:50 am

    “your craz if you
    think you can build nuclear plants in reality that fast. Much
    planning goes into them: 5 years per reactor.”

     

    Really, it takes
    planning to build nukes plants. Who knew?

     

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/i…..inf81.html

     

    It sure looks like
    they know about building nuke plants in South Korea, the construction
    start and commercial operation date are below:

     

    Shin Kori 1 – June
    2006 – 12/2010

    Shin Kori 2 – June
    2007 – 12/2011

    Shin Wolsong 1 -
    November 2007 – 3/2012

    Shin Wolsong 2 -
    September 2008 – 1/2013

    Shin Kori 3 -
    October 2008 -9/2013

    Shin Kori 4 -
    September 2009 – 9/2014

    Shin Ulchin 1 -
    March 2011 – 12/2015

    Shin Ulchin 2 -
    March 2012 -12/2016

    Shin Kori 5 – 8/2014
    -12/2018

    Shin Kori 6 – 8/2015
    12/2019

    Shin Wolsong 3 -
    6/2020

    Shin Wolsong 4 -
    6/2021

     

    That is 6 reactors
    under construction and 6 more in planning. They also completed 6
    reactors of their own design in 7 years. Pretty good evidence that
    South Korea can build reactors as fast as I said they can.

     

    “No Kip, when
    calculating load demand you use kW.”

     

    You need to know the
    duration of charging to determine the power rating of the charging
    station. If you charge in 10 hours then you would need a 2 kw
    charging station. Therefore a load demand of 2 kw means each reactor
    can power 675,000 charging stations.

     

    There are physical
    ramifications to charging batteries. Do you want to replace that 240
    V, 30 amp breaker with one that can handle 7400 amps? To add a 30 or
    40 amp breaker to the houses in my neighborhood would not be a
    problems. Anything bigger would require very expensive modification
    to the electrical system.

     

    There is more than
    one way to skin a cat but the energy is the same ignoring
    efficiencies. If South Korea want to use common charging stations
    that charged batteries in an hour, then you would need a 20 kw
    charging station. Each reactor can power only 67,500 charging
    stations. Of course each reactor can power 675,000 BEV in a 10 hour
    period.

     

    The bottom line is
    that the margin to causing blackout is huge in South Korea. Trying
    to figure out why Kevin thought ‘Tesla Motors Model S, priced at
    $57,000′ was the way to go I followed the link Kevin provided.

     

    “Like the
    Roadster, the Model S is engineered to plug into nearly any outlet,
    anywhere in the world. Plus, with the 45 minute QuickCharge or 1
    minute battery swap, the car begs to be driven everywhere you want to
    go.”

     

    Of course if you
    plug the Model S into nearly any outlet, you will spend 21 hours
    charging for every 3 hours driving at 70 mph. The limitation is the
    normal 20 amp GFI outlet.

     

    “Sedan-size
    electric vehicles offer companies more profit than small vehicles due
    to battery costs that can range from $12,000 to $36,000 depending on
    size and financial scheme;”

     

    Ouch!

     

    “In 2012, Tesla
    will start producing approximately 20,000 Model S sedans per year…”

     

    So power generators
    can build power plants that last 60 years at the rate to charge
    675,000 BEV whose batteries only last 100,000 miles.

     

    So Ken show me the
    calculation that you claim causes blackouts for 1,500,000 BEV in
    2030.

     

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  16. By OD on November 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Judging by the nature of your comments, I suspect you are a lonely, friendless, and career-disatisfied man

    Whether you disagree with Kit or not, that was extremely unnecessary and takes away from your article. You can not put forth such articles and then resort to using ad hominems by anyone criticising them.

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  17. By Wendell Mercantile on November 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    It sure looks like they know about building nuke plants in South Korea, the construction start and commercial operation date are below: …

    Agree Kit,

    Too bad we can’t get off top-dead center here with respect to building new nuclear reactors. Congress needs to pass a national act speeding and simplifying the regulatory and environmental review process for new reactors.

    Most of the delay in building new reactors is not the actual construction, but the review, permitting, and regulatory process.

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  18. By Kit P on November 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm

     

    “Too bad we can’t
    get off top-dead center here with respect to building new nuclear
    reactors.”

     

    Wendell 4 reactors
    are under construction in the US, 30+ are in planning. We are way
    past top-dead center.

     

    “Most of the delay
    ..”

     

    What delay? Gen
    III+ reactors is doing better than off shore wind. I will explain it
    to you. All large power projects take years to get permits. 

     

    “the world will
    converge”

     

    Kevin stated the
    obvious, he just missed the obvious elephant in the room. I think it
    was around 2003 when the CEO of the company I worked for stated that
    their was not market in the US for new nuke plants. He was right.
    MIT would have agreed too.

     

    So why were they
    building them like hot cakes in South Korea. South Korea imports all
    their fossil fuels and demand for electricity was smoking. Like
    France, no coal, no gas, no choice.

     

    Then the paradigm
    changed about 2005 when China stopped exporting slave labor coal.
    This made eastern US coal more valuable as it followed the world
    market. Suddenly there is a mad rush for COL applications to the US
    NRC.

     

    It just takes a
    certain amount of time but then the COL is good for 20 years.
    Construction can start when the utility thinks it will need new the
    capacity 5 years into the future. A perception of delays should be
    taken in the context of a power plant that last 60 years.

     

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  19. By russ-finley on November 14, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Interesting article, Kevin. Apologies for the resident troll. Every popular blog has one or two in tow.

    You’re right about our global interdependency.  In a recent post called Energy Policy Head Knock, I suggested that America should not abandon efforts to maintain stability in the Middle East even if we found ways not to buy any oil from there, because our trading partners do:

     

    We would have to kiss our Priuses and Nissan Leafs goodbye! ; )

     

    I read an interesting book last year called “Bad Samaritans” by Ha-Joon Chang. I’d call South Korea’s meteoric economic miracle a textbook example of wise government regulation. Every competition needs its referees. You just don’t want the refs to outnumber the players.

    I test drove a Nissan Leaf just last Friday (see Nissan Leaf Test Drive). You didn’t define with precision the difference between a small electric car and a large one.  The Leaf is a marvel. I wouldn’t bet against it if I were an investor.

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  20. By OD on November 15, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Nice article Russ. Oh how I wish I could test drive one as well.

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  21. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

    We are way past top-dead center.

    OK, perhaps past TDC, but how long will the planning stage be for our 30+ reactors and when will they start construction, as opposed to how long it takes to go from concept to turning the key fora reactor in South Korea or France?

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  22. By Kit P on November 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    “but how long will the planning stage be for our 30+ reactors and when will they start construction,” 

     

    From the time a utility’s resource management plan determines it needs a new nuke to getting a COL is about 5 years.  From the time they start pouring safety concrete to commercial operations is 5 about years.   

     

    France takes about the same time for planning.  It looks like the planning part took two years in South Korea but there may have been a few more years of public debate since I was not looking.  It is taking about 2 years in China to from signing a contract to starting construction.  

     

    Of course there is a line at the NRC. So two will get COLs in 2011 and start construction.  Two to four more in 2012.  After that it depends on the economy.  If the economy stays stagnate, one or two a year will start to replace aging coal plants.  If demand for electricity is increasing like it was 2006, then we will start as many as we need to.

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  23. By paul-n on November 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Kit wrote;

    I agree OD, what is

    needed most most for the world’s poor is clean drinking water and

    sanitation which requires electricity. Poor people need a big old

    coal fired power plant. Once you are not wasting resources treating

    cholera, you can work on further raising the standard of living.

    People then want more electricity so maybe they did some nukes too.

    After a while no one remembers cholera, so they want ‘green’ energy.

    There can be little disagreement about the priority of water and sanitation – they are the original and most effective “health care” systems there are.  For any third world country (as politically incorrect as that term may be), water and sanitation must take precedence over ‘green” energy, yet in Africa we have the reverse.  Large areas of farmland being planted for biofuel crops, for export to Europe, while local people are still without water and sanitation.  of course, much of the problem is corrupt governments, civil war, etc, but even after decades and zillions of dollars of “aid” projects, most of these countries are worse now than they were decades ago.

    there is little point having movies stars handing out mosquito nets when behind the village their garbage dump has plastic bags all over the place, collecting rainwater and acting as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.  What is the priority of green energy here?  Energy is needed, in any form possible

    For a real green energy basket case, look at Haiti – they have been using “biofuel” (i.e. all their trees) for cooking for decades, and now have no trees left.  Their rampant population growth has exceeded their ability to feed themselves, and they still do not have proper water and sanitation.  And as Kit says, are now expending their resources battling cholera.  I doubt their people will care whether the energy is green or not, and I can’t see how a “green energy economy” be it based on nations or companies, will help them.

    All of the modernised countries have built themselves on fossil energy – there is not one case of a country that has done so, or is in the process of doing so, using a majority of renewable energy.  The renewable energy industry will continue to grow, but compared to the fossil energy usage, it is the equivalent of what a corn farmer’s wife might grow in the vegetable garden – a nice bonus, but not what their economy is based on.

     

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  24. By Corrie Block on November 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

    It’s almost never cost prohibitive if you have a 300 year plan

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  25. By P.M.Lawrence on December 3, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Recognize that companies [emphasis added] win in the market place, not nations or their people

    There’s a sort of cultural tunnel vision at work there. No, it’s not companies that win in the market place but firms (a somewhat larger category). It only ends up as companies under an institutional framework that favours those over other structures.

    All companies, whether large or small, aim to advance personal and investor-stockholder—not government or national—income and power.

    Again, no; because of agency costs, they also aim at advancing their managers’ interests. This can sometimes even be a stronger effect – it was in the late 19th century, as described in the USA by Bertrand Russell.

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