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Are Teslas Front Loading Emmisions?

I am reading articles that accuse battery powered cars of front loading emissions in their manufacture. Somehow that sounds wrong. Any experts that can clarify how this argument is just in error?

T.m, ok I am back to my favorite ,natural gas, the only fuel that can quickly get us off saudi oil

"Quickly" is the key word.
But the whole Gulf only contributes <15% of US oil consumption. Domestic sourcing is now the majority of supply. Canada is next, the main import source.

Oaktowner -- Nuclear does produce pollution, of course, but in a different form factor. It doesn't fill the atmosphere with chlorofluorocarbons, but it does produce radioactive spent fuel, which must be dealt with some way or other.

That is only true of the older technology. There are nuclear power plants that can use the spent fuel and produce no spent fuel of their own. Unfortunately, the irrational fear the public has of nuclear energy has stopped these plants, and nuclear power in general, from being built. Nuclear power is the safest and cleanest, and cheapest form of constant energy we have. (solar and wind are not constant).

Mel -- I am back to my favorite ,natural gas

You're just trading air pollution for water pollution. Not a good idea IMHO.

I don't consider nuclear fears irrational.

The Japan Tsunami is fresh in my memory.

They have a leaking waste tank that breached its primary containment at Hanford right now and they have to transfer its contents. Adding to that problem they are running out of space at the Hanford reservation.

The atmosphere is quite grateful for the H2O and CO2 burning NG produces. So is the plant life world-wide. Only the deluded and the ambitious (EPA) consider those "air pollution".

Here is my take on the grid energy sources (US perspective):

Natural Gas

Its cleaner and cheaper than coal. Unlike coal and oil, its price is not determined by global supply and demand but regional (good for the US, bad for Asia). It is also more flexible as far as ramp up ramp down to meet demand and mix with varying sources (solar and wind).


Greatest energy dense source and once was extremely cheap. Regulation has taken the price advantage away. While the likelihood of an event is rare, the risks associated with a worst case scenario are drastic and widespread. It is not the ideal risk/reward ratio and that seems to be affecting its price (through regulation). Cannot ramp quickly to meet demand or other renewable energy sources.


Cheap if used dirty, (prohibitively) expensive if used clean. The local pollution from its emissions cause well documented health issues. Then there is the "global experiment" as Elon calls it. Some of this applies to Natural Gas too, but to a lesser extent (~70%).


Great source, but very regionally and scale limited. Provides power on demand for the most part and can act as grid storage during ideal conditions.

Wind (the only energy I have in depth knowledge of)

Has the most potential as a utility scale renewable energy source. Fixed energy costs over a 20 - 30 year period. Can be ramped (down) to match demand. (Unsubsidized) Costs are about 15 - 20% higher than Natural Gas on average, but is a good hedge against future costs of fuel. Availability is very specific to the region, so multi-regional deployment is needed to balance availability. i.e. the wind is always blowing somewhere.


Matches the generic summer demand curve well, but is completely unavailable at night. The (unsubsidized) costs are still roughly 100% more expensive than the other grid power. Solar is well suited for distributed generation to take the peaks off of summer electricity use, but is not well suited for utility scale. Although there are starting to be more 100+ MW projects, we will see how they do.

My conclusion

It is all about cost of energy and availability. Renewables need to be the cheapest forms of energy, so they will always be used when available. The fossil fuel sources will fill in to match demand. Until there is a major breakthrough in utility scale energy storage, this will be the best case scenario in the near future.

EVs adding some (predictable) night demand should help flatten day/night demand and give the grid energy sources some more elbow room. There is currently a squeeze on the grid with the drop in electricity demand since 2008.

The other factor to consider is time to build the plants. This might be nuclear's biggest hurdle right now. The 5 - 10 year lead time is really a killer. Natural Gas is more like 3 years, wind is closer to 18 months. That (and cost) is why they have been the top two additions to the grid four years running.

Here is the best recent report I know of on the costs of different energy sources -

That is just my 2 (maybe 20) cents...

Put a plastic bag on you head and take a stopwatch. Let us know how long it takes you to become deluded and ambitious.


Good summary

Note that the worst case for nuclear power is highly dependent upon the design of each individual plant. There are some designs where the worst case is no worse than for a non-nuclear plant.

But I recognize that's an impossible thing to convince the public of at this point, so nuclear power is essentially dead until there is a breakthrough in fusion someday in the (probably) distant future.

@kalikgod - Not sure the extent to which Natural Gas pricing is based on local markets. I was a petrochem design engineer in a past life and there are plenty of LNG ships transporting NatGas around the world to/from different markets.


That is not my industry, but my understanding is that the LNG infrastructure can't handle the current supply/demand imbalance right now. I have heard there is a lot under construction, but it is not a cheap or quick endeavor. Last I heard the prices for Nat Gas was US $3 MMBtu, EU $8, and Asia $14. The imbalance wouldn't be there if there was plenty of LNG transport available.


I grew up within 7 miles of a nuke plant, so I am not a pessimist on the safety. It employed a lot of my friends parents. It was built 15 ft above sea level on a barrier island in a prime hurricane zone :-0. 40+ years old and it has be hit by two hurricanes with no issues, but if it did go bad, man what a mess. Radiation would be pumped right up the east coast via the gulf stream.

Kalikgod, government restrictions inthe form of permits and regulations are the serious things stoping LNG from the US. American corporations are going to China to help them develop fracking so they can become net exporters

most of your statements about wind and solar are inaccurate, in practice. A good e.g. is the offshore wind (massive) being built in the North Sea/Channel by Germany. Few live nearby, and the main demand is almost at the opposite diagonal corner of the country. Neither the inbetween states nor terminus states are interested in paying for or hosting the huge transmission corridors needed, so they are not built, or approved or planned. A true clusterf***.

Oxygen deprivation is not the same as breathing high CO2 levels. Get a grip.

"Forests in North America are larger than when the Pilgrims arrived. "

Outright falsehood. Yeah, there was a large area cleared for agriculture by the Iroquois and similar groups, but it doesn't compare to the amount cleared for housing + agriculture now. (There was an intervening period with fewer forests.)

As for nuclear, Chernobyl & Fukushima. We can't afford to lose lots of farmland and we can't afford to eat food with increasing amounts of radioactive heavy metal contaminants.

But it's impossible to discuss with people who make outright false claims of fact, or who blithely dismiss the problem of high-level radioactive waste with "there's plenty of room". Those two attitudes are, in technical terms, *unsustainable*.

Kalikgod makes a nice summary of the current situation.

A few comments about the near future, the next 10 years: (1) solar will continue to get cheaper and more efficient (I have inside information); (2) solar will work at night if the 'battery problem' is solved, and a solution for it is already on the drawing boards (yes, I still have inside information); (3) grid instability has been solved and the solution will be published in a few months (yes, still inside information)

I don't expect anyone to believe me. I just hope when it all happens the people who dismissed solar power as the universal solution will step back and go "hey, maybe I didn't know what the hell I was talking about and should be more humble in future".

Are we really still discussing this? John Peterson is a troll. As the saying goes... "Don't feed the trolls". I don't mind replying to John and his minions crap on Seeking Alpha... non-sense has to be countered but this is beneath a TM forum. Please stop feeding the trolls.

Chernobyl and Fukushima shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath. Chernobyl was caused easily preventable human error, probably negligent malfeasance. Fukushima was a tidal wave of unprecedented proportions. F.'s fatalities were all tidal. As for secondary nuclear contamination, none of it is dangerous except by illegitimate extrapolation of the LND (linear non-lethal dose) model which ignores threshold effects (e.g. the hormesis studies, showing benefits to the immune system's function from low to moderate exposure).
Both plants were designed about a half-century ago. As scare-monsters, they're getting very long in the tooth. But political BS-shooters love them.

I'd beg to differ on the Fukushima disaster being seperate from human error. Had the plant not gone into full shutdown but maintained enough energy to maintain it's cooling needs, meltdown would be less likley. When the eartquake hit, the reacors went into full shutdown. When the tsunami hit, the generators placed in the basement were submerged.

Classic case of a series of small design issues, (like not placing the generators on higher ground), that normaly would not be catastrophic, leading to a disaster.

@Brian H

I thought my post was already too long to get into the transmission issues. There are significant project underway west of the Mississippi that will tie up the biggest load centers. The East coast is a little different right now, but that is a political more than technical problem. The costs really aren't that big of a deal either, ends up being about .003 per kWh.

ERCOT is an excellent example of successful wind integration. About 8.5% wind last year and likely to break the 10% mark this year. And that is in one of the most energy hungry markets in the country.

Let's not mix offshore wind into this, it makes no sense in the US, there is plenty of onshore resource. Nobody in the US is willing to pay 25 cents per kWh like EU. You can point the offshore wind push directly back to the political issues.


Just because this thread started as a result of a Peterson article doesn't mean we can't have a good discussion about related topics. We're pretty much not talking about him or his article anymore.


Human error (or, at least, a bad assessment of seismic risks) did indeed contribute to the Fukushima plant incident. But neither that, nor Chernobyl, nor any other anecdote proves that nuclear plants can't be designed and operated safely. Only that some have not been.


The fact is that there are a vast number of places where spent fuel could be stored which would meet any rational requirements for safety of the public. The problem is that public fear makes the requirements irrational and impossible to meet.

And I've never said that any of the problems with wind, solar, etc. that I've pointed out can't ever be overcome. I'm always open to the possibility that I could be wrong, as well as the fact that the state of technology is ever-changing. In fact, I've learned some stuff on this forum that leaves me more open to solar/wind than I was before.

If you're saying it's "impossible to discuss" the issue with anyone who disagrees with you, maybe you're actually looking for an echo chamber rather than a discussion. But in my experience there is not a whole lot of opportunity for learning in environments where everyone just reinforces everyone else's beliefs. Dissent can be annoying, but a complete absence of dissent is usually bad.

@tesla.mrspaghet... I don't agree that there is anywhere acceptable to store nuclear waste. It needs to be contained for thousands of years, and not leak. Even synrock isn't good enough.

That is why most of the waste is still at the plant that created it.

The closest to acceptable was in Sweden, but even there they had to revise the standard when they discovered that there were cracks I the rocks that were supposed to be solid.

Remember that the pyramids were built about 5000 years old. You are talking about keeping dangerous waste contained for much longer.

@Mark E

You are confirming my point that those opposed to nuclear power cannot be satisfied no matter what steps are taken. In my opinion you are being completely unreasonable.

@Brian H:

"Oxygen deprivation is not the same as breathing high CO2 levels."

High CO2 levels are still detrimental to your health, even deadly. The CO2 concentration in the blood stream regulates breathing, among other things.

Remember Apollo 13? Plenty of O2, but too much CO2 in the cabin, astronauts getting dizzy, CO2 scrubbing needed to be jury rigged.

The plants scrub the CO2 from Earth's atmosphere. With a lot of the rainforest cleared, and a lot of human-made CO2 emissions, we are bound to become a global Apollo 13. How do we jury-rig this?

@Brian H, I closely follow LPP and focus fusion, after learning about them from you. Their advances are promising, although some of their collaborations are miffing, at the least?

@tesla.mrspaghet.. I'm wiling to look at any new technology that can make storage of highly dangerous radioactive materials safe for thousands of years. The closest that I've seen is synrock, - which seals the waste to try and stop it leaching out of the containers over time.

Unfortunately there is the additional problem of where to put it. It has to be geologically stable, able to be secured and monitored continuously for both leaks and break-ins.

The overall cost of doing this - effectively for ever - should also be factored into the cost for Nuclear power. Currently this cost is conveniently avoided - as is the cost of decommissioning the old power stations.

The potential for 'unlimited' power from Nuclear (fission) looked great 50 years ago, but now you'd have to wonder if its worth the future investment considering the developing alternatives and hidden costs.

As for safety, a single accident can wipe out any cost advantage that Nuclear appears to have. I wonder how much the 80km radius of land around every potential power station is worth, considering an accident can make it uninhabitable for decades or centuries. The damage to the Japanese economy is enormous, including the food production from a huge area.

I'd rather see development in the storage of electricity - better batteries in effect - as this makes intermittent renewable supply much more reliable. It would also have the benefit of making our portable technology (laptops, cars, phones etc) much more useful.

10 years ago an electric car with 85kWh costing $80k was unthinkable. With battery technology improving at even 7% p.a. an 85kWh battery becomes 167kWh in 10 years.

+1 Mark

Mark E;
Nuclear "waste" is ultimately unused fuel. Numerous designs exist to use it, virtually completely. If anyone gets around to building truly modern reactors, the world's "waste" becomes a valuable resource.

Note the % of air symptom-diagram. You have to get up to 3% (30,000 ppm) before you see anything beyond some dizziness (80-100x current atmospheric levels. Burning every gram of known fossil fuels would barely double them.) A "global Apollo 13" is such a ridiculous scare-mongering comparison I will spare you my opinion of it.

About focus fusion, not sure what you mean by "miffing"...?? ;) They are pushing the limits of switching and plasma tech in some areas, and are having to hand-rig innovations, plus push machinist and supplier shops to their limits. A side-benefit is that they are filing patents on many of their "secondary" advances. Progress would be much faster with even a reasonable trickle of research funding, though. Far less promising projects are rolling in it, by comparison.

Got to weigh in here, thorium LFTR are probably the most promising for us in the medium term not a panacea by any stretch but appears very promising. I must confess it is my second obscene after Tesla of course.

@Alan S

I think you meant to write "obsession" - at least, I hope so! Lol


Glad you're keeping an open mind. You are correct that fission power has hidden costs, as does every other method of power generation. The hidden costs of all the others may just be more hidden, not necessarily less costly.

Anyway, it would be great if our previous poster who claimed to have inside knowledge were correct, and we could soon have a source of abundant power with no pollution at a price that compares well with fossil fuels. I'll believe it when I see it though.

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