I told someone recently that no one should get sucked into “pro” or “anti” nuclear framing. The real discussion has always been about reality checking the nuclear industry, and how quickly it can be a help to decarbonize.
Last week I posted about the emergence of the GE-Hitachi design as a leader. The piece below suggests some momentum and potential cost savings, but important to get it that it’s no longer a discussion about whether the US is going to run the nuclear experiment – it’s being run now.

Utility Dive:

  • Nearly one-fourth of the current U.S. coal-fired fleet is scheduled to retire by 2029, providing opportunities to site advanced nuclear plants, specifically small modular reactors, or SMRs, a Washington, D.C. think tank says in a recent report.
  • The reactors can reuse coal plant electrical equipment and steam-cycle components that, combined with reuse of transmission and administrative buildings, can reduce SMR construction costs by 17% to 35%, according to John Jacobs and Lesley Jantarasami, authors of “Can Advanced Nuclear Repower Coal Country?” released this month by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification in January of NuScale Power’s SMR design, the country’s first such federal approval, “pushes the technology closer to maturity,” the report said.

The report says 80% of evaluated coal plants have the “basic characteristics” needed to be repowered by an SMR, according to a Department of Energy study analyzing coal plants recently retired and those soon to be. Nuclear reactors and coal power plants both provide dispatchable energy “24/7 regardless of weather conditions, time of day or the season,” it said.

“Renewables have a vital and substantial role to play in a decarbonized energy grid,” the report said. “Yet, it is essential to complement their variability with the construction of firm power capable of filling the gaps and maintaining reliability.”

Other benefits highlighted by the report are SMRs’ flexible power output levels that allow developers to match the output of a retiring coal plant and capacity restrictions of equipment, unlike the fixed capacity of traditional nuclear plants. And SMRs require small areas, making its footprint suitable for replacing a retiring coal plant, according to the report.

Re-using coal plant sites could also have labor force advantages, with 77% of jobs transferable to nuclear plants with no new workforce licensing requirements, the report said.

SMRs can reuse coal plant transmission infrastructure, reducing SMR construction costs and avoiding some permitting challenges. And the reactors can reuse coal plant electrical equipment and steam-cycle components that, combined with reuse of transmission and administrative buildings, can reduce SMR construction costs by 17% to 35%, according to the report.

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Of all the climate calamities of the past year, Pakistan’s intense flooding is the starkest warning of the vulnerability of global society to the crumbling of some of it’s least privileged members.
Pakistan is a populous, nuclear armed country in a volatile region, with a history of political instability, and internal tension between extreme political and religious factions. And it is climate change ground zero.


As scientists and scholars from around the world, we call on policymakers to engage with the risk of disruption and even collapse of societies. After five years failing to reduce emissions in line with the Paris climate accord, we must now face the consequences. While bold and fair efforts to cut emissions and naturally drawdown carbon are essential, researchers in many areas consider societal collapse a credible scenario this century. Different views exist on the location, extent, timing, permanence and cause of disruptions, but the way modern societies exploit people and nature is a common concern.

Only if policymakers begin to discuss this threat of societal collapse might we begin to reduce its likelihood, speed, severity, harm to the most vulnerable – and to nature.

Some armed services already see collapse as an important scenario. Surveys show many people now anticipate societal collapse. Sadly, that is the experience of many communities in the global south. However, it is not well reported in the media, and mostly absent from civil society and politics. People who care about environmental and humanitarian issues should not be discouraged from discussing the risks of societal disruption or collapse. Ill-informed speculations about impacts on mental health and motivation will not support serious discussion. That risks betraying thousands of activists whose anticipation of collapse is part of their motivation to push for change on climate, ecology and social justice.

Some of us believe that a transition to a new society may be possible. That will involve bold action to reduce damage to the climate, nature and society, including preparations for disruptions to everyday life. We are united in regarding efforts to suppress discussion of collapse as hindering the possibility of that transition.

We have experienced how emotionally challenging it is to recognise the damage being done, along with the growing threat to our own way of life. We also know the great sense of fellowship that can arise. It is time to have these difficult conversations, so we can reduce our complicity in the harm, and make the best of a turbulent future.
Prof Gesa Weyhenmeyer Uppsala UniversityProf Will Steffen Australian National University, Prof Kai Chan Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Prof Marjolein Visser Université Libre de Bruxelles, Prof Yin Paradies Deakin University, Prof Saskia SassenColumbia University, Prof Ye Tao Harvard University, Prof Aled Jones Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Peter Kalmus Climate scientist, Dr Yves Cochet Former French minister of the environment, Dr Marie-Claire Pierret University of Strasbourg, the Very Rev Dr Frances Ward St Michael’s church and 246 others

I was just putting together a post based on the recent revelations of smoking gun text and recorded evidence of Fox News’ deliberate fabrication of fact.
Following today’s shooting in Nashville, a Fox camera lingered too long on a woman who was tragically, well prepared to meet the moment. It’s another in a series of moments in which the Fox News Unreality Field has broken down, if only for a few moments.

The reason it come up is because I wanted to draw the connection again, of the case of the Winter Storm Uri Blackout in Texas of Valentine’s Day 2021, (first video) comparing local Texas media and expert reporting vs (second video) how the same situation was reported by Fox.

First, the reality.

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This is Fine

March 25, 2023

Any body know the back story on the video above?

This is my last video for Yale Climate Connections, I’ve already transitioned to more focus on helping site clean energy across the US Heartland.
When I began producing a monthly series for Yale, in 2011, I was one of just a few journalists focusing on climate as an issue. Now there are comparative armies of journalists and videographers following the issue. Our most critical need now is not more information on the problem – it is to vastly accelerate deployment of solutions.

This week I’ve met with two groups of farmers who are under sustained attack by fossil fuel coordinated disinformation campaigns, designed to deprive farmers of the right to diversify their incomes and contribute to solving the world’s most critical issue. They are seeking to tell their stories to a wider audience, and organize to push back on what they see as not just a threat to a livable planet, but an immediate threat to democracy itself.

I’ll still be following climate issues and scientists, but my most urgent attention will be at the grassroots level, fighting the fossil fueled disinformation machine, and the campaign of fear, ignorance, and intimidation that the Carbon Lords hope will help them cling to the power and influence they’ve enjoyed for more than a century.

Washington Post:

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico often enter the conversation during hurricane season, but they also play a role in tornado season each spring. Concern is growing for the potential impact that abnormally warm sea surface temperatures will have in the weeks and months ahead, with experts warily keeping tabs on what could be a busy tornado season.

Friday’s tornado outbreak in Mississippi and Alabama, which killed at least 24 people, coincided with gulf waters up to several degrees warmer than normal and as high as the upper 70s.

April, May and June are historically the most active for severe weather and tornadoes, with an average of 660 twisters spinning up within the three-month window. They materialize seemingly like clockwork, creeping north across the Deep South before swimming over the Plains and the nation’s heartland.

While considerable variability can occur year to year, there may be ties between gulf sea surface temperatures and the frequency and intensity of severe weather events in the U.S. Deep South in particular.

In the months ahead, several key atmospheric processes could favor a busier-than-normal tornado season, including the warm gulf water, but the jury is still out on just how active it will be. Seasonal tornado forecasting is still in its infancy, and meteorologists are careful to remind the public that confidence remains low in what lies ahead.

The year has already been off to a historically active start, with a preliminary total of 168 tornadoes touching down across the Lower 48 states in January. That’s the second-most on record. In February, there were 55 tornadoes — double the average of 29. 

Oklahoma reported 17 tornadoes in January and February. The average during that window is one.

On Jan. 16, two tornadoes spun up in eastern Iowa, the state’s first January tornadoes in 50 years.

Alabama also logged 29 tornadoes during January, smashing state records, and New Jersey even faced an EF2 tornado, on the 0-to-5 scale for twister intensity, on Feb. 21. That marked the Garden State’s first February twister in nearly a quarter-century.

Warm Gulf of Mexico water temperatures probably boosted the winter activity, consistently running several degrees above average. In addition, temperatures were exceptionally high over land, especially in the eastern United States. January was 5.1 degrees above normal in the Lower 48. February was 2.7 degrees above average.

March tornado activity had been quiet until Friday’s outbreak in the South, which may have kick-started the spring season.

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Sacramento TV Station report.
Some good info on water storage, reservoirs and snow pack.
Still a ways from historical high snowpack of early 1950s.

Problem solved.

12 News Phoenix:

Nearly 50 years after being filled, Lake Powell recently reached its lowest point.

Since then, the lake’s seasonal uptrend in water levels has begun.

Lake Powell hit a new low of 3520.46 feet on March 13, data from the Bureau of Reclamationshows.

However, the following eight days all saw more water flow into the lake than out of it, resulting in just under half a foot of rise in water levels. The increase is the first sustained gains the lake has seen since May of last year.

The historically high amounts of rain and snow the U.S. Southwest has received over the past winter may have kickstarted Lake Powell’s seasonal uptrend very early. The lake usually doesn’t start seeing more intake than outtake until mountain snow begins to melt in mid-May, data from the U.S. Geological Survey showed.

It’s unclear just how much this past unusually wet winter will affect the lake and the Colorado River at large. However, a positive impact can be expected as nearly every upper and lower river basin state is reporting triple-digit percent above-average moisture.

As Spring kicks off, time will tell just how much of a boost summer snowmelt will bring to the parched Southwest.

I posted the other day on falling Lithium prices. Here’s more on the reason why.


A year and a half ago, China’s CATL put on a flashy event to make an announcement significant enough that Zeng Yuqun, the founder and chairman of the world’s biggest battery maker, served as emcee.

Zeng, who had just passed up Alibaba’s Jack Ma in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, revealed that CATL was working on battery packs that would use lithium-ion and sodium-ion cells. While sodium is more abundant and offers potential safety benefits over lithium, the latter is dominant in EV batteries. Lithium-ion chemistries offer superior energy density, enabling drivers to travel further between charges.

While CATL laid out steps it was taking toward commercialization, the massive supplier to automakers including Tesla, Geely and BMW has been beaten to the punch — at least to the prototype stage. Last month, Chinese automaker JAC unveiled a test version of its Sehol E10X electric car that was packing sodium-ion cells.

Supplying the cells was HiNa Battery Technologies, a small and relatively new player to China’s battery scene, having been founded in 2017 following years of work at a scientific research institute. The debut of a vehicle using HiNa’s cells has battery experts reconsidering the potential for sodium-ion chemistries to play a role powering future EVs. BloombergNEF and other research firms have been projecting that EVs will be powered almost entirely by lithium-ion batteries.

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