Nuclear power PREPARES for climate change!

How many solar farms and wind turbines did cyclone Harvey kill? But the nukes? They’re in concrete hardened bunkers. They’re fine. Nuclear power doesn’t just mitigate climate change, it *prepares* for what we’re already committed to! As Forbes said:


Hurricane Harvey made land fall in Texas this week and the flooding was historic. What is shaping up to be the most costly natural disaster in American history, the storm has left refineries shut down, interrupted wind and solar generation, caused a constant worry about gas explosions, and caused a chain of events that led to explosions and fires at the Arkema chemical plant that is only the beginning.

Over a fifth of the country’s oil production has been shuttered. Natural gas futures hit a 2-year high as did gasoline prices at the pump.

But the Texas nuclear power plants have been running smoothly.

The two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project plant near Houston were operating at full capacity despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as the Hurricane made landfall. The plant implemented its severe weather protocols as planned and completed hurricane preparations ahead of Category 4 Hurricane Harvey striking the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25th.

Anyone who knows anything about nuclear was not surprised. Nuclear is the only energy source immune to all extreme weather events – by design.

This nuclear plant has steel-reinforced concrete containment with 4-foot (1.2 meter) thick walls. The buildings housing the two reactors, vital equipment and used fuel have steel-reinforced concrete walls up to 7 feet (2.1 meters) thick, which are built to withstand any category hurricane or tornadoe. It can even withstand a plane flying directly into it.



EnThe two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company near Houston, Texas has been operating at full capacity on Tuesday throughout the historic flooding and winds caused by Hurricane, then Tropical Storm, Harvey. Despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as Harvey made landfall.ter a caption


The plant is located 10 miles (16 kilometers) inland and at an elevation of 29 feet (8.8 meters) above sea-level. The facility is designed with watertight buildings and doors, with all buildings housing safety-related equipment being flood-proof to an elevation of at least 41 feet (12.5 meters).

‘We’ve got significant rain but flooding has not been an issue here,’ plant spokesman Buddy Eller said in a phone call about the reactors.

That the nuclear plant is just fine seemed to irk anti-nuclear groups who don’t want to see nuclear ever performing well, even if it helps the storm-wracked people of south Texas when other power sources are failing.

Three watchdog groups, the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development coalition (SEED), the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy and Beyond Nuclear recklessly urged politicians, the owners, and regulators to shut down the plant because of Harvey, even if it hurt residents, emergency workers and hospitals who desperately need that power.

But the regulators and the State would have none of that nonsense, understanding that these groups just peddle fear. The reactors provide 2,700 MW of power to 2,000,000 customers in the area.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff are at the plant, constantly assessing the situation and safety aspects. ‘The South Texas Project reactors have been operating safely throughout Harvey and continue to do so,’ NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said. The reactors can be shut down quickly if something develops, but that’s not expected to be necessary.

Two-hundred and fifty storm crew workers, along with regulators, were running the plant and were set up with sleeping arrangements, food and water to weather the storm no matter how long it took. None of them were afraid, knowing how safe the reactors are.

No other industry was as prepared.

According to the online news source North American Wind Power, one large wind installation in the path of the storm sent all 39 workers home as the hurricane closed in, but operated remotely until the wind hit 55 mph. It then shut down automatically like all farms when wind speeds exceed their design limits. Most wind farms have not sustained much damage, but getting them back to capacity will be difficult.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also said Harvey does not pose a threat to the Waterford Nuclear Power Plant in New Orleans and the River Bend Plant near Baton Rouge.

We’ve seen this before. Last summer, a heat wave cooked Americawith extreme temperatures, affecting most energy production as well as causing fires and water shortages, sucking electricity like crazy to power the cooling necessary to avoid discomfort and even death. According to the National Weather Service, 122 million Americans were under heat alerts.

Fortunately, nuclear power didn’t mind, scoring record capacity factors of 96% and up, with no increase in price. Other energy sources did not fare so well and some gas plants gouged consumers just because they could.

In 2014, a Polar Vortex shut down natural gas and coal plants, and stopped wind turbines and solar generation. But nuclear performed wonderfully and provided more power to the hard-hit northeast than any other source.

Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves or severe cold, nuclear performs more reliably than anything else. There’s no better reason to retain our nuclear fleet, and even expand it, to give us a diverse energy mix that can handle any natural disaster that can occur.

Dr. James Conca is an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, a planetary geologist, and a professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at

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8 Responses to Nuclear power PREPARES for climate change!

  1. heavyweather says:

    Too bad Conca is out of his depth when it comes to logical problems.
    Some people will lap it all up and even repost it without even trying to think on their own.

  2. Eclipse Now says:

    Heavyweather! It’s been too long. I guess the *actual* question in all this is are Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) and other celebrities going to retract their celebrity endorsement of the Mark Jacobson scam now that the American National Academy of Sciences has demonstrated that Jacobson’s ‘study’ is a flat out lie? He overestimated the hydro backup potential by a factor of 100! His WWS (wind water solar) study is WWS (wrong wrong silly).
    The Academy study:
    Instead these celebrities should tell the world that the grandfather of climate science, Dr James Hansen, says climate change is too important to let wishful thinking make us choose wind and solar. They should back nuclear, and report that Hansen says believing in renewables is like believing in the Tooth Fairy. He recommends that the world build 115 reactors per year. Is that impossible? Not at all! In fact, on a GDP to reactor ratio, the French already beat that build out rate. They converted 75% of their grid to nuclear in just 15 years, building 56 reactors over 15 years! France now has some of the cleanest electricity in Europe, and is the world’s largest exporter of electricity. Nuclear is not only the cheapest and safest way to replace fossil fuels, it is the fastest. Hansen promotes this free book about breeder reactors that can eat nuclear waste. Then electric vehicles and synthetic diesel from seawater can replace oil. We can do this, we just need a public education campaign about how safe nuclear power really is, and some political courage. There is no technical reason we cannot wean the world off fossil fuels in just 20 to 30 years!

    • heavyweather says:

      What good does a 2011 Tooth fairy line do?
      Hanson doesn’t have a holistic approach.

      When you think of it. How can nuclear ever compete in a renewable dominated system?
      I don’t know about Jacobson.
      What matters are authoritative projections by Fraunhofer and other research bodies.

      In no szenario synfuel from expensive sources (nuclear) can be competitive.
      There is no path to cheap nuclear in a world where it is squeezed out of the market by ever cheaper PV, wind and (temporarily) gas (which will be done once syngas is competitive).
      And that’s just the reality, not even considering a szenario where high altitude wind outcompetes everything else or storage shifts the advantage even more to the cheapest sources (RE).

      Germany exports most and makes the most profit on electricity trade with it’s neighbors.
      That’s exactly what you need to understand to understand the Energiewende. It’s an investment in the future. Bet against RE and loose.
      Even France can see that. They can’t compete with old reactors and can’t build new ones obviously.

      In a storm, transmission infrastructure is the most vulnerable component. The power can come from anywhere, wind and PV (microgrids) have been demonstrated their blackstart capabilities in German trials.
      Just ask yourself what, besides unfounded giberish, Conca can contribute to a productive discussion.

      • Eclipse Now says:

        You obviously believe that solar and wind are ‘cheaper than grid’ electricity. That’s a misunderstanding that focusses on cost per kwh, not cost per kwh baseload. When you can show me a major modern city that runs on solar and wind BASELOAD, with the eye-watering costs of electricity storage factored in, then we’ll have a conversation. Mark Jacobson’s Wind Water Solar study supposed that hydro was going to solve intermittency. But the National Academy of Sciences shows he was out by several orders of magnitude. The energy experts at The Breakthrough Institute analyse all the so-called 100% renewable scenarios, and find them wanting. Dr James Hansen is a fan of their work.

      • heavyweather says:

        You believe in your nuclear tooth fairy and watch France close down their old nuclear plants while they are unable to replace them with new ones…because the can’t compete.
        Would that convince you?

        A running system evolves and developed slowly. All nuclear will never happen.
        Try to build new nuclear plants today and you will be left with stranded assets 10-20 years out.

        The nuclear industry is playing a long loosing game here. They basically tie money in projects that could be used to develope wind now. Often nuclear projects are abandoned with billions of sunk cost. Just happened again.
        It’s like the pirate game…with one pirate refusing to accept the inevitable outcome.

  3. Eclipse Now says:

    Expensive nuclear power is a particularly American problem, due to their unique regulatory framework that cripples American nuclear. There are countries building nuclear far cheaper than America. Check South Korea! “We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.”

    Russia and China will be leaping ahead with the new assembly line nukes soon. They’re just commercialising various test designs, and soon China will have breeder reactors cheaper than coal.
    China will mass produce breeder nukes cheaper than coal in just 5 years!

    G.E. have the PRISM ready for commercial prototype testing (as the original proof-of-concept testing was done decades ago in the EBR2). They are basically ready to deploy in the first country that will let them. They’re Generation 4 waste-eating breeder reactors that can be cheaply built on the assembly line, possibly around $2bn / GW, maybe even as low as $1.5 or $1bn per GW. Baseload. Reliable, flexible power that is actually THERE WHEN YOU NEED IT in a cold German winter’s night when the renewables have been down to 5% for the last WEEK!

    • heavyweather says:

      NBF? You link 3 year old articles with fictional or over optimistic timelines and cost estimates.
      Russia and China are autocratic regimes, they will need more time to change.
      South Korea is already on the path.

      Nuclear is the youngest Pirate. The odds are 0:100 against it.

  4. Eclipse Now says:

    I think you need to learn the difference between repetition and re-assertion and data for an actual debate. I’m closing this thread, as I don’t have time to deal with this right now.

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