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From the Grid to Energy Democracy: Making the RenewablesTransition


#1

From the Grid to Energy Democracy: Making the RenewablesTransition

Ole Hendrickson

When Naomi Klein spoke about her book This Changes Everything at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in September 2014, she was asked if she agrees with James Hansen's support for nuclear power. She began by crediting Dr. Hansen -- a scientist who worked for decades at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- with doing more than anyone else to alert the public to the dangers of climate change.


#3

My reaction to this article was
WTF is this?


#4

As usual, I'll interject that by removing the externalities that exist in our economic system that is the basis for almost all decision making, decisions would become more rational. Centralized energy is Goliath and distributed renewable energy is David. Which version of David are we going to see, Donatello's, Bernini's, or Michelangelo's? Only time will tell.


#5

One energy monopoly being enabled by the "two party crap trap" that the author overlooks is the Walton family's (wealthiest family in the US) program to monopolize photovoltaic (PV) power production.

The Waltons have already changed laws in Arizona to charge "access" fees to families with rooftop PV, thereby destroying the viability of single family dwelling rooftop PV. To create their monopoly the Waltons are continuing to get PV access fees added in other states.


#6

Hansen supports expanding the fleet of conventional reactors and introducing the sodium cooled fast reactor, which we developed and then didn't build. I think Hansen believes that big challenges can be effectively dealt with by government action, and his approach would rely heavily on government support of government-developed forms of nuclear power. I can see why he feels that way, given his background, but my concern would be that the approach he favors could put government in a position of picking winners and would have the effect of squelching alternative private development efforts. I would prefer to see multiple different kinds of nuclear power being researched and developed simultaneously, and then let their performance establish their merits. We wound up with the kind of reactors we have now because of military and government decisions, and I tend to agree with the guy who invented it that it was far from an optimal approach for civilian nuclear power generation.

But even though I diverge from some of Hansen's policy approaches (I agree with his carbon tax), I think Klein is off-track. The basis of her objection to nuclear power is that she thinks it would necessarily be centralized, and that the elites would prefer this because it helps to concentrate wealth. First problem is, all of that is irrelevant to the fundamental question of whether nuclear power can help get us off fossil fuels. Second, there is a lot of work being done on small-scale nuclear, which would favor a shift towards less centralization. Third, centralization was the model for public utilities, ranging from the TVA to utilities in communist countries, and public utilities arguably spread the wealth rather than concentrate it. Fourth, the elites who benefit from energy monopolization do so at cost to other elites. In any energy system, some elites will benefit. And fifth, Jacobsen and Klein embrace renewable generation from hydroelectric dams, geothermal plants, onshore and offshore wind farms, tidal power, concentrated solar fields, and solar PV farms--virtually all of which are centralized, utility-scale projects which will operate on basically the same business model that we have now with fossil fuel generation. Only rooftop solar will have the distributed quality Klein calls for, and that will be a small portion of the mix. And it will mostly be people of means who can make use of it. Rooftop solar isn't going to lift up the poor and marginal working class, or apartment dwellers. Indeed, it is more likely to increase what they have to pay for their electricity. And the rise of renewables will not be the downfall of capitalism which Klein is hoping for--especially not if people like Musk are the architects of that transition.

Regarding the Tesla batteries, the cheapest storage will be the utility scale Powerpacks, at roughly $250 per kwh for bare storage (doesn't include installation and grid integration). Arnie Gundersen claims this works out to 2 cents per kwh over the life of the packs, but that would only be the case if that price delivers more than 12,000 full charge-discharge cycles. Current lithium batteries will more commonly deliver 500 to 1000 full cycles (or a larger number of shallow, partial cycles) depending on factors like time and temperature. Unless Musk has managed an order of magnitude improvement in lithium battery performance, it is more likely the electricity will cost more like 30 cents per kilowatt hour, after efficiency and inverter losses are figured in (not including what it costs to charge the batteries in the first place). There are some applications where that is a good deal, but it is still a long way from being a game changer for our overall energy system.

I see Hendrickson is listed as a forest ecologist. Instead of ruminating on nuclear power and batteries, seems like it would be more within his field to spotlight biofuel policies which are spurring the expanding business of chipping and burning millions of tons of trees each year as "green" energy.


#7

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#8

Global Warming is a fact and is going exponential. We know we must get off fossil fuels. The way to do this is to make them more expensive. The only force that is capable of doing this is the Market; therefore a Carbon Tax. Every candidate running for federal office should be A direct tax on carbon is a critical aspect of commitment to global warming. It defines one’s position on climate change and is a necessary first step in actually dealing with the problem.
asked their position on the subject.


#10

"The question of nuclear power in our future has been answered in the negative."

By some people. Others have answered in the affirmative. (notably China, Russia, and India) Others are going to wait and see what forms of nuclear power are developed and what properties they have before making a decision on them.

"We do not want pollution from coal to be replaced by contamination from nuclear power."

Relative rates of contamination and pollution should certainly be a consideration as we weigh our options. Safety and cost too.

"We do not want to get rid of the constant mining and drilling for fossil fuel, only to replace it with the ongoing uranium mining and it's widespread contamination of air, land and water resources"

I) Even with expanded nuclear, uranium mining would take place on a microscopic scale compared to coal mining. 2) Most of the same mining challenges apply to wind and solar production. 3) There are billions of tons of uranium in seawater which could be tapped without doing any mining. And 4) There are forms of nuclear power which would not require uranium extraction and refining at all.

"and all the additional fossil fuel required for uranium enrichment,"

Not necessary for multiple forms of nuclear power.

"fuel rod manufacturing,"

Ditto.

"fuel transportation"

Of the many kinds of fuel we routinely transport, nuclear fuel has an extremely high safety record. And other forms of nuclear could even improve on that.

"and waste disposal, requiring expensive packaging and repackaging over the many generations required for it to decay to safer levels."

There are forms of nuclear which would have a miniscule, zero, or negative waste profile.

"We hear all this talk about thorium, as if it would be different than the uranium used today."

Thorium can be used to make fuel for today's reactors, and doing that would improve virtually nothing. Molten salt reactors however, with or without thorium, would be very different from the reactors we have today.

"We still end up with much of the same decay chain of unstable elements, and their radiation emissions."

We end up with much the same fission products, which are highly unstable and decay to stable in relatively short periods of time. The key is that they aren't mixed with heavy transuranics which would cause problems for tens of thousands of years, and the overall output mass shrinks by a factor of 20 or more. And radiation can be contained by shielding.

"We are asked to believe that newer designs will magically remove all the problems with nuclear power,"

I don't believe in magic and I don't ask that anyone believe in magic. And zero of our options going forward will be free of problems. But major problems with the current way we do nuclear can definitely be reduced greatly or eliminated completely with other kinds of nuclear power.

"but when we examine the record on molten salt thorium reactors, we see Monju in Japan requiring two 1000 MW reactors making the power for one reactor to reprocess the wastes,"

Monju is a solid-fuel, metal-cooled fast breeder reactor (where the metal coolant in question is sodium). Molten salt thorium would be a liquid fuel, thermal spectrum breeder (where the salts are fluorides). Monju's fuel has to be melted for pyroprocessing. Liquid fuel is already in a process-ready liquid state. Metallic sodium can burn in contact with air or water. Fluoride salt is not combustible and is highly insoluble in water. Sodium does little to retain fission products. Fluoride salts can bind fission products like cesium and strontium with some of the strongest ionic bonds we know of. Sodium fast metal breeders arguably have some advantages over existing water-cooled reactors, but I think the overall gains are very modest and much larger gains are possible with other forms of reactors.

"Cost of new nuclear is higher than most renewable energy systems,"

The most expensive period for any technology is when it is new. Prototypes typically have horrendous costs compared to the production versions. Even so, dozens of development teams think large improvements in nuclear economics are possible over present-tech nuclear, and the costs of present-tech nuclear would be roughly similar to wind power except for regulatory costs. (eg., the Taishan nuclear facility and the Gansu wind farm in China)

"contamination is increasing"

According to fringe activists like Mangano. By mainstream measures, the largest man-made radiologic release period, by far, was during atmospheric bomb testing, and the radioactivity from that has been falling ever since. Second largest was Chernobyl, and activity level from that has been falling as well. Third is Fukushima, which has a current contamination release rate which is only large enough to be of local significance. And if we were to get away from solid fuel fission reactors, we could eliminate the release risks associated with meltdowns.

"fossil fuels are still heavily used in the reactor supply chain"

The life-cycle carbon footprint of present-tech nuclear is already similar to renewables, and there are large areas in which it could be improved.

"wastes disposal is piling up without solutions"

Piling up into a very small pile considering how much energy it produced. And we know of several possible solutions. We just haven't decided yet which ones to develop, and there is no particular urgency to decide.

"and areas have been made unusable by the contamination."

The areas occupied by solar farms and hydroelectric reservoirs are also rendered unusable, and there are contamination zones associated with solar and wind production as well. The largest radioactive contamination zone is Chernobyl's, which lost its usefulness to humans, thereby becoming a thriving wilderness area.

"We cannot turn off these melted down reactors"

I favor the development of reactors which cannot melt down. And I think doing so would likely speed the retirement of reactors which are vulnerable to meltdowns.

"we cannot stop the contamination from going into our oceans"

Where it is promptly swamped out by the natural radiation there.

"we cannot clean up the aquifers contaminated,"

Same for areas contaminated by solar / wind production. But we can do better going forward.

"we have done little to clean up all the uranium mining areas"

Uranium occurs naturally, so it isn't clear what "cleaning" would entail, though I do think surface stabilization to minimize blowing dust would be reasonable.

"and we are asked to continue to ignore these serious problems and "just trust them" to resolve these issues somehow, sometime in the imagined future?

Transitioning to better nuclear power would sustain a tappable revenue stream for remediation of the problems left by old nuclear. The alternatives are either that we get the money from somewhere else, or we fail to do the remediations.


#11

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#12

"Claiming Fukushima is only a local problem is absurd."

I was addressing your claim that contamination is increasing. There have been basically three major release episodes, by far the largest being atomic bomb testing (unrelated to nuclear power). The second largest (in a bomb-breeder to which power generation was added as an afterthought) is not an ongoing source of contamination. The only ongoing contamination source of significance related to nuclear power which could conceivably be increasing levels of contamination, is the groundwater leakage currently taking place at Fukushima. In the early period after the meltdowns this contamination rate likely exceeded 40 billion becquerels per day, dropping to around 7 billion per day by a year ago. But even 40 billion bequerels dilutes to 40 becquerels per cubic meter once diffused out to only one cubic kilometer of seawater. That's roughly 3/1000ths of seawater's natural radioactivity. Diffusion does increase the range, but swapping concentration for area is not the same as increasing overall contamination. Meanwhile, the initial release has been decreasing in radioactivity, the ongoing outflow rate is dropping, and the oceanic zone with radiation levels high enough to be of significance is shrinking, so in practical terms it's more like the contamination is decreasing. I'm aware Mangano's group has projected that global strontium levels are now higher than they were at their peak during atomic bomb testing, but there is no plausible mechanism for that and no reputable direct measurements to back that claim up.

"There is no permanent or even temporary contamination of land with solar arrays or wind turbines."

The contamination stems mainly from production. Wind turbines need large amounts of rare earths, and solar PV uses some rare earths and produces toxic chemicals in manufacturing. This is how the Chinese deliver cheap wind and solar:

http://tinyurl.com/q4r5cuz
http://tinyurl.com/oyka5l9



But the land taken up by solar fields and hydro reservoirs is still rendered unusable for decades, even without on-site contamination (though solar fields will often cover the area with large quantities of poisons to kill off any plants which would otherwise grow among the panels).

"Remove the generators and the land is completely usable for any purpose"

That's not how it works with land displaced by hydro reservoirs. And if you take down a solar field in one spot and replace it by building one in another spot, you still have the same amount of land rendered unusable. Moving it around doesn't change that.

"and even with wind and solar in place, there is no harm to animals or people."

Solar farms eradicate whatever habitat was there previously. And I suspect the birds turned into scorched streamers by concentrated solar or whacked by windmill blades would tend to disagree with the "no harm" claim.

"Uranium mining has been a disaster for area residents and workers."

Again, there are ways to do nuclear power that would not need uranium mining. And even if uranium mining has been done badly in places, that doesn't mean it can't be done responsibly.

"Uranium occurs naturally, but it does not exist in concentrated amounts above ground"

If "above ground" means in the air, then sure. But there are places where minable concentrations of uranium can be found right at the surface. (Any deposit underground can be uncovered by erosion.) And the whole point of uranium mining is to remove the uranium, so leaving high concentrations of uranium would reflect inefficient mining. The main problem is blowing dust, and surface stabilization can take care of that.

"Mining for steel and silicon is done once to create solar and wind machines that then run for many decades without requiring additional mining for fuel."

Iron mining tailings will commonly have other heavy metals, like cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and arsenic in concentrations too low to be commercially viable, and almost all mining tailings will have silica dust. Again, this is all stuff that is naturally in the ground anyway, so the key to minimizing health impacts is dust management. A small portion of the mining associated with nuclear power is for fuel, most is for construction materials. With renewables there is no "mined" fuel, but a concentrated solar facility like Ivanpah will burn natural gas as part of normal operation and wind power is frequently backed by peaking gas plants. And the overall amount of mining and quarrying is higher for wind power and hydro than current nuclear because they use more steel and concrete in their construction. And again, large improvements over current nuclear are possible.

"Comparing nuclear power to the hazards of coal use is not relevant when discussing the choices of renewable energy vs nuclear power."

You were the one who said we don't want to get rid of coal mining if it means replacing it with uranium mining. Their relative scales are relevant in that regard.

"Coal use is being reduced and replaced by renewable energy and that is what this discussion is about."

Discuss what you like, but I was addressing your tirade against nuclear power. In that context, it is entirely pertinent to point out when the same putative objections to nuclear also apply to renewables. And global coal use is not being reduced and replaced by renewable energy. Global coal use is not even holding steady. It is still increasing and setting new records year after year, and as matters stand, it is projected to continue that trend through 2030, at least. This should not be about nuclear vs. renewables. The enemy is fossil carbon, and in that fight, renewables and current-tech nuclear combined are failing, and all their new capacity is not even keeping up with the rate of increase in energy demand.

"A claim that new nuclear systems will improve in economic value as they increase in use goes against the entire 60 year history of nuclear power,"

One could likewise observe that a claim that renewables will defeat fossil carbon goes against their entire history as well. But another thing we know from history is that things change. There are less than 150 nuclear power stations in existence, all of them basically custom-built on site. Can you imagine projecting how the auto industry would play out based on the first 1000 hand-built automobiles?

"whereas renewable energy has rapidly come down in cost in only a couple decades, now being the cheapest option available when installed costs and operating costs are considered."

But not when the value of the energy they produce and their shorter lifespans are factored in. That's why fossil fuel use is increasing. And solar and wind power have been around for a lot longer than a couple of decades, but only recently at production levels high enough to benefit from economies of scale. And unfortunately, some of that cost reduction also comes from Chinese lack of environmental protections. Both could be produced cleaner, but not as cheaply.


#13

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#14

Between renewable & Nuclear energies, there is absolutely NO comparison! Those thinking that there is no down-side to Nuclear should try living in the caves where the waste water is being stored, taking constant measures of radioactive discharges from the inevitable leaks the barrels develop. This is 'waste water' that will have, mind you, a 10,000 (or longer - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste) year active life span, buried deep enuff to be long forgotten by then, by ancestors living off roots & bugs, b/c we - their ancestors NOW - decided to watch comedy sit-coms, reality TV trash & psychically-terrifying murder-mayhem dramas, instead of reading books like Eric Fromm's 'Escape From Freedom,' Thomas Pangle's 'The Ennobling Of Democracy,' or even our own 'Federalist Papers,' which goes light-years in clearing up confusion in that there is absolutely no distinction separating 'Energy' Democracy & 'Democracy-proper' - as they are one & the same!!! In Shakespear's 'Hamlet,' as the player troupe hired by Hamlet, is about to begin,w/the treacherous King/Uncle & Queen Mother just seated, the players monologue speaks of a foreboding we, these many centuries later, would do well to heed, given events of the just the last 5 or so decades: "... for us and our tragedy, here stooping to your clemency, we beg your hearing patiently..." This, our national folly of confusion over what is & is not 'Democracy' is, whether realizing it or not, playing out most directly, in energy policy, which in the end, decides the fate of life on Earth. In other words, shall we embrace 'Democracy' or 'folly?' A careful reading of our Founding Documents, in close approximation to a contemporary reading of Hamlet is quite revelatory indeed...


#15

"The nuclear power vs renewable energy competition has many issues, but an accurate assessment can be found here with all the details included. "

Eh, not quite all the details. The underlying rationale for renewables is that they have a low carbon profile. What that article doesn't look at is the carbon profile of the backup generation for wind and solar and for energy from wood, which is even worse than coal in its near term carbon footprint. A big chunk of that wind rollout took place in Texas, and the overall carbon footprint for Texas continued to get worse over that period.

Globally, the picture is even more bleak. Here is a projection chart from a Bloomberg article optimistically titled "Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables" (but with an inadvertently more realistic subtitle "This is the beginning of the end."):


Power generation capacity additions (GW)

The author was celebrating that capacity increases in clean energy (not adjusted for capacity factors) had overtaken new fossil capacities and were projected to grow while capacity increases in fossil fuels were projected to slow down. That's better than nothing, but saying growth in fossil fuels is expected to slow through 2030 is still saying that growth is expected through 2030. Every year will set a new record for the amount of fossil fuels burned.

Here's a general picture of global energy trends:

The blue line (hydro) has all of its easiest development behind it, and its growth will be very modest. The huge grey, red, and green swaths are what need to be replaced very soon. Your contention is that we don't need the fatter orange line to grow, and indeed you want it to shrink. And so it will be down to that thinnest burnt orange line to replace every other swath except hydro.

"We hear a lot of fluff and wishful thinking from nuclear supporters, time to examine the facts is at hand."

That article was looking at the U.S. alone, which is hardly representative of world energy development, and while the author points out these projections are based on no major advancements in renewables, it likewise assumes no nuclear advances. And the fact at hand is that if we project on the basis of existing renewables and nuclear, putting them both together still leaves us on track for fossil carbon doom. I think there are robust arguments to be made that current technology nuclear power is too expensive and too slow to represent any serious threat to fossil fuels. But that is not an argument against nuclear power per se and it is especially not an argument against developing something better.

That article hails the addition of 42.5 gigawatts renewables production over 10 years, for an average buildout of slightly over 4 gigawatts per year in one of the richest countries on the planet. That is a lot of enthusiasm for so modest an amount. Martingale calculates that they could produce around 100 GW capacity per year from one Thorcon production yard, so after adjusting for capacity factor, that would be something like 850 gigawatts over 10 years, (the capacity factor of load-following reactors is expected to be lower than for baseload reactors). But even that would only be like a tenth of the clean energy rollout rate we need.


#16

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#17

"You continue to rely on wishful thinking, and false statements. The capacity factor adjustments absolutely were figured and stated in the referenced article."

Here is the referenced article:

I defy you to find any mention of capacity factor anywhere in that article. It is exclusively talking about raw added capacity. Maybe it would have been a good idea for you to read the referenced article before "correcting" me.

Now, in the article you mentioned, the author gave both raw capacity and capacity factor, but as anyone with adequate reading comprehension can see, in reference to that article, I clearly wrote about the addition of "renewables production" where I was using figures the author cited for actual production (the unit of real interest), rather than raw capacity.

"The rational for renewables goes far beyond carbon loads. The ability to run for generations with no fuel input"

No wind turbine or solar panel is going to run for generations, so routine replacement is at least as much of an operational burden in terms of cost and energy as supplying fuel for reactors, and again, huge improvements in nuclear efficiency are possible.

"the ability to run without contamination of toxic emissions,"

The fact that toxins associated with wind and solar are released far from where they are used does not justify the willful disregard of those toxins. And calling the operational emissions of nuclear power toxic seems excessive where they don't reach levels of concentration high enough to represent a significant health risk. And other kinds of nuclear power than what we have could have even lower emissions.

"the ability to run without large fresh water uses,"

That's definitely not the case for hydroelectric power. And even solar fields can use a lot of water for cleaning (which can result in water contamination from all the herbicides used on site). And water cooling would also improve the efficiency of molten salt solar and geothermal. And nuclear doesn't necessarily have to use pristine fresh water for cooling. And smaller, hotter reactors could reduce or eliminate the need for water cooling. Maybe even produce fresh water.

"the ability to produce power without producing excess heating"

Geothermal has more waste heat heat per unit of electricity than existing nuclear because it operates at lower temperatures, and thus has less efficiency. Hotter reactors would have even better efficiency, and the "waste" heat would still be hot enough for a number of useful processes. Otherwise, the only consideration for waste heat is that it not be dumped in such a way that it adversely affects local life. (Waste heat is a non-issue outside of local effects.)

"the ability to democratize electric production by the use of small generation facilities that can be within the range of an individual home or business,"

Homes will be able to use solar PV and straight solar thermal, but the overwhelming majority of wind power, PV solar, solar thermal, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, biogas and municipal waste energy will be generated by utility scale corporations. Existing nuclear is comparable to hydroelectric in terms of utility scale, but smaller and cheaper nukes could expand access to smaller companies and co-ops.

"Backup generation has been addressed. The loss of output of one turbine or solar array does not require separate facilities"

Here's the wind generation profile for Texas during a particularly windy month.

See those deep troughs? Those represent loss of output across the entire state.

Here's the generation profile for all of Germany backed out to the scale of a full year:

The red line at the top is the rated wind capacity, the dark blue is actual generation. Across the whole country, peak output never approaches full capacity, so I would agree that the whole capacity doesn't need backup, but looking at that graph, even if you throw away the peaks, you are still looking at something like one quarter of gross capacity to smooth out those troughs.

"but the loss of a large central plant like nuclear power must have equal backup of similar size"

Renewables advocates call for much greater grid integration to make renewables work, but they consistently underestimate the amount grid integration that we already have when it comes to covering for large plant or reactor down times. And again, other forms of nuclear wouldn't require lengthy refueling operations, and smaller reactors could cover for each other more easily within a given region.

"where solar and wind can continue to operate as all of the generators will not fail at the same time.
[cleantechnica article: intermittency-of-wind-and-solar-is-it-only-intermittently-a-problem/"

From that article: "Solar PV is able to generate power 98% of the time (in the Nordic summer when the sun does not set); onshore wind is able to generate power 98% of the time; and offshore wind, 95% of the time."

Really? You link to that article after you accuse me of wishful thinking and false statements? That takes some gall.

"The use of wood and biomass may have a carbon footprint, but unlike nuclear or coal, the replanting of trees sequesters carbon and returns it to the ground,"

Classic. One of the big arguments anti-nukes have against present-tech nuclear is that the build times are too slow, so that even though a large amount of power comes online after a few years, wind can start generating (in smaller amounts) after only a few months. And they claim the need to reduce carbon is so urgent that we cannot afford the few years delay while nuclear power catches up. But as the NRDC has observed, burning wood is worse than burning coal in terms of its CO2 emissions per kwh.
http://www.nrdc.org/energy/forestsnotfuel/

Yes, even with the loss of carbon sequester provided by the trees cut down, burning trees will eventually be carbon neutral in the long run--about 40 years after we stop burning trees for fuel. So we could be looking at a century or more before we reach carbon breakeven going that route, and in the meantime, we are carrying an extra load of CO2 pushing us through tipping points and feedback loops amplifying the CO2 effect. It is sheer lunacy to suggest a few years lag for nuclear (about the same as for hydro) is a critical delay that we cannot afford, but a century or more recovery from carbon output worse than coal is no big deal because it all evens out in the long run.

"unlike coal or nuclear which uses a finite source of fuel that does not get replaced,"

With breeder reactors, the fuel that is burned is continuously replaced. Yes, the ultimate supply of nuclear and proto-nuclear fuels is finite, but that's like saying solar power uses a finite source of fuel that does not get replaced. Both are technically true, but in any practical terms, the size of the ultimate supply is too vast for such limitations to be of any relevance to us.

"and does not return it's carbon to the ground."

We have likely overshot the point where reducing carbon output will be sufficient to avoid climate and oceanic catastrophe. We are going to need large scale carbon removal and sequestration programs. At least some of those projects (eg. pumping ocean water through large peridotite deposits and mass olivine grinding and distribution) could be easier if we had large amounts of cheap energy to work with. So nuclear power actually could help with locking carbon away.

"Don't blame renewable energy for the continued use of fossil fuels in Texas or elsewhere."

This isn't about blame. This is about making a assessment that recognizes economic realities and potential limitations and pitfalls. If corn ethanol is promoted as an alternative to petroleum, but a program evaluation shows that nearly as much petroleum was burned producing the ethanol as it displaces, that isn't pointing the finger of blame at the corn or the petroleum. That is just a recognition that this approach will have very poor effectiveness in meeting its intended objectives. Wind power can easily and directly replace fossil carbon generation in, for example, a country like Norway, where the most abundant baseload resource is hydropower, and where wind is used to reduce reservoir drawdown. But that solution isn't going to work in a place like Texas, where hydro resources are minimal and fracked gas is abundant and cheap, and where the intermittency of wind is serious enough to create a demand for backup generation.

"We have frequently seen articles in Bloomberg and Forbes that misstate the facts to support the status quo of large utilities"

Both of those host articles covering a diverse range of views. the Bloomberg article I cited was written by an enthusiastic renewables advocate (and the graph he posted projects a shrinking share of new generation going to nuclear--based on reactors planned at this point).

"Their prediction for coal use is also unlikely to unfold, as the true costs of using coal is increasingly being recognized around the world."

Projections can change when new factors are included, but most mainstream projections at this time have coal use increasing well past 2030 on our current business-as-usual trajectory. And it's going to remain business as usual until something disrupts it--be it Klein's social revolution, or some new technology.

"Even China, which is building more nuclear power than any others, is installing much more wind and solar than nuclear."

China has multiple nuclear research and development programs, with molten salt reactors taking particularly high priority. Their objective is to have a design for a dramatically better reactor in about 10 years (or less if they move the timetable up again). To invest heavily in technology which has a long payback period while you are working hard to make that technology obsolete as soon as possible would make little sense. China is buying an assortment of foreign reactors partly because they need the non-polluting power, but also to have a range of designs to study and learn from, even though they recognize that the financial return from these reactors will be poor if they succeed with their competing technologies. But obviously, they have little incentive to invest any more than necessary in what they view as a dead-end technology.

"While they waste time and money with nuclear, renewable energy is rapidly coming online at increasingly better prices."

China's wind and solar investments represent their near term strategies. Their nuclear investments pertain to their long-view strategies. You wouldn't be the first to call their long range planning and investments a waste, but I would say China has had the last laugh on their naysayers more often than not.

"China is behind on transmission lines as well,"

Texas has had the same problem. And California. And Germany.

"Solar energy is within a couple of years of becoming the lowest cost option in all states and is already at grid parity in most states."

Which is fine, so long as the grid can supply the backup service for when solar isn't producing.

"Utilities will not be able to prevent the rapid movement off grid for much longer. [article: revolutionary-tesla-battery-heralds-end-of-fossil-fuels,"

The Tesla battery packs haven't been shown to be revolutionary yet. So far as anyone seems able to tell, they haven't made any notable improvements in the lithium ion technology itself. The article you cite seems to be calculating amortized cost on the basis of more than 10,000 discharge cycles which seems highly optimistic. This isn't even cost competitive against a natural gas generator. This is not going to be the tech which fuels a rapid movement off grid.