By Dr. Chris Keefer
DecoupleJan 09, 2023
Ontario’s Green Energy Act
Enriching Uranium Understanding
US Offshore Wind Dead in the Water?
The recent cancellation of two large wind projects in New Jersey are the latest in a series of setbacks for the nascent US offshore wind industry. Mark Nelson joins me to analyze whether the nuclear industry is vulnerable to the same cost drivers plaguing this sector.
Small Misunderstood Reactors
Why is Western nuclear so expensive?
Are renewables jobs the “fast food” employment of the energy transition?
“The green economy is shaping up to look less like the industrial workplace that lifted workers into the middle class in the 20th century and more like an Amazon warehouse with grueling work schedules, few unions, middling wages and limited benefits.” Dr. Keefer outlines the problem and prescribes a solution: Nuclear Energy
Just How Cheap are Wind & Solar?
How Ontario Decarbonized
Dr. Keefer’s speech at Minerals Week in Australia sharing the story of Ontario’s coal phaseout & the decarbonization of its electricity grid.
The Geothermal Masterclass
The potential to unlock the energy potential of hot dry rocks by leveraging hydraulic fracturing opens up a vast geography for exploitation as 98% of worlds geothermal resources are made up of these geologic formations.
Quebec reconsiders Nuclear. Waters up with that?
Jigar Shah: Breaking the Nuclear Stalemate
An Oppenheimer on Oppenheimer
American Nuclear: The Next Chapter
American Nuclear: Failure to Learn, Destined to Repeat?
Gone With the Wind: Denmark’s Stalled Energy Transition
Denmark has implemented the world's most ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But underlying this target is burning large amounts of biomass imported from abroad mainly the Baltics.
New analysis from the Danish energy department show that biomass use exceeds international sustainability goals several times.
Danish companies are now showing more interest than ever before to seek a more pragmatic and neutral stance towards nuclear power putting the Danish government in a conundrum about its anti nuclear policies.
Johan Sollid, founder and chairperson of Foreningen Atomkraft Ja Tak (Nuclear Power Yes Please,) joins me to discuss Denmark’s energy quagmire and the growing support for nuclear in his country.
Embrace the Waste
The Case for CANDU
Bridging the Metabolic Rift
Stormy Waters Ahead for Offshore Wind
Can the Left be Saved From Itself?
Peak Oil and the End of Globalization
Systems engineer, James Fleay, joins me to discuss the unique relationship between liquid hydrocarbons and our six continent supply chains. Oil is the enabler of low cost transportation of people and goods. What does an inevitable decline in oil production, whenever it comes, mean for globalization and our future economies. What forms of economical and industrial complexity should be prioritized? All this and more in this thought provoking episode.
What About the Waste?
Madi Hilly, author of nuclear advocacy’s most viral tweet, joins me to discuss the ultimate bogeyman and best practices when it comes to talking about nuclear waste.
Non-Proliferation & the Antinuclear Mind
Jeremy’s Website: www.nuclearfaq.ca/
The Uranium Masterclass
What’s Nu-clear in Japan
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Emmet Penney returns to offer a review of the film “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” which is based on the work of radical Swedish geographer Andreas Malm. Read About the Movie here: https://compactmag.com/article/a-hollywood-ode-to-eco-terrorism
The Great Canadian Nuclear Debate
Decouple host Dr. Keefer faces off against Canada’s most prolific antinuclear activist Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, in a cordial but passionate debate on the question “Do We Need to Scale Up Nuclear Power to Combat Climate Change?”
This public debate took place at the University of Ottawa on April 25th and was hosted by Canada’s former ambassador of Climate Change and former ambassador to Chile Patricia Fuller.
A Eulogy for the German Atom
Peak Shale: Not so fast!
Barakah - A Nuclear Success Story
His Excellency Mohammed Al Hammadi, the CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, has been front and center throughout the planning, construction and operation of Barakah. In this podcast he shares the vital lessons, careful planning and culture of excellence that has led to the swift and successful deployment of the Arab world's largest clean energy project.
Al Hammadi also discusses COP 28 which the UAE will host in Dubai later this year and where nuclear energy is likely to have a prominent role.
Limits to Growth for Precision Fermentation
Proponents argue that culturing mammalian cells and fermenting macronutrients with gene edited yeast can decrease the land footprint of agriculture by 1000 times all while eliminating animal cruelty.
Skeptics like Dr. Paul Wood question whether the Moore’s law style expectations of cost reductions apply to biological systems and the scalability of these technologies.
Will precision fermentation feed billions of new hungry mouths in Africa and Asia or remain a niche product for eco-conscious wealthy elites?
Ontario’s Nuclear Advantage
Gary and I explore the thesis that Ontario is the best equipped jurisdiction in the west to deploy new nuclear, which now extends beyond SMRs to a serious consideration of “Large Modular Reactors.”
Stay tuned for a masterclass on project management from a master of project management.
Apologies to our non-Canadian listeners for some inside baseball in terms of acronyms and Canadianism.
The State of the Atom
Today we deep dive fracking and shale, the energy source that put Peak Oil concerns on the back burner for a decade and a half. According to recent analysis by Goehring and Rozencwajg Shale field production is showing signs of sliding down the backside of Hubbert’s curve. What are the geopolitical and economic ramifications? Are there more shale booms on the horizon overseas? What are the implications for nuclear which has been sidelined in deregulated markets by cheap abundant gas? Leigh Goehring joins me for a detailed discussion. For a deeper dive check out Goehring and Rozencwajg latest quarterly analysis. http://info.gorozen.com/2022-q4-commentary-peak-oil
Much Ado About Tritium
The topic of tritium continues to be a focal point for nuclear opponents, who use anti-science claims to stoke fear among a public they know does not, by and large, understand complex topics of radiation biology. Thus, to the victims of anti-nuclear ideology, the "science" behind tritium offers little comfort. Still, we try to do our best this week with radiation expert Dr. Geraldine Thomas.
Dr. Geraldine Thomas is a senior academic and Chair in Molecular Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London. She is an active researcher in fields of tissue banking and molecular pathology of thyroid and breast cancer, and the Director of the Chernobyl Tissue bank.
Note: This episode is a rerun from April 2021.
The decision by the Japanese government to begin releasing 1.25 million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant site over a 10 year period has caused a major stir not only amongst environmental NGO's but also regional countries with historic emnity to Japan.
Greenpeace alleges that radionuclides released into the sea "may damage DNA of humans and other organisms." China states that "the release is extremely irresponsible and will pose serious harm to the health and sagety of people in neighbouring countries and the international community."
So what are the politics and science behind the controversy?
The Fukushima water has been treated and the almost all radio-isotopes have been removed except for tritium. Just how dangerous is it? Tritium is a weak beta emitter with 70x less energy then the the naturally occuring and ubiquitous intracellular radioisotope Potassium 40 which undergoes 4600 radioactive decays per second in our bodies.
The health impacts of a radioisotope are multifactorial. The type of radiation emitted, the energy of that decay, the physical and biologic halflife of the isotope. The amount of tritium that one would need to drink to match a dose from something like a CT scan is simply impossible to ingest.
In response to the Fukushima accident in an effort to gain the trust of the population Japan has already reset its regulatory limits for radiation in drinking water at 1/100th that of the EU. Are these efforts actually counter productive?
How Big Things Get Done
Decouple correspondent, Angelica Oung, joins me for a review of Bent Flyvbjerg’s new book which examines the lessons that can be learned from the failures and successes of mega projects.
Energy Modeling: the Good, the Bad, and the Misleading
Mark Nelson, managing director of the Radiant Energy Group, joins me for a deep dive of the uses and abuses of energy modelling.
Intro and outro music: Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona performed by Mark Nelson immediately prior to the interview.
The Climate Aristocracy
"The Billionaires Behind the Gas Bans" article: robertbryce.substack.com/p/the-billionaires-behind-the-gas-bans
More work from Robert: robertbryce.substack.com/
Listen to the Power Hungry Podcast: robertbryce.com/power-hungry-podcast/
It's Not Impossible, We Just Need a Better Plan
Dr. Simon Michaux, Associate Professor at Geometallurgy at Geological Survey of Finland, discusses the minimum requirements for a net zero future, as well as the restraints on our renewables going forward.
Read academic works by Dr. Michaux: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Simon-Michaux-2
Wizards and Prophets, Ecomodernists and Environmentalists w/ Charles C. Mann
Just as the political spectrum is divided between left and right, thinking on environmental problem solving is similarly split into two rival camps exemplified by the archetypes of the Wizard and the Prophet. Award winning science writer Charles Mann explores these archetypes as personified by the father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug and the intellectual godfather of the environmental movement, William Vogt.
Crudely put wizards are foremost humanists who eschew limits believing that our growing population and appetites can be accommodated by the wise application of decoupling technology. Prophets are foremost environmentalists who believe that carrying capacity is limited and that humans must remain within natural energy flows or risk ecosystem and civilizational collapse.
Understanding the origins of one's opponents ideological beliefs and values goes a long way to depersonalizing a sometimes ugly debate and perhaps finding a small patch of common ground.
Prophets who have contributed some impressive advances in natural resource stewardship such as water conservation must wrestle with an ugly history of Malthusian ideas which at their worst have justified horrific campaigns of coercive population control. Despite the success of technofixes that fed billions and averted famines wizards must temper their scientific rationalism with a sociologic understanding of the dark sides of modernization such as enclosures of the commons.
Lignite Coal: A German Love Story
Noah Rettberg, physics lab technician in training and popular Decouple guest, sheds some light on the protests regarding the expansion of the Garzweiler mine into Lützerath and unearths the deeps roots that Germany and lignite share.
Germany, with limited bituminous coal and no petroleum to speak of, has always been able to lean on its sizable lignite coal reserves. It has been transformed into anything from synthetic fuels to margarine to autobody.
Peak Oil & the End of Growth
Nate argues that classical economics neglects the central role of energy, and he offers a critique of the idea of resource substitution, especially when it comes to liquid hydrocarbons. Will peak oil rear its head again as we slurp up dwindling oil reserves from source rock via fracing? With energy tightly coupled to GDP what will be the implications of decreasing energy for a society and economy based on exponential growth?
Listen to The Great Simplification: www.thegreatsimplification.com/
Natrium, Coal Gasification, and Synfuels, Oh My!
What’s All the Fuss About Fusion?
Gerrit Bruhaug, based out of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at Rochester University, joins Decouple to talk about the significance of the recent ignition event at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories.
From Sierra Leone to Sweden: A Panel Discussion on Nuclear at COP27
An IAEA panel discussion at COP27 on how nuclear energy intersects with the lives of individuals and a diverse array of nations including Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, the USA and Sweden.
Moderated by: Mark Nelson, Managing Director, Radiant Energy Group Panelists:
- Seth Grae - American Nuclear Society - CEO, Lightbridge Corporation
Heba Elkomey - International Youth Nuclear Congress - PhD Candidate at Claremit, Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority
- Amanda Mbhele - Women in Nuclear Young Generation - Nuclear Waste Projects Lead, Nuclear Energy Company of South Africa
- Alfred Mbayoh - International Youth Nuclear Congress - CEO and Founder LEOTech Sierra Leone
- Ia Aanstoot - Generation Atomic - Berzelius School, Linkoping, Sweden
- Abubakar Sadiq Aliyu -International Youth Nuclear Congress - PhD Candidate in Nuclear Physics, Ahmadu Bello University
Human Factors and Nuclear Reactors
Mining Our Way to Net Zero
Dr. Simon Michaux, Associate Professor at Geometallurgy at Geological Survey of Finland, uncovers the truth about the vast mining requirements behind any proposed transition to a "clean" energy future.
Watch the Decouple Studios episode on Dr. Michaux's work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19-gqgugKOc
Read academic works by Dr. Michaux: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Simon-Michaux-2
Mark Nelson on Pyramids & COP27 Panels
Intro and outro music: Overture (Lawrence of Arabia) by Maurice Jarre, performed by Mark Nelson immediately prior to the interview.
Nuclear Energy at COP27
Seth Grae, CEO of Lightbridge Corporation, reflects on the 2022 UN Climate Chance Conference, or COP27, held this year in Egypt. We discuss perceived attitudes between the global wealthy and underdeveloped nations, how nuclear was nearly left out of the language in the final negotiated statement, and how the UAE can make the most of hosting COP28 next year in Dubai.
Nuclear Energy: Climate Friend or Foe?
Mark Nelson, managing director of the Radiant Energy Group, debates Tobias Holle, an activist with Fridays for Future Germany, at the pavilion of the International Atomic Energy Agency at COP27 in Egypt. The question at hand: is nuclear power a climate friend or foe?
This event was streamlined live on IAEA social media channels on November 15, 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdAV0kVJFWk