Energy Secretary Steven Chu Not to Serve a Second Term

  • #1
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http://energy.gov/articles/letter-s...t-employees-announcing-his-decision-not-serve

Serving the country as Secretary of Energy, and working alongside such an extraordinary team of people at the Department, has been the greatest privilege of my life. While the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally.
Hopefully the next SoE will also have a strong scientific background.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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My hope is that the next will treat nuclear power seriously.
 
  • #3
lisab
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My hope is that the next will treat nuclear power seriously.
Me too.
 
  • #5
turbo
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Perhaps the most unrewarding job in government. Between the relentless attacks from the power-company flacks and the PR push from the right, what can get done? I believe Chu had his heart in the right place, but that doesn't translate well to combating attacks n the media.
 
  • #6
Astronuc
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The current administration has been promoting 'renewable energy' technology and jobs - wind and solar. Of course, coal and natural gas are strongly supported.

Nuclear is handicapped at the moment because of the suspension at Yucca Mountain, the repository that was supposed to have accepted fuel a decade ago or so. Utilities have had to sue the Federal government to recover the cost of dry storage at their respective sites.

I was trying to find an article that I read this past week. The article was critical of the DOE and they have too often changed/cancelled mission/programs. Apparently the Gen-IV program has been interrupted or deferred indefinitely.

With changes in administrations, big research programs can be (and have been) suspended and efforts and funds redirected to other technologies.
 
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  • #8
russ_watters
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Between the relentless attacks from the power-company flacks and the PR push from the right, what can get done? I believe Chu had his heart in the right place, but that doesn't translate well to combating attacks n the media.
Nonsense. The media has barely made a peep about the burying of the Blue Ribbon Commission report and the lawsuits against the Obama administration for violating federal law in his burying of the Yucca repository itself. I doubt most people are even aware of these issues.

Part of the reason for the silence is that most of the lawsuits were temporarily suspended due to the way the Obama administration buried the repository: The Obama administration announced years ago it was shutting the repository, but the federal law wasn't changed and the NRC hadn't actually ruled on the application to open the repository. The DOE tried to cancel their application, but they don't have the power to do that. Without an NRC ruling to cancel it, there technically hasn't been a violation of the law yet, so the lawsuits can't proceed. He basically put it in a limbo that isn't technically a violation yet, despite the fact that the site has been essentially been dismantled and sabotaged.
Two states with large amounts of military and civilian nuclear waste told a federal court panel on Wednesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was flouting the law by declining to decide whether the Nevada desert is a suitable burial spot — even if the Obama administration says the storage plan is dead.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/s...-for-nrc-decision-on-yucca-mountain.html?_r=0

Think of it like trying to prosecute a shooter while the bullet is still in the air. But this particular gun was fired 4 years ago and the bullet is still flying. Everyone knows where it's going to hit, but nothing apparently can be done about it yet.
 
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  • #9
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My hope is that the next will treat nuclear power seriously.

I hope this as well, but I wouldn't count on it. Renewables still have a major political force behind them and I think we're going to have to waste a lot more money on them before people start to realize how useless most of them are. When I see things like this starting to be officially abandoned then I'll know it's finished.
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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I hope this as well, but I wouldn't count on it. Renewables still have a major political force behind them and I think we're going to have to waste a lot more money on them before people start to realize how useless most of them are. When I see things like this starting to be officially abandoned then I'll know it's finished.
In the short term (<10 years) I think we're actually in pretty good shape regardless of that politicization due to the resurgence of the US petroleum industry. A few years ago, I thought the only way to get rid of coal was to build nuclear plants, but natural gas is doing a pretty good job of it right now. So we might be in for another decade of spending tons of money on renewables without significant benefit because the replacement of coal with natural gas makes the issues less immediate. Riding the shale oil/gas wave for the next decade will be an improvement over where we are today, it just isn't a long-term solution and it shouldn't be squandered on electricity.

And that's about the timeframe for when proposals like the one you linked become clear failures.
 
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  • #11
turbo
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Political pressure brought the end to Maine Yankee. My older second-cousins' family leased off their land to allow the construction of the plant, and were allowed to graze their cattle on the land that was outside the perimeter fence. It was a pretty nice place to visit. Never got inside the plant, but it was good to see a plant that could produce that much energy and not see plumes of smoke and rail-cars full of fossil fuels.
 
  • #12
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I hope this as well, but I wouldn't count on it. Renewables still have a major political force behind them and I think we're going to have to waste a lot more money on them before people start to realize how useless most of them are. When I see things like this starting to be officially abandoned then I'll know it's finished.
"Renewables" is a sloppy word. 61.7% of energy in my country, Canada is produced from renewable source - Hydro (www.electricity.ca/media/pdfs/economic/canada_us_affairs/CEA_NAReport_Web_E.pdf). My province 98% energy is from Hydro and they have the cheapest energy price in NA 6.76 cents/kwH (http://www.hydroquebec.com/pdf/en/comparaison_prix_2012.pdf). With global warming up in the north, we might even see further drop in electricity prices.

Wind and solar cannot compete with those prices but still in certain situations like in remote communities you can build a good business case. They can beat diesel prices. And, they might be able to compete with major energy sources if we continue investing in R&D including storage technologies. And, renewable research generally also focuses on things like demand side management or smart grids which will help us consume energy more efficiently.

As for future, I am seeing mix of everything rather than having all energy coming from wind (which is just ridiculous). There is no one solution. Shale is good for short term but some are saying shale prices might also go up soon.
 
  • #13
atyy
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My hope is that the next will treat nuclear power seriously.
me too (and I'm not a US citizen).
 
  • #14
jim hardy
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Future of fossil fuel is assured.
There's just too much money to be made from carbon tax.
 
  • #15
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Future of fossil fuel is assured.
There's just too much money to be made from carbon tax.
There are big coal-friendly countries like China and India willing to buy those fossil fuels :tongue2: And, both have trouble getting nuclear to work.
 
  • #16
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In the short term (<10 years) I think we're actually in pretty good shape regardless of that politicization due to the resurgence of the US petroleum industry. A few years ago, I thought the only way to get rid of coal was to build nuclear plants, but natural gas is doing a pretty good job of it right now. So we might be in for another decade of spending tons of money on renewables without significant benefit because the replacement of coal with natural gas makes the issues less immediate. Riding the shale oil/gas wave for the next decade will be an improvement over where we are today, it just isn't a long-term solution and it shouldn't be squandered on electricity.

And that's about the timeframe for when proposals like the one you linked become clear failures.

You'd think so, but if Denmark is any indication the RE propaganda machines will brainwash people into thinking it was somehow a success. Their wind farms were a clear failure a decade ago but even today people still hold them up as an example of what should be done. An example was a chapter in sustainability in a BA101 textbook I read last year actually had a caption beneath a wind turbine picture that said "Someday wind energy will be developed enough to free us from dependence on foreign oil".

And even within Denmark itself, despite this failure they still haven't accepted the need for nuclear power, so they're going to stick with coal and RE.
 
  • #17
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"Renewables" is a sloppy word. 61.7% of energy in my country, Canada is produced from renewable source - Hydro (www.electricity.ca/media/pdfs/economic/canada_us_affairs/CEA_NAReport_Web_E.pdf). My province 98% energy is from Hydro and they have the cheapest energy price in NA 6.76 cents/kwH (http://www.hydroquebec.com/pdf/en/comparaison_prix_2012.pdf). With global warming up in the north, we might even see further drop in electricity prices.

Wind and solar cannot compete with those prices but still in certain situations like in remote communities you can build a good business case. They can beat diesel prices. And, they might be able to compete with major energy sources if we continue investing in R&D including storage technologies. And, renewable research generally also focuses on things like demand side management or smart grids which will help us consume energy more efficiently.

As for future, I am seeing mix of everything rather than having all energy coming from wind (which is just ridiculous). There is no one solution. Shale is good for short term but some are saying shale prices might also go up soon.

When I say renewables don't work I generally don't refer to hydro and geo. They are inexpensive, reliable, and depending on the scale fairly abundant. In other words everything we need from our electricity production sources. Except it has two problems, one is that they are geographically limited. There are some places like the Pacific Northwest (where I live) or Canada that have the "right" geography to get most energy needs from it, but most places do not.

The other problem is that environmentalists don't like them. They are correct to say that dams are ecologically disruptive, but the problem is people want to live in the modern world and not have to pay any price for it, part of that is by convincing themselves that wind and solar somehow don't have major side effects both in terms of production as well as manufacturing. There is a movement that is gaining steam here to remove the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, like here. While these dams are old, many were built in the Great Depression (really one of the few net positive public works projects that came out of it), they still provide 3/4 of our electricity and the plan seems to be to replace them with wind, solar, and wave. A plan that, as Russ correctly pointed out, is doomed to fail.
 
  • #18
Astronuc
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There are big coal-friendly countries like China and India willing to buy those fossil fuels :tongue2: And, both have trouble getting nuclear to work.
Both China and India have big nuclear energy programs, and China is aggressively building nuclear plants.

World Nuclear Association said:
  • Mainland China has 16 nuclear power reactors in operation, almost 30 under construction, and more about to start construction.
  • Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give a five- or six-fold increase in nuclear capacity to 58 GWe by 2020, then possibly 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050.
  • China has become largely self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html

http://www.aec.gov.tw/webpage/info/files/index_04-16-2.pdf [Broken]

China bought Western technology at a steep discount. It is expect that they will become a global supplier in the next decade in competition with Korea and Russia, and perhaps India. The US isn't very competitive in the global market.
 
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  • #19
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Both China and India have big nuclear energy programs, and China is aggressively building nuclear plants.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html
But isn't China's wind energy beating nuclear? (http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-N...-Become-Chinas-3rd-Largest-Energy-Source.html). I read earlier about future nuclear ambitions of China but they suffered a setback after Japan incident.

As for India, I read they don't have sufficient raw materials. They have thorium but not uranium. Many also question Indian tendency to building nuclear weapons rather than producing energy. (I will link to article about India's nuclear problems as soon I find it)

In addition both countries appear to have poor safety measures and suffer from inefficiencies like bureaucracy that prevent them from doing much.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

The other problem is that environmentalists don't like them.
They don't like anything not even wind :smile:
 
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  • #20
Astronuc
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Wind power is now China’s third largest energy resource, behind thermal power and hydropower, according to data released recently by the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA).

This development comes after wind power surpassed nuclear power. During a congress held last weekend, it was also announced that wind-generated electricity in China amounted to 1,004 billion kilowatt-hours in 2012.
. . .
However, China’s current proportion of nuclear power, 2 percent, is set to double by 2020. . . .
For years, China’s wind power capabilities developed at a blistering pace. However, this slowed dramatically in 2012.
. . .
http://asiancorrespondent.com/96579/wind-power-overtakes-nuclear-in-china-for-now/

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/En...ind-power-amid-challenges/UPI-96591358360261/
 
  • #21
378
2
Yes, wind energy suffered because it was pure madness to build so many wind farms without having enough transmission system in place. Most of the energy from wind is not being used. However, I was arguing that China's nuclear energy must be too weak right now if wind can beat it. From the article I am linking below, it appears that even by 2020 wind will be ahead of nuclear (nuclear going upto 6%). Coal is to play a big role in China at least until 2050.

Here are some interesting articles. This was really good "ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/tocresult.jsp?isnumber=6185741&punumber=8014" [Broken] because it has energy articles related to important world countries including the US. But the access to these articles is limited. I am just linking them here if anyone's interested.

Challenges Ahead: Currents Status and Future Prospects for Chinese Energy
Yunhe Hou; Jin Zhong
Power and Energy Magazine, IEEE
Volume: 10 , Issue: 3
Topic(s): Power, Energy, & Industry Applications
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MPE.2012.2188670
Publication Year: 2012 , Page(s): 38 - 47

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6185783


Growing Pains: Meeting India's Energy Needs in the Face of Limited Fossil Fuels
Parikh, J.; Parikh, K.
Power and Energy Magazine, IEEE
Volume: 10 , Issue: 3
Topic(s): Power, Energy, & Industry Applications
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MPE.2012.2188671
Publication Year: 2012 , Page(s): 59 - 66

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6185786
 
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  • #22
mheslep
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But isn't China's wind energy beating nuclear? (http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-N...-Become-Chinas-3rd-Largest-Energy-Source.html). ...
Apparently about a third of installed Chinese wind capacity is not connected to the grid, i.e. installed to look good on paper. If your link is correct in that 60GW of wind towers are standing as of 2012, then per Forbes 40GW pk is in use, with 13GW average power. Sixteen standard 1GWe nuclear reactors running all the time, as they usually do, should still be ahead of wind generation in China.
 
  • #23
OmCheeto
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http://energy.gov/articles/letter-s...t-employees-announcing-his-decision-not-serve



Hopefully the next SoE will also have a strong scientific background.
hmmm... How much does it pay? :biggrin:

He sounds a lot like me.
In a wide-ranging and sometimes defiant letter to staff announcing his resignation on Friday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, while highlighting his agency's achievements over the last four years, blasted critics of the administration's investments in the renewable energy market, suggesting that opponents were living in the "Stone Age."

"In the last two years, the private sector, including Warren Buffett, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Google, have announced major investments in clean energy," Chu wrote. "Originally skeptical lenders and investors now see that renewable energy will [be] profitable. These investors are voting where it counts the most -- with their wallet."
Get out Stone Age: Check!
Attract private money: Check!

I watched a blip of Senator Kerry at his confirmation hearing:

fast forward to 2:59:00
John Kerry said:
Confirmation Hearing for Sen. John Kerry as Secretary of State

I will be a passionate advocate based not on ideology, but on facts and science. This is a six trillion dollar clean energy market – and we better go after it.
....
... the opportunity of a new energy policy so vastly outweigh the downsides that you are expressing concern about – and I will spend a lot of time persuading you and other colleagues otherwise,” he said.

We’ve gotta get into the clean energy race – in Massachusetts one of the fastest growing parts of the economy is clean energy, and it’s the same in California.

It’s a job creator – I cannot emphasise this enough. We reckon the energy market is a 6 trillion dollar market with 4-5 billion users going up to 9 billion in the next 20-30 years.

There are extra opportunities in modernising US’s energy grid – we don’t even have a grid – we have a great big hole in the middle.
I believe I said something to the effect, that I would prefer no one get in this guys way. Too bad Chu is leaving. I think they would have been a great tag team.
 
  • #24
OmCheeto
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Secretary Chu has a Facebook page.

He has a link there to his letter of resignation:

Steven Chu said:
Dear Colleagues:

Serving the country as Secretary of Energy, and working alongside such an extraordinary team of people at the Department, has been the greatest privilege of my life. While the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally.

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation.

This is the approach I’ve brought to the Department of Energy, where I believe we should be judged not by the money we direct to a particular State or district, company, university or national lab, but by the character of our decisions. The Department of Energy serves the country as a Department of Science, a Department of Innovation, and a Department of Nuclear Security.

.....
Wow. I really like this guy. Why do people not like him, I wonder.
 
  • #25
russ_watters
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Attract private money: Check!
Massive government subsidies will do that, regardless of if it really is a good idea.
 

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