27 votes

Bernie Sanders Unveils $16 Trillion ‘Green New Deal’ Plan

14 comments

  1. [3]
    CALICO
    Link
    The plan.
    10 votes
    1. [2]
      imperialismus
      Link Parent
      Wildly ambitious and likely overly optimistic. I like it as a statement of intent, because everyone, including Bernie, knows that he's never gonna be able to pull it off without extreme...

      Wildly ambitious and likely overly optimistic. I like it as a statement of intent, because everyone, including Bernie, knows that he's never gonna be able to pull it off without extreme compromises. But if this is what he wants to do, would do given unrestricted power, then surely a very watered-down version would still constitute radical change. Stuff like rejoining the Paris agreement is more than realistic; in fact, the US hasn't formally pulled out yet because it can't, but Trump's been acting like it's already null and void. It's also nice to see the very worker-friendly perspective. Don't make ordinary workers suffer for the choices society made 100 years ago and has been continually reinforcing. Of course, I doubt five full years of extra-generous unemployment benefits are ever going through for the oil industry, but it's a nice thought.

      Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.

      Virtually free to whom? Does he mean that by 2035, the government will no longer need to invest fresh money into clean energy, because the industry will be self-sufficient? Because electricity certainly won't be "virtually free" for consumers. Living in a country with 99.9% clean energy, the average cost of a Kwh of electricity was 6.2 cents in 2018. That's with a historically bad exchange rate; it would be 7-8 cents with a more ordinary exchange rate. The average retail price of electricity in the US was 10.6 cents/KWh in 2018. That's a nice price reduction but hardly "virtually free". But like I said, maybe the above statement is about federal expenditure rather than retail price.

      6 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        It's talking about federal expenditures. This is listed under the section titled "The plan will pay for itself in 15 years."

        Virtually free to whom?

        It's talking about federal expenditures. This is listed under the section titled "The plan will pay for itself in 15 years."

        5 votes
  2. [10]
    brotherhood4232
    Link
    Love Bernie, but not a fan of basically banning nuclear power plants.

    Love Bernie, but not a fan of basically banning nuclear power plants.

    5 votes
    1. [9]
      Wes
      Link Parent
      Agreed. Nuclear will be essential to solving the energy problem, and the listed reasons just aren't valid. Nuclear waste sounds bad but essentially comes down to "bury the stuff under a mountain"....

      Agreed. Nuclear will be essential to solving the energy problem, and the listed reasons just aren't valid. Nuclear waste sounds bad but essentially comes down to "bury the stuff under a mountain". And that's assuming we can't use the "waste" in the future via breeder reactors. To their second reason, Chernobyl isn't exactly relevant to today's reactors either.

      Nuclear is only scary because it kills quickly. Coal has been killing hundreds of thousands of people via pollution and CO2 release for a hundred years. That's a lot scarier to me.

      14 votes
      1. Amarok
        Link Parent
        The Gen IV reactor designs solve most of the problems with waste and safety as well. New nuclear is nothing like old nuclear.

        The Gen IV reactor designs solve most of the problems with waste and safety as well. New nuclear is nothing like old nuclear.

        7 votes
      2. xstresedg
        Link Parent
        My opinion: Nuclear doesn't solve the energy problem. It just lengthens the time we have before we reach a zero state. However, this would be giving us time to find a permanent, clean solution:...

        My opinion: Nuclear doesn't solve the energy problem. It just lengthens the time we have before we reach a zero state. However, this would be giving us time to find a permanent, clean solution: clean energy, tokamak-like technology, or something else we don't know about yet.

        7 votes
      3. [6]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Everyone's cool with burying it under a mountain, but nobody wants it in any of the mountains near them or the water tables they depend on.

        Everyone's cool with burying it under a mountain, but nobody wants it in any of the mountains near them or the water tables they depend on.

        7 votes
        1. [5]
          Wes
          Link Parent
          It's a mountain facility designed specifically for safe storage. Why would it leak into the water tables?

          It's a mountain facility designed specifically for safe storage. Why would it leak into the water tables?

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            Diet_Coke
            Link Parent
            How does it get there - trucks or trains? Whose communities do those go through? What happens if there's an accident? How long does the waste stay radioactive? What big infrastructure projects...

            How does it get there - trucks or trains? Whose communities do those go through? What happens if there's an accident? How long does the waste stay radioactive? What big infrastructure projects have we ever done that are basically going to last forever?

            8 votes
            1. Amarok
              Link Parent
              There are strong international regulations on the shipping of nuclear waste. There's a summary available here. There's a more detailed breakdown of the 'flasks' they use for transport in this...

              There are strong international regulations on the shipping of nuclear waste. There's a summary available here. There's a more detailed breakdown of the 'flasks' they use for transport in this article. The short version is this - it never goes anywhere near populations or dangerous routes and it's sealed into containers that'll survive direct high speed train impact. You can watch this happen for yourself in this old documentary clip.

              Regardless of any improvements in the newer Gen IV designs that would make this process safer and easier, it's highly unlikely that these regulations would be relaxed, even if it were safe to do so. This stuff gets the highest possible form of secure transport. Spill consequences are disastrous for traditional waste. They are likely to be much less severe for molten salt waste since it can be turned into glass bricks that won't interact with the environment, though that's still theoretical. SALIENT in the Netherlands is running the first MSR to operate in a half century right now, and testing the waste parameters is part of their plans.

              Someday you might see a molten salt reactor (without the fuel inside) sailing down the highway in the future, though. Some designs are aiming to put a 100-250MW reactor into a shipping container, though I do wonder if a standard truck could move that monster, it'll be super heavy. Ease of transport is one of the goals, so they'll be portable for disaster relief. There are even some companies looking into vehicles powered by molten salt reactors. Probably not for your car, but think big, powerful construction and mining rigs. Might make a good engine for Elon's Boring machines.

              The waste lasts roughly 10,000 years for standard reactor fuel like we use today. That number makes this a non-starter - if you think about it, ten thousand years is a ridiculous stretch of time to think you can secure hazardous materials safely from future generations. That's more than double the age of the great pyramids, for example.

              The newer reactors can finish the burn of the waste, since the fuel isn't solid. In theory (again, this has not been thoroughly tested yet) this waste will reduce in size by more than 90% and will remain active only for 300 years. It's stored as glass bricks, no chance of it leaking into the environment.

              That's a much more manageable time frame, smaller waste volume, and safer final storage form than what we have now. It turns from insane to practical, and Yucca alone is all the entire world will ever need for the volume. I think it's highly unlikely we're going to be storing any of the solid fuel waste. Instead it'll all get reused in the first generation of MSRs. It has value there jump-starting the fuel breeding from thorium.

              If we're making nuclear part of our policy platform, the policy should be to never build another pressurized water reactor again. The ones we have should be sunset as soon as it's possible to do so, but not likely until after the Gen IV plants start coming online.

              The money should be put into rapid R&D for molten salt systems, there are several American companies (like Flibe Energy) working on this right now, and they need the investment. Turns out private venture capitalists are chicken shits when it comes to investing in MSRs, since the returns are decades down the line at best.

              Bill Gates said he's put up $1 billion to match Congress, that's a cheap bargain for the fed - two billion in R&D for the price of one. That'd be the second largest investment in MSR technology, behind China's $3.3 billion investment in their two pilot plants last year. All of the estimates I've seen from molten salt engineers say that a billion is overkill to get all the R&D done. It's more than enough money.

              Yang's got this in his policy, he's onto the MSR arms race. Bernie is clearly overlooking it, which is yet another reason I like Yang over Bernie. Better policy, smarter solutions, actual research into how to make the plans work.

              11 votes
          2. [2]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            This all depends on how much you trust the contractors building/maintaining it to do a good job in the face of changing priorities. "Designed for ___" is all well and good, but we're dealing with...

            It's a mountain facility designed specifically for safe storage. Why would it leak into the water tables?

            This all depends on how much you trust the contractors building/maintaining it to do a good job in the face of changing priorities. "Designed for ___" is all well and good, but we're dealing with very long time horizons here and it's hard to test materials for their lifespan over that time, especially considering the high heat and corrosiveness of the materials being stored. Plus, the maintenance of this has to actually persist for thousands of years, while our bureaucratic systems have only been shown to be durable for a few generations, at best.

            On top of that, you've gotta actually transport the waste from pools on site (mostly East of the Mississippi) all the way out to Nevada, which presents a huge logistical hurdle and target for terrorist attacks.

            Plus once it's there the idea you'll be able to use it in breeder reactors is small, because actually recovering the stored waste safely is going to become a whole other thing. Now rather than just tossing stuff in there, you've gotta tag them and store them in specialized areas based on age and source so you can actually figure out when and what to use. And all of that means having people working in and around the waste which puts a bunch of people at risk.

            4 votes
            1. Wes
              Link Parent
              Those are fair problems, though none of them are impossible to overcome. It's also worth remembering that our current energy solutions are already putting people at risk, but in a less obvious...

              Those are fair problems, though none of them are impossible to overcome.

              It's also worth remembering that our current energy solutions are already putting people at risk, but in a less obvious way. Risk of a terrorist attack is still second to risk of global warming. Risk to workers is second to risk of everybody else on the planet.

              There likely is no perfect solution, at least not right now. But we need a solution all the same.

              1 vote
  3. ubergeek
    Link
    It says on his site that experts have score it. Is there a source for it, so I can read how the financials pan out, and assumptions made?

    It says on his site that experts have score it. Is there a source for it, so I can read how the financials pan out, and assumptions made?

    2 votes