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  • Diesel Shortage Hammers Farmers // RIP Palisades // Who Killed Nuclear?

Diesel Shortage Hammers Farmers // RIP Palisades // Who Killed Nuclear?

Diesel Shortage Hammers Farmers

The last time diesel prices were anywhere near the heights they are now, the world economy nearly broke down overnight as the real estate bubble popped. The price of diesel has surged 100% since last year, reports Bloomberg.

"In the US, where corn and soybean producers are rushing to sow after rains and cold temperatures forced delays," they write, "filling a tractor tank daily now costs some farmers $1,000, twice what it was a year ago. And the most intensive part of the farming season is still ahead."

But the US isn't the only place where farmers are suffering under inflation's yoke. Ukraine, the world's breadbasket, winces in pain too. Many of its farmers await vital diesel orders that have yet to arrive.

“If you have to wait every time such a long time, you’re slowly running out,” Kees Huizinga, a Ukrainian who farms 37,000 acres, told Bloomberg. "Crops needed to feed dairy cows are days away from harvest and, if delays continue, bigger problems could stack up for corn and sunflowers in the autumn."

Without diesel, fertilizer, machinery, and grain all face severe problems in the agriculture system. This is also true for the earth-moving equipment farmers rely on.

Even worse, the price of propane has also doubled. "It is used to heat farmers’ homes and power dryers during harvest to reduce corn moisture and make the grain suitable for storage and sale." Farmers in the American North and the Canadian prairies need propane to fight flooding and heavy rains.

RIP Palisades

The Palisades nuclear power plant closed ten days early. "The plant was expected to close May 31, but shut down early due to the performance of a control rod drive seal, according to a Palisades Power Plant representative," reports WWMT. Before that, the plant had run for over five hundred consecutive days.

It will be replaced by a natural gas plant, and when that natural gas plant can't run, a coal plant will fill in the gap. This is a terrible loss for Michigan, America, and the world.

The Breakthrough Institute points out, "In 2020 the 812 megawatt (MW) power plant generated roughly 6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean electricity, or 5.6% of Michigan’s total electricity generation. More to the point, that output represented 15% of all clean power generated in Michigan."

Earlier this year, Alex Trembath put it this way: "Take all the solar panels in Michigan. Build 40x that capacity. Then tear it all down. That’s what the state will do next month when it shuts down the Palisades nuclear plant."

But it's even worse than that. Solar's capacity factor in Michigan sits around 25% in summer and drops as low as 5% in winter, whereas Palisades ran 86% of the time. Variable renewables cannot make up for clean, firm generation like nuclear.

Michigan's Governor Whitmer sent a letter to former Michigan Governor and DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm pleading for some of the $6 billion in the DOE's nuclear credit program to be allocated to Palisades. Too little too late. Besides, it doesn't appear that Entergy, Palisades' owner, was interested in applying for the money.

Holtec will take over ownership and begin decommissioning no later than June 30.

Palisades ran for fifty years. Six hundred people work there. Soon they will no longer have employment. Their community will lose much of its tax base, the air will be less clean, and the country will shed yet more human capital vital to keeping nuclear alive and kicking.

Palisades faced closure because of the inherent preferences of the RTO electricity spot market. If America has restructured its electricity system to disadvantage baseload plants like Palisades, then perhaps the restructuring is the problem.

Who Killed Nuclear?

Speaking of nuclear energy: in case you missed it, I published a long-read on the downfall of nuclear energy over at American Affairs. Here's a sketch of what happened to atom-splitting in America:

  • Nuclear energy had an elite capture problem from the beginning: Cold Warriors and technocrats who felt little compulsion to deal plainly with the American people helmed the industry's creation.

  • Elite hubris led to nuclear's Achilles' heel: overpromising on its immunity to accidents while adopting the most sensitive regulatory measurements for radiation exposure possible.

  • Nuclear was taken up by the utility industry and its main manufacturers with gusto at just the wrong time--technological stasis lead to major overruns right when the energy crisis hit.

  • Further ratcheting up of regulatory scrutiny wrecked the business case for nuclear.

  • The ensuing death of the "growth ideology" that made for the underpinning of America's post-war consensus, the "discovery" of pollution, and a pervasive loss of faith in the establishment created an opening for the environmentalists to offer a new vision for America's energy future.

  • The post-war environmental movement had deep roots in the early 20th century eugenicist movement and opposed nuclear because of its energy density.

  • Energy density was linked to population growth and industrial intensity for the greens who pursued cultural, political, and legal means to cripple the atom.

Want to know the rest? Click here. 

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Conversation Starters

  • Last month, China greenlit six new nuclear power plants in its attempt to pivot away from coal. It's investing $19 billion to double its nuclear capacity by 2030.

  • South Korea’s state-owned energy company Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power wants to help Poland's nuclear power project. "In late April KHNP filed a formal offer to build six APR1400 reactors with a total installed capacity of 8.4 GW for Poland."

  • This piece from the UK's Sky News is a fantastic (and brief) video on the energy crisis. It is one of the more thoughtful pieces of coverage I've seen on the topic:

Word of the Day


Retirement of a nuclear facility, including decontamination and/or dismantlement. (source)

Crom's Blessing