Nuclear Energy, Act 2


(AP) — Global warming and rocketing oil prices are making nuclear power fashionable, drawing a once demonized industry out of the shadows of the Chernobyl disaster as a potential shining knight of clean energy.

Britain is the latest to recommit itself to the energy source, with its government announcing support Thursday for the construction of new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants produce around 20 percent of Britain’s electricity, but all but one are due to close by 2023.

However, some countries hopping on the nuclear bandwagon have abysmal industrial safety records and corrupt ways that give many pause for thought.

China has 11 nuclear plants and plans to bring more than 30 others online by 2020. And a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projects that it may need to add as many as 200 reactors by 2050.

Of the more than 100 nuclear reactors now being built, planned or on order, about half are in China, India and other developing nations. Argentina, Brazil and South Africa plan to expand existing programs; and Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey are among the countries considering building their first reactors.

The concerns are hardly limited to developing countries. Japan’s nuclear power industry has yet to recover from revelations five years ago of dozens of cases of false reporting on the inspections of nuclear reactor cracks.

The Swedish operators of a German reactor came under fire last summer for delays in informing the public about a fire at the plant. And a potentially disastrous partial breakdown of a Bulgarian nuclear plant’s emergency shutdown mechanism in 2006 went unreported for two months until whistle-blowers made it public.

Nuclear transparency will be an even greater problem for countries such as China that have tight government controls on information. Those who mistrust the current nuclear revival are still haunted by the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor and the Soviet Union’s attempts to hide the full extent of the catastrophe. Further back in the collective memory is the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.

The revival, the International Atomic Energy Agency projects, means that nuclear energy could nearly double within two decades to 691 gigawatts – 13.3 percent of all electricity generated.

“We are facing a nuclear renaissance,” Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of the French nuclear energy firm Areva, told an energy conference. “Nuclear’s not the devil any more. The devil is coal.”

In the mainstream perception, global warming is man-made (an argument for another time). Fossil fuels such as coal is a villain because it is just plain dirty when it is burned. The smoke rises into the upper atmosphere, the CO2 particles mix with the water particles forming hydrogen sulfide acid which is carried by the prevailing winds. When these clouds reach a mountain range they have to go over, voila! Acid rain falls. That’s not so good for plant life, it tends to kill them.

So what do we do in the meantime to maintain our collective lifestyles of consumerism and personal excess? What do the expanding nascent powers India and China use to feed their growing consumerism?

Nuclear power say the big-shots. Nuclear reactors being built now are safer with fewer moving parts they say.

That may be so. But nuclear fission has a problem that will always be a bugaboo. Radioactive waste. More to the point, storage of the stuff. Nobody wants it, nobody needs it and one of the main reasons older reactors are being shut down. They run out of storage space.

Personally, I think the money they plan on using to build nuclear reactors ought to be used to develop cheaper launching systems in order to launch large solar collector satellites. Solar power is cheaper, safer and it doesn’t pose a storage problem. Even the Pentagon thinks solar is the way to go.

Nuclear energy has it’s own unique problems and solutions for the nations that plan to build their reactors. Radiation and storage aren’t the only issues. Politics play into it as well.

Ask the Iranians.

Original article



3 responses

  1. Yeah everybody wants the easy way out to solve energy consumption problems. Nukes are not the way to go because there hasn’t been any sound agreement on how to deal with nuclear waste other than to shove it down Nevadans throats and bury it deep in their desert.

    I feel one useful way to use the heat generated from nuclear waste is to set up hydronic water heating systems for cities, greenhouses and just about anywhere else that has a need of “hot water” which can be used for heating homes etc. It would be the equivalent of geothermal hot water heat. Hi pressure steam from primary reactions is only necessary for turbine generated power. The water would never come in contact with the hot radioactive waste, but simply be heated via thermal transfer in a continuous loop system. With new super-insulation technologies the hot water could be transported quite a distance with minimal heat loss. In fact if the pipes were encased in concrete this mass would act like a massive heat sink continuing to maintain the thermal gradient over great distances.

    In summation until there’s an efficacious way to deal with the waste this current craze for the rebirth of nukes is being precipiated by the ass-dragging auto industry and oil patch oligarchs who want to continue having the citizens of earth slaves to “oil”…plain and simple.

    Right now the roads could have diesel powered hybrids that could get 100 mpg! VW and Ford both have produced such cars. Why aren’t they on our roads “NOW’…?! They burn biodiesel too. Then eventually hydrogen powered vehicles could slowly be integrated onto the worlds highways.

    People that want to drive huge gas guzzling vehicles need to have their collective asses taxed off to discourage such useage. When I go to the local malls, grocery stores in my 35 mpg Honda Civic and see a 5 foot sawed-off chubby-assed chick with her rug rats climb in a 3/4 ton Dodge pickup that gets no more than 10-12 mpg it makes me wince. I’ve asked them why and they tell me they feel safe. Yep, we definiteluy want these planetary destroying breeder chimps to feel safe no…?! Damn…damn…damn again to the 100th power…! X-(

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. The “oil-igarchs” are going to hang on to as much money and power as they possibly can. Hell, most of them are the main funding sources for so-called green technology.

    British Petroleum is heavily invested in ethanol production in Australia:

    Shell Oil is claiming to grow biofuel from algae:

    Exxon-Mobile in a 2004 perspectus kind of pushed nuclear power, but in a veiled way:

    So you see Carl, the elites have their bases covered. People either see it, or refuse to see it.

  3. Hi dad2059…

    Yeah and it’s all nothing but a “feel good” …tax write-off;ie., their ongoing zero benefit “now” R&D.

    Ethanol is a bust because it takes nominally three gallons for fresh potable water to produce a gallons ethanol. America and other parts of the world are already facing a freshwater crisis. It also diverts corn, sugar beets and other foodstock away from the business of raising livestock for the American table causing a needless rise in the price of meat and other products made from corn oil, sugar beets, etc.

    The algae project is another one. Yes they can extract biofuel from algae as well as we can generate methane from pigsh*t too, but it’s not going to make a dent in our energy needs. Again, a great write-off boondoggle.

    As far as nuclear is concerned it’s been the main domain of GE, Bechtel, KBR and the other big boys since the beginning of the nuclear power generation game. They’re very hungry boys and need to be fed regularly.

    Again, massive arrays of PV’s (photovoltaics) are the way to go. As far as autos using conventional fuels, diesel-electric hybrids should be rolling “NOW” on America’s highways. They get incredible mileage and uses either bio-diesel, a mix, or plain diesel which is lowest on the tower crack which means it take less energy to distill from the crude be it light or heavy.

    If they want to do research then they best collectively be pouring big bucks into fusion research which by my estimate and research concerning the subject indicates it should be coming online alot sooner than 2050 as projected. The Chinese claim to be ready to put one online soon?! I think the bigboys are holding out on us concerning fusion generated power because it would not only bite big oil in the butt, but the fission gen guys too. Folks, to put it plain and simple “we the people” of the U.S. and the world are being played bigtime…!

    I rest my case.

    Carl Nemo **==

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