Was it Lots of Wind or Lots of Hot Air in Spain Last Sunday Night?

 Fast Fission Podcast #16 – mp3 file Renewable energy supporters were spreading the word today that this past Sunday wind energy in Spain produced 53% of the country’s electrical demand. The Spanish wind power industry broke a record on Sunday morning, when turbines nationwide met 53% of the nation’s demand for electricity with production of around 10,170 megawatts (MW), according to La Asociacion Empresarial Eolica (AEE), the Spanish wind industry alliance. This was certainly an achievement, but before we get too excited we need to read carefully and consider the situation. This was an intermittent peak in wind energy output that happened to achieve 53% of the electricity demand when the total demand was very low.   This occurred during a 5 ½ hour window in the early morning hours of a Sunday morning in November. Everyone was asleep, there virtually no lighting load, no cooking, few factories were running, no air conditioning, and probably very little heat.  As a result, total demand was relatively low. Before we declare renewables a resounding success, take a look at a more telling statistic:  the 11.5% overall contribution of wind to Spain’s grid during all of 2008. That means that day in and day out 88.5% of Spain’s electricity came from nuclear, gas, oil, and coal. Of that, the only carbon-free source was nuclear. John...

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And you thought nuclear engineering & science was all about energy? Guess Again! (Podcast Episode #69)

While at the American Nuclear Society Annual Conference last week I had the opportunity to speak with several students about their interests and fields of study.  The broad range of responses is insightful and serves to illustrate that commercial energy generation is just one of many career options related to nuclear engineering, science, and technology. The students also help dispel the myth that nuclear careers are only for technical specialists. The industry needs people who focus on business, communications, government affairs and many other non-technical disciplines! Watch the video and you’ll see what I...

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OSHA: Working in a Nuclear Plant is Safer than Office Work

An interesting article at ReliablePlant.com about safety improvements at US commercial nuclear plants after the TMI partial core meltdown 30 years ago.  Yes, the title of this article is true, but there is more: When it comes to safety, added layers of protection only enhance nuclear energy’s capability to provide clean, efficient power, with performance levels increasing steadily over time. In 2008, U.S. nuclear plants surpassed coal, natural gas, oil and all other fuels that make electricity by operating to more than 90 percent of their total rated capacity. Nuclear plants also generated approximately 805.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, enough to serve the total year’s electricity needs of one-fifth the U.S. population. A great example is Arkansas Nuclear One where workers have gone a mind-boggling nine years and 23 million man-hours without a loss work time accident. Nearly 23 million hours worked over a span of almost nine years without a lost time accident is a remarkable feat for any industrial facility. That is exactly what Arkansas and Nuclear One employees have accomplished and the meter is still running. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently approved ANO’s continued participation at the voluntary projection program star level, the program’s highest rating, a status ANO has maintained for 12 years and a nuclear industry record. I get so sick of anti-nuclear claims that nuclear plants are...

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