Posts Tagged renewable
There was a horrible accident in Kenya this week. More than 100 people were burned to death, and hundreds more were injured when a gasoline pipeline began leaking and then exploded. My heart goes out to the victims, and their families, and to all the people of Kenya who are dealing with the worst industrial disaster in their history. Eyewitnesses reported seeing burning people leaping into a nearby river trying to extinguish the flames that engulfed them. Rescue workers had to place a net across the river to catch the charred bodies of the dead so they would not wash down stream. The death toll continues to grow, and most of the 100+ injured including many children are not expected to survive.
The pipeline runs through Sinai, a Nairobi ghetto of corrugated tin and cardboard huts. When the pipe began leaking hundreds of people gathered around to scoop up the spilled gasoline. As the crowd grew a spark from a cigarette butt or some other heat source ignited the fuel. The blast incinerated scores of people nearby. Flames cascaded down on nearby huts then raced through the crowded slum. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
This story will come as no big surprise for my pro-nuclear blogger friends, but for those of you who are not quite as engaged with the online energy debate, you really need to know about this.
Since I was a teenager I’ve enjoyed the magazine Scientific American. I’ve viewed them as informative and a good source of credible, accurate information about emerging trends in many fields of science and technology. The periodical began in 1845 and over the years its contributors have included, according to their website, more than 120 Nobel laureates and such amazing thinkers as Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk.
This it way it pains me so much that this magazine has deteriorated to the level of utter trash and garbage. I will think long and hard before I ever again purchase a copy of the magazine. In this podcast I discuss why.
When I first read the Scientific American article I was outraged and angry, but now I’m just sad. Sad that a respected journal and a source of information for more than 100 years has deteriorated to the point that it is willfully being used as a platform to push a political agenda with total disregard to fundamentals of research and sound science.
- A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables by Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi at the Scientific American
- Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′ by Barry Brooks at BraveNewClimate.com
the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people
The study compares the impact to natural habitats in the United States of various types of new energy development. They refer to this as the “land use intensity” of energy, and it is measured in energy produced for a given land area. Specifically, they estimated the amount of land that will be needed for the USA to meet energy demands by the year 2030 for various energy sources. The group is concerned that the build out of new energy sources to meet growing demand and combat climate change could cause what they refer to as “energy sprawl” with detrimental impact to natural habitats. It turns out, there is a lot to worry about!
The results? It takes on average 72 square kilometers of land to provide one megawatt of energy for one year when wind turbines are used. Solar energy is better at 15 to 37 square kilometers, depending on the technology used. Nuclear energy has the lowest impact on land use of ANY energy source. In fact, nuclear energy has about one sixth the impact of solar thermal generation, and one thirtieth the impact of wind generation.
It takes just 2.4 square KM, or about one square mile to provide one megawatt of electricity for one year when that energy is derived from nuclear energy. This is a great example of how the incredible energy density of nuclear energy provides benefits to society.
In this podcast I discuss the question “Is Nuclear Energy Renewable?” that I first posed in a recent blog post.
In addition, I added the following discussion of recent news and events:
Indian Point License Extension Proceeds Despite Anti-Nuclear Hurdles
Despite barriers erected by anti-nuclear groups to block the license renewal for the Indian Point nuclear reactors, the two unit nuclear plant in NY has passed two major hurdles in the life extension process.
- On August 12 NRC issued their final safety evaluation report and concluded there are no safety issues that would preclude running the plants for another 20 years.
- On Sept 23 the independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, and independent team of experts that advice the NRC, recommended that the license extension be granted.
Unless renewed, the current licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.
In 2007 the anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper filed five contentions opposing the 20 year license extensions. The NRC granted Riverkeeper a hearing to review arguments on three of their five contentions. In those hearings Riverkeeper was unable to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims and the NRC ruled the contentions had no merit.
On the NRC’s web site they have a schedule showing a tentative final decision on Indian Point’s relicensing in February of 2010.
Broad support for nuclear energy is growing. The once maligned energy source is finding new friends across the political and social landscape from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bob Geldolf of the Boomtown Rats. Conservatives Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have been talking up nuclear energy for some time. Now even people like liberal columnist Thomas Friedman and Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace are advocating a nuclear expansion. All this is happening because people are becoming more educated about nuclear energy. They are beginning to view the anti-nuclear crowd as close-minded and unable to acknowledge the differences between nuclear weapons and the peaceful, safe uses of nuclear energy.
With this kind of support building, it’s time to answer an important question…
Is Nuclear Energy Renewable ?
For quite some time I’ve been debating the argument that nuclear energy is equally “renewable” as energy derived from hydro, wind, and biomass. My thought process goes like this…
Rivers go dry with over use and periods of drought, and winds shift with changing weather patterns such as those that will occur with global climate change. The availability of biomass is dependent on favorable weather and must be replenished using agricultural processes that are reliant on fossil fuels. The ultimate energy source of all these “renewables” is the sun, and while the sun is not “infinite,” it is unlikely to extinguish during the course of human existence. The ability of the sun to replenish hydro, wind, and biomass make these energy sources renewable.
In contrast, the source of nuclear energy is fuel contained entirely on planet Earth. And while there are a finite number of uranium and thorium atoms on the planet, the supply will last for as long as human beings need it. The myth propagated by the anti-nuclear crowd that we will run out of fuel for nuclear reactors is simply untrue. They grossly underestimate the amount of uranium that exists, they discount already proven technologies like breeder reactors, and they ignore the existence of thorium, a fuel even more plentiful than uranium. We have sufficient nuclear fuel to last for more than 1,000 years, even if we expand the number of nuclear plants by more than a factor of ten. This makes nuclear energy inexhaustible.
Operation Sea Orbit – 1964 (Front to Back: USS Enterprise, USS Long Beach, & USS Bainbridge)
The Markey / Waxman Climate Change Bill
Momentum is building towards greenhouse gas regulation in the United States. Two weeks ago the house of representatives released draft climate change legislation sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey. On Friday the US Environmental Protection Agency turned up the heat when they declared CO2 and other greenhouse gasses “hazards to public health” and labeled CO2 a pollutant. This action gives the EPA authority to regulate CO2 emissions even if congress does not pass legislation focused on curbing greenhouse gas releases.
I’ve been preaching long and hard that a combination of plug-in hybrid vehicles and nuclear energy can help solve two problems at once; energy independence and CO2 emissions. It seems The Weekly Standard in the UK has reached the same conclusion.
In the United States there are 104 remodeled conventional nuclear power generating plants. … On average they produce more than a gigawatt (a billion watts) each or about 22 percent of total U.S. electrical consumption, without sending a single drop of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. … By upgrading our own 100-plus plants to that level, we could produce enough cheap electricity to competitively replace gasoline and charge the batteries of every potentially electrified car and light truck in the United States. An additional 40 such plants would be sufficient to power all our buses, heavy trucks, and trains. With 200 plants, augmented by existing and upgraded hydropower, we could replace all hydrocarbon-based power-generating plants and virtually eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint. If this seems too big a task, one need only look at France which gets 80 percent of its electrical power from nuclear plants.