The Nuclear Power Dilemma
safe and efficient processes?
ratio has been sold (or successfully lobbied) to those who make the decisions.
Let’s look at them for a moment:
- Ever-growing and always underestimated costs
- Questionable safety
- Old and un-advanced technology
- Site-location protests worldwide
- Cost per kilowatt hour dependent upon changing market
- Short, 40 year life-cycle
- Massive maintenance costs
- An end product fuel-rods disposal issue the world has
yet to solve
- Uranium-dependent, a scarce and expensive diminishing
- Not coal, oil or natural gas dependent
- Therefore, a cleaner environment
once said dryly, “it’s a hell of a dangerous way to boil water,” which indeed
it is. When these things go wrong, as at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and
Fukushima, the results are socially disastrous. The French are world leaders in
the development of nuclear power generation and yet the French Atomic Energy
Commission has concluded that technical innovation cannot eliminate the risk of
human errors in nuclear plant operation.
team from MIT have estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power
from 2005–2055, at least four serious nuclear power accidents would be expected
in that period (Wikipedia). Four more
serious accidents in the next 50 years? For me (and perhaps for you) that’s an
unacceptable existential risk.
“Nope, but we’re working on it,” is
the answer to a question that was originally asked some seventy years ago. Old processes with old technology and the old
burning questions still unanswered, when we are in a new century, with new
opportunities and a new challenge.
the press coverage (both optimistic and pessimistic), while tide and geothermal
are less mentioned, but have great potential. We’re creeping forward on the
former and largely ignoring the latter—at a time when technology is available
and the clock moves inevitably forward on environmental apocalypse.
development, with a fascinating project in operation that removes the obstacle
of solar ‘going down’ during the night. A molten salt heat storage system is at
the heart of this concentrated solar technology and focused it is, aiming
computer programmed mirrors at a single spot on the ‘salt tower’ to produce
intense heat. Pretty much what we all did as kids, focusing our magnifying
glasses at a spot on a leaf to set it burning. Who knew that would become a source
nuclear type as well, hence my brother’s remark about dangerous ways to boil
water. Gemasolar, located within the city limits of Fuentes de Andalucía in the
province of Seville, Spain is the first commercial solar plant with a central
tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology.
successfully powers the equivalent of 27,500 homes and its storage system
allows it to produce electricity for fifteen hours without sunlight, at night
or on cloudy days. It’s been doing this since 2011 and tweaks along the way
make it increasingly efficient.
a powerful advance over passive solar and one to be watched and emulated. One
should keep in mind that Gemasolar is a ‘pilot plant’ and its costs reflect
that. They will certainly come down remarkably steeply as the production of
such plants expands. They are very applicable to industrial parks, outlying
locations surrounding major cities and totally powering small cities throughout
within the city limits of Fuentes de Andalucía. How comfortable would you be with a nuclear plant inside your city limits? How comfortable can
any of us be, so long as nuclear extends its reach across the planet?
reinvented itself as Big Power and got their collective shoulder behind the
wheel of renewable energy? Wouldn’t it be lovely if they gradually abandoned
their questionable resources in Saudi, Iraq, the North Sea and the poisonous
Tar Sands of Canada, as they put their expertise and finances behind something
that might diminish both the sources of war and environmental extinction?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if politics got out of the way and demanded it?
Fair Lady lyrics go;
a room somewhere
the cold night air
it be loverly?
for me to eat,
makin’ lots of heat.
warm hands, warm feet
it be loverly?
If you’ve time and interest in reading a
longer piece from the International New
York Times, check out Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities