Guiding Principles of the Energy Reality Project
- There is an urgent need to improve and maintain the Quality of Life on the planet.
- Obstacles to achieving this quality of life should be identified and fixed.
- After we grasp the first two principles it will be our task to educate those who do not understand these principles.
How we use Energy is the single most significant factor affecting Climate and Global Chemistry.
Designing and using an energy mix which works in tandem with sustainable, natural processes is a noble goal. Such a holistic eco-system is not so easy to achieve mostly because of a lack of political will and a lack of public awareness. The technology exists today to create conditions globally for all people to thrive and prosper, but the main obstacle is ignorance and fear. Evidently we ignore the effects we have on things we don’t see. Water, which we all need, has been abused. Dumped sewage polluted Canadian waterways with lenient laws. Polluting waterways at one time was the easy way to handle sewage. The damage we have done has been accumulating directly through sewage and industry and indirectly through polluting the air. Americans consume water from underground at a rate they can no longer endure.
Why Nuclear Power Plants Matter
Keeping all, or most, of the world’s currently operating reactors is a necessary strategy. In fact we need many more nuclear plants. China has made big strides with their energy plan to increase nuclear power. US Senator Lamar Alexander understands the need for more reactors. Dense, carbon free, nuclear energy gives many advantages that satisfy a fundamental need for reliable and steady power.It is important to consider long term return on investment when it comes to energy infrastructure. We can invest in low carbon energy sources but not recklessly as California, Ontario and Germany have done.
How All Commercial Nuclear Power Plants Serve Humanity
We have taken for granted almost a century of reliable electricity reaching our homes. Different regions rely on different sources. Places like Quebec and Washington State that have abundant hydro electricity. Ontario and France have plenty of Nuclear Energy. The demand for electricity is continually growing, especially in places like China and India. They know that the cheapest and most reliable way to create electricity is the same as it has been for nearly a century and that is dirty coal. But when nuclear plants started to grow, fortunately, the demand for coal shrunk. Thus, the emissions from coal shrunk very significantly. The number of coal plants that did not need to be built prevented more dirty emissions from happening. The numbers are boggling how much we could have averted but did not and now we are paying the price.
Economies that Prosper Have Abundant Low Cost Energy
For over thirty years France has had a thriving economy. Over 70% of their energy comes from nuclear power. Norway gets 99% from hydro power. The problem is that places like China who have taken big steps to get their people out of poverty has used abundant cheap but polluting coal.
So-called “Renewables” Are Not Really Renewable
The term “renewables” has taken on a legal definition designating specific technologies that may be used to meet quota goals and/or be eligible for subsidies. This word “renewable” unfortunately is used to discriminate against new and existing hydro and nuclear power plants although both are arguably more “renewable” than wind or solar. “Sustainable” is a better term with more relevant meaning and has no legal entanglements. Although this word is also misused. You rarely see nuclear praised as being sustainable but it gives the most energy for the smallest amount of fuel.
Wind and Solar are intermittent energy sources. That’s a very significant fact. It means that other sources of energy and/or storage capacity are needed in order to provide energy through the periods when wind and solar cannot function. So how is wind and solar renewable? It’s only renewable if it’s available. In a 24/7 world that’s not good enough. The capital investment and the environmental costs of compensating for the intermittency of wind and solar should be included in the estimates of the cost for comparison purposes.
Can Distribution of Electricity Solve the Intermittency Problem?
The theory goes that if you have in place enough of these wind mills and solar panels that there will always be wind or sun available. But we all know the entire continent goes dark for several hours a day. And yes there is never a completely still day over a continent but that does not really matter because what counts is that the power lines that need to be in place to even test this theory would be far greater than we could afford to build just to meet the possibility that enough wind could cover power to all cities at once.
For remote sites the cost of running power lines is so high that solar with backup is relatively inexpensive but those areas will never run like a city that requires a constant supply of dependable energy. There is a limit to copper for transmission lines and cobalt for batteries.
Wind has the most money expended for electrical power gained and is known for disrupting smooth grid transmissions. Solar can be less disruptive if installed and used by local homes, schools, or businesses. Ohio and Missouri have initiatives to classify nuclear as renewable. This is a required step towards making this a true nuclear energy era.
Wind and Solar and other intermittent energy sources need a new strategy. Separation of base load dependent electrical use and less critical electrical use is needed so that renewable energy sources can be applied locally and coupled with storage and not made part of the same grid that carries base load. Solar for example can effectively heat your water for home use without being on the grid.
The Price We Pay For Feeling Good About Using “Renewable” Energy
When we deploy wind mills and solar we are building what can be described as a very diffuse energy supply. In other words it takes a lot of them to create electricity. But since they cannot do that in any reliable way we need to have natural gas, coal plants or nuclear plants to replace them when they are down. But that disadvantage comes with a price. Renewable energy is heavily subsidized. The structure of that agreement that subsidizes renewable guarantees that they get compensation as if the wind is blowing 24/7. But when they are not running (which is frequently) we need to pay the for the power that replaces them. That means the power utility company charges you twice. Once for the missing wind and solar energy and again for the replacement energy. Germany, Ontario and California are examples that poorly managed its electricity production. All of them have increased renewable power and their consumers all pay high utility costs.
When Is Solar OK?
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Solar on rooftops, where it is frequently warm and sunny, can be used for local power to reduce energy needed from grids powered with fossil fuels. But if the grid is powered by nuclear there won’t be a need for renewable energy.
When is wind OK?
Wherever there is a windy remote community that does not have nuclear then wind makes sense. The problem is that adding wind farms (also true for solar farms) to a grid near a large city will destabilize and cause damage to the infrastructure. And perhaps the worst effect of all is the cost of maintaining a system that has too many surges to the system. Energy Reality is not totally against renewable we just view the flawed technology as bad timing when nuclear already does such a good job. The demand is too great to expect renewables to be sufficient.
Myths about Nuclear Power Plants
It is impossible for a nuclear reactor to have a nuclear detonation. The kind of explosions that are possible are non-nuclear and the result of extreme temperature. Pressurized water and/or hydrogen explosions are possible but they occur in only the rarest circumstances. In fact the evacuations have done more harm than good. Fukushima was an example of letting irrational fear forcing evacuations that led to the deaths of many sick and elderly people.
Pressurized reactors that currently exist have been known to have hydrogen explosions. These have been damaging mostly to the local plant and would not cause widespread contamination although Chernobyl did spread radiation but is the absolute worst case scenario that demonstrates how not to build a nuclear reactor. No reactor that has been built outside Soviet run Ukraine would ever be capable of a similar accident. Fukushima did release much smaller amounts of radiation in the first days but subsided quickly. Both examples happened in old reactors where human error had a greater potential. We know the errors and all nuclear plants have put in the safeguards. For example a relatively inexpensive safeguard that would prevented the Fukushima meltdown is to elevate the backup generators above the levels where flooding can occur.
We need to put our support toward North American initiatives and the newest trend that is gaining traction is the Small Modular Reactor (SMR). This is a trend that would speed up how quickly we build power plants and bring down the costs.
Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) Show Great Promise With Many Advantages.
The Molten Salt Reactor is a Generation Four technology and is under development in several countries. Those who are advocates of MSRs recodnize that it solves a great number of issues but also provides new opportunities that never existed for existing nuclear technology.
With commercial roll-outs of MSRs in 7-12 years. MSRs are encouraged but only if they are passively safe (walk away safe) and all indications suggest that MSRs solves the common fears about reactors. All current reactors have aspects that, although engineered well, still scare people.
MSRs are not only passively safe but offers additional safety by having no pressurized containment. Traditionally a worse case scenario for current reactor designs has the possibility (although highly unlikely to happen) of spreading radioactive particles for miles. This is not the case with Molten Salt Reactors. Since the fuel is in a high temperature liquid state with no steam to carry radioactive elements it will simply harden when exposed to cooler surroundings.
Coal plants are the worst offenders by far! London's Great Smog of '52 is a perfect example. Read about it here:
But all fossil fuel plants produce carbon dioxide. We already have an inventory of CO2 that recent passed the 400 ppm mark. CO2 will need to be removed from the air and oceans if we expect to reverse the effects of global warming and climate change and at the same time save all the species of fish and mammals from going extinct.
Because of some documented poorly run natural gas plants fracking has gotten a bad name. This under-regulated industry has been abused and there are sources that indicate it has had a positive impact on reducing CO2 that coal would otherwise produce.
Read The Breakthrough Article:
More details are here:
But evidence shows that we flare off between 30% and 40% of the methane we gather in Dakota. That combustion is a problem! How much CO2, anybody? Is that part of the calculations done in studies on their contribution? Places like Saudi Arabia burn off the gas in an effort to keep the oil. These practices need to stop.
The average person views the water of the oceans as a limitless and indestructible resource. Part of our policy needs to adapt a view on the precious resources of water and oxygen. Water and air are not replaceable. We must ensure these are properly preserved. Our children and grandchildren will be affected by the degree to which we keep these resources pure & clean.
Safety Concerns about Nuclear Power Plants