04 February 2011

Nuclear Energy Needed to Prevent Blackouts in Age of Global Cooling

If Texas had made the same dollar investment in new coal and/or nuclear power plants they would probably be snug and warm tonight. Do we we really want to sacrifice our families’ safety and security along with business productivity during extreme cold for the sake of political correctness? _WUWT
The rolling blackouts experienced in Texas recently were caused by problems with wind, gas, and coal systems to adjust to freezing conditions and increased power demands. Nuclear power is different from the other power sources mentioned above, and is clearly the power source of choice for an ice age or an age of global cooling (possibly along with enhanced geothermal).

US President Obama's Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been excessively slow to license and approve safer, more reliable new reactor designs, which makes it almost impossible for the US to provide more secure and reliable power to the people. Amazingly, the Obama NRC has still not given approval for construction of new plants using the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor.
If the NRC approves the AP1000 design, the agency could decide by the end of 2011 on whether to issue construction licenses to Southern and SCANA to build their nuclear reactors, according to Jaczko.

"We will continue to work on a schedule that puts us in a position to make some final decisions possibly by the end of this year," he [NRC's Jazco] said. _Reuters
Take your time, Jazco. It's only the future of the American society and global security that is at stake. Bureaucrats rule in the modern US, so pay no attention to the little people and their needs.

It should be obvious that the US can no longer allow its bureaucracy and Luddite political class to drag its feet on the future.
It is clear that, were our reactors allowed to retire as originally planned, the nuclear industry’s contribution to clean energy production would all but disappear by 2035. Fortunately, some license renewals, which extend a reactor’s lifetime by 20 years, have been approved and others are in line.... even in the best case, in which all licenses are renewed, about 25% of our fleet will be retiring in 2035, making it very unlikely that the US’s clean energy portfolio can grow in that time frame.

This alarming scenario should hurry the construction of new reactors. Though building 784 new plants is an impossible target, the AEF Committee judged that 5 to 9 additional nuclear plants could be brought online by 2020. As espoused in my first article, there is no need to wait around for research breakthroughs; proven reactor technologies are ready to be built now, as China continues to demonstrate. _leadenergy
The Obama administration and its Luddite counterparts at state and local levels, continue to drag their feet on providing reliable power sources -- while they continue to spout nonsensical gibberish about the "promise of wind and solar power."

But what good are wind and solar power when solar panels are covered with snow and ice, and ice-covered propellers on wind turbines prevent power generation -- even in perfect winds?
Wind generators also appeared to be having problems, said Fraser; he had received reports of some turbines shutting down because of issues with ice on the blades. "The wind was blowing yesterday, but I'm not sure wind generation was available because they had problems with ice," he said. _MetMusings

In the recent Texas power blackouts, wind was not the only power source to fall down on the job. Water pipes at coal plants froze and broke, gas pipelines failed to provide adequate pressures to gas plants, and huge piles of coal froze to unusable condition in the ice and snow storms.

The problem had several causes, but we have learned one thing -- in conditions of extreme cold, wind power and solar power are not sources that can be reliably depended upon.
The system needed all of the power it could get. Had more thermal plants been built, at least some of them would have been in service and helpful. Outages would have been moderated a little. Wind generated power was used and useful, but couldn’t be dialed up to produce more during a time of need. Wind power was neither the cause of the problem, nor of any special value in reaching a solution. _MasterResource
It is time for voters and ordinary people to jettison the lefty-Luddite politicians and bureaucrats who are exposing them to potentially fatal risks, all in the name of a failed ideology of faux environmentalism and pseudo-scientific carbon hysteria.

Nuclear power is the best power source for extreme cold -- for most advanced nations -- since all components of the generation system are contained indoors, well protected from the elements -- and do not rely upon the supply of fuel from the outside, which can be disrupted in many ways during extreme weather.

Sure, we need to replace above-ground transmission and distribution lines with secure, buried, and preferably super-conducting lines. But that will take time, and will require severe budget cuts in entitlement spending and public sector union benefits to provide the necessary resources. Before that can happen, heads will need to roll -- in a figurative sense, naturally. (human heads are not perfectly round, so they do not roll as smoothly as one might wish) ;-)

Al Fin was once an enthusiastic supporter of all types of wind energy -- and still supports small wind turbines for niche and off-grid uses. But human minds which are functional will continually monitor the world around them, and take in new information and data. In the course of time, working minds will change and grow with experience. Those minds which are incapable of learning, growing, and changing, may as well not even exist, for all the harm they are likely to do. Particularly when they are in positions of power and responsibility.

Other perspectives on this issue from nuclear bloggers Charles Barton, and Rod Adams.

Power blackouts play hell with electric vehicles. Best to keep your own reliable backup power source at home or place of business -- along with necessary fuels. Relying on the dumbed-down commons for life and death needs can be a fool's play, but in a society of perpetual incompetents -- the Idiocracy -- it is what it is.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Always keep an ample supply of food, water, fuels, necessary medicines, cash, power source, communications gear, etc., and the means to prevent riff-raff from taking it from you. The police are never more than 10 minutes away, whenever a situation calls for an instantaneous response. Perhaps a bit longer if they belong to public sector unions.

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Blogger Seabear said...

You can bet if it was a GE design and not Westinghouse, the plants would already be under construction.

Saturday, 05 February, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Perhaps so.

If a Chinese company owned Westinghouse -- rather than a Japanese company -- Obama's NRC may have likewise been more quick to approve licenses and permits.

Obama's administration seems to have the skewed political orientation of Jimmy Carter's, combined with the obliviousness of Nixon's, and the general personnel incompetence of Clinton's.

Why should Obama's NRC be any more qualified to govern than the rest of the OA?

Sunday, 06 February, 2011  

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