12 February 2011

Obama's Anti-Energy Bias Threatens US With New "Dark Age"

Even More, 13 Feb 2011: Is the Obama administration giving the "kiss of death" to small modular reactors (SMRs)? It looks as if the regime is pretending to support SMRs while behind the scenes it is boosting the organisations who oppose them -- and all nuclear reactors. Certainly Greg Jaczko _-- Obama's chief of the NRC -- seems to want to regulate SMRs the same way as large 1 - 1.5 GW reactors are regulated. That is total idiocy, of course, but it is the bureaucratic mindset.

More 13 Feb 2011:
Nations such as Japan issue nuclear-power permits within six years while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission may take at least 10 years, Upton, a Michigan Republican, said today in Washington. Lawmakers will examine the time required to approve new U.S. plants, Upton said.

“If you can shorten the time, you’re going to reduce the costs perhaps in the billions of dollars per reactor,” Upton said in an interview. “That’s a good thing.”

The House committee, which has jurisdiction for energy legislation, plans to tackle individual issues such as faster nuclear-plant licensing rather than seeking to pass “1,000-page bills” that are more comprehensive, he said. _Bloomberg

On every front, US President Obama seems to oppose all forms of reliable energy production. His EPA is trying to find ways to shut down unconventional oil & gas production, his Interior Deparment has already effectively shut down new offshore oil & gas production, his administration wants to shut down coal plants and mines, and to stop importing Canadian oil sands -- all out of carbon hysteria. Perhaps worst of all, Obama's NRC has been dragging its feed on safer, more reliable, and cheaper new nuclear reactor designs. Obama wants the US to rely on unreliable forms of energy such as solar and wind -- guaranteeing future blackouts and freeze-outs which are likely to cost lives.

Texas has already suffered rolling blackouts due to over-investment in wind [and the UK has suffered power "reductions" -- also see comment by Weekend Yachtsman. AF], and under-investment in nuclear. As Obama pushes the US into fool-hardy forms of energy dependency, expect things to only get worse. The US is long overdue for a return to more reliable forms of energy.
To say the U.S. has a lot of catching up to do in the nuclear power race doesn't come close to the reality. Consider these statistics, based on Nuclear Energy Agency data: France gets 77% of its electricity from nuclear plants; Sweden, 42%; Switzerland, 39%; South Korea, 37%; and Finland, 30%. The U.S.? A mere 20%.

...If the U.S. chooses to not reprocess nuclear waste, Nevada's Yucca Mountain (or some other storage facility at an out-of-the-way site to be named later) could be pressed into use. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a proponent of green and renewable energy, has often noted the odd U.S. stance regarding nuclear power compared to our democratic cousins in France. The U.S. is too afraid to store nuclear waste in the middle of the desert at Yucca Mountain while French mayors campaign to have nuclear reactors built in their towns to create jobs.

...One out-of-date argument against nuclear power concerns its cost, but new, refined nuclear plants based on simple modular designs have eliminated that concern, The Economist magazine reported. Further, modularity allows plant builders to incrementally add power generation if electricity demand increases. Modularity, with its smaller initial construction costs, also shortens the break-even timetable for utilities.

...it seems almost implausible -- indeed, irrational -- that technology and innovation powerhouse U.S. would pioneer a revolutionary technology like nuclear power and then walk away from it when it's refined, leaving other nations to apply it to their social, economic and environmental benefit.

France, China, and the U.K., among others, recognize that nuclear power represents a win-win on climate change and self-sufficiency grounds. It's time the U.S. realized it as well, and started making up for decades of lost time -- and energy. _DailyFinance
In reality, nuclear alone cannot prevent a new dark age. It will most definitely require clean coal, unconventional and conventional gas, offshore and unconventional oil, Canadian oil sands, Green River kerogens, plus biofuels and nuclear energy. Enhanced geothermal could provide excellent power as well.

Obama -- for all his hatred of European "imperialism" against the third world -- seems to want to ape a lot of Europe's policies. This is unfortunate, since most of the policies Obama wishes to imitate, lead only to financial and societal ruin. Go figure.

Perhaps it is time that enlightened individuals around the world began to learn how to do things for themselves -- learn to bypass corrupt governments and their autocratic, irrationally arbitrary ways of inaction in the face of critical need.

Obama is not the only president who has neglected this problem -- but his policies of "energy starvation" are particularly egregious in terms of trying to shut down and delay all reliable forms of energy, while promoting decidedly unreliable forms such as solar and wind.

For more news and perspective on global energy issues, check out the Al Fin Energy blog.

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Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

Actually you're mistaken.

The UK has not (yet) suffered any sort of blackout or brownout from over-investment in wind.

Over-investment there certainly is, and we will face such events within the next five to ten years as the EU shuts down 40% of our reliable generation capacity for loony green reasons, but nevertheless it has not happened yet.

Sunday, 13 February, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for your comment, WY.

Sometimes the exact cause for a power outage -- or power shortage -- is debatable.

When a nation begins to rely too heavily on unreliable sources of power, such as wind and solar, long stretches of low wind or no sun can stretch power utilities to their limits.

Recent unusual cold temperatures in the UK were accompanied by very low wind velocities. That was not the first time wind turbines had been worse than useless in the middle of a UK cold snap.

Utilities must make hard choices in such situations, unless a reliable backup source of power is available. French nuclear power can only provide so much backup, as more and more UK capacity is trusted to onshore and offshore wind turbines.

Politicians make convenient choices. Power utilities have to make the tough ones.

Sunday, 13 February, 2011  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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