The Energy Future Belongs to Nuclear

BY PGF
1 year, 8 months ago

Source:

It remains the only proven technology capable of serving the energy needs of de-carbonized modern society.

[…]

The energy demands of an industrialized society require an abundant source of uninterrupted power. However, the “green power” (primarily wind and solar) intended to replace fossil fuels is, by its nature, intermittent and subject to fluctuations in the weather. While that limitation could be eased somewhat with the augmentation of back-up batteries, the land-consumption requirements for a wholesale shift to renewables would be prohibitive.

The author is making the classic Conservative mistake. He’s assuming the Left, and particularly the Global Oligarchs, desire you to have a prosperous and growing future instead of wanting ninety percent of the population dead. His base assumption is wrong. The information in the article is interesting, but the left doesn’t want to debate the facts of what a healthy modern country needs for its energy purposes. The projections of Conservatives will get themselves killed.

Unlike fossil-fuel energy and nuclear power, the energy from solar and wind is widely dispersed, requiring large tracts of land to “collect and harness” it for power generation. Fossil fuels can produce 500 to 10,000 watts per square meter and nuclear can produce 500 to 1,000 watts per square meter. Solar power, on the other hand, can only produce five to 20 watts per square meter. Wind can produce just one or two.

The current installed power from all energy sources in the US is 1.2 terawatts (one million megawatts). Converting all that energy to wind and solar (assuming an average land use requirement of 10 watts per square meter), would require a tract of land larger than the size of Texas and California combined, making the comprehensive transition to green infeasible. So, if fossil fuels are removed from the commercial power mix, then nuclear is the only viable source of power available to meet the energy needs of an industrialized nation.

“Green energy” is often described as “clean energy” because it comes from natural sources (wind, sun, and water) that produce no environmental pollutants or greenhouse gases. But that is only true if analysis of the process is limited to green energy production—that is, the actual conversion of wind, solar, and hydro energy into electricity.

However, when the total life cycle of mining, manufacturing, production, and disposal is considered, green energy is revealed to be anything but “clean.” As an AP investigation recently revealed:

The birds no longer sing, and the herbs no longer grow. The fish no longer swim in rivers that have turned a murky brown … cows are sometimes found dead. … Water is no longer drinkable, and endangered species such as tigers, pangolins and red pandas have fled the area.

That’s not a description of the Flint River region in Michigan, the Fukushima environs in Japan, the Love Canal community in upstate New York, nor of the dystopian wasteland in an apocalyptic novel. It’s the condition of northern Myanmar on China’s south-west border—the result of the unrestrained mining of rare earth minerals. These materials are essential to the manufacture of green energy products like electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Years of unregulated mining have turned whole regions in Myanmar and other parts of the undeveloped world into “sacrifice zones”—areas where the health and welfare of local residents are sacrificed for the “greater good,” which, in this instance, is global de-carbonization. As the push for green energy continues, the demand for these minerals will keep pace, along with environmental hazards not limited to mining.

Irrespective of the energy source, the machinery (e.g., batteries, wind turbines, solar panels, dams) needed to convert it into useable power are manufactured from materials that must be not only mined, but also processed and ultimately disposed of. According to a 2020 paper produced by the Manhattan Institute, “compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy.” For example:

A single electric car battery weighing 1,000 pounds requires extracting and processing some 500,000 pounds of materials. Averaged over a battery’s life, each mile of driving an electric car ‘consumes’ five pounds of earth. Using an internal combustion engine consumes about 0.2 pounds of liquids per mile.

Eventually, all that material becomes waste requiring disposal:

By 2050, with current plans, the quantity of worn-out solar panels—much of it nonrecyclable—will constitute double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste, along with over 3 million tons per year of unrecyclable plastics from worn-out wind turbine blades. By 2030, more than 10 million tons per year of batteries will become garbage.

Of course, a 10-fold increase in green energy materials will require a commensurate increase in the fossil fuels (primarily, diesel) needed for their extraction, processing, and disposal by excavators, trucks, and other heavy equipment. In other words, green energy is anything but “carbon-neutral.”

He goes on to discuss how China owns the global rare earth minerals market. As long as 20 years ago, folks were alarmed at the investments China was making in Australia, Africa, and South and Central America. Those investments are paying off monetarily and strategically for China. America hasn’t invested in minerals and mineral rights in decades, and now we’re dependent on foreign powers for just about everything from raw materials to production and especially manufacturing. We’ll lose the R&D edge shortly.


Comments

  1. On November 7, 2022 at 12:12 am, Dan said:

    Perhaps the energy future belongs to nuclear. Perhaps not. One thing that HASN’T changed regarding nuclear power is the dangerous extremely long lived waste byproducts involved and what to do with them. To date there hasn’t been a viable workable solution to that problem found. As for “fusion energy”. Don’t hold your breath. The miracle of fusion has been “just around the corner” since I was a wee lad. And I’m senior citizen now. I suspect it will ALWAYS remain “just around the corner” because while we CAN cause fusion to occur here on planet earth we haven’t found a way to do it in such a manner that it can be easily, safely and economically in any meaningful scale. And I suspect we never will. Because I believe that feasible fusion in a volume large enough to address our needs requires gravity….a LOT of gravity. The amount of gravity found in say….a SUN! So don’t hold your breath waiting on fusion. Better off trying to address the many issues we face making fission energy safer.

  2. On November 7, 2022 at 9:07 am, Heywood said:

    I stopped having discussions with brainwashed libtards a long time ago. Once I discovered that in almost every circumstance, you were not dealing with an honest broker intent on getting to the truth, but rather a cultists that would not, could not be swayed with facts. Once I realized it was a fools errand I stopped beating my head against a wall.

  3. On November 7, 2022 at 12:16 pm, MTHead said:

    Thermal depolymerization. Turning bio-mass into lite-sweet crude oil is 20 mins. at 600 degrees, and 500 PSI. Mixed at 12 parts water to 1 bio-mass.
    Been working great at the Butterball turkey plant in Missouri for 25 years now. Will work on everything from grass clippings to plastics. Totally renewable and 85% efficient.
    Nukes are great, but once again the waste. (I live just over the hill from Hanford.)

  4. On November 7, 2022 at 12:26 pm, scott s. said:

    Yes, the progressives view “radical conservation” as the future. They generally agree with the assessments about problems with “green” energy and their solution is most will do without. You will not replace your ICE vehicles with EVs. You will use public mass transportation. That’s what meant by “build back better”/ agenda 21/2030/sustainable development goals. Subsistence farming is your future. Only the elites will be permitted to experience other life styles.

  5. On November 7, 2022 at 12:35 pm, Paul B said:

    The waste from a nuclear plant should be reprocessed back into more fuel rods. That is the solution. That or Thorium reactors which waste is not as toxic. We have the knowledge, just no one will spend the money as you can be shut down every four years. We have a partially educated electorate which will be the death of the republic.

  6. On November 7, 2022 at 6:10 pm, xtphreak said:

    President Peanut (Carter) screwed us on the Clinch River Breeder & Reprocessing spent fuel back in 1977.

    98% of the usable energy is still available (by breeder reactor and/or reprocessing) in “spent” fuel, just “poisoned” by byproducts while in fuel bundles.

    @Dan

    Recycling fuel is how you keep the volume of high-level waste down, but we (US) are terrible at the implementation.

    MOX @ SRS was to convert 10 metric tons or so of weapons grade plutonium into commercial fuel and thereby remove it from access as weapons grade by terrorists and government, but it’s shut down now without processing any.

    Just an FYI, the amount of fissile material contained in Vogtle 3’s core is less than 414 ft^3 or a cube 7.3 ft x 7.3 ft x 7.3 ft, 44% is swapped out every 18 months.

    Not nearly the huge mass most people imagine.

    Even in intact fuel bundles, it comprises a cubic equivalent of 13 ft x 13 ft x 13 ft.

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This article is filed under the category(s) War & Warfare and was published November 6th, 2022 by PGF.

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