Which Would You Pick?

September 23, 2012

The commenter “ssat” on Bishop Hill summarises the power generation options, comparing 1 GW generators:

: 1 GW nuclear, 4 acres, 24/7/365, reliable, sustainable with re-processing, possible future thorium.
: 1 GW solar, 5,000 acres, 4/7/365, nothing at night.
: 1 GW wind, 60,000 acres, 6/7/365, nothing when calm/stormy.
: 1 GW coal, 15 acres, 0/7/365, reliable, sustainable but nothing with CCS mandated.
: 1 GW gas, 2 acres, 24/7/365, reliable, sustainable with local/friendly shale.

Which would you pick?

Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown

March 6, 2012

Russ Finley has a terrific article describing the “unsensational” version of the events around the failure of the the Daiichi Power Plants during the 2010 tsunami.

He focuses on reason and logic and demonstrates how that not in in play in most coverages. I liked his analogy to the how the airline industry could be covered:

For decades, anti-nuclear groups have played on people’s fears, conflating nuclear weapons with nuclear energy and exaggerating the radiation risks associated with it. If there were an airline equivalent of today’s anti-nuclear activists, the public might be told (for decades on end) that airline travel involves moving at 500 miles an hour, thirty thousand feet above the ground, in air that is so cold and rarefied you would suffocate and/or freeze within minutes without protection, in a (literally) paper-thin tube of pressurized aluminum, managed by a large for-profit corporation with razor thin profit margins. Oh, and they can be also used by terrorists as flying bombs. We would see footage of mangled bodies, corroded structure, and interviews of grieving loved ones. Come to think of it, that does sound scary.

These hypothetical anti-airline activists might lobby politicians to foil attempts by airlines to properly deal with waste, forcing them to store it on site as much of the nuclear industry has to do with its waste. On the other side there would be engineers and scientists trying to use reason, statistics, and rational arguments to counter irrational fear. They would use numbers to prove that airline travel is the safest way to travel per unit length traveled …ah, we should all be glad there are not significant numbers of anti-airline activists.

Jimmy Carter and Fukushima

April 2, 2011

Here are a few things I did not know. I did not know there was an explosion incident at a plutonium enrichment plant in Canada in 1952. Related to that, I did not know that ex-President Jimmy Carter had a role, as a young Naval Officer, in dealing with the incident. The episode is covered nicely in a recent article in the Economist.

Jerry Pournelle Does Some Numbers on Released Radiation in Japan

March 16, 2011

See http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2011/Q1/view666.html#worstcase

His numbers show

the absolute worst case has no more global effect than did an event that many weren’t even aware of, and which didn’t have any great global effect.

His bottom line:

The important lesson from Japan is that we took obsolete reactors with old designs and safety features, and subjected them to a 9.0 quake and a very large tsunami, and the damage to the planet is an unfortunate but hardly decisive event. It is now time to stop worrying about this mess until things settle and we can see precisely what we have learned, and factor that into the next generation designs. Note that almost everywhere in the world we are building reactors with much better design and far better safety features than those being destroyed now. Concentration on how awful is the nuclear mess takes our attention off the economic and human disasters from the earthquake and tsunami.

IEA Energy Cost Forecasts

January 3, 2011

From Oil Drum “Renewable and fossil electricity generation costs compared”.

“Is Nuclear Waste Really Waste”?

December 21, 2010

Fascinating presentation by Kirk Sorensen, Chief Nuclear Technologist at Teldyne Brown Engineering and a PhD Student at University of Tennessee.  This is a YouTube video of the presentation me made on 1 Nov 2010 at Google.

“I Feel Good”

November 19, 2010

Rupert Soames, CEO of Aggreko — a world leader in temporary energy supply — delivers some straight talk at the Scottish Parliament.  Watch for the “I Feel Good” quote. Priceless.