Tue 9 Jul 2013
I wrote the following rant in response to a question from my stepson Gus. I did it the way I write emails, minues capital letters and punctuation. I may change that later but for now here it is.
as one of my professors used to say.. think about the question before you ask it because it will have an answer….so my first answer is that nuclear anything is an inappropriate use of technology and worse yet design….at least here on the earth…at least until the END…now in space that is another matter…as a small is beautiful person schumacher said that – building nuclear power plants is like using a firehose to knock an ant off your toilet seat…it would do it but it would trash the rest of the bathroom….
using commercial grade nuclear power plants to generate electricity are by their natures large and complex with many moving parts.. they were larely invented by scientists who had a hard on for large complex machine and the military who needed cover for their nuclear weapons program…so it really has no relation to the actual generation of electricity in the world and represents a valid dichotomy in intellectual thinking .. ie. large and central vs. separate and continuous … to me diffuse power systems make a lot of sense…1. they require far fewer power lines so transmission lose is reduced and 2. there is much less of a chance of an actual power failure…then there is the cost
finland is currently the most committed nuclear power plant builder…i know that sounds very weird but it is true and they are right next door to norway the home of the first commercial thorium nuclear test reactor…(what a great segue and a return to your real question)…finland’s last nuke was projected to cost 3 billion $$$ and it came in last year (5 years late) at 8 billion $$$…now understand findland kinda models the earth towards the end of our sun’s useful life…where nukes make sense…they gots no fuel besides wood and it is colder than hell there much of the year…(plus as a political side note they got russia as a neighbor.. big yuk) still it really makes no sense…
so if you can accept the facts of large complicate expensive energy systems and find the current nuclear ones to be dangerous then thorium salt generators may seem to hold promise…i would argue that if the usa was going to go nuclear in the 1950s this is the direction we should have gone…in fact oak ridge build 2 such reactors one, a straight salts burner (remember fission is just a large fire) and 2, a burner with a “mat”….they were quickly shut down because they did not involve highly concentrated uraniun and plutonium…so from that perspective thorium reactors are much safer…generate higher temperatures and generate much “safer” waste…
again for me we got the biggest nuke that we need in the SUN…usens puny humans caint do no betters…so i say we use that until it begins to fail and then use all the stuff we could burn then…unfortunately we have burned 1/2 of it already so we better stop quick….and for the record…contrary to the science fiction models…i do not believe we are going anywhere in this solar system anytime soon so to all the capitalists that have been treating this planet as disposable i say tsck tsck tsck….the billionaires currently have a huge hard on for mars…well they have not solved the radiation, speed and food problems yet let alone the fuel problems so i say have a go at it bloke…i will stand by the side and watch…remember that voyagers 1 and 2 where launched when i was a child and they are just now leaving the solar system…thought votes are still out as to whether they have yet or not…
BUT THEN THERE IS SOLAR:
Germany’s Solar Industry Is Imploding
William Pentland, Contributor
I write about energy and environmental issues.
The title says it all. Go there and read. More next week
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