(All figures in the following essay are estimates or averages based on reliable sources.)
Environmentalists have been telling us since the first Earth Day in 1970 that automobiles are wasteful. They tell us that reliance on individual and dispersed cars uses energy inefficiently and that we should use centralized mass transit systems to be more economical with our resources.
And they are right. Cars are much less efficient than mass transit. It goes back to the basic theory of economics called ‘economies of scale’ in which large-scale, centralized operations are more efficient than dispersed, decentralized ones. For instance, if you needed to bake 100 cakes, you would not make the batter one cake at a time. You would make it all at once.
Now, however, environmentalists are urging that we deploy windmills to generate electricity one megawatt at a time, rather than building big 1,000 megawatt centralized nuclear reactors to provide our electricity. This is a disastrous policy. The ‘economies of scale’ theory alone tells us that it would be hugely more efficient to use centralized facilities. Which is why America should build 800 nuclear reactors. This would solve a large number of our economic problems. Here’s why:
America’s current installed electrical generating capacity is 1.1 million megawatts. Of that 20% is nuclear. Meanwhile 72% is coal-fired or natural gas-fired, or roughly 800,000 megawatts. Less than 1% is wind power. The remainder is primarily hydroelectric power.
America should immediately begin construction of 800 nuclear reactors of 1,000 megawatts each, the standard nuclear reactor size. They could easily be built in 5 years. After all, in only 3 years and 8 months of World War II, with half the population that America has now, we produced tens of thousands of aircraft carriers, planes, Liberty Ships, tanks, artillery pieces, guns, jeeps and armored personnel carriers. 800 nuclear reactors would only be a fraction of this, a walk in the park.
These 800 nuclear reactors would produce an installed capacity of 800,000 megawatts. These reactors would allow us to shut down all 800,000 megawatts of capacity currently generated by the coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants now operating in the US.
Those coal and natural gas plants today consume 1.2 billion tons of coal and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas every single year. This is a huge waste of resources when we could be generating that electricity using the most efficient source ever known to man – nuclear energy which is literally thousands of times more efficient. The reason we are wasting these resources is because environmentalists are afraid of nuclear power and have blocked it.
If we converted all those coal and natural gas plants over to nuclear, that 1.2 billion tons of coal and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas every year could be converted into gasoline, heating fuel, transportation fuel and other uses in a process developed in the 1940s. The energy produced in that conversion would be the equivalent of all the energy in all of our imported oil of 15 million barrels a day. Since this coal and natural gas all come from American sources we could end the import of all oil from foreign countries by using these domestic sources.
This cut in American demand would cut worldwide crude oil demand by 20% and cause crude oil prices worldwide to plummet, leading to cheap fossil fuels for all the world. And it would enrich America by halting the massive flow of money to foreign countries for oil.
Is nuclear power safe?
Yes. James Lovelock, the Briton who founded the modern enviro movement, is pro-nuclear. So is Patrick Moore, founder of Greeenpeace, along with many other environmentalists. The number of people killed in accidents at American nuclear power plants over the last 50 years is precisely… zero. In March 1979, after the worst nuclear accident in American history at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, president Jimmy Carter went right inside the damaged reactor building which environmentalists said was the most dangerous place in the world. He is alive and well today, 30 years later.
Nuclear waste is low-level waste, like a dead battery. It is not harmless, but it is nothing like the danger that hysterical environmentalists claim. It is currently stored in pools of water at nuclear plant sites. Some of it can be reprocessed into new fuel. And once we complete the Yucca Mountain waste repository in Nevada, we will have a place to permanently store all of our low-level radioactive waste.
Many environmentalists are arguing that we should not build 800 nuclear power plants, but that we should install windmills instead. But the ‘economies of scale’ theory debunks that. And here’s an even bigger problem with wind energy and here’s a trick question to prove it:
If you needed to install 1,000 megawatts of electrical capacity and each windmill is designed to produce 1 megawatt of peak power, how many windmills do you need to install?
1,000 you say?
Sorry. Because nowhere in America does the wind blow 24 hours a day. So if the wind blows 12 hours a day, you would need to install twice as many, or 2,000 windmills. If the wind blows 8 hours a day, you would need to install 3,000 windmills. So to install 800,000 megawatts of wind power, we would need to install 2 million windmills or more, each the height of a 35-storey building! They would be everywhere. Thousands of mountaintops and ridge lines in America would be covered with windmills. And the roads and power lines needed to connect and maintain them would use tens of millions of acres of land, much of it in wilderness areas.
What did James Lovelock say recently about wind power? He said:
“I am not against renewable energy, but to spoil all the decent countryside in the UK with wind farms is driving me mad. It’s absolutely unnecessary, and it takes 2500 square kilometres to produce a gigawatt – that’s an awful lot of countryside.“
Meanwhile a nuclear reactor that produces one gigawatt – which is 1,000 megawatts – occupies 100 acres of land. And their construction will provide hundreds of thousands of good jobs.
And since we do not have endless capital to invest in energy, all these redundant windmills will consume all of our energy investment capital and return very little energy, causing big energy shortages and huge price spikes.
The massive and public failure of ethanol as an energy source is a warning about so-called ‘alternative energy’. 800 nuclear reactors are the key to America’s energy future and our economic revival.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more.