Diary

Nuclear Energy: Clean, Safe, and Efficient (Part II)

The United States has not built a nuclear power plant since 1972, so all current nuclear power plants use technology that is extremely old and out-dated. Ironically, the same people that do not want the United States to use nuclear energy are many of the same people complaining about global warming issues. If global warming is a serious problem, then liberal Americans need to have an open mind to all types of clean energy sources – especially energy methods that produce the most “clean” energy for the taxpayer’s dollar. Wind farms use up a lot of land space and are not reliable because they are dependant on weather conditions. Also, they do not generate nearly the amount of energy a nuclear power plant can produce. A wind farm the size of a small state is required to generate the energy of a four reactor nuclear power plant. Hydropower is generated mainly from damns, but they too have limited viable locations. Hydropower is also unreliable because of weather conditions and is not as efficient as a nuclear power plant. Solar energy has potential, but it too is restricted by weather making it an unreliable source. Also, solar energy is not as efficient as nuclear energy. Solar energy has the most potential of any of the renewable energies other than nuclear. The reason is simple. The sun generates enough energy to power the world. However, for it to become a viable energy source, a low cost way needs to be devised to store solar power. Today, once night time begins, solar power is gone. Hence, backup energy sources are always required to power homes and companies in conjunction with solar energy. The lack of rain, sun, or wind renders hydro, solar, and wind energy useless. When weather patterns change beyond the norm for a year, or worse yet forever, it could render billions of dollars in tax money useless. This is not a concern for nuclear energy. It is much more dependable because it does not rely on the weather. There have been many plans formulated to solve the world’s energy crisis. One such plan is to build a solar plant the size of Austria in an African or Asian dessert. It could cost as much as four hundred billion dollars, but it would solve the energy crisis for everyone. This may sound ingenious; however, things never are as simple as they may appear. This would be a very complex undertaking and should require much thought to see if it is logically feasible, even if the funding problem is resolved. First, most of the African and Asian desserts are in poverty stricken or oil wealthy countries. Oil wealthy countries certainly have motivation to prevent such a project.  Besides, it is not wise for the United States or any nation to depend on all of its energy from a source that is not one hundred percent in their control. We have already seen the impact on the United States’ economy when depending on other countries for oil. Secondly, it is never wise to have all energy coming from one source. For example, if the plant went down, then it would affect the entire world. The solar plant would need to be extensively guarded by militia and anti-missiles to prevent terrorist attacks. It would need the best computer security to prevent hackers from entering. It could be a disaster waiting to happen if all of our energy eggs were in one basket. Third, it would require the most robust and complicated dispersal system to get energy generated in Africa or Asia to North America, Europe, Oceania, and South America. Fourth, nothing on this planet is safe from any natural disasters that can impact production. For example, a massive volcanic eruption could block a lot of the sun’s energy for years, crippling output. A massive volcanic eruption is not that far fetch. Yellowstone National Park is essentially one big volcano. Today, seismic activity and the ground level is rising suggesting an eruption is eminent. It could be many years away, but it will happen. It happened in the past, and the eruptions from this volcano are massive, unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes. A Yellowstone eruption could be hundreds of times more powerful than Mount St. Helens. A volcanic eruption of this magnitude could push the Earth into another ice age. Yes, most of these plans to cure the world’s energy problems sound great, but when you really get to thinking about them, they are massively flawed. The icing on the cake is after a monstrosity of a project to solve the world energy crisis fails. Those initially that pushed for the project, will soon join forces with those against it saying it was a dumb idea. Everyone is an expert once a project succeeds or fails. Consider all the people that were pushing for ethanol over gas that now say it was a dumb idea. They blame ethanol as one of the potential problems causing food prices to soar. This is evidence we do not have a proper solution in place before acting.

 

Another reason many do not like the nuclear option is because nuclear power plants are expensive and take a long time to build. Meanwhile, other renewable energy power plants are much less expensive to build, such as solar or wind farms. However, once again, we are not looking at the complete picture. Although a wind farm is much more cost effective to build, its construction is limited to an area were there are high winds. Solar power plants are most effective when constructed in areas that get a lot of sun, like the dessert. Most high wind corridors in the United States are far away from the power grid infrastructure used to transport energy to our homes. The same can be said of desserts. They too are generally far away from any power transport infrastructure. Thus, the main expense and time constraint for building a renewable energy power plant, is to build the infrastructure to transport the energy. On the other hand, nuclear power plants can be built near power grids to transport the energy. 

 

My Blog: http://patrickbohan.blogtownhall.com/ (The Theory of Mediocrity)

My Book: Is America Dying? (Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com)