(A John Jacob H Commentary)
Frank W. James notes the nuclear power hysteria emanating from the Japanese debacle seems to be generated by a cadre of anonymous commentators. CLICK LINK HERE
I am not sure if I qualify as hysterical enough or anonymous enough for Mr. James purpose but I certainly number myself as among those who always believed nuclear power was essentially a niche technology most useful in limited applications.
Send an aircraft carrier around the world three or four times without refueling? Nuclear is definitely the way to go.
Go under a polar ice cap in a submarine? Nuclear is clearly the technology of choice.
Travel to Pluto and beyond with a robot satellite? Definitely only the best onboard nuclear power plant will do.
But it is doubtful even the perfection of the holy grail of “cold fusion” will ever efficiently power our vehicles- planes, trains or automobiles.
Certainly land based nuclear fission power plants along with their eco-wacko cousins-wind turbine farms- share one mutual fatal flaw: they are central command-and-control facilities dependent on a small corps of highly trained, highly paid technicians whose main goal in life is to make sure you get a bill every month for their service.
Need a root canal citizen? Sorry, you have to pay your electric bill first.
To that end advocates for nuclear power have been extremely effective in their effort to produce as much sole source electricity as possible for a world gullible enough to believe in their passion for electricity “too cheap to meter”.
Mr. James cites the statistic 1/3 of Japan’s electricity is nuclear.
So how has that worked out for Japan now that not one, not two, not three, but FOUR reactors located on the same GPS co-ordinate are now dead and useless?
10 to 20 percent of 1/3 of all the electricity production in Japan gone in the blink of an eye?
Talk about all your eggs in one basket!!
To add sweetener to the deal the technicians who know the most about the technology are bickering about the gravity of the situation even as they make decisions about how best to deploy resources to contain damage.
Think this is ridiculous?
Just wait and see what happens when the current crop of public school graduates advance through the ranks into their professional careers and have their fuzzy math physics-for-the-layman fingers on the core reactor switch board.
Hijinks will undoubtedly ensue when the inevitable occurs.
Most arguments for and against nuclear power involve “electricity production” not “energy production”.
The first thing to know about “electricity production” is power plants are built to meet “peak load” requirements.
Real world translation: most power plants do not operate anywhere near full capacity for most of the day most of the time.
In effect, they cannot GIVE their electricity away at any price at certain hours of the night or in certain seasons.
Only in the hot summer when all people everywhere turn on their air conditioners or the cold winter when all people everywhere heat every square inch of closet space in their house does the grid come alive with the buzz of kilowatts.
So in most cases all the discussion about the “need” for more nuclear power plants is really just a discussion about the need to feed some jackass oligarch’s overlord agenda. Or some eco-wacko jackass overlord agenda. Consumption of energy and the efficiency of markets thereof has nothing to do with it.
If public discussion were ever to turn to “energy production” (and it NEVER does) people would quickly discover in our modern technological society it is impossible to throw even a pebble in any direction without hitting an energy source.
Show of hands- has anybody ever visited a sewerage treatment plant or hog waste lagoon? They generate more methane gas than you can “shake a stick at”.
In a society with a perpetual “no boondoggle left behind” mantra for all programs no matter how ludicrous, it is still deemed too expensive to cap, trap and store cubic megameters of methane in a bladder to use elsewhere for ANY purpose.
Free ourselves from dependence on fossil fuel? Why?
With modern filters and catalytic converters it is possible to meet every prissy edict from the Overlord Bolshevik Class and still have no need for overpriced, inefficient expensive nuclear power.
Forty years ago if you told the Japanese part of the price to build four nuclear reactors located in a major earthquake zone would be a canal from the ocean to a catch basin equipped with a floodgate that could be opened by one man equipped with nothing more elaborate than a manual hydraulic house jack they would have said the proposition is way too expensive and either not built the facility or just ignored the idea and built the facility anyway.
Oh,wait. That is exactly what happened. Welcome to the near recent future.
This is not hysteria. This is just ordinary analytical observation.
Really, even if all else fails it is still possible to pelletize just about anything- grass clippings, leaves, sawdust et.al. That’s right. Anyone who lives underneath the spreading boughs of a sycamore/oak/pine tree or bayberry bush can harvest the leaves in the same way anything else is harvested.
Wait until the material reaches a peak of crunchy crispy goodness and run it through a grinder. Once pelletized it can be stored, transported and used with nothing more elaborate than a miniature version of Grandpa’s coal fed furnace complete with auger and pellet burning chamber.
Energy is everywhere.
The bad news is no one seems to know, care, or understand.
A few years back the boss and I were trapped for SEVEN DAYS in Hacienda JohnJacobH because of an ice storm. We literally could not even go to the grocery store because it was just too slick to walk, drive or otherwise move over the terrain.
No problem. I whipped out the little 5000 watt generator, ran some extension cords to the gas furnace blower, television, computer, microwave etc. and we lived well in spite of what could have been a stressful week.
Everyone got a shower everyday. We had camping gear to cook various foods from the freezer and pantry; at sunset we cranked the furnace up to incinerate then turned the generator off and when dawn arrived the house was still a warmish 60 degrees.
The bad news? We were likely the only people in a five mile radius who rode out this ice storm in relative comfort.
This civilization needs to do more and do better.
No apologies to Mr. James and others. Nuclear fission is a marginal solution to a non existent problem. I am not afraid of it. I just think it is a ruinous economic proposition.