Nuclear energy is needed to replace fossil fuels
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a 1987 comedy film with John Candy and Steve Martin, is a good reminder of the carbon emissions from holiday travel and overconsumption.
How else would you get millions of people traveling at the same time in winter weather and buying presents no one needs?
Overconsumption has taken over the real reason to celebrate and the dream of peace on earth.
The key message of “We are running out of time,” and “What now?” my columns in this newspaper, was an urgent call to shut down dirty power plants and use electric vehicles and mass transportation to stop carbon emissions. Unless we act now, we won’t have a happy future.
Nuclear power is needed
Electric vehicles will double the demand for clean energy. Solar and wind energy, with large-scale storage, will not be enough to meet the increasing demand for electric power in a few years.
A 500-megawatt wind farm can’t replace a 500-megawatt coal plant. Wind power changes during the day. Adding wind turbines does not solve the problem.
Solar and wind energy are not available 24 hours a day, and we don’t have enough energy storage capacity to power the rising electric load. Nuclear, solar, wind, and large-scale energy storage are all needed to replace fossil fuels.
The availability factor of a power plant is the amount of time that it is able to produce electricity over a certain period, divided by the amount of time in the period. Steam power plants have high availability factors expressed in percent: coal (60), gas (46), geothermal (66), and nuclear (90). Other power sources have low availability, wind (32), solar (20), and hydro (39). Steam turbines are designed to run 24/7 using heat provided by the combustion of fuels or nuclear fission splitting atoms.
Energy generation and storage
Electric energy is produced by splitting atoms, burning fuels to heat water, or harnessing solar or wind energy. Splitting atoms has the lowest amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power plants use grid power to run water pumps, control panels, and many other needs.
Electricity is either used immediately or stored for later use. Electricity can be stored with batteries or by transferring the energy to another form, like compressed air, pumped water storage, etc., and then transferred back to electricity when needed. However, transferring energy back and forth creates irrecuperable losses due to friction, lost as heat.
Japan has a wastewater problem. Reports of dumping contaminated water in the Pacific Ocean are alarming. There are no plans to dump dirty water, Japan is working to treat the water and release it over time.
There is fossil fuel money behind the propaganda. Making nuclear seem deadly keeps dirty power alive. Investment banks make a killing on fossil fuels, and our U.S. Congress takes dark money to grant subsidies and tax benefits to the fossil fuel industry.
Fukushima provided clean power for 40-years, this was not a nuclear accident. The power station failed in 2011 when a 9.0 earthquake and 50-ft. waves from a tsunami flooded the site and took the power grid out. No one died from radiation exposure. Japan did not have a response plan for a natural disaster of this magnitude.
Protect, restore, and fund
Some nuclear plants are at risk of premature shutdowns. To quickly increase nuclear energy capacity, we need to protect existing plants from closure, restore working plants to extend their life, and fund a new generation of small modular reactors to deploy nuclear power.
We are running out of time
We can print money, but we can’t go back in time. A day wasted is gone forever. How is it possible to ignore the destruction we have done to the most beautiful planet in the pursuit of profits and world domination?
While Americans go hungry, we have an insatiable military complex draining our economy. Defund the killing machine, stop world hunger, and save trillions of dollars. The world is watching.
Dr. Luis Contreras