Split, don’t burn

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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.

Carbon emissions

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.

Availability

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.

Fukushima effect

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

5 COMMENTS

  1. Was Florence a power plant failure?

    Hurricane Florence toxic impact deeper than public told – coal ash from a breached pond – L.V. Sutton Power Station, NC

    The three Lee coal ash basins hold about 1 million tons of toxic ash containing heavy metals like arsenic and lead. And they are now completely underwater.

    Floodwaters breached an earthen dam holding back Sutton Lake, a former cooling reservoir at another Duke Energy site, the L.V. Sutton Power Station in Wilmington, North Carolina. Waters from the lake flooded one of three adjacent coal ash lagoons, and Riverkeepers are now seeing coal ash in the nearby Cape Fear River.

    Sutton Power activated a high-level emergency alert after floodwaters from the river overtopped the lake’s earthen dam. And a coal ash landfill under construction at the Sutton plant ruptured last week, spilling enough ash to fill 180 dump trucks.

    https://apnews.com/715387dab6d248f8a5e7397968225e0e/APNewsBreak:-Dam-breach-at-Duke-plant;-coal-ash-could-spill/

  2. When Harvey flooded Houston, was it a petrochemical catastrophe or a natural disaster?

    “Some 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of intertwined oil, gas, and chemical pipelines line the nation’s largest energy corridor.

    Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with stormwater surged out of just one chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston on the upper shores of Galveston Bay.

    Benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene, and other known human carcinogens were among the dozens of tons of industrial toxic substances released into surrounding neighborhoods and waterways following Harvey’s torrential rains.

    In all, reporters found more than 100 Harvey-related toxic releases — on land, in water, and in the air.

    Testing by state and federal regulators of soil and water for contaminants was largely limited to Superfund toxic waste sites.”

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/30/16228566/hurricane-harvey-environmental-disasters-pollutants-flooding/

  3. Coal-fired power plants are kept running years past their design life, some upgraded with scrubbers and others with promises to shut them down!

    Coal waste and emissions threaten public health, targeting minorities, and low-income communities who trade health for jobs.

    Coal ash is a toxic radioactive soup from burning coal for electricity. Coal comes from Wyoming extracted from organic materials millions of years before dinosaurs walked on Earth. Coal mining releases methane and coal combustion releases carbon dioxide and particulate matter.

    EPA has been under-reporting coal ash contamination. Drinking water contamination was found in the Earth Justice 2010 Coal Ash report: At the 35 sites with groundwater monitoring wells, Earth Justice test results found concentrations of heavy metals like arsenic or lead exceed EPA standards for drinking water, by orders of magnitude.

    Arkansas coal-fired plants are some of the worse polluters getting a free pass from the “environmental quality” regulators, ADEQ:

    * SWEPCO’s Flint Creek in Benton County, has exceeding safe levels of arsenic, cobalt, and molybdenum;

    * Entergy’s White Bluff, in Jefferson County, has twice the safe levels of beryllium and boron, five times the safe level of cobalt, six times the safe level of lithium, four times the safe level molybdenum, along with an excessive level of sulfate.

    * SWEPCO’s Turk plant has three times the safe level of lithium.

    * Entergy’s Independence plant has excessive levels of boron

    https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/report-in-harms-way.pdf

  4. You may have heard of using Wind, Solar, and Batteries – without nuclear

    This is a popular idea – but it does not work, it is NOT a SOLUTION suggested in 2010 and again in 2020

    Nuclear is clean and safe … necessary to keep from the road to hell

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