The road to 2030

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Corruption, pollution, and crimes against nature

 

At the worst time in history, diverse interests are increasing the climate emergency by prematurely shutting down the remaining U.S. nuclear plants, protecting oil and natural gas.

Stopping distributed nuclear power will have a long-term negative impact on grid resiliency. Deficient energy markets increase the cost of nuclear power, and investor-owned utilities pretend to benefit local communities while eliminating hundreds of high paying jobs.

Flawed environmental regulations ignore the price of carbon dioxide emissions and the radioactive waste of fracking and coal ash storage. Anti-nuclear activists needlessly afraid of radioactive waste stored safely on-site are creating a larger nuclear waste disposal problem.

Shutting down nuclear

Solar and wind power are natural ways to provide clean energy. Photovoltaic cells harness solar energy providing a variable amount of direct current with no moving parts. Wind turbines use solar energy in the form of wind using the shape of long blades to push the turbine like the wings of an airplane, creating a variable amount of AC power.

The power grid needs to run all the time, and it needs to have inertia provided by large electric generators powered by steam. Without nuclear reactors used to create steam, “natural” gas from fracking will continue.

It takes years to shut down a nuclear plant and restore the ground to its original condition. When the plant is operational, fuel rods are replaced using cranes and stored in large water pools to cool the rods and stored on-site in safe containers. When a plant shuts down, the reactor and the buildings become radioactive waste, encased in concrete for storage.

Is Entergy Nuclear closing down?

On December 23, 2020, Entergy Nuclear announced the sale and closing of the 811-megawatt Palisades, Mich., site, 40 years sooner than if they continued running the facility. The announcement to the 600 workers said this is a new beginning for the local community. “Palisades’ neighbors and stakeholders are assured a strong and steadfast commitment to safety, precision, and efficiency as our Holtec team decommissions this facility and brings a new economic future to the region.”

Nearly 30 U.S. reactors will be prematurely shut down by 2026.

Radioactive waste

Coal ash is a radioactive by-product from burning coal. Coal is a fossil fuel with trace amounts of uranium and thorium, along with arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, and other toxic elements. Coal ash is stored onsite in large open pits, exposed to flooding and ground leaks. A large study published by Scientific American says, “Coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste.”

Radioactive fracking wastewater is sold as brine to de-ice roads, spreading radioactive material into lakes and streams.

2030 Grid

The new grid must be reliable, with sufficient energy around the clock. We have limited geothermal sources. Hydroelectric power seems clean, but it is not. The decomposition of organic material at the bottom of the dam is a source of methane emissions. Under extreme weather, water levels in lakes and rivers will be unpredictable.

Existing nuclear power plants can be upgraded to run over the initial design life of 60 years, providing abundant, clean, safe, weather independent electricity. When the small modular reactors manufactured for commercial use become available, they will replace diesel generators, improving grid resiliency by disconnecting from the grid in case of blackouts.

Time to change

Here are some necessary changes:

A carbon Fee and Dividend with a realistic price on carbon dioxide emissions will drive decarbonization. Stop fossil fuel subsidies and show the true cost.

Energy storage and power generation by individuals will be needed. Change the business model of the grid to an open system with distributed energy resources. Keep net energy metering exchanging kilowatt-hours on a 1:1 basis. Stop import tariffs for solar systems.

Brad, I need 11,000 votes

The GOP corruption selling “clean coal” and “natural gas” as climate solutions, rolling back environmental protections, logging, and fracking public and indigenous lands, are criminal acts.

Stranded assets from oil and gas reserves treated as “risk-free” in the balance sheet must be recognized by banks and investors before they become taxpayer liabilities.

Dr. Luis Contreras

3 COMMENTS

  1. Nuclear power plants are not replaced by wind or solar intermittent power

    The non-nuclear alternative 100% WWS claims Water, Wind and Solar energy are best way to decarbonize. This is a 10-year-old “solution” without results. WWS ignores the gigawatts of clean and safe electricity from existing nuclear power plants, the jobs and benefits for these communities, and the massive radioactive waste disposal created by decommissioning these safe sites.

    WWS does not hold water. There is no time for false climate solutions.

    References and details available upon request, please post your comments.

    https://www.thedailystar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/in-your-opinion-nuclear-power-is-needed-to-fight-climate-change/article_dd058f85-4e0b-58a1-943e-23d05720b191.html

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