Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Know Nukes

There is no doubt that a nuke plant produces a prodigious amount of electricity. More than any coal or gas fired plant, and outdone by only a few hydro electric dams. Nukes produce very little greenhouse gas compared to any of the fossil fuel fired alternatives. Nukes, if not operated by lax and greedy companies or brain dead government functionaries, have been shown as safe as any oil or coal based generation method. Safer than coal really. Engineers love Nuke plants. All these are facts. All that said we must be realistic.

Nukes are at the bottom of the list when it comes to being sited in a community. There is nothing like a proposed nuke plant to inspire a native uprising. The suburban tribes have something more powerful than rifles and war ponies. They have lawyers. 

Nukes are hellishly expensive. Fifty billion a copy, and to be fair, a like amount for waste storage and decommissioning costs. The current proposal for fifty of these plants is a ruinous dream. 

For the price of ten Nukes we could insulate every home in the US and install heat pumps in al fuel oil heated residence. The number of jobs created would be enormous. Low skilled workers would insulate homes and install efficient windows. You don't even need a degree to operate a caulking gun, and there is no waiting period to buy one. Skilled workers would build and install the heat pumps. Saudi princes can't cut off the laws of thermodynamics that makes heat pumps operate. 

There may well be a spot for a Nuke plant, but the alternatives should be looked at first. We are probably ten years or more away from a practical photovoltaic power production, but basic science breakthroughs could change that in a hurry. Wind is coming on line fast, but is starting to run into a bit of NIMBY pushback. (Why doesn't GM make wind towers? There is a bigger market for those than Escalades.) 

No comments: