Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Yin and Yang of the Energy Debate Today !

We are all environmentalists in some degree. Thankfully the Socialist/Marxist ideologues (watermelons) are a minority, though the most vocal, for now. It's obvious all of us desire to live in a world of clean air, clear water and uncontaminated food. It's also obvious that it's the Western countries that have the strictest environmental regulations and safeguards on these three life enhancing factors. And yet you get these ideologues holding up only the Western societies as the defilers of Mother Earth with greenhouse emissions and trying to force their pie-in-the-sky energy ''sustainability'' as the answer to clean energy. However, as the need for energy constantly grows, our methods for extracting, transporting and producing that energy must evolve as well.

Although nearly everyone agrees that we need an efficient, safe and economically sound method for producing electricity, our society is polarized by how to reach that end. However, our solution stares us in the face and has been awaiting the spotlight for almost a century. Nuclear fission, despite its potential for unparalleled production, continues to be abused by Hollywood, the media and, most importantly, the general public. This in spite of the fact that in 1955, the town of ARCO in Idaho, was the first to solely use nuclear power to supply its energy needs. Today, it stands as an example of the successful  and safe use of nuclear fission.

The New Improved Nuclear in the U.S.A.
It's disgusting that its opponents appeal primarily to emotions in order to justify their position, they typically avoid the fact surrounding fission and fail to address the current methods of extracting energy. Despite this rational alternative that is nuclear power, the leftist mainstream media in league with the Greenies continues to paint the industry with an apocalyptic brush while refusing to address the advantages it presents. Fission differs fundamentally from other energy sources because it yields power from splitting atoms rather than burning coal or gas; consequently, nuclear reactors emit zero carbon emissions. Which, I thought, was the main idea in building this useless, non-constant electricity production, from wind turbines and solar arrays. Nuclear plants operate constantly 24/7.

The wuss-factor is quite evident when anyone mentions radiation: all hell breaks loose! With biased news reports and videos of Homer Simpson aimlessly trying to operate a nuclear plant, it's no wonder why so many resent such a SIMPLE solution to energy demands. You hear that spill of radioactive waste can decimate a whole town, when it fact no deaths of serious illnesses have been directly attributed to fission in America's history. The reality is that as more new plants are being built in countries around the world the industry should brag about the significant improvements over the last 20 years. These improvements, besides making the nuclear buildings earthquake, tsunami and missile proof, include the amazing feature of being so self-contained that they are cooled internally without the need for external power to drive the pumping devices thereby excluding any possibility of a meltdown.

Now for the Yang part of our story. For all the talk about wind and solar, Germany's Energiewende is producing one big result - a return to COAL. For an entire week last December, Germany's 23,000 windmills stood perfectly still, Solar didn't produce much, either. Gas is still too expensive and so, unless the Germans are planning to shiver and to do without power for weeks at a time, they needed something to replace their nuclear reactors. These are the same nuclear reactors (still in their prime) that an ignorant Angela Merkel and her party allowed the powerful Green coalition to scare her panties off with visions of a German-style Japanese disaster, so she decided to close down all nuclear plants over the next 4 years. So now Germany's energy transition has been a transition back to coal.

Despite multi-billion subsidies for renewable energy sources, that has not done anything to lower the costs of electricity for the average German, there just might be a glimmer of hope that in the end the carbon guilt-trip has been dealt a reality-blow. Meanwhile, power generation from brown coal (lignite) has climbed to its highest level in Germany since 1990. It is especially the coal-fired power plants that are replacing the eight nuclear plants that are already shut down. While less CO2-intensive, but more expensive, gas-fired power plants are currently barely competitive. Energy expert Patrick Graichen speaks of Germany's ''energy transition paradox'' : the fanatical development of solar and wind farms, yet still rising carbon dioxide emissions.

The Way I See It.....extracting, containing and transporting energy is innately a dangerous and difficult task, but it is a necessary one. Transitioning to an economy that embraces nuclear fission with its safer, reliable containment vessels, and the use of Thorium to replace Uranium makes the clearest sense.  This will not just affect corporations needing cheap electricity, but will improve the lives of each and every one of us. This will result only if we, the consumers, demand a change in our energy policy; indeed, we posses that power. As we endeavour to met the increasing demands of this growing world, we must embrace the solution that has been sitting in front of us for decades.

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