1. What he refers to as "moderator rods" are actually control rods. The term "moderator" refers to a material that is unlikely to absorb neutrons, but likely to scatter them. This helps lower the average neutron speed inside the reactor, which actually increases the fission rate. Since water serves this purpose just fine, most reactors do not have specific "moderator rods", although BWRs actually run pipes of liquid water through the fuel assemblies for additional moderation.
2. BWRs are not run all-rods-out, like he claims. BWRs are generally run with significant control rod insertion, so that the water stays liquid for a greater portion of the height of the core.
3. He doesn't quite explain that the source of the hydrogen is a replacement reaction where zirconium and water react to create zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas.
4. Xenon-135 is a fission product, not produced by neutron activation, and neutron activation of coolant is nothing to sneer at (the half-life of tritium is 12.3 years).
There was a lot of background radiation from Cs-137 from all the old nuclear testing that's disappearing now.
Probably better to not get exposed to tritium all other things being equal but you would receive more damage from radioactivity IMO inhaling someone's cigarette smoke. I suppose this depends on exactly how much tritium is present in the steam that was vented.
The original engineer also left out the many other radionuclides that are created that don't break down instantly, but his points about filtering most contaminants out before they are vented, and their destination of the vast Pacific Ocean is right on target.
Canadian reactors (the CANDU design) use heavy water as moderator because it doesn't absorb neutrons as readily, and the improvements in neutron economy allow them to avoid enriching their fuel.
Radiation from tritium is definitely something that we worry about as far as worker safety near piping containing irradiated water, but it's not something that concerns us too much as far as being vented into the environment (we try to minimize that, but there's only so much you can do, especially with a BWR).
Turns out a complete meltdown of a civilian reactor a few thousand miles away matters less than open air explosion of multi-megaton bombs on the other side of the world, which was the cause for the 60's levels.
Not that I wish nuclear meltdown on anyone, but the above seems to me to suggest that on a worldwide scale it wouldn't have much of an impact.
But the premise of the OP was some Australians that were freaking out because of the events in Japan. It's a similar situation.
it is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much uncontrolled radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident
The wikipedia article suggests the science is very mixed, and there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other.
So whatever the effects of TMI were, they are almost certainly small.
But that’s not even that important to the point I was trying to make. The amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere was very low, in a real disaster (like in Chernobyl) much, much more radioactivity is released – more than any one coal power plant could ever release.
Deaths obviously still matter but I don't think looking only at radioactivity is good enough. I would very much like to know the deaths per kWh for energy produced from coal and nuclear energy. It is certainly possible that infrequent nuclear disasters are, well, worth it.
(A single airplane crash kills many more people than a single car crash. Airplanes are still much safer than cars since they crash so infrequently compared to cars. Nuclear energy might very well be in a similar position, I honestly don't know.)
TMI is estimated to have caused only one excess cancer. So we're looking at 4000 people killed over the lifetime of nuclear power world-wide, compared to 24,000 people per year killed by pollution from coal, in the U.S. alone.
Coal accounts for 50% of the U.S. energy supply, compared to 8% for nuclear.
The range mentioned is 14000-17000.
Wikipedia also says the estimate is 4000, and references a report by the United Nations Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It goes on to say that UNSCEAR later decided that was an over-estimate, and that IAEA data corroborates that. It has citations for everything.
Even if the death toll was 17,000, that's still less than the number of U.S. deaths from coal each year.
Looks like nuclear is a huge win, even counting Chernobyl. Solar and Wind are also good power sources.
There are already a number of people being treated for radiation poisoning. They have already admitted that there have been radiation releases above safe levels.
I feel sorry for the engineers working so hard to fix this, as they face the largest dangers. They are sacrificing a lot to save other people. As history tells us, in other nuclear disasters these are the first people to die from the affects. Some have already died.
A previous earthquake a few years ago caused an explosion in one of the reactors in Japan. I guess the costs and risks were weighed up - and the risks ignored. Previously the company CEO resigned because of falsified safety reports.
The costs of nuclear reactors - even if you don't factor in the costs of these disasters are higher now than other forms of cleaner energy generation. Let's use the smarter, more innovative, and safer energy solutions available today. Let's leave these 50's and 60's era shitty technology behind.
Oh, and what do you suggest? In the US, for example, we've just about dammed every river that can be dammed, and solar and wind are too expensive for wide scale deployments.
The only real alternative we have to the 20% of our energy which comes from nuclear would be to add to the 45% which comes from coal (or to the 23% from natural gas.) That would be a disaster, coal plants are far more damaging than nuclear plants are.
We should be doing the opposite. Replacing our alarmingly high coal energy usage with nuclear plants, instead. Too bad there's so much propaganda (and big-coal lobbying) against this. Nuclear is the only practical source of zero-emission energy for wide scale use.
Personally, I'd much rather live with a couple nuclear incidents than with the horrors of today's fossile fuel industries.
No, they aren't. And the only reason nuclear is considered "cheap" is that the costs of accidents and waste disposal are methodically underestimated.
Oh, and another thing: Uranium fuel is a quite limited resource as well...
Nuclear waste is contained and far less dangerous (when kept properly) than fossile fuel emissions.
I think you might be making the opposite point to what you intend.
You compare the worst case of safety & long term consequences for oil/coal (ie, the current situation), with the best case ("when kept properly") for nuclear power.
A better comparison would be to compare the safety coal/oil power after spending the money required to keep nuclear waste safe on cleaning coal/oil emissions and improving mining safety, or else to compare the worst case in each scenario.
The worst case for coal/oil is a few thousand dead (from mining) a year, and bad climate damage. The worst case for nuclear is a few million dead and regional environmental catastrophe. It's fair to have a discussion about the probability any disaster happening, but to preclude the possibility undermines your argument.
To me, nuclear proponents making the case the nuclear is safe if everything goes well sound a lot like the NASA administrators who Feynman criticized in the challenger disaster report for not understanding risk.
EDIT: I should note that even the above is somewhat irrelevant to my original point, which was simply that one cannot dismiss nuclear power as a whole simply because one type of fuel supply is "limited".
To give you an example, think of a way to run a large aluminium smelter overnight using just solar cells. There isn't any sun shining, so you arn't getting any power in. You need to somehow store enough energy to run the plant overnight, and do it in a form that can actually be produced, isn't absurdly expensive and isn't utterly dangerous.
And at the end of that, you need enough solar cells to produce enough power so that your countries economy doesn't stop in the first spat of bad weather.
I do agree with your point, however. Fossil fuels cause too much damage to the environment for them to be viable long term.
The only question is how do we go about replacing them, with the current political state of the issue?
Its also interesting that they seem to solve parts of the "baseload power" problem, ie. some plants store molten salt and can thus generate power for extended periods, but they would still have issues. For example, in non-equitorial climates I would assume it would have diminished capacity in winter, which could be a problem if a large portion of the grid was composed of solar thermal plants. Similarly you have efficiency losses/etc. associated.
Considering that the only alternative in terms of storing power involves pumping water up hydroelectric dams, though, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
I don't think you explained this. It seems as though you're just arguing about the cost of batteries, not a certain "type" of power. (what types of power are there, anyways? I only know of one: electricity. There are many different ways to generate it though..)
To show you that the storage of large quantities of is impractical by example, think of the last time you visited a data center, and remember the rows upon rows of of UPS batteries required to run one datacenter for a few minutes. It stands to reason that enough batteries to power the datacenter for an extended period of time (ie. days), would be utterly impractical. This is why datacenters have generators, ie. the batteries can't power the datanceter indefinitely and when the batteries run out, it needs to produce the power to power the datacenter.
Or you could mine New York garbage and make diesel out of that.
I agree. Let's replace all ~40-year-old reactors (like the ones breaking down in Japan) with modern, fail-safe nuclear designs.
Two reactors are still OUT OF CONTROL.
One of them is even using Plutonium in its fuel. German news about that: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/technik/0,1518,750668,00....
Whether the containment will work as designed is unknown.
Fukushima II, the other plant has cooling problems, too.
Now there has been an alarm of higher radiation at the Onagawa plant.
German source: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0,1518,750637,00.html
Updating with more information: Please see this list of BWR reactors throughout the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_boiling_water_reactors
You will notice that Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 (which caused the hydrogen explosion to the building walls) is a BWR/3, MK-1 model reactor. From this page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BWR#Evolution_of_the_BWR, you will see the following:
The first [General Electric] series of production BWRs evolved through 6 iterative design phases, each termed BWR/1 through BWR/6. (BWR/4s, BWR/5s, and BWR/6s are the most common types in service today.) The vast majority of BWRs in service throughout the world belong to one of these design phases.
1st generation BWR : BWR/1 with Mark-1 containment.
2nd generation BWRs : BWR/2, BWR/3 and some BWR/4 with Mark-I containment. Other BWR/4, and BWR/5 with Mark-II containment.
3rd generation BWRs : BWR/6 with Mark-III containment.
So, it would seem to me, that this confirms, it was not until at least BWR/4 or above that Mark-II containment was used. I'm pretty sure this confirms there is no 3rd containment layer.
An announcement in Germany regarding the safety of our nuclear power plants stated that ours are supposed to be safer, because they would have at three to four safety layers instead of two used in Japan, which probably referred to the containment layers.
You may have noticed that they use defense-in-depth. Even though they were just hit by one of the biggest earthquakes ever and had several unthinkable things happen, there are still people inside the control room fixing it. If it were that "OUT OF CONTROL" that panic was required, they would have fled too.
Sure, the reactor may be expensive to clean up and it may be damaged enough that they'll retire it (it's a 40-year-old BWR design, after all), but years from now, we'll probably still be debating over exactly how much radiation was released, what sort, and whether it did anything. Just so you know, educated people will completely ignore alarming reports about radiation leakage that don't contain words like "Sievert." My professors would be remiss if I didn't.
But that's the problem with radiation. It's too invisible. Most causes of death can be seen and avoided. But radiation is invisible (except in a few weird circumstances) and it can linger in some cases, so people fear it as some kind of unavoidable, invisible poison.
Never mind the fact that it's all around us. Cosmic rays. Bananas. Background radiation is everywhere. It has been for your entire life and it's not going away.
I wonder if owning a Geiger counter would calm people down or just drive them away from Brazil nuts and potatoes? 
"As of 0:30 pm, the measured value of radiation dose near MP6 was 4μSv/h. The increase of the radiation dose cannot be confirmed at this time.
As of 0:30 pm, the measured value of radiation dose at the monitoring post in Fukushima Daini Power Station located approximately 10 km south of Fukushima Daiichi Power Station remains at the same level.
In light of the incidents that have occurred at Units 1 and 3, we are considering applying prevention measures to the wall of the reactor building to ventilate the hydrogen gas contained in Unit 2."
From August last year:
MOX fuel loaded into Tokyo Electric's old Fukushima reactor
Sunday 22nd August, 05:36 AM JST
FUKUSHIMA — Tokyo Electric Power Co loaded plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel Saturday into a reactor at its nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in preparation for the largest Japanese utility’s first plutonium-thermal power generation.
The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant would be the third in Japan to be used for the so-called pluthermal generation, but the only one among the three to have been subjected to antiaging treatment with 34 years since its launch. Pluthermal output has already begun at the No. 3 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.
I'm pretty sure the author is not an 'expert', exactly, because he seems unfamiliar with some of the nuances of BWR operation, but his summary is generally correct.
Of course, the class was taught over cable TV by fox news anchors funded by both GE, the DNC and the RNC. That's pretty much how the US got to be a superpower and stuff.
Same here. And I think I know why: understanding the risks puts you in control, to some degree. People are highly averse to risks they cannot control.
I mean, the news is a joke. They talk about "radiation" but appear to have no idea how it's even measured. The news anchors don't seem to know what a Sievert is, nor why knowing that kind of stuff is important.
And heck, as bad as Chernobyl was, they managed to operate the rest of the reactors for years after the accident.
The list of cancelled nuclear power plants is impressive:
As an example, 4,000 people died in 2007 collecting coal for power plants, oil pipelines have a habit of https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/List_of_pipel... exploding, and tankers run aground, hydroelectric dams routinely kill off migrating fish and do damage to ecosystems. Solar cells require large amounts of toxic chemicals in their production and neither solar nor wind turbines can provide baseload energy reserves simply because the sun doesn't shine at night and the wind rarely blows the amount you need it to.
At the end of the day, we only really have three options for baseload energy: You have fossil fuels, hydroelectric or nuclear power. From what I can see, we are starting to run out of viable hydroelectric plants, fossil fuels are apparently causing widespread short term and long term damage to the environment, and nuclear power has gotten a lot better over the past few decades.
It is my opinion therefore that the view that nuclear power is horribly unsafe comes from the same sort of thinking that leads to the belief that planes are unsafe vs. cars, ie. that a small number of accidents make it to the news, simply because they are uncommon as opposed to lack of news coverage on the more dangerous subject simply because people dying of it is not news.
Case in point: How many news stories do you hear about "X died from terrorism" as opposed to "X died from a heart attack?". The latter is more likely to kill you, the former is the one people are more afraid of.
The nuclear reactors seem to make much more trouble right now.
Please stop that.
I see that you are confused when somebody has not the view of the nuclear industry. You are brainwashed by the corporations. Even thinking that there are alternatives that are not coal seems to be not possible.
Is there a defined term for the observation of continuous streams of information tailored to fit a particular popular ideology thus contributing to increased skepticism of said information?
As there are code smells, so there are propaganda smells, but not everyone has a nose for either of them.
It's sort of like driving your car into a concrete wall on the freeway. There are buckets of sand there that dissipate the energy; they get destroyed, but you and the freeway survive. This is the purpose of those sand buckets, to blow up to prevent other things from blowing up. The outer containment building is similar; it blows up, but the environment and the reactor core are still both fine. It would be better if it didn't blow up, but it is manageable because the engineers designed for that contingency.
Good for selling newspapers, but won't be ending the world just yet.
How confident are you in that statement?
And so I read this post, and nodded, and though 'Hmm, ok, good... OK, sounds reasonable. Oh, I see, great!'
And then I got to the end, and some little circuit in my brain switched on, and I realized I felt just a little bit too comforted.
As if this post, from a first-time blogger, might actually be the work product of some agent of the US pro-nuke consortium that's trying to get clearance (not to mention indemnification from liability) to build many billions of dollars worth of new plants in the US. Or, perhaps more plausibly, merely the comforting words of a family friend trying to reassure people who weren't really in a position to do much about things in any case. And whose dad works in the nuke industry, with whatever subconscious bias that might convey.
But hey, fuck it: taking that article at face value will make it easier to sleep tonight, so until morning at least I think I'll try to do that. So thanks for posting it!
> For that purpose, a large and thick concrete basin is cast under the pressure vessel (the second containment), which is filled with graphite, all inside the third containment. This is the so-called “core catcher”. If the core melts and the pressure vessel bursts (and eventually melts), it will catch the molten fuel and everything else. It is built in such a way that the nuclear fuel will be spread out, so it can cool down.
edit: Plus reading about INES, there was a British plant that had 5 (five) level 4 incidents in 25 years, and a partial core meltdown at a French plant. And many more.
This was from a Slashdot comment, so I trust it about equally to a newly minted blog with only a single post: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2033910&cid=35463272
Someone with more knowledge of nuclear power history could surely cross reference the dates here for us and confirm/deny the existence of the 3rd containment layer:
- 439 MWe BWR, 1971
- Automatically shut down
- Water level decreasing
- Pressure release implemented
- Explosion observed
- Containment believed intact
- Seawater injection has started
- Radiation levels did not rise after
- 760 MWe BWR, 1974
- Water level lower but steady
- Preparations for pressure release
- 760 MWe BWR, 1976
- 760 MWe BWR, 1978
- Shut for periodic inspection
- 1067 MWe BWR, 1979
- Shut for periodic inspection
"If you want to stay informed, please forget the usual media outlets and consult the following websites"
and goes on to list 3 nuclear lobbying websites.
So, ignore the independent media and get all of your information from pro-nuclear lobbies?
The msm usually doesn't have any idea what they're talking about when they report on computer related issues, why do you expect them to be any better when it comes to nuclear power?
So according to your analogy: Don't listen to independent tech news, just listen to what Gruber tells you about Apple ;)
The more I read about climate change and nuclear energy, the more pro-nuke I am. If I start writing up what I've learned on my blog, would you call me a lobbyist too?
There are several factual errors (so much I don't know where to start), just check the press releases from TEPCO, the public statements of the Japanese Government and other public available information (e.g. http://www2.jnes.go.jp/atom-db/en/trouble/individ/power/j/j2... )
The author does not know what he is talking about, his phD. won't help him there. (Everybody clear in their mind should wonder why smb. would start a piece with "phD. Scientist" I'm working in academia and I never mentioned my degree in any post here or elsewhere, because I want that my arguments convince and not my degree) It's the first blog-post of smb.
who's linking just to nuclear energy lobbyist pages (telling you to prefer them over "standard media") and everybody starts up-voting the piece and down-voting negative and critical comments?
I thought hacker news was better.
Would you believe me, when I told you, "Disregard regular tech news, just listen to what Steve Jobs and Gruber tell you about Apple?"
In the face of the world's need for energy, nuclear power is the only viable option that is available today. I wonder how much this incident is going to weigh against using that option?
The power plants in operation today use technology that's quite obsolete. The design of the older plants is an historical accident. Because of the war-driven necessity of developing nuclear technology for weapons, the understanding of the technology that informed the currently-operational reactors was largely bomb-centric. But we know better today, there exists designs for reactors that are orders of magnitude safer, both in terms of operational dangers as well as its waste byproducts.
I'm afraid that sound-byte driven media and activists who aren't willing to evaluate newer ideas will cause such prejudice that newer, better technology will never see the light of day, and thus we'll see worse environmental problems (or economic problems) because our current energy problems can't be fixed otherwise.
Nuclear power in itself is unlikely to solve our energy problems. It is only a part of the solution. We will not be able to supply the world with enough energy using nuclear power alone given the length of time it takes to design, approve, build, and certify a nuclear power station.
The Sun is by far our greatest source of energy.
Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and_cons...
We have more then enough thorium in the world to deal with the world's power demands (It's about as common as lead), we have much safer reactor designs created and tested, and we have thorium designs created and tested. It's just that there is a lot of politics and public opinion is not for nuclear power, it is very much for "green" power, which makes it not politically viable to create the number of nuclear plants needed supplant say coal/oil/gas fired power stations as our main supplier of baseload power.
The major problem with solar is that the sun goes down half of the day, there isn't any viable means to move power halfway across the world and there isn't any viable means to store anywhere near the amount of energy that is required to power a civilised country overnight.
Fossil fuels contain energy from ancient biomass supported by the Sun, and heavy radioactive isotopes (like all heavy elements) are formed in supernovae.
This is the most coherent description of the issues and events that I've read (and I've read a few). I learned a lot about BWR nuclear plants.
Some people here in Tokyo are starting to get very nervous and mostly that comes because nuclear power is so damn confusing. Understanding it can help you keep your wits. They are showing documentaries on Japanese TV about the cause of the tsunami right now but I think they should be showing "Nuclear Power 101" instead.
Edit: Another thing that is causing a lot of confusion is that there are two power plants that were affected (daiichi and daini) and each plant has multiple reactors. They were both operated by TEPCO as well so the press releases are coming from the same place. Keeping track of all of them is a bit confusing. This article is mostly about the most serious problem which is reactor one at daiichi.
It is hard to understand the technology behind it. Harder than just burst into cunfusion and condemning things. Every time I tried to get to know more about how nuclear reactors work, the more I found out, the more it calmed me down.
What I don't get is how cooling is supposed to happen in this case. I think they still would have to pump sea water into the containment which would then get contaminated not only by neutron activation but also with Uranium, Cesium, Iodine etc.
What happens to the seawater then: Will it be released into the environment? Is it in liquid form or will it be released as steam?
Water pretty much can't get radioactive. (For more than a few minutes.)
The longest radioactive oxygen you can make in a reactor has a half life of 26 seconds.
For hydrogen, deuterium is not radioactive, and tritium can't be made in a light water reactor.
So water effectively can't get radioactive.
When you say the contaminated water can be kept in the containment, does that mean that they are basically flooding the containment with seawater? My impression was that the there is still a need for cooling (i.e. cool water in, hot water out) in case of a total melt down.
If they could actually circulate water they wouldn't be in this situation.
The worst sodium has a half life of 15 hours.
The longest chlorine has a half life of 360,000 years, but is barely radioactive. The rest are all under an hour.
There's other stuff in sea water though. But not in large quantities.
The water is being boiled away, not circulated with pumps.
I've been telling people this all day, but it's great to have a PhD confirm it.
BTW, with Chernobyl the control rods were not able to be inserted all the way, which is one of the main reasons it was so bad - the chain reaction never stopped, and the heat just kept building up.
Where does he get his expertise in nuclear reactors? According to the article, his father.
"He is a PhD Scientist, whose father has extensive experience in Germany’s nuclear industry"
In Germany it took green-activists a couple of hours to organize nationwide protests. Politicians with no knowledge about physics beyond spelling "meltdown" are immediatly taking advantage of this situation.
The ability to run when alerted by others seems to be a evolutionary proven advantage.
The ability to condemn those false intended alerters I think will pay back as an advantage too.
Well, his research and work have been in the area of risk management -- so I find it quite plausible he has access to detailed assessments of nuclear power plant liabilities.
As for the people that know what they're talking about, remember that you and the news organizations you're listening through are biased to make radioactivity scary stuff. For all we we know, our reflexes are giving their calm, everything-is-completely-under-control statements a disproportionately alarming cast.
Check out the other comments from Daniel on that post for additional info on procedures being put in action by the jp government.
And if we set aside conclusions, this is the best orientation to the problem that I've seen so far. I'm not worried about his credentials, as this is internally consistent, and externally consistent with what I know of physics. Maybe the plant lacks a third containment, or is using a different fuel, but I can adjust my understanding of the system for those facts as they come along.
At least that's how I understood it. Not an expert so I have no idea how much of it is true or not.
People talked about how strong this earthquake was, and it was strong, but the epicenter missed the power plants by quite a distance. Then we will get a surprise when a much smaller quake his one much worse.
I suggest you start worrying.
More info here:
One has to wonder why governments insist on building poisonous, fragile, radioactive generators on earth, when we can safely harness solar, wind, and wave energies without such horrifying risk.
Will it be the lack of common sense that is cited as the primary downfall of civilization when we are long gone, due to our less than intelligent decisions about energy? Who among us wishes to have children play along the Gulf coast of the United States this summer? Oil illness anyone? Or along the coast of Northern Japan for the next 25,000 years or so...
Does anyone seriously believe that a "shoot for the moon" style campaign like the one we held to create nuclear power plants, would not result in workable alternative energy programs?
One point is certain. Earthquakes WILL continue to happen.
One other point is certain. Nuclear energy is inherently dangerous. You can only minimize the chance of catastrophic failure. Not eliminate it. And once the genie is out of the containment vessel, the penalty last 25,000+ years.
No amount of carefully considered analysis changes the science of this issue. It's time to give alternative energy solutions the same level of serious treatment we have lent to coal and nuclear systems or prepare for a future where meltdowns and frantic efforts to prevent them are more common place.
A future where more than a few locations become permanent exclusion zones for thousands of years. A future for your children where the increased incidence of cancer and mutation is part of every day living.
Or not if we come to our senses and throw every effort into fully developing alternate energy systems. We have a fusion reactor handy just 93 million miles away with billions of years of energy to come. Lets use it.
Sure, we can replace our current energy sources with solar + wind + wave.
What fraction of coastline needs to be covered with wave-driven generators, and what fraction of Earth's land area needs to be covered with solar or wind farms to get to our current energy generation levels? Last I saw the numbers for the US they weren't pretty.
Just to run the numbers for the US, average insolation for the Earth is 250W/m^2 according to <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation>. That's for the whole spectrum, not just whatever solar cells can actually use.
The land area of the US according to <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States>; is a shade under 1e13m^2. That gives us a total of about 2.5e15W for solar power for the continental US, assuming your solar cells are amazing and have 100% efficiency across the full electromagnetic spectrum (as in, you've done an "Apollo Program" for solar cells and had amazing results).
Energy consumption in the US 5 years ago was about 29e15PWh/year, so about 3.3e12W.
So we'd need to entirely cover about .13% of the land area of the US in solar cells to get the amount of power we were using 5 years ago. We're using more now, of course.
That's about the area of Connecticut.
Now what's the useful life of solar cells? How high can we sensible expect to get it? How do we plan to handle the fact that the generation is ... very variable? How close to 100% efficiency do we think we can actually get solar cells? How noxious is the production process for these solar cells you'll have to be cranking out continuously to replace the failing ones, and where do you plan to locate it?
> Does anyone seriously believe that a "shoot for the moon"
> style campaign like the one we held to create nuclear
> power plants, would not result in workable alternative
> energy programs?
Yes. I don't think such a campaign would get us to the point where we could use any combination of wind, solar, wave for baseline power.
> Nuclear energy is inherently dangerous.
So are solar cell production facilities. So is swimming, for that matter; the question is one of probabilities.
> the penalty last 25,000+ years.
How long does the "penalty" for a serious chemical spill last?
> No amount of carefully considered analysis changes the
> science of this issue.
This much we agree on. ;)
Every problem you cite can be solved readily. Put even a 100th of the resources expended to develop nuclear energy into alternate energies and we can be rid of the suicidal methodology of nuclear energy on the planets surface. Why anyone would defend something as poisonous as nuclear energy is beyond understanding. It is a continuous threat to the future of the species and supported only by those who stand to profit greatly from its deployment.
I don't think you actually understand the science at all.
... by the simple technique of ignoring our limited resources and engineering skill, yes, sure. Solving them for real is somewhat more challenging. Your ideas are so far-out (a polite way of saying "stupid") that based on experience an explanation of why they won't work will simply be ignored by you. You are off by orders of magnitude, plural.
I note that you carefully ignored the issues of baseline power generation needs (e.g. the sun does not shine all the time) issues of power transmission from the middle of the ocean in your ocean proposal, the fact that putting solar in the ocean will significantly reduce the panel's useful life, and a host of other issues.
I'm quite prepared to believe I don't understand the science, but please don't pretend like you do. Handwaving serious problems away with "oh, if we just throw lots of money at them they'll disappear" is not "science".
I live in Seattle, you insensitive clod.
"And the willingness to eat contaminated venison has dropped obviously, more and more hunters and forest owners can check the meat of wild boars - and compensation from the Federal Ministry of Environment, if they can not eat the contaminated venison because of the large cesium-137 content or sell.
€ 424 650 paid by the Federal Ministry of Environment last year for it. In the first half of 2010, the amount of compensation was 130,000 euros. 2008 there were 380,000 euros and 104,000 euros in 2007."
I'd be very careful to compare this incident with Chernobyl
And my main point is not that i want to set the japanese accident on the same level as chernobyl, but more to make clear that nobody expected such a strong contamination after 25 years thousands of miles away from the center of explosion. World is not behaving linearly, even though some people want us to believe it does.
If you want to stay informed, please forget the usual media outlets and consult the following websites:
Data folks, data.
For the day to day operation it just looked like a big pool of distilled water with a ton of pipes running around in it.
Hoping for the best for my friends in Tokyo and the rest of Japan.
I wonder how the news that two reactors are in partial meltdown, six out of ten are without any cooling and in the japanese prefecture of Miyagi Sunday radiation levels 400 times above normal have been measured fit in your “analysis” that the situation is now under control.
do people really need to jump to conclusions as the situation is still in development?
Remember at Three Mile Island everyone got a dose of radiation that you'd get going to the dentist, and that's considered to be a "disaster".
So the dose recieved is the same as the average person gets a year in medical scans. So those people in the area shouldn't have a scan next year.
The negative effects on health from these levels of radiation are in increased risk of cancer.
To suffer from direct radiation poisoning, the those would have to be many orders stronger. In Chernobyl, this happened to the firefighters on site without protective clothing and an exposed and active core.
All in all, the risks for the population so far a very minimal apart from the increased risk of cancer.
If the US Navy is fleeing for cover 60 miles away from the reactors, the situation is SERIOUS.
a catastrophe not as bad as chernobyl can still be pretty bad.
Japan is in a pretty unique position – it’s certainly understandable why nuclear power is very popular there.
Tsunami destroys tidal power plant: none killed.
You are the PM of Japan, you make the call.
a tsunami can kill just as many people as an earth quake.
the subsequent deaths due to a destroyed power plant are another matter. from the article I get the impression that nuclear plants are built to withstand a lot of abuse and fuckups.
i see no reason to shy away from nuclear power. their power producing companies will know what kind of plants to run. we don't.
That's highly encouraging. That means that caught the people falsifying the reports and that they fired them.
If they had a "perfect" record, I would be incredibly worried.