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May 14, 2005



There is an apparent lack of usable information to solve the Times dilemma. Just how many wind mills would it take to supply the entire energy consumption of the US ? How many acres of solar cells ? How many cold fusion plants ?

The proportions of this problem are really big, so the Times should interview a few dozen more experts so they can generate enough hot air to run one of those wind mills.

Using the Times numbers, nuclear reactors produce about 20% electricity, and about 8% of the total energy consumed with 103 plants. Oil accounts for 41 percent of energy consumption.

This means something like 251 plants to replace the energy from oil, and something like 1100+ plants to make the US 100% nuclear. With a (low balled) price tag of $2 billion per plant (but it's probably bigger), we are talking about $500+ billion to replace oil (but not the vehicles), $2+ trillion to go 100% nuclear. Add in price of fuel.
With 250 to 1100 plants, 2.5X to 10X present levels, That's big. Even another 100 plants would be huge.


Couple things...

1. Oil is used as a fuel source for power plants. It's insane and horribly polluting.

2. There is no such thing as cold fusion (yet), much less cold fusion plants. Nuclear plants are based on fission.

3. The money would be worth it. Nuclear is the cleanest source of fuel besides wind. Yes, that includes solar.



Windpower is a joke because of NIMBY. A lot of people like the idea, but not the reality of having them blocking *their* view.

I find the sudden turn to nuclear power by environmental activists to be extremely amusing. I wonder how much *cleaner* the environment would be if we'd have been using nuclear all along.

Ideology over science. joy.

Cecil Turner

"There is a problem, though: reactors make electricity, not oil. And oil does not make much electricity."

Oil does not make much electricity. But coal and natural gas do, and in fact are two of the main contributors to greenhouse gas production. If we're serious about reducing GhG emissions, replacing those plants with nukes are a major step in the right direction. Wald also answers his own objection, but is apparently unable to see it:

The Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, which is owned by the Department of Energy, is working on ways to take very hot steam from a nuclear reactor, then run a small electric current through it to separate the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. If that can be done more cheaply than the current method of producing hydrogen, which uses natural gas, the hydrogen could be used at refineries to make components of gasoline.
Of course, making gasoline out of hydrogen is rather silly--it both adds an unnecessary step, and makes polution from an otherwise clean source. The more logical way of using it is with fuel cells (as part of a larger hydrogen distribution system). As the National Energy Policy (Chapter 6) points up, it would also enable other "green" sources:
An energy infrastructure that relies on hydrogen could enable much greater use of distributed energy systems. These systems are small, modular electricity generators that can be placed right where they are needed for heating, cooling, and powering offices, factories, and residences.
It's nice to see some discussion of the issues, finally, instead of arguing about who went to what meetings. But I wonder how many more years it'll take to start work on pertinent NEP recommendations like this one:
  • Focus research and development efforts on integrating current programs regarding hydrogen, fuel cells, and distributed energy.


I find the articles claims dishonest. Everyone knows, or should, that the president made a hydrogen infrastructure a priority in this term. Due to the unbelievable energy required to seperate hydrogen into its basic form...stripping the H2 from H2O...it makes sense to use a clean source of energy to meet these demands. After we have a hydrogen infrastructure, we can switch to hydrogen cars, either fuel cells or internal combustion fueled by hydrogen. BMW and Mazda both have cars with conventional gas engines that have been modified to run hydrogen...the mazda can even switch back and forth.

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