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I suspect that the nuke industry, such as it is, is very shy about getting involved with the issue. They don't need to push anything because in the long run "atoms for peace" is the only option. People won't like it and it will be a huge struggle, but what choices are there?

  • Atoms for peace.
  • Freeze in the dark.
  • Reduce global population by factor of 1000.
  • Burn coal and let climate change come as it will.
  • Burn coal and put up a ring to shade the earth.
http://www.livescience.com/technology/050627_warming_solution.html
by asdf on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 10:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(sigh) time for a new energy diary...

colour me a nuke skeptic.  I tend to agree with the guy who said no one has ever succeeded in making a nuke plant burn uranium as efficiently as it burns money (read:  other-sourced energy) :-)  without cheap fossil fuel to burn in the manufacturing of nuke plants and transport of the fuel etc, the economics can only get worse -- from an EROEI of only 2:1 presently [i.e. the typical nuke plant spends half its 30-40 yr operating lifetime just paying back the energy needed to construct it, and not one has ever repaid its decommissioning costs that I know of].

there is an enormous gap between "freezing in the dark" (the bogeyman used by the mega energy industries) and our current insanely wasteful standard of living.  there are factors of from 10 to 1000 to be realised in energy usage efficiency and demand reduction, without anyone freezing in the dark;  and there is a lot to be said for micropower and medium-power local and regional generation as opposed to Ozymandian megaprojects.

I think there are several other choices on that menu, and that it's the Cheney Gang and their mouthpieces in the corporate media who have narrowed the perceived choices to "Nuclear or Starve/Freeze"...  just as the GMO charlatans keep trying to claim that only they and their programme of intelprop Enclosure can "save us" from famine (cf the outrageous "golden rice" scam).  but this argument will require going back over my research, updating with more recent news, etc.  justice cannot be done to the topic in the brief Comments format...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 11:32:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EROEI of only 2:1 presently [i.e. the typical nuke plant spends half its 30-40 yr operating lifetime just paying back the energy needed to construct it

Could you cite a source? I recall reading something similar years ago, but when I recently tried to Google for it, I failed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 11:39:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to find out about how you reduce energy consumption by a factor of 1000. The U.S. uses about twice as much energy per capita as Europe, which is bad but nothing like 10x or 1000x. If people want to live in "temperate" climates they need to have heat. If they want to move around they need energy for transportation. If they want material things they need raw materials like aluminum and steel and plastic. If they want food, they need energy to work the farms.

I have never heard of a proposal that reduces energy consumption by 1000x. From today's American starting point I could easily see a factor of 2, and possibly a factor of 5. 10x would be a big stretch. 1000x is beyond any concept of possibility.

Do you have some specific examples?

by asdf on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 01:52:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't source 1000X, but 10X is easily achievable.
by jam on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 02:19:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell me more about 10x energy savings. I assume we're talking about savings of fossil fuel, so windpower is allowed as a method, for example. But as far as I know the numbers don't work out...
by asdf on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 03:07:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whole-system design has already proved its value in industrial engineering. More than half the world's electricity turns electric motors. The largest use of electric motors is pumping. In 1997, a major carpet manufacturer was building a factory in Shang-hai. One heat-transfer loop was designed to use fourteen pumps totaling 95 horsepower. Using whole-system design that RMI's Amory Lovins brought from Lee Eng Lock in Singapore, Dutch engineer Jan Schilham cut the power use by 92 percent to just 7 horsepower by using fat, short, straight pipes rather than skinny, long, crooked pipes. Thanks to smaller motors and pumps, total capital cost went down.
by jam on Tue Jun 28th, 2005 at 05:48:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I admit 1000x reduction in fossil foolishness can only be achieved by demand reduction as well as serious efficiency improvements, i.e. 1) we make gizmos that draw far less power (a TransMeta CPU pulls 6w, the P4 pulls 55w, factor of 9 there) and 2) the power has to come from sources other than fossil fuel (the Transmeta cpu pulls low enough current that I might be able to power it off a battery plus solar panel, blah blah) and 3) I should turn the damn thing OFF when not using it :-)  1000x reduction in frivolous travel might well be a natural result of rising fossil fuel prices...  I will admit that 1000x reduction in demand is setting the bar very high, but I can dream can't I?

Anyway I can illustrate a 100x reduction that would be very easily achieved.  On my block is at least one Hummer H2.  I have seen this vehicle with my own eyes drive about 1 mile to the grocery store and 1 mile back to pick up some trivial item -- a bag of groceries, a couple of six packs.  I ride my bike to the grocery store and my cargo bike can carry four bags of groceries plus extras -- 5 full bags if need be.

So let's compare oranges and oranges.  The H2 is approximately a 10mpg vehicle, ignoring all other commodity consumption involved in running it.  We know from someplace or other where I looked it up, that a gallon of gas is 114000 BTUs of potential energy.  So 1 mile in the Hummer squanders 11,400 BTUs.

Now the presumably knowledgeable person who wrote this article says that if a cyclist rides 20 miles at 15mph, he/she burns 620 calories, at 31 calories per mile.  I ride a little slower than that to the grocery store, but let's say for argument's sake that I manage to burn 31 calories per mile even at my leisurely pace.  I bet it's less.

Now we hit any unit-conversion site on the web and discover that 11400 Btu = 2,872.7518057 Calorie [nutritional]

OK, not quite 100, but I make that a factor of 92 in energy-consumption difference between my making this non-demanding 2 mile round trip on flatland by bike, and my neighbour insisting on doing it in a 6500 lb H2 at 10 mpg.  So my neighbour could easily realise a factor of 92 energy savings by riding his bike to the grocery store for those sixpacks instead.

There is a lot of this type of wastefulness in everyday American life.  Americans are used to thinking of energy as damn-near free.  So there is plenty of profligate behaviour that could be corrected for enormous savings -- lots of fat to be trimmed as one might say.

Oh and btw, before anyone leaps with a cry of delight to remind me about the 10 calories of fossil fuel used to supply each of those 31 food calories per mile that I used up, I retort, "Bah Humbug!"  for I really do buy local produce from organic farmers, thus reducing that fossil component of my diet considerably (a good thing  too as I find those crunchy old dinosaur bones kinda hard on the teeth).


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Jun 29th, 2005 at 10:52:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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