Friday, December 25, 2009

Anonymous on Plan B

My post, If Most of What I Know Comes from Google, Why Do I Know More Than Eric Schmidt?has attracted a considerable number of comments on Nuclear Green. Two Renewables avocates, one who simply called himself, Anonymous, and one who went by the screen name "heavyweather". "heavyweather" appeared is German and stated that the worked for Siemens on the development of "smart Grid", technology. He claimed,
Germany is the country to look for in renewable energy. Calling this dangerous is more than disrespectfull.
And he also appears to identify with the Social Democratic party, because he commented,
The best informed European polititions, like Dr. Hermann Scheer, support a 100% renewable non nuclear strategie.
Scheer is a Social Democrat whose career is not exactly flourishing at the moment.

Anonymous was extremely well informed, and is an able debater, but I made a number of points to which he did not seem to answer, and he was probably aware of this. During the late phase of the debate, something unusual happened. "Anonymous" began to argue with "heavyweather." He argued

I truly empathize with your point of view, but I think you fall into the same traps that pretty much every single renewables supporter falls into: that of arrogance. That, and the vast underestimate of the engineering - versus the scientific - challenges of things.

True, they don't have the complete monopoly on these issues (and there is a share of them on the pro-nuclear side of the fence) but on the whole, I've found that nuclear folks are much more likely to consider both renewables AND nukes in their energy approach, and have a much deeper realization of the difficulties and inertia in systems to integrating new forms of energy.

We live in a primarily top-down world, ie: one where high density sources of power feed to consumers with a smaller power density. To try to invert that system, developed over the course of a century, and flow from diverse sources to concentrated, in any timeframe that will realistically effect climate change is HIGHLY problematic, and I sure don't want to bet my future on it.

Yet that in essesnce is what renewable supporters do when they turn their backs on nuclear energy. They have NO PLAN B. What happens when MEMS solar arrays have unforseen difficulties in the lab, or in practice cause high power fluctuations on the grid, or prove difficult to clean or ineffective in inclement weather? What happens if storage technologies don't scale or the materials costs become too high?

etc. etc. etc. There are good, technical reasons that the Danes for example have stalled in their quest for renewable energy - at 20% it hasn't grown for three years in a row. That is because they are running into what seems to be a practical limit on how much variable electricity can be pumped into the grid.

We may solve these issues, we may not. But I certainly wouldn't be protesting nuclear power, which seems as logical as protesting that the firetruck that arrives to put out your house's fire is blue and not red.
He added,
which country are you referring to when you say you have 65% of your total primary energy supply (or even total electricity supply) coming from renewable sources? Sources would be helpful. (and note - I don't consider hydro relevant here because it is incredibly damaging environmentally and in any case doesn't scale). Ditto for geothermal in places like iceland, which basically lies on top of a volcano.

And yes, I consider ANYBODY arrogant who doesn't support a full exploration of every possible technology available to solve this problem. Which means that Germany and Denmark's greens ARE arrogant, and dangerous to us all - because they are working off an ideology and have shut themselves off to very practical solutions.

My best guess is that something approaching a LFTR - or hyperion's uranium hydride reactor - would be the closest thing to a silver bullet (because they are dead simple and hence easy to manufacture and distribute, and could integrate into our current system very easily) but we will not know until we try to scale out the technology without hamstringing it.

It is squarely the fault of the fossil fuel industry (with their unwitting partners, the green movement) that we HAVEN'T explored this option. And yes, this poses a grave danger to us all, if the rosy dreams of the alternative energy movement don't come to pass.
And then stated,
As I said, the danger is going down only the renewable road, and finding out that it ain't going to get us 100% of the way there.

Here's a clue: I used to work for a utility, and they LOVE natural gas plants, as much as any addict loves crack cocaine. They love them because they can build them out fast, and charge for peak power rates.

As it stands right now, they are planning a massive gas buildout with renewables as an accomplice. Because renewables are intermittent, any build of transmission towers are going to be idle 75% of the time.

This void will be backfilled by natural gas.

Hence, if for various systematic reasons renewables *can't* provide baseload power, as it stands they will be the cause for a massive fossil-fuel buildout masked by the fact that it is 'green' because people can see windmills turning every once in a while.

Now *this* is dangerous. You can see it in germany. Germany came THIS CLOSE to closing its perfectly usable nuclear plants, and the plans were on the drawing board to replace all of this clean electricity with coal.

So, once again: arrogance in viewpoint (suppress nuclear research, go renewables alone) leads to dangerous outcomes. As someone who likes, well, being well fed and healthy, I resent anyone who wants to pour their ideology down my throat to the detriment of both.

And I find it very interesting that the nuclear advocates don't mind the competition, that they are perfectly fine with wind and solar research, whereas most 'greens' I talk to want to suppress and eliminate nuclear energy. IMO this just shows that they are worried - worried that the promise of nuclear energy will come true and will outcompete wind and/or solar.

Well, stop it. We'll need all the approaches we can get, to get out of the mess that the 'environmentalists' put us in by opposing nuclear power in the first place. . . .

wrt nuclear, the russians, the chinese AND the indians are going fullbore on it..

Even with current technology, the south koreans are getting down to 36 months construction time. all their plants are on schedule.

Anyways, here's a site that goes through this. I'm not sure if it's willing on your part, but you seem to deliberately want to use old data to prove your point:

In short I follow both the nuclear and renewable world. I sincerely hope that the obstacles that are inherent in renewable projects can be overcome, but I sure as hell don't want to bet my future on it.


Frank Kandrnal said...

The anonymous said it perfectly well. There is not much one can add to it because it covers the true state of the affairs in the energy world.
Angela Merkel should use his comment in her political speech in the fight against lunatic German Greens.
Fanatical Greens are truly dangerous to us all.

heavyweather said...

I am not German.
We have a law against nuclear energy in place.

Whats your message in that line?
"Scheer is a Social Democrat whose career is not exactly flourishing at the moment."???
How would you be able to judge the career developement of a German politician?


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