Friday, June 6, 2008

The Preamble to Nuclear Green

Introduction: I wrote this post on bartoncii, on November 29, 2007, just a couple of days before I launched "Nuclear Green".  The original post was intern based on a comment I had made on Climate Progress the day before.  It struck me, as I reread the statement today, that it was the launching point for my new blog, Nuclear Green, and illustrated what I can only describe as my revolutionary intentions.

From my comments in Climate Progress (11/28/07)

There are specific concrete steps that need to be taken to insure that [CO2 reduction] goals will be meet. There are at present only three technologies that can at present can provide low cost, low carbon base electrical power. They are geothermal power, solar thermal power, and nuclear power. The first two power sources can only provide power in geographically limited localities. We must adopt a national policy to focus on the production of a large number of nuclear power plants. This means standardizing nuclear plant design, and develing a mass production system to build reactors quickly.

The move to plug in electric cars with 50 to 100 mile battery (or capacitor) range would easily allow the gas millage targets to be meet, Urban trucking can be conducted using battery or capacitors for motive power. Interurban trucking should be eliminated and freight transfered to all electrified rail roads.

We ought to engage in a national debate about the use of aircraft for inter city passenger traffic. High speed electrical passenger trains can move people very quickly between cities, and in many instances passengers would arrive at their destinations more quickly by high speed trains than they would be jet aircraft.

These measures would remove more than half out nation CO2 emission, while causing little disruption in our basic way of life.

There would be plenty of oxen that would be “Gored” by such a plan. The electric power generating companies would be forced to scrap most of their power plants. EXXON and other oil companies would be either forced to go out of business, or find a new non-carbon energy source to sell. Coal companies would be forced to shut their mines. Interstate trucking companies would be forced out of business. Airlines might be forced to stop flying.

At the same time millions of new jobs would be created. We would no longer have the burden of paying Arab potentates for imported oil, the air would be cleaner, and people’s health would be better, because they would no longer be breathin air polluted by the burning of fossil fuels.

. . . while Plug in batteries requite overnight charging, rapidly developing ultracapacitor technology offer the potential that rapidly charging ultracapacitors, with a charge storage capacities that equal those of lithium ion batteries may be on the market within a few years. Capacitors offer many advantages over batteries. They are potentially cheaper to manufacture, and their useful lifetime is far longer than that of batteries.

A 40 to 50 mile range for plug in batteries would cover most urban driving needs, GM plans to introduce the Volt, with a 40 mile plug in range in 2010. The Volt has a small 300 cc gas engine, for battery charging. The disadvantage of pure electric cars is that they are confined by battery range. A 50 mile range would not allow for a roundtrip between Dallas and Fort Wort, a common urban drive in North Texas. A 100 or 130 mile battery range would work however.

The full potential for CO2 savings of plug in hybrids cannot be realized if electricity continues to be generated by burning fossil fuels.

California is free to set what ever target it wishes for renewable energy, but they are not going to get anything like a 20% CO2 reduction by 2011. California assemblyman Chuck DeVore provides an analysis of the steps required to reach California’s energy goals by 2020. (see also) DeVore concludes that without new reactors, it will be impossible for California to reach its energy goals.

DeVore describes the potential:

Really thinking out of the box, if California were to add eight 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactors, we could zero-out coal, cut our natural gas usage by more than a third, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 27 million metric tons below 1990 levels and see electrical costs rise by less than half of what they would without any new nuclear power plants. This bold plan would allow California to lead the nation in electrifying its transportation system as well as increasing its use of clean, electrically produced hydrogen to power vehicles. It also reduces our dependence on fossil fuels imported from the Middle East.”

DeVore is that rarest of political animals, a Republican with vision.

1 comment:

Chuck DeVore said...

Thanks for the mention. We really do have a lot of work to do here in California. I'll address the American Nuclear Society this Sunday in Anaheim, CA and then UC Berkeley's nuclear engineering school in a week. We need to do a better job communicating to the public.

The link to my Op-Ed you reference may have changed. It is:

Meanwhile, if you want to see a longer, scholarly piece I wrote, here's one that recently appeared in UC Berkeley's Environmental Law Currents:

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
California State Assemblyman, 70th District


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