Thursday, 27 December 2012

Have you heard the one about the Entrepreneur, the Climate Scientist and the Nuclear Engineer?

Some of what the Letter had to say:

Energy Security: "...Unlike today's nuclear reactor, the IFR can generate unlimited amounts of inexpensive clean power for hundreds of thousands of years..."

Proliferation Resistant: "...It provides an excellent solution for what to do with our nuclear waste because it can use our existing nuclear waste for fuel and it is significantly more proliferation-resistant than other methods of dealing with nuclear waste..."

Much Much Safer: "...The IFR is also inherently safe. In an emergency, unlike today's reactors, it shuts down without human intervention and without requiring electric power …"

Affordable: "... Hundreds of nuclear scientists believe this technology has the ability to generate carbon-free power at a cost per kW less than coal..."

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Wind Farms - Old Bangers at 10 years! Clapped out after 15 years!

The Performance of Wind Farms
 in the United Kingdom and 

Figure 1 shows the simplest variant [irrespective of the generating capacity of the wind farm] of the normalised age-performance curve for onshore UK wind installations together with the equivalent curves for onshore and offshore Danish installations.

Figure 2 illustrates similar curves but in this case the estimates are constructed by weighting each wind farm by its generating capacity, referred to as capacity-weighted. This gives a better representation of performance degradation per MW of generating capacity

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Meet the Man Who Could End Global Warming. Meet the Technology that can do it!

"....The man who is going to save the world is an ordinary-looking man. He's average in height, with an average face. He has blue eyes and sandy hair. He wears eyeglasses. He's forty-eight years old....a classic all-American Homo suburbanus, but in fact he is a former officer of the United States Navy with a Ph.D. in a fiendishly complicated type of engineering. 

He is low-key and unassuming, with a quiet midwestern sense of humor....The man who is going to save the world is also a damn good father, a tendency that is at the heart of this world-saving business...."

Read more: Nuclear Waste Disposal - Eric Loewen's Disposal of Nuclear Waste - Esquire 

The next thing you should know is that Loewen's miracle technology is not some airy concept. It cost billions of dollars to develop. Some of the biggest companies in America spent ten years refining it under the close supervision of the U. S. government — before the program was shuttered and abandoned in a hasty political decision that makes Who Killed the Electric Car? look like a promotional film for General Motors.

"...."So what is nuclear waste? It's still uranium! Right? It's 95 percent uranium. It's still usable. But we've got these evil things called transuranics, which is 1 percent of the total and 99 percent of the headache..."

"...."...And that is my fuel. The problem becomes the solution."...."

"....Transuranics are highly radioactive elements like plutonium, typically regarded not as sources of energy but for their capacity to vaporize cities.

"But if I build a different kind of reactor that uses liquid sodium instead of water to slow things down, I can have a higher neutron speed and that stuff becomes a fuel. You just mix it in the crucible, put in the transuranics, put in some uranium, put in some zirconium, and you cast it into thin rods. That technology's been developed, it's easy to do, and you do it in a room about this size [a conference room]...."

...."So [GE] sat down and said, You know what, we're pretty good at making washing machines and jet engines in a factory and replicating them. Why don't we make a sodium-cooled reactor that's factory-built, modular, with passive safety and replicate that, instead of trying to scale up?"

Passive safety meant that it would shut itself off automatically instead of melting down. 

Replicability meant the reactor vessel couldn't be more than twenty feet in diameter, because that's the biggest you can ship down a rail line. So they would gang reactor modules together to power a single turbine. They named it the Power Reactor, Innovative Small Module, or PRISM.....

....much of the environmental movement continues to hate nuclear power as an article of faith, and armchair scientists point to the difficulties of the fast nuclear plants in Russia and Japan, and the infinite armies of inertia simply avert their eyes....

The point is, PRISM isn't half as complicated.... "That's how I answer the naysayers who say we can't build this till 2040," he says...."

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Let's cut to the Nitty-Gritty

A White Paper, joint authored by Tom Blees and Barry Brook, presented at WORLD ENERGY FORUM 2012

Cutting to the Nitty-Gritty means looking at 'The Way Forward' 

6. The Way Forward
There is a pressing need to: 
(a) displace our heavy dependence on fossil fuels with sustainable, low-carbon alternative energy sources over the coming decades to mitigate the environmental damage of energy production and underpin global energy security and 
(b) demonstrate a credible and acceptable way to safely deal with used nuclear fuel in order to clear a socially acceptable pathway for nuclear fission to be a major low-carbon energy source for this century. 

"....we are faced with the necessity of a nearly complete transformation of the world’s energy systems. Objective analyses of the inherent constraints on wind, solar, and other less-mature renewable energy technologies inevitably show that they will fall short of meeting future low-emissions demands. A ‘go slow, do little’ approach to energy policy is not defensible given the urgency of the problems society must address, and the time required for an orderly transition of energy systems at a global scale...."
What is needed now is a two-pronged approach, for completion by 2020 or earlier, that involves: 
(i) demonstration of the pyroprocessing of LWR spent oxide fuel, and 
(ii) construction of a PRISM fast reactor as a prototype demonstration plant, to establish the basis for licensing and the cost and schedule for subsequent fully commercial IFR plants. 
Once demonstrated, this commercial IFR will be expected to show very significant advances in nuclear safety, reliability, nuclear fuel sustainability, management of long-term waste, proliferation resistance, and economics. 
The time has come to capitalize on this exceptional energy technology, with the benefits of this development extending throughout the global energy economy in the 21st century.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Is energy from onshore wind competitive? The industry claims it is on the basis of 5 common assertions. If these assertions are wildly over-optimistic, to the point of misleading, then wind power fails, because offshore wind will never be able to compete. 

For a 26 month period (November 2008 to December 2010) daily wind generation was examined and collated into this report: ANALYSIS OF UK WIND POWER GENERATION
Assertion No 1: “Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year.”

Conclusion No 1: This assertion is 25% (a) over-optimistic.
Assertion No 2: “The wind is always blowing somewhere.”

Conclusion No 2: On average, once every 3½ days, only negligible power was delivered from the available 1600 MW average capacity.
Assertion No 3: “Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.”

Conclusion No 3: On average, once every 6.38 days, for a period of 4.93 hours, only negligible power was delivered from the available 1600 MW average capacity.
Assertion No 4: “The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.”

Conclusion No 4: At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.
Assertion No 5: “Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.”

Conclusion No 5: The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.
Note (a) Quoting percentages, is beloved by wind power enthusiasts to make things look
               so much better (or worse)

Onshore wind power technology fails miserably on all 5 assertions, which underpin the claims of the industry and its supporters.

What is the point of building anymore onshore wind farms when such dismal levels of generation punctuate their actual performance so frequently? Nuclear power, the only other zero-emissions form of generation, cannot correct the problem, so it's left to carbon-emitting technologies to do so. 

Wind power is inextricably linked to the extra cost of duplicating its capacity with fossil-fuel burning technologies, to provide our electricity, when the wind doesn't blow. It's that simple!