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And We Need Nuclear Power…Why?

This is a solar power plant in Spain (so claims the internet. If someone knows otherwise, do tell!). Is it as efficient as a nuclear power plant? Nope. Does it produce as much power? Nope. Is it significantly larger? Oh yeah. Big time.

On the other hand, it doesn’t pollute the groundwater, leaves no radioactive residue with a half-life of a few millions years, isn’t reliant on a nonrenewable power source, cannot possibly have a catastrophic meltdown that irradiates the entire area for decades, makes for a poor target for terrorists, can be put anywhere with some open land and a lot of sunshine (did you know the United States has its very own desert?) and, not for nothing, is quite lovely to look at.

So tell me again, why do we need nuclear power again?

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11 thoughts on “And We Need Nuclear Power…Why?

  1. Michael Ian Kocwin on said:

    Do you know if anyone has ever done a study comparing the ownership/investment in nuclear power technology and the oil companies and current coal-type energy concerns?

  2. There is one, not being used for power somewhere in a desert in the western us. The mirrors heat up some form of sodium in the central tower, and that’s how they gather the energy.

  3. Only guessing here, but I think it’s the same reason why big badass tough guys absolutely NEED the big massive Hummer/SUVs that look all macho and masculine while only getting 5 miles per gallon–sure it’s inefficient and en masse is more than a small hazard to the environment, but their need to posture and flaunt their power has allowed them convince themselves that the grandness and machismo of the product makes up for the environmental hazard.

    Besides, everybody knows only pussies drive a Prius and use clean energy. /sarcasm

  4. carrolla on said:

    I think there is plenty of land in New Mexico that would fit something this big!

  5. Alphonse on said:

    Well you see, the solar panels would work a hell of a lot better if they were in orbit..

  6. With all the teeth gnashing about gas prices, no one has slowed down on the freeway. I watched a guy put $100 into his big diesel pickup. All 4 WD and with so much chrome and fancy wheels and tires, it’s seen nothing but pavement.

    The problem with putting solar panels in space is getting the power down to us here. Not to mention the sheer cost of doing so. Until the tech gets better, I’m all for covering New Mexico, Mojave and Arizona with millions of acres of solar panels or mirrors.

    Nuke is good on paper, but the nasty leavings make it a non-starter, and we saw what happened a year ago today in Japan to a Nuke plant.

  7. justin on said:

    Don’t forget about Nevada and Utah and Eastern Oregon, and California East of the Sierras – those places are big empty nothings that could hold thousands of those solar devices, be they mirrors or silicon. That land can’t possibly be that environmentally sensitive.

  8. Why? Because we need a variety of energy sources. Every energy source has advantages & disadvantages – capabilities, capital costs, operating costs, peak vs average load, environmental impact, etc.

    Nuclear power generation today is almost totally based on the technology (boiling & pressurized water) that was compatible with weapons programs from WWII. That has not changed because of extreme inertia (due to several factors).

    We should not continue to build nuclear power plants with these problematic technologies. We should also not continue to build a system largely based on coal fuel, which kills tens of thousands each year in America.

    An example of a nuclear technology which is an improvement in nearly every way is thorium power. Thorium reactors are far less nuclear-proliferating, can (depending on specifics) consume nearly all radioactive material, and have inherent mechanisms to kill the reaction – without water or electronics or outside power. Thorium reactors can even be used to CONSUME our huge stockpile of high-level waste accumulated by existing nuclear plants. They also have the ability to manufacture rare earths. The world is dependent on China for 90% of the rare earth elements used in cell phones, motors, computers, specialty metals, magnets, etc.

    • Yay! New info to digest!! Gimme!

      • Justin, your response is refreshing. There are to many folks who don’t want “new info to digest”. We have major problems in energy production, but the bigger problem is that people are more inclined to be dogmatic than pragmatic. Some people want only what Big Corporations favor. Some want only idealized purity. Some want only ‘libertarian energy’ that they can produce themselves. Getting our rabble of discordant opinions to agree to anything is tough.

        Here are a coupla more tidbits about solar electric.

        A solar cell array “doesn’t pollute the groundwater” in operation. Not much – maintenance cleaning just moves dirt and dust back where it came from. The solar cells and other components (metals, plastics, etc.) produce various forms of pollution in their mining and manufacture.

        I mentioned rare earth elements. These are used in a solar array’s solar cells, motors, etc. Mining in China is less responsible than in America. An alternative which requires less mining could be less polluting. Hence my interest in some thorium reactors. That would also diminish our national security problem with a China source material.

        A solar cell array is a “poor target for terrorists”, but it has the same vulnerabilities as many other energy sources. The array is a poor target because it is distributed over a wide area. The distribution of its electricity is not. Terrorists can attack one, or a few, transformer stations or high-voltage distribution lines.

        When we have a good ‘peak storage’ technology that can be spread around to neighborhoods or individual buildings, we will have less vulnerabilities like these.


      • Just about every manufactured product has a pollution footprint of some kind. What I meant by not polluting the groundwater is that nuclear power plants are notorious for leaking all kinds of fun glow in the dark stuff into the local groundwater due to poor maintenance and cost cutting measure with help the stock holders and no one else. Certainly not the people living nearby. A solar or wind farm has a catastrophic failure and…well, nothing really. Some nearby workers may be injured if the tower were to collapse but it wouldn’t lay waste to the entire countryside.

        The same thing goes for being a target for terrorists. The security at many of the older plants is awful. If a highly motivated team wanted to cause the maximum amount of collateral damage, you would cripple a nuclear plant with an eye to causing a reactor breach or, if you’re lucky, a meltdown.

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