Small Nuclear Reactors

I just watched a NRECA podcast on small modular nuclear reactors.  It was well done, and given my background in nuclear power plant design, I decided to investigate where we are on this concept.  To my delight, they are not reaching for the moon with the design.  After all, we built these to power the Navy and I am intimately familiar with those realities.  Yes, these designs work.  And, by the way, these designs do a decent job of load following … unlike their historical land-based relatives.

In addition, there is government money flowing so the economics of the first units may be acceptable.  And public opinion might make some of these acceptable … the key word here is might.  There are also some places like Alaska where these are probably the only realistic idea over the long haul, but that is a key feature everyone is forgetting.  The cost to get this idea through the NRC is estimated at over $500 million … that is not equipment costs … that is only the cost of regulatory proceedings.  Then, there is the question of when you could actually get one built and operational in the United States.  They are saying around 2030 now.

I love nuclear, so don’t get me wrong … I want to see it reemerge as an energy supply for new construction and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.  But I am reminded of several acronyms that apply here that you may remember:  NIMBY, BANANA, and NOPE.  They apply to any power plants, but especially to nuclear.

NIMBY: Not In MY Backyard

BANANA: Building Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone

NOPE: Not on planet earth

One thing is for sure.  The aspirational goal will fund a huge business in trying to make this work.  Once again we encounter WASTE: Welfare Act for Scientists, Technology, and Engineers.

Whatever Is Can Be!

I can’t remember the professor who suggested this to me, but I think it is pretty profound.  When it comes to things that you believe are real, it is always a good guideline to think that must be real if it already exists.  So, now that we have been told by our governmental researchers, they can produce fusion (the same energy source as the sun), perhaps we shouldn’t be celebrating just yet.

You all know that our sun is not unique.  All of those bright, shiny objects in the sky use the same energy production methods, so we KNOW fusion works and produces an enormous amount of energy, and for a long time.  On so many levels, the research is impressive for sure, but perhaps we are not asking the truly important questions.

Go ahead and ask any science teachers you know or any theoretical physicists.  They will all admit they do not know how these bright objects were created in the first place.  Yes, you read that correctly … go and check it out for yourself.  Even though we have almost countless examples of this in our universe, we simply have no idea how they were formed.  Yes, we have theories. But no one can explain this … and my next statements should give us pause.  You do remember Madame Curie learned the hard way that radioactivity was harmful and exposure will kill you?

Now, read all the press on fusion and tell me whether this idea is safe and practical.  These suns are not contained to provide energy in a controlled way.  Nothing can exist close to them.  Oh, and by the way, why isn’t anyone talking about the size issue here.  Our sun is a relatively small star and is so big that its gravitational force holds our solar system together.  Why isn’t anyone talking about the scale issue?

Here is a nice summary from the New York Times:

Why is this result such a big deal? As a clean source of energy, nuclear fusion could help replace polluting fossil fuels and overcome climate change. And if the remaining challenges — of which there are many — are figured out, nuclear fusion could produce more energy than today’s technologies are capable of.

Serious barriers remain before that potential future, experts caution. Can scientists reliably replicate what they’ve done only once? Can it be done more efficiently and more quickly? Can it be scaled up? All these questions are serious enough that, if not overcome, the announcement may ultimately amount to little.

Do you remember when Einstein and others worried that the atomic bomb was a bad idea.  Yes, it was the beginning of a nuclear age with wonderful examples of power plants in our world.  But, it is also the basis of our greatest fears since this same energy source can wipe us out.

What is clear is that we are about to be asked to pay dearly to follow this path … but no one is asking where that path really leads.

Global Stilling and Hail

The climate scientists are all predicting that wind strength is going to diminish.  This means that the wind farms will produce less and less power … and of course all of this while the needs for electricity will continue to increase.  See for yourself: We’re in the middle of a wind drought – and a ‘global stilling’ is coming (

As if that wasn’t enough, take a look at the catastrophic results of hail hitting solar panels:  U.S. insurers are expected to pay out more than $300 million in claims due to wind and hailstorms in Texas this year, according to GCube. In 2019, more than 400,000 out of 685,000 solar modules were damaged or destroyed at a single West Texas solar farm due to a massive hailstorm, resulting in $70 million of insured losses.

Where is the critical thinking of a resilient and reliable portfolio of energy supply.  Are we going to find these solar panels sitting in a local warehouse somewhere?  Do we really believe we can get new ones quickly?  How on earth are we going to keep the lights on and keep homes heated during the coldest days of the winter when that is precisely when the wind dies off?  Oh, are you going to run solar panels at night to make up the difference?  And, to make matters worse, you do remember that batteries perform the worst during cold weather don’t you?

It amazes me that I am the only one writing about this insanity?  I can only explain the silence by assuming the others who know what is happening are simply complicit.

Sad … very sad … and very irresponsible.


Insist that you buy and EV … and then ban use of it?

That makes no sense of course … that is unless you live in Sweden. You really would have a tough time making things like this up. Read the article in Institute for Energy Research. 

This relates to a story in Fox News:

“Switzerland could ban electric vehicles from being used non-essentially this winter as government officials begin to brace for an energy crisis during the winter months, according to reports. The Telegraph reported on Saturday that Swiss officials have drafted emergency proposals that restrict power usage if things get bad this winter.

For example, shops may need to reduce their hours, streaming services may need to be limited and buildings may only be heated to 20 degrees Celsius, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Other bans, according to the Telegraph, may include concerts, theater performances and sporting events, all to prevent a blackout.

The reason Switzerland is preparing for possible blackouts is that the country relies on imported energy during the summer months. While more than half, or 60 percent of the country’s energy comes from hydro powered means, but in the winter months productions slows and the country relies on imports.”

Where do I begin?  Have politicians lost their minds?  Don’t they remember the recent mask and distancing confusion that destroyed consumer confidence in their leaders?

Any media strategist will tell you that once you lose consumer trust it is almost impossible to rebuild it.  If EVs are an imperative … and things like banning Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) is law as it is becoming in some States, you would think you would find a way to give consumers who obey that law some level of preference in the supply portfolio rather than punish them for obeying rules.  Yes, it is important to keep the electricity flowing, but wouldn’t it be much more consistent to offer credits or payment to EV owners to charge at convenient times?

But, no … and the list of other inconveniences include:

  • Under crisis measures, hot water may be disabled in public bathrooms and the use of electric leaf blowers barred.
  • If the most extreme shortages hit, sports matches, concerts and theatre performances would be canceled, and all leisure businesses forced to close.
  • These measures are being made necessary by decades of actions in Europe against the use of fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy, mostly intermittent wind and solar power, ostensibly in pursuit of meeting climate commitments.

Apparently, I am going too fast …

Sustainability Hypocrisy?

As I picked up the mail today and found nothing but a few cards, I once again threw away a stack of catalogs for companies we never buy from and a host of junk mail.  Once again I am struck by the stupidity of today’s world printing paper in full color, delivering it to my door, and then being forced to throw it away.  Years ago I put the paper recycling blue box right there under my mailbox.

Couple that with single use water bottles and the stack of boxes and packaging with my Amazon orders, I have to wonder whether we are all hypocrites.  We have come to learn that recycling is a delusion with less than 10% of the materials actually reused, and these catalogs are the kind of paper that is almost impossible to recycle.

Perhaps the attempts to bring these wastes into focus with Scope 1, 2, and 3 emission inventories will help, but I fear it won’t.  Maybe cities will start to ban single use water just like they are banning natural gas in new construction or the internal combustion engines.

But why don’t I hear public outrage with all this paper we are delivering to each household only to then pick it right back up and then have to landfill it?

Am I going to fast?  Or are we being distracted by something that sounds more threatening?

I attended an 8-hour virtual presentation on carbon strategies around the world and noticed now that they have changed the language once again.  Global warming moved to climate change because the warming was not showing up in the last decades of data and now the goal of net zero is being replaced by the phrase the pathway to safety … as if a 2 degree C temperature increase is now a good thing.

When are we going to get serious enough that we examine the way we live every day?