Nuclear Power Demonstrations After Japan

I guess it was inevitable that the anti-nuclear lobby would be out demonstrating even before the dust had settled on the Japanese reactor  in Fukushima. Students were out in force in Germany yesterday, just a day after the disaster, demanding the shut down of all nuclear power plants in the country.

OK! But Give Us An Alternative

As soon as I saw the reports on the news, I remarked to my wife that while these people may demand an end to nuclear power, none have a workable suggestion to replace the electricity generating capacity of the nuclear plants. Passion is one thing, but common sense often dictates the reverse!

 Until man devises a safer way of satisfying the needs of our power-hungry society, we are stuck with what we have. It may not be ideal, and in certain circumstances i.e. when abused like Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl or a natural disaster as in Japan, things can go ‘pear shaped’. These are the risks we have to take.

There are those who say we should concentrate our attention on wind, solar and hydro-electric power or bio-fuels, but all are totally impractical on the scale required to satisfy our energy needs.

The Heart Of Our Power Generation

I have written often enough on the practicality of these alternatives and will therefore not go into detail again here. I just refer to you to a previous post on the subject, but suffice it to say, the alternatives listed are not a workable solution as a replacement for nuclear power:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/germany-the-nuclear-dilemma/

Our biggest problem is the ever increasing demand for more and more electricity, and we have reached the stage where there is little or no spare capacity in many western countries. Our consumption rates are at an all-time high and increasing year on year. There has to come an end to our greed!

London’s Wasted Gigawatts

Take a look at the world’s major cities for example, and see how many office blocks and shop fronts are lit up at night like christmas trees, even though they are empty. Take another look at all the neon signs and advertisements that festoon our cities and ask yourself, can we continue in this way? It may look nice, but in real terms it is sheer unadulterated waste. Should this wastage be outlawed we could probably shut down several nuclear plants based purely on the energy savings. The problem is not nuclear power itself, but the selfish, arrogant use we make of what is generated!

Times Square New York- Watts In An Advert!

Now a new energy ‘gobbler’ is emerging on the market in the form of all-electric cars. For sure, they will help to solve the climate change problems but they are a hidden menace in the form of the demands they will make on our power generating capability. Can you for one second imagine the energy requirements of tens of millions of electric cars plugged into the net every night? On top of our ever-increasing demands for everything else, such an addition would overload our power grids within seconds. I have also covered this topic in a previous posts as follows:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/future-transport-electric-hybrid-hydrogen-or-bio/

We have a saying in England: “You can’t have your cake and eat it!” Not very practical because what is the point of having cake if you can’t eat it, but never-the-less it makes a point. As a species, we cannot continue expanding our power requirements ‘Ad Infinitum’ and not expect a backlash. The fact is, we have to make good with what we have, and at the moment that is nuclear power, and distasteful as that is, we have no alternative! There is no quick fix for our energy needs until scientists unlock new forms of power generation, and that will take years.

Chernobyl- One Disaster Is Enough

Considering the risks attached to nuclear power generation it is perhaps more prudent to improve safety measures at the plants. No-one wants a repeat of Chernobyl, which was caused by human error and not an inerrant fault in the design, but as the Japanese situation has indicated, better safeguards are required to ensure a nuclear reactor can be quickly and safely shut down in the event of a natural disaster before over-heating becomes a factor.

The USA At Night From The ISS Station

The risk of a real atomic explosion is minuscule, but the possibility of the escape of radioactive material still causes concern. This needs to be addressed by the scientific community as an urgent priority. The general public should not be put at risk under any circumstances, for as we see at the moment, any incident involving nuclear power brings out the protesters. It would be nice if they could come up with a really workable alternative, but to date they can’t!

Each and every one of us can do our bit towards reducing the energy drain. Switch off the lights and other electrical appliances like the TV and video recorder when not needed, and use low energy bulbs wherever possible. In every home it may be a small thing, but collectively, it all adds up.

The World Hot Spots

Governments need to introduce laws that prevent entire office blocks and shops from being lit up at night when they are empty, and a curb on all the neon advertising could be introduced. Sounds impractical, and many will say a bit daft, but just for one moment imagine how much power would be saved. It will boggle your mind! If we continue to put so much pressure on our electricity generating companies, we may well be left with no choice but to take such measures.

Roy.

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