My response to an article published in The Economist online
January 25, 2012
What will be fueling the world in 2030?
“THE world will consume 40% more energy in 2030 than it does today, according to BP’s World Energy Outlook, though the rate of growth will decrease…”
On sustainability front-runners:
Germany, Spain and Argentina are getting close to 25% of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power. It’s a safe bet that within five years, those targets will be met or exceeded.
On top of all that, Germany is shutting down it’s entire nuclear power industry by 2022 and is ahead of schedule there too. (They’re German’s after all!)
A new industry is taking hold in Germany, the UK and in other European countries – pure vegetable oil is being used to fuel (formerly) diesel cars and trucks.
It’s NOT bio-diesel as there is no petroleum diesel mixed into the veg oil fuel. Bio-diesel is a different product altogether, but IS available there as an optional fuel. (minor alterations are needed to the vehicle in order to use each different kind of fuel)
On German environmental law:
“The 2012 EEG sets a minimum requirement of not less than 35 percent of renewable energy in electricity supply by 2020, not less than 50 percent by 2030, not less than 65 percent by 2040 and not less than 80 percent by 2050.
However, the law actually sets a target of between 35 and 40 percent of supply within the next decade. This conforms to a decision made by the Ministry of Environment in 2010. Rather than reducing its commitment to expanding renewable energy, Germany has codified a more aggressive target than in the previous law.”
This quote is from:
At the same time as all the above is occurring:
The UK has already dropped it’s feed-in tariff for sustainable electricity. Germany is lowering theirs twice within a 12-month period.
It’s a simple equation, solar panel prices have dropped dramatically in the past 24 months, which is why Solyndra (and others) failed.
In 2011, China passed both the U.S. and Germany as the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines.
Here’s a basic, but excellent link for you:
On conventional nuclear power:
Many nuclear plants are getting close to the end of their lifetime. It is often less expensive to build new, state of the art nuclear plants – than to refurbish or renovate old plants to meet modern standards – as the Japanese are now finding out.
A majority of Japan’s 54 nuclear plants are shut down for inspection since the Fukushima disaster. Japan has just inked a deal with Saudi Arabia to purchase more oil to make up for the loss of all that nuclear power generation. How much more oil? THREE TIMES Japan’s total 2010 oil imports from all sources!
On ‘Modular” nuclear power:
To help you get up to speed in the modern nuclear power age, here is some general info.
Old, large nuclear plants all over the world, are nearing the end of their (safe) lifetime. They need to be decommissioned as soon as time and circumstance allows. Germany is decommissioning all their plants by 2022. Japan has shut down most of it’s 54 nuclear plants – a few may restart if, after rigorous inspections they are deemed safe enough.
The trend now is towards much higher safety and security standards and much smaller nuclear power plants – so called ‘modular’ nuclear power.
Here’s a great link for modular N-power:
If you need more info on this use keywords “modular, nuclear, power” on Google, plenty of info there.
Modern and safe, modular nuclear is the perfect partner for solar and wind power – as N-power can quickly ramp up to meet demand (at sundown) or when wind speeds suddenly drop. Nuclear does this far better than any other electrical grid partner.
The sore point with nuclear for decades – apart from old, obsolete N-plants has been ‘spent’ fuel rods. Some types of fuel rods require secure storage facilities and continuous cooling for 20,000 years(!) which significantly add to the cost of nuclear power.
Those old rods are hot and can become very dangerous if allowed to come into contact with the atmosphere, or if mis-handled in any way. Terrorist incidents are always a danger with both nuclear plants and long-term storage facilities, again, adding to the overall cost of nuclear.
Yet, there is a solution if the option is chosen. France’s nuclear power plants can ‘burn’ our ‘spent’ rods and eventually render them into a low radioactive state and France can store those (almost) fully-spent rods. The cost to dispose of N-rods in this way are much lower than 20,000-year storage.
Safe transport to France is imperative.
What I have outlined above is not the entire solution to all of our electrical power generation requirements, but can be considered huge steps in the right direction.
We need voices on this to make it happen.
Very Best Regards, johnbrianshannon.com