Thursday, August 11, 2011

Slide Show on Vermont's Energy Future

I recently recorded a 45 minute slide show about Vermont's Energy Future. I had been meaning to do this for a long time.

I want to thank the people at CATV studio of White River Junction for their work and patience in recording this, and Cavan Stone for his thoughtful editing. I hope you enjoy it!

The show covers Vermont Yankee issues, including:
  • alternatives to Vermont Yankee
  • safety issues, including tritium and concerns arising from Fukushima
  • economics


Simha said...

The major problem with hot-fusion nuclear energy production IS the storage of nuclear waste. This slide show is very misleading stating that dry-casks are safe, the nuclear energy production industry is about 50 years old, no one really knows how long these spent fuel rods will need to be kept in a stable state until they loose their radioactivity, estimates are from thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. This is a temporary method of storage which most reactors use, keeping the casks near the reactor, as of yet the US has NO permanent storage. Casks are subject to leaking, though the slide show implies otherwise, they are also "re-racked" when more space is needed, decreasing the space between rods within the cask rendering casks more unstable. The cost of storing spent fuel is such that reactors must rely on government subsidy, raid their decommissioning funds or other unsustainable methods. An equally serious problem is the fact that reactors rely on an external source of energy to run their cooling pumps, gas generators are the backup source of energy if the grid goes down, this is not a sufficiently redundant system, without these cooling pump Meltdown is inevitable. The reliance on our rivers and ocean that nuclear reactors have to cools fuel rods is just as serious. If this is Vermont's Energy Future, it isn't green and it isn't sustainable, it is jeopardizing the health of future generations and the purity of our natural resources.

Meredith Angwin said...

Simha. Thank you for the comment. I don't say that nuclear is perfect, just that it is better than the alternatives.

You have a few errors in your note, however, and I need to point out the most obvious. Fuel casks are not re-racked, though fuel pools are. Since fuel casks contain solids, they cannot "leak". Almost all heat engines use water for cooling: you car, for example, could not run without its water pump and radiatior. So "the reliance on rivers and oceans" to cool is just a fact of life about power plants, not something special to nuclear. Also, there is no government subsidy for storing spent fuel: the operating reactors contributed billions of dollars into a special fund for storing fuel, and the government did not provide a fuel storage site. So the reactors are suing the government for part of their money back.

If you prefer the problems posed by fossil fuels, that is certainly your prerogative. Next time you think about the purity of our natural resources, however, I do hope you will compare nuclear spent fuel casks to coal ash ponds, or even to some of the issues in gas and oil drilling. See if you still prefer fossil.

simha said...

First I don't support fossil fuels. To say this is our only alternative in the 21st century is a joke. The issue is really around giant corporations and their strangle hold on energy production.

If "we" were really interested in long term affordable clean energy; communities, towns and counties would be producing their own energy. Micro-hydro is one tech. that has great potential in VT, the red tape created by lobbyist of the energy monopolies is the obstacle. Geo-thermal, passive and active Solar, Wind, bio-dygesters, bio-gassifiers on and on the list goes of alternatives, yet if these options are "industrialized", privatized and over-sized.... issues will arise.

The idea that we NEED private profiteering corporations because they are the only ones who can provide the massive amount of energy we use, is infantile. By diversifying, down-sizing and co-opting energy production we would have abundance of clean cheap energy. It would require a life style change, the standard of consumption in the States is also oversized and MUST change, it is NOT sustainable. It doesn't mean we wouldn't be living comfortably with the same energy abilities we have now, it would mean we are more aware of our energy use by being directly involved in its production, and would thus be more efficient with our usage.

To be innovative and creative are the demands of disasters like Fukushima. If these corporations didn't have the power and influence they have, inventors and innovators of efficient and clean technology would be the ones getting funds to develop truly sustainable energy production. Nuclear, Coal, Fossil fuels, Mega-hydro damns... these "industrial revolutionary" technologies (relics) will be a thing of the past, because they are out-of-scale.

If we reverse our negligent ways now, we might be able to reverse this drastic trend of destroying the Biosphere, it isn't just a Co2 issue. Energy, Money and Power are now synonymous words, but they don't have to be.

In peace - Simha

Meredith Angwin said...

Simha. I appreciate your viewpoint, but cannot share it. I devoted many years to renewable energy before I switched to nuclear, because renewables just couldn't get built. You imagine everyone with their own little energy supply neaby: I have seen any energy which is situated near where people live be fought, tooth and nail. That is my life-experience. You have different expectations of how people will behave.

You may see it as a 'joke" that our only choices are fossil and nuclear. I see it as reality. I doubt we are going to agree on the specifics of energy use, because we cannot agree on the overall picture.

Tom Clegg said...

simha. I was wondering what nearby source you used to run your computer or your modem or your screen.
Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Whether it is an educated opinion or not. By the way what do you do for a living? I work in nuclear power.

Tom Clegg said...

Meredith. Tell your Gov. that Entergy headquarters is in Jackson,Mississippi. So he would look smarter calling it Entergy Mississippi. At least he should know where Entergy's main office is.

Tom Clegg said...

Simha. You are assuming that there will be no advances in nuclear waste storage. Not even in hundreds of years. You also assume that Congress will never get off their butts and approve reprocessing of spent fuel.These are the same fears that anti-nukes use. Don't judge a book by it's cover, Don't judge nuclear power by fear mongers. colog

Meredith Angwin said...

Tom. Thank you for your comments!
However, there is nothing I can do which would help Shumlin look smarter. ;-)

Tom Clegg said...

Simha. You make it sound so easy to own your own way of making energy. The up keep or if something breaks your town or community has to pay for it. Depending on what broke you could be a while without power. Think how your town will love you after a few days without power.and having to pay to fix it.So what would be your plan then. Go ask those big bad corporations if they have any spar power they are not using, and by the way don't charge us to much.

Tom Clegg said...


Meredith Angwin said...

Tom. Thank you for watching my back! I always appreciate it.

Simha's name, above, is a link. If you will follow it, you will see he has a very anti-nuclear blog. Dedicated anti-nuclear people generally want to say what they want to say. Aristotlean argumentation is not their scene. They are usually far more comfortable with emotional appeals. in other words, Fear Sells, and they spend a lot of time encouraging Fear.

Tom, can you email me off-line? My email link is on my profile page...

Thanks again!