Sustainable, affordable, reliable energy

Barry Brook is an Australian climate scientist who operates the well-respected forum on energy and environment called Brave New Climate. He recently published a video that takes just 2.5 minutes to summarize his view of the energy choices that face humanity. My bet is that you will want to share it with your friends and family.

About Rod Adams

13 Responses to “Sustainable, affordable, reliable energy”

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  1. DV82XL says:

    Just the sort of thing that should play on television as part of a full campaign to promote nuclear

  2. Andrew Jaremko says:

    It’s a suitable Public Service Ad of the kind you brainstormed about on The Atomic Show #166 – Nuclear Energy Advertising podcast. How is the Nuclear Literacy Project coming?

  3. Andy Dawson says:

    Thank God for that – a Youtube video from an australian that’s got halfway decent production values, a coherent case, and a scientifically competent presenter/writer.

    See, it can be done….

  4. Ael says:

    In a similar vein, if you haven’t heard about it already, I’d like to recommend Prof. David MacKay’s book ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’. It is extremely good at giving laypersons a feel for the size of the relevant numbers.

    The book is available for free download and online reading. The section on nuclear for example starts here: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c24/page_161.shtml

  5. Daniel says:

    One must take a look at Steven Cowley’s video on TED.COM on nuclear energy. He calls fusion ‘knowledge energy’ and gives a pretty cool explanation of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion from 03:40 til 05:50 of this video.

    A passionate speech!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_cowley_fusion_is_energy_s_future.html

  6. CanIBeTheDevilsAdvocateHere says:

    Rod

    As the screen name implies, and without any frothing at the mouth that some people have come to associate with anti-nuclear groups, let me just ask the obvious questions, why not put the research into solar/wind/tidal power instead of nuclear? I’m hearing some people say it can’t be done, but I’m having a hard time believing that. There isn’t enough energy in the Sun or the Ocean? We can split an atom, but we can’t harness the wind? And finally, would these alternate energy technologies be more advanced if they could have been used for weapons like nuclear?

    • DV82XL says:

      While you are correct that there is more energy in solar and wind. The problem is concentrating it enough for it to be useful and storing it in sufficient amounts to overcome the variability inherent in these modes. It is not a question of more research, it is a matter of physics.

      If you consider the path of development in almost all technologies the law of diminishing returns applies. That is to say the big advances are made at the beginning and subsequent ones return less and less improvement. In the case of wind and solar (and more importantly storage) this is what has happened. The gap between what we can do now, and what we would need to power an advanced civilization is simply too great to overcome and given that we know just about all there is to know about the theories that underpin these things, it is clear that it is unlikely that there will be a discovery that will allow that gap to be bridged.

      Now that’s not to say it’s impossible, just very unlikely and we need a source of clean power now. Waiting and hoping for a breakthrough that may not come in the situation that we are in now is just not possible. However no one is giving up on research and nuclear or not there will be people looking into these technologies, especially storage one way or the other, and if some discovery is made, and it leads to a cost effective technology, it will replace nuclear. But keep in mind that we are talking about a major discovery at the fundamental level, and these very rarely come from lavishing money on research.

      Your remark about weapons has been true: certainly wind, in the form of sailing ships, benefited from development for military reasons, but note to that the most efficient wind driven ships were those developed to carry tea – a commercial application.

    • Daniel says:

      It is also a matter of economics, density of energy and land requirement. The sun, as a source of energy, is 94.5 million miles away. Very far and inefficient as you get about 400 watt per square meter.

      Covering every square foot of every building in the country with solar panels would be enough to provide our indoor lighting—about 4 percent of our total electrical consumption—during the daytime. Other forms of solar energy flows—wind, hydroelectricity, or biofuels—are more dilute.

      Running a 1,000-megawatt electrical station—the standard size—for example, would require 1,000 square miles of forest. A hydroelectric dam generating 1,000 MW usually backs up a reservoir of about 250 square miles. T. Boone Pickens’s plan to generate 4,000 MW of electricity from wind in west Texas will cover around 1,200 square miles. In the December 2007 issue of Scientific American, three solar energy theorists presented a “grand plan for solar energy” that would involve powering the entire country by covering 30,000 square miles of Southwest desert with solar collectors.

      Nuclear is the only form of energy that meets Einstein’s e=mc2. Let’s keep the space for animals, forest and wildlife.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @CanIBeTheDevilsAdvocateHere

      Why is it either or for you? Why do you think that research into solar/wind/tidal power should replace rather than be conducted in addition to research into nuclear energy?

      As it happens, I was once enamored enough with the potential for sources like wind, solar and biomass to sign up to audit an advanced engineering course taught by one of the recognized experts in the field – Dr. Chih Wu. He was a professor at the US Naval Academy where I was stationed at the time; he had been researching alternative energy for several decades and was the coauthor of the book on Ocean Thermal Energy

      http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/EarthSciences/Oceanography/?view=usa&ci=9780195071993

      My fascination continued for two full semesters of Dr. Wu’s courses. I then asked him to be an advisor for an independent study program. The end result was the first step in the development of the Adams Engine. You see, after running the numbers and doing a lot of homework, I realized that there was no alternative energy source that could even hold a candle to nuclear fission energy in terms of reliability, safety and abundance.

      No matter how much money or time you invest in developing wind and solar energy you will never be able to control either energy source to supply energy on demand. You will never harness them to power automobiles, airplanes or even ships. You will never be able to use them to power factories directly.

      In contrast, nuclear fission works reliably and at a low overall cost. The production cost is so low and the amount produced is so large that buying a nuclear fission power system will not be an expense, but a money producing investment. Unlike R&D in wind and solar, it will not prevent other activities by soaking up funds, it will actually produce additional resources that might be available for other types of investments. I personally think it would be a silly waste of money to put those additional resources into wind, solar or tidal energy development. I’ve been there, done the numbers, and don’t see any potential for solutions to the obstacles of unreliable and diffuse energy sources.

  7. Locke says:

    Excercise some control Rod, or even some plain simple logic. You are suffering from Cognitive dissonance.
    Obviously, you have firsthand experience with nuclear power, look what it did to your deformed head.
    You have our vote for bottom of the intelligence scale.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Locke – thank you for coming to visit from fairewinds.org. I will pass on your evaluation of my intelligence to my employer and to my former employers. They will be happy to know how stupid you think I am.

      By the way, this is one of my shortest posts and has very little commentary from me. How did you decide this was the right place to put that comment?

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