We spent a lot of time on this show talking about energy-related education. It is important for people to have a better understanding of how they get energy, how humans use energy to enable better living, and how difficult life can be when there is no reliable, convenient source of delivered energy. We tipped our hat to the people in the practical trades like electricians, welders, construction workers, mechanics, and instrumentation technicians and to the unions that help them learn their craft.
Margaret Harding and Rod Adams were fresh from participation in a four day Science Teacher Workshop sponsored by the Virginia Chapter of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) where they had the experience of helping a group of 28 high school and middle school teachers learn more about nuclear energy and radiation so they could teach their students.
Aside: If you are a teacher in Virginia or nearby states, it is not too early to start thinking about attending next year’s workshop. We work hard to make it a valuable investment and quite a lot of fun as well. End Aside.
Meredith Angwin is the director of the Ethan Allen Energy Education Project based in Vermont, a place that is full of people who really need the services that the organization offers. Far too many people in that northern latitude state believe that they can cheaply collect enough energy from the sun and the wind to keep themselves comfortable.
Steve Aplin, who blogs at Canadian Energy Issues, pointed out how illogical that assumption is. Steve is from Ontario, he wondered how anyone can believe that solar energy could ever be sufficient when it is not strong enough to keep him warm in the winter on a bright, sunny day. He also described how it is so weak that it cannot keep a pot of water from freezing. Steve talked about the personal satisfaction that he gets from cutting wood to keep his small vacation cabin warm and allowed how he would hate it if he had to do the same to keep his permanent residence warm. As he put it, he would get nothing else done.
Meredith described how the controversies in her state about the continued operation of Vermont Yankee appear to be in a quiet period. Meanwhile, the power plant is churning out 620 MW of electricity every day.
We all discussed how disappointing it is that so many people seem to believe that electrons can be steered once they get put onto the grid. They must believe that, otherwise they would stop making silly statements like the following “So, all of Vermont Yankee’s power is being sold by Entergy to wholesale customers in other states and Vermont utilities have ended their reliance on Vermont Yankee as a part of their energy portfolios.”
We spent a little time talking about nuclear ship propulsion, especially the fact that commercial shipping is almost completely dependent on burning oil. Ships do not have the alternative of turning to “cheap natural gas” or coal; they have to burn a premium priced fuel that keeps getting more and more expensive. At the current market price of $109 per barrel, crude oil costs $19 per million BTU, almost 5 times as much as natural gas. That is not the end of the story; ships are now required to burn low sulfur diesel fuel almost all of the time. That fuel costs 2-3 times as much as crude oil in the places where ships often refuel.