While catching up on some reading on The Energy Blog, I came across a post about a speech given on September 27, 2006 by BP’s Vivienne Cox. Ms. Cox was speaking to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council about her company’s investments in “clean electricity”. The speech is enlightening and I encourage you all to go and read it in its entirety. It is available on BP’s web site at Why Clean Electricity Is Critical in Combating Climate Change- Steps to Accelerate America’s Low Carbon Power Economy.
Based on this speech, BP and Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. (AAE) are addressing the same challenge – we both recognize that the world has a growing need for electricity. We both appreciate the fact that the wrong kind of electrical power production development can cause great harm to the world’s environment because the electricity generation industry is the world’s largest single contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. (AAE also recognizes that electricity generation is the world’s largest single contributor to a host of other components of air pollution, but that is a topic for different posts.)
Our methods of approaching this challenge, however, are quite different and offer a real choice. While BP considers that their alternative energy strategy includes natural gas combined cycle and coke burning along with wind and solar, AAE proposes that nuclear power offers the only technology that can provide reliable, emissions free energy that can operate independently of a large supporting grid network. Ms. Cox and her company apparently cannot bring themselves to even mention nuclear power as an emission free alternative – not once does she use the words nuclear, atomic, or uranium in her speech.
Ms. Cox presents a vision that includes massive infrastructure investments in wind farms that can produce a gigawatt or more, transmission lines snaking out of the central plains states to population centers to delivery that power, at least 1700 new coal fired power plants world wide, coke burning plants with carbon dioxide captured and piped to old oil fields, and a growing supply of natural gas combined cycle plants.
(Aside: When you read the speech, notice that BP has purchased a couple of wind farm developers and that the company expects to be able to book a profit from those companies in the first year. Then ask yourself – how much of that profit comes from the Production Tax Credit that is a direct payment from the US taxpayers to one of the world’s richest companies.)
In contrast, AAE has a vision that includes relatively small generating plants (10-50 MW each) that can operate for years to a decade or more without new fuel. When those plants need to be refueled, the amount of fuel will be measured in pounds, not tons. As those plants operate, they will not release ANY waste products; all of the left overs that they produce will remain inside the reactor itself. Though the waste products will be hazardous if not properly handled, experience shows that proper handling is a straightforward task.
Many of the power plants that Ms. Cox advocates also produce waste products. The fossil fuel industry has a well established method of dealing with those wastes – they release them into the environment for all of us to share.
I am, of course, completely biased, but I think that AAE has a vision and a plan that is far more workable than the one proposed by BP. I wonder what you think?