Eric McErlain posted a blog titled Ireland considers new nuclear build that pointed to a blog on GUBU titled Wind is blowing for nuclear. It introduced me to a blog from Sarah Carey, a lady who has this to say about her background:
I am 35 years old, married with two small children and living in Enfield, Co. Meath. I’m at home full time with the children except when I manage to escape into town to meet friends and make occasional appearances on Irish television and radio. I write a column for The Sunday Times.
I have a degree in History from TCD and a post-graduate Diploma in Business Studies from the Michael Smurfit Business School in UCD. Between 1995 and 1998 I worked for Esat Telecom and Esat Digifone. This involved working on the bid for the second mobile phone licence which landed me in the Moriarty Tribunal. From 1998 to 2000 (roughly) I did a lot of freelance PR/marketing work on really diverse projects from Fine Gael to Meteor to research stuff for RTE to the FAI and ended up working full time for Cape Clear Software. We parted company (amicably) in 2003 when I had my first baby.
I’d always wanted to write, so some years ago I began my blog GUBU so I could store ideas for future reference. Then people started reading it, which was unexpected. The Sunday Times read the blog, liked it and offered me a column. The blog ended up being a porfolio, which was great. And I made new friendships and kept old ones alive which was also nice.
Sarah’s post on January 14, 2007 takes the position that far too many people believe in the electricity fairy – a magic being that can somehow make much needed electrical power flow out of the wall socket using “fairy dust and moonbeams” instead of coal, oil, gas, wind turbines, transmission lines, or uranium.
Here is a tantalizing quote meant to get you to go read Sarah’s column.
Last week Eamon Ryan, the Green minister for energy, bravely called for a public debate about the legal ban on use of nuclear power. When I first heard him on Morning Ireland on Thursday, I assumed he was prepared to countenance the possibility of using nuclear power in Ireland. By Thursday evening his position was clearer: let’s debate, but there’ll be no nuclear power. As that’s exactly what most people want to hear, Ryan is not being so brave after all. While the minister is against nuclear power, he’s big into wind and, judging by the money those chaps in Airtricity made, so are lots of others.
As is often my habit, I jumped into the growing thread of comments with both feet. Here is what I said this time. (For those of you who read Atomic Insights on a regular basis, you will recognize some of my arguments, but I try to make them differently every time.)
There are some aspects of atomic technology that get lost in endless debates. As a former US submarine engineer officer, I like to bring them up so that people have something new to think about.
Though most people think of nuclear plants as large, central station power plants with massive cooling towers that operate either full blast or not at all, my experience is that the plants can be very small, operate for decades without refueling, and can respond to variations in power demand more quickly than diesel or gas turbine engines.
As a submariner, I lived within 200 feet of a reactor for months at a time in a small, tightly sealed container with 150 of my closest colleagues. We had clean water, clean air, plenty of light, air conditioning, propulsion power, and power for the computers, ovens and refrigerators.
Hundreds of such ships have quietly operated ever since 1955 when the Nautilus reported that she was underway on nuclear power.
In the 18 years since I left my boat, I have been trying to figure out how nuclear power got its bad rap and the best answer that I can find is that a large number of people worked VERY hard to spread as much Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about the technology as possible. From my experiences in other competitive industries and my deep research, I finally figured out that the energy business is the world’s largest single enterprise. I also figured out that people who sell coal, oil and gas are not all that concerned about the effects of their fuels, but they really like the money and power that those fuels can bring.
Every time a new nuclear power plant gets started up, it removes a market demand for about 1.8 BILLION cubic meters of natural gas worth about 150 million pounds. If it replaces a coal fired power plant, the number is about 4 million tons of coal – I do not have a market price available for that commodity, but I know that the number is pretty big.
Fossil fuel companies and the supporting industries and organizations (banks, railroads, unions, governments, shipping companies, pollution control equipment manufacturers, etc.) all have a vested interest in protecting their markets and making people afraid of nuclear power. They do not have to coordinate their efforts; opposing nuclear is natural for them. They do, however, often do a great job of hiding their real motives behind the actions of people hired to spread the FUD who call themselves “environmentalists.”
Feel free to disagree – but whatever you do, please think critically and follow the money.