The New York Times published a story titled Certainties of 1970s Energy Crisis Have Fallen Away that caused me to fire up my keyboard to send a note back to the author. Following my personal mantra of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, I thought I would share that note with you.
Your article titled “Certainties of 1970s Energy Crisis Have Fallen Away” was interesting, but it contained an inaccurate and misleading sentence:
“The only alternative to succeed on a large scale, however, has been wind power, and most of that growth did not occur until the past decade.”
You mentioned how current events seem like deja vu for “Texans of a certain age.” I consider myself to “of a certain age”, though I am not from Texas. As a 51 year old grandfather, I came of age during the 1970s. The Arab Oil Embargo and the Iranian hostage crisis were two of the more influential events of my life; both illustrated the vulnerability of my cherished American way of life to events in distant lands. Our freedom and comfort are often dependent on fuel extracted and transported enormous distances.
After sharing the American experience of two very painful lessons about energy, I chose to enter a profession that offered a path towards independence. As a nuclear-trained submarine officer, I spent many months at sea without getting a single fuel delivery and without emitting a single molecule of SOX, NOX or CO2 – except during those rare times when we practiced using our emergency diesel engines. The US Navy no longer operates any oil powered aircraft carriers or submarines; all of them use nuclear energy instead.
In the commercial electric power business, nuclear energy, which produced no electricity in the US before 1957, grew to the point where it now produces about 806 billion kilowatt hours per year in America. That is more than 10 times as much electricity as windmills produce. It is also about 30% more electricity every year than the entire US power grid produced in 1959, the year I was born. It has helped to eliminate the use of about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from the electric power market.
According to the BP annual energy outlook, nuclear power plants around the world produce the energy equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil per day. That output is equivalent to the contribution of Saudi Arabia PLUS Kuwait.
Though there have been many efforts to suppress this technology – many driven by people who make a lot of money by selling coal, oil and natural gas – nuclear energy has had a far more successful history of replacing fossil fuel in the energy market than any other alternative energy source.
It is poised to continue capturing a growing market share as more and more people realize that the events at Fukushima Daiichi, as scary as they have seemed, have resulted in very few actual injuries or illnesses.
Publisher, Atomic Insights