So, with all the Debt Drama, DC mostly forgot about the rest of the World and the rest of Country. So, no change there. Today, however, is the 66th Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, and, effectively, the end of World War II, which was enough to take the attention off the Debt at least a little bit.
Meanwhile, it turns out that the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor accident was brought under control. Until it started leaking again worse than ever. I guess the upside is when most of the radiation is all washing out to sea, the cleanup is easier . . . .
Full disclosure, I’ve never been a huge fan of nuclear power. I am old enough to remember Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. TMI is often described as a disaster that wasn’t, unless you were some of the residents who had the wits scared out of them by an evacuation. Or one of the little kids somewhere else who knew enough to be scared and didn’t understand why “almost” was not a big deal. Chernobyl wound be being the ultimate “I told you so” moment.
It’s been 25 years since Chernobyl, which means there are a decent number of voting-eligible Americans who weren’t even alive then, and if you’re under 35, your parents probably kept you away from the pictures. A lot of those pictures never made the American media anyway, you only saw them if you happened to get access to foreign media somehow. In case anyone is eating, the Japanese are in for a pretty hard ride the next decade or so, dealing with the public and environmental health consequences of this accident. The energy grid issues are really just window dressing.
So, why do we need nuclear power again? Because, supposedly, it is clean. Let’s talk to the Ukrainians and Japanese about that. Because there is no other solution. Um, hydro, solar PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, cogeneration, natural gas, walking, biking, demand management. Those don’t work because we have to have *one source* of energy. Says who? We don’t have one source of energy now. There is no way to maintain grid stability with any other next generation technology. Um, again, talk to the Japanese about nuclear and grid stability.
What mostly leaves me on the sidelines is that it isn’t really apparent that anyone has really tried much to do anything else, and where they have, it seemed to go OK, at least on a small scale. This is called distributive generation, that is, distribute the generation of electricity over use area, rather than concentrating it at one or a few plants serving a region.
We have roofs all over this country, that for the most part aren’t used much. So, why not put solar panels on top of them and hook them up to the grid? Well, it costs, the panels are expensive. There are infrastructure limits as well. Most American properties have simple electric meters that measure simple flow of electricity. If the property owner has solar panels hooked up to the electric grid, the owner is actually *charged for* the electricity generated, because the meter counts only in one direction, regardless of whether electricity flows toward the grid or toward the property. Smart meters do not necessarily address this. Smart metering is mostly about tracking the time of day that electricity is used, not where it is generated and the direction it flows.
Similarly, I understand the concerns about large scale wind farms, however, wind has been used as a site specific source of energy since the middle ages. Is a single wind turbine at an elementary school or other public building less sightly than the building itself? I guess you’ve lived in prettier towns than I have.
We gotta do something different, folks. The answer, in the end will lie in the Middle, not in the extremes.