Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mambo Nucleare

yellowstone-old-faithful-wyyel28 Here’s the problem:

86 per cent of its energy comes from foreign countries.

And here’s a solution:

An international study presented Sunday argues strongly for the introduction of nuclear energy in Italy, saying the country can diminish its dependency on foreign nations and cut carbon emissions.

Italy closed its nuclear plants in the wake of Chernobyl and now derives about 81 percent of its electricity from gas and oil. As this chart shows, Italy has been displacing oil with natural gas throughout the aughts. It also shows that nuclear energy was not a big contributor even when the plants were open.

But the issue here is less what Italy is using currently than that so little of it is domestic, which makes the country vulnerable to price fluctuations that it cannot significantly control through policy. So Italy needs home-grown plants. Why nuclear?

By introducing nuclear energy, between 2020, when plants might begin working, and 2030, when they should account for 25 per cent of electricity supply, Italy might save up to €69 billion ($84 billion) in generation costs and cut up to 381 million tons in carbon emissions, according to the study.

In other words, nuclear can supply a tremendous amount of carbon emission free energy rather quickly and the Italians can do it all within their borders. The article does not talk about renewable energy, so we looked around to see what it might be doing in that sphere. The profile is not encouraging:

Cuts in green energy incentives in Spain and Italy, as well as uncertainty over the future of the U.S. climate change bill pushed stocks in EGP's listed rivals down to trade at less than 10 times projected core earnings (EBITDA) in 2011, he said.

EGP is Enel Green Power, which wants to sell stock, but is finding the market very bad. Enel is Italy’s largest electricity supplier and has pacted with France’s EDF to pursue nuclear energy. Renewable energy, at least in some markets, may suffer due to a terrible economy applying pressure on relatively young companies. Enel’s relative maturity may leave EGP standing if shaky (Enel itself is under some financial pressure, too).

In any event, the tide in Italy has turned quite definitively toward nuclear energy:

[The report’s] conclusions will likely please [Italian] Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has made constructing nuclear reactors in Italy to produce energy one of his government's goals. The premier said in April that he expected the construction of the first nuclear reactor in Italy to get going within three years.

Normally, I might feel a little uncomfortable that Italy does not currently favor a more diverse energy strategy. But it is starting almost at ground zero on producing electricity domestically and nuclear energy is a way to do this quickly – that is, produce a great deal of electricity in a compact way. Renewable energy sources can certainly still follow.

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Did you know that the world might end due to Old Faithful?

Yellowstone National Park has literally thousand of square miles of hot magma underneath, which will someday erupt. This isn't just a small volcano! Geologists say it's possible that a major eruption there would be thousands of times greater than that of Mt. St. Helens. It would put the US under several feet of volcanic ash, and likely put the planet into an ice age.

Awful! How to prevent such a calamity, which writer Martin Nix calls worse than the Taliban? How about tapping it for an energy bonanza?

Developing Yellowstone's geothermal potential would not only displace the need for coal and nuclear power plants, it would also cool the magma down, relieving the pressure than could lead to an eruption.

That would be a terrific boon for the thousands of people who live in Wyoming. And Idaho! Not only will there be plentiful energy but also collateral benefits.

It could also electrify our train system. A side-advantage of this is that the train system could be used for building an electrical distribution system, by stringing cable above the railroads or burying it next to them.

It’s all upside. All you’d have to do to make it work is to find the water to make a bunch of algae ponds in Yellowstone to cool your geothermal activities. Eco-system? Algae ponds are an eco-system! Besides, there really is no choice.

If you think this is expensive or harmful to the environment, then try cleaning up after an eruption.

Yeah. Try doing that, wise guy.

Old Faithful. It wants to kills us all.

3 comments:

Philip said...

The idea that geothermal energy creation could ease the pressure under Yellowstone is incredibly preposterous. That -has- to be a joke. Right?

harlz said...

I think Martin should nix that project.

Anonymous said...

The real solution to both increasing energy and water to the western region of the United states as well as very possibly ending the current economic depression in North America is NAWAPA (North American Water & Power Alliance) which would rechannel millions of acre feet of snow melt run-off from northern Canada and Alaska, building a series of dams and waterways to channel the water through the Rockey Mountain basin with benefits all the way to Mexico and in to the Great Lakes. This project is nothing new in fact it was first proposed by the Ralph M. Parsons Co. in 1964 and strongly supported by then Senator Moss from Utah but never got off the ground due to bogus arguments about the United states upsurping Canadian Soverignity by taking thier resources eveen though Canada would benefit greatly frrom the project and also anti-water resource development environmentalists(Nulear is not the only zero carbon power source the fruitcake environmentalists object to).