Skip to main content

Quick Hits: Electric Cars, Solar/Nuclear, China

obama-tesla-cars What about electric cars?

Plans in Europe call for about 1 million EVs on the road by 2020, and a lot that push centers around increasing the number of nuclear power plants to feed these vehicles. Let's face it, an EV that's charged via electricity generated at an oil or coal-burning plant doesn't do much to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, so nuclear makes a lot of sense. And as costly and time-consuming as it is to erect a nuclear facility, it's likely easier and less expensive than relying on solar, wind or hydro-electric energy sources.

So what does all this have to do with electric vehicles? If the events unfolding in Japan lead governments to question the safety and viability of nuclear power, then new plants will be slow to come online. If car buyers know that their EV is likely burning the same CO2-emitting fossil fuels as their neighbor's internal combustion engine, what's the point of paying more for something that's just as dirty, more expensive and not as easy to fuel up?

I discussed earlier anxiety about radiation. Consider this anxiety about a slowdown in nuclear energy.

---

Qualified enthusiasm from Jigar Shah, CEO of Carbon War Room, a non-profit group championing clean energy technology. The interviewer for NPR is Farai Chideya:

CHIDEYA: So, are you supportive of the Obama administration's plans to expand the number of nuclear power plants.

Mr. SHAH: Well, we're supportive of carbon emission reductions. And so I think that, you know, that what we're trying to do is to harness the power of entrepreneurial effort to unlock market-driven solutions to climate change. And so if nuclear can stand alone without some of the government guarantees that seem to be very difficult to get through a Congress that is trying to cut cost, then, you know, I think that would be great.

Chideya notes that Shah has had an entrepreneurial interest in solar energy – something that would be dead on arrival absent “government guarantees.” Still, given his own concerns, his words in favor of nuclear energy are striking.

---

From China:

An official overseeing nuclear safety in China has said that the safety of the country's nuclear power facilities is guaranteed, while reaffirming its goal of developing nuclear power as a clean energy source.

"There is a guarantee for the safety of China's nuclear power facilities and (China) will not abandon (its nuclear power plan) for fear of slight risks," said Tian Shujia in response to reports that China will become more prudent toward developing nuclear power.

Remember, these are Chinese officials speaking through an official Chinese outlet. Still, the word is: nuclear energy remains strongly supported.

I’m not a car maven, but I believe this is Tesla Model S and the Roadster. By all means, correct me if you know better.

Comments

Horizon3 said…
You might want to throw in that 50% of the cost of building a nuke plant is caused by government and legal over reach, redundant regulations and frivolous lawsuits from environmentalist and anti-nuke groups.Not to mention union labor and their idiocies.

Yes those cars are what you say, and price tagged at well over $500k each. And neither will go over 200 miles on an 8 hour charge.
And that each one of those little charmers (as well as the clunker Volt)carries enough metallic lithium in its batteries to kill the population of New York State. But the proponents of said boondoggles are scared stiff of a few molecules per cubic mile of air of I-131 or CS-137.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…