Friday, May 30, 2014

California, Carbon, Kewaunee and Nuclear Energy

Thanks to NEI's Ted Jones for passing this story to us from the New York Times about how California is investing in carbon mitigation technologies around the country. See if you can identify the elephant in the room from the story's first three paragraphs:

KEWAUNEE, Wis. — Bryan T. Pagel, a dairy farmer, watched as a glistening slurry of cow manure disappeared down a culvert. If recycling the waste on his family’s farm would help to save the world, he was happy to go along.

Out back, machinery was breaking down the manure and capturing a byproduct called methane, a potent greenhouse gas. A huge Caterpillar engine roared as it burned the methane to generate electricity, keeping it out of the atmosphere.

The $3.2 million system also reduces odors at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, one of the largest in Wisconsin, but it would not have been built without a surprising source of funds: a California initiative that is investing in carefully chosen projects, even ones far beyond its borders, to reduce emissions as part of the battle against climate change.
Still stumped? Well, you shouldn't be. Kewaunee, Wisconsin is home to the now closed Kewaunee Power Station, a 556 MWe nuclear reactor. It was closed a little more than a year ago for economic reasons.
FWIW, I'd rather use Uranium
And while Mr. Pagel's innovative manure-fired generator apparently provides enough electricity to power 1,200 homes, we feel the need to point out that Kewaunee put out enough juice to power 380,000 homes. And according to NEI's David Bradish, in its last complete calendar year of operation (2012) Kewaunee helped prevent the emission of 4.4 million tons of carbon.

Now, please don't get us wrong. We're all for encouraging new and innovative methods to generate electricity that also help constrain carbon emissions (ridding the world of the odor of manure is a real plus too). But as our friends at Nuclear Matters are pointing out on a daily basis, it seems clear that nuclear-generated electricity isn't being properly priced and valued in the marketplace. Here's hoping that policymakers start paying attention, and soon.

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