Water and Nuclear/other energy

In our country and around the world, we use water to make energy and then we use energy to make water. What? Most nuclear and coal power plants use a steam turbine which is cooled by water. Remember the drought in Georgia last year? The water in the river got so low and hot that it wouldn’t cool the nuke and coal power plants, so they had to turn them down or off. The largest user of water in the U.S. is the thermoelectric power sector, accounting for 48% of the total water withdrawal and 39% of freshwater withdrawals.

Then we use energy to clean up dirty water at water treatment plants. 10% of electricity in the U.S. is used for waste and wastewater, including end uses. But in denser, larger states the energy load can be much higher. According to a 2005 study by the California Energy Commission, fully 19% of the state’s energy use is related to pumping, treating, transporting, heating, cooling, and recycling water.
The Middle East is investing heavily in the desalination of seawater to provide adequate fresh water for its burgeoning population (and of course, its indoor ski slopes). Desalination requires over 9,800 kWh per million gallons of fresh water.

But how about oil? Shale oil and tar sands oil in Canada and the West use gobs of water to fracture the rock. The West is very dry and so we will probably never develop that oil because of lack of water.
How about ethanol? Requires lots of water, much more than oil. The EROWI (energy returned on water invested) is 228 for petroleum diesel, but only 0.024 for corn ethanol, because making it requires massive amounts of water.
So, water conservation and energy conservation are both key. To save water while making energy, we need to use water-thrifty energy sources, like solar and wind, and wave power.energypicture

So, what’s wrong with nuclear power?

Sure, some environmentalists are saying, throw some more money at nuclear if that’s what it takes to get the climate bill passed. But nuclear already has gobs of subsidies. Aren’t they going to choke on the welfare money that we keep throwing at them? They already have loan guarantees out the wazoo. More, more, they’re never satisfied.
Let’s look at the scene this way. Democrats are saying, pass the cap and trade bill and let the market decide which technologies win: efficiency, nuclear, solar, wind, etc. They sound like raving capitalist free-marketers. The Republicans are similarly standing on their heads by wanting to foist state socialism on our country. To heck with the market, we Senators know what is best and we decree that 100 nuclear power plants will be built. The Chinese Communist Party likes that kind of state interference in the free market. Yuck.
So, look at nuclear. Cost overruns. Delays. Bondholders losing their shirts. No wonder there were no nuclear plants built in this country the last 30 years. Oh, but the future is different. Nuclear people have learned their lesson. Now, they will be cheaper, faster, safer. Really? Check out the recent news from the Finnish nuclear plant. $4.3 billion was the original price tag. Now they are behind schedule and predict it will take and extra $3.3 billion to finish the Finnish [bad joke] plant, according to a Sept 09 news item. No completion date is offered. Finnish people are not known for being big spend thrifts, chomping cigars and burning money for the fun of it.
So, it wasn’t the nuclear protesters waving signs that stopped the nuclear power plants in the US. It was Wall St investors who didn’t want to lose their shirts on another losing venture. Same here.
Why waste our money on nuclear when the money should be spent on energy efficiency first. Let the market decide.

Climate Change bill passes Senate Environment Committee

You may have read the news that Senator Barbara Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Boxer-Kerry bill out of committee by 11- 1. Some say that this means the death of this bill and the beginning of a bill that has a chance of passing. What’s with that? Republicans on the committee boycotted the Senate EPW markup for several days, playing hooky from school. Why ? Because they said that they needed more time to study the economic impacts of the bill. Get this. The nearly-identical Waxman-Markey bill was analyzed by the EPA, at a cost of $350,000 in computer runs, and the Senate Boxer-Kerry bill was analyzed from the perspective of what differences were made to the Waxman bill, and adjusted the Waxman bill’s economic impact based on those differences. So, by putting those two together, ouila [waa-laa], you have the Boxer-Kerry bill economic analysis. Oh, no, the Republicans are so upset that EPA didn’t spend another $350,000 and 6 weeks in re-running the whole computer run again. I thought Republicans were into saving money for the gov’t and not running up the debt. I guess not.
So, it’s all a ruse. They whine that they don’t have the study, but they do. They want to run out the clock so Obama can’t go to Copenhagen with a victory in the Senate. They want to do nothing about climate change and they are using the study as their ruse.
So, now Kerry-Lieberman=Graham want to put together a new bill, which apparently will have more of what conservatives want, namely nuclear power and offshore oil drilling. Ugh. This is how politics works.

Brammo electric motorcycles come to town

Two guys on electric motorcycles with lithium ion batteries drive from Detroit to DC, following the infamous path that the Big Auto guys drove when they came to DC to ask for welfare, er, stimulus bail out money. Remember the big jets? Then the limos? Tone deaf.
So, our young bikers drove to town in the cold to give President Obama one of their new Brammo electric motorcycles. Turns out the President can’t accept gifts. Hmm. What to do? Hang around DC and talk to the media. Then they met people in the White House. See www.shockingbarak.com for details.
Oh, and they stayed at my house for one night. We took them out to Fajita Coast for burritos and margaritas. Hey, it’s tough be a climate/solar/electric vehicle activist !

Car and the Cliff – a Global Warming/Climate Change story

It is hard to convince climate change skeptics of the reality of the pickle we are in. I’ve heard it said that we don’t know for sure what will happen with climate change, but it is a bit like driving your car off a cliff. You never know what parts will break, how much you will be squished, but you can count on the results being PRETTY UGLY (my favorite oxymoron).