|Air & Environment|
Energy Sources - Alternative or Proven ?
Iceland is the country of my ancestors. Modern Vikings there are well-educated, hard working and technically sophisticated. They have all the non-polluting energy they need, provided by the resources of their environment -geothermal energy is abundant and is used to generate steam that drives electricity generation. Homes are heated by hot water that streams to the surface from underground volcanoes. In countries that lack such abundant sources of natural energy, other methods of energy production have evolved. The most available and most undesirable energy sources are fossil fuels. Coal burning generators of electricity are found worldwide and must be shut down as soon as possible. Replacing coal with natural gas does reduce toxic gases and carbon particles in the emissions, but CO2 is generated at the same rate. Canada has many non-polluting hydroelectric generators that require dams across major rivers and huge constructions. Once built these generation plants provide clean energy at low cost for decades. Where hydroelectric power is insufficient coal, diesel and natural gas generators are used. The province of Ontario supplies 30% of its electricity needs with nuclear reactors that have operated safely for several decades.
There is interest in sun and wind energy in Canada. Wind turbines have been
constructed in areas with sustained winds and solar panels are being installed
wherever sun exposure is adequate. The well-know problem with these energy
sources is their intermittent productivity. In the best case, sun energy is off
during the night but winds may blow and continue energy production. To create a
sustainable energy system with sun and wind, you have to store electricity in
Schalk Cloete summarized our recognition that solar and wind energy production will not replace fossil fuels anytime soon. He wrote:” If intermittent renewables like solar and wind are ever to contribute a sizable portion of our global energy mix, a large amount of additional infrastructure will need to be deployed in order to counter the large fluctuations in output varying over timescales ranging from seconds to years. The variability of wind generation in Germany for 2012 is an example. The output varied over more than two orders of magnitude from a minimum of 0.115 GW to a maximum of 24 GW. It is clear that a large amount of extra infrastructure will be needed in order to smooth out this erratic output to something that better resembles the demand profile. Solar power is even worse because it generates no power whatsoever for the majority of the time and delivers most of its energy in the few hours around noon. So, how does energy storage compare? Well, a recent test of lead acid and Li-ion batteries found that these technologies could store energy for about $0.34 and $0.40 per kWh over their respective lifetimes. Hence, we again have to conclude that the most ideal renewable energy storage solution is still about one order of magnitude away from challenging fossil fuels on a level playing field…, it appears unlikely that we will see a large scale market driven displacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy in the first half of this century” Schalk Cloete. The intermittent nature of renewable. Accessed Online July 2016. From the Energy Collective http://www.theenergycollective.com/
The single source of emission-free, renewable energy is a nuclear reactor. Canada has an enviable history of designing, building and operating safe nuclear reactors for several decades. The CANDU reactor design is a proven, safe and affordable method of electricity generation. Nuclear disasters in other countries are few but receive relentless media attention. The lessons learned from reactor failures have been incorporated into new and better designs and operating procedures. The Ontario reactors now operated by Bruce power are examples of excellence in design, operating procedures and emergency preparations.
CANDU reactor core design
Reactor core comprising small diameter fuel channels rather that one large pressure vessel. The fuel channels allow on-power refueling. The moveable fuel bundles in the pressure tubes allow maximum burn-up of all the fuel in the reactor core. This extends life expectancy of the reactor because major core components like fuel channels are accessible for repairs when needed. More information at Candu Learning Resources: https://canteach.candu.org/Pages/Welcome.aspx
Ontario, Canada Reactors
"During our first 11 years of operation, Bruce Power has revitalized the Bruce site and transformed it into the largest operating nuclear facility in the world. With eight operating units, the site will produce up to 6,300 megawatts, well over a quarter of Ontario’s electricity. Through $7 billion of private investment, Bruce Power will have doubled the number of operational units on the Bruce Power site; transformed the workforce through new hiring and training; extended the life of operating units through innovation; and positioned the site for long-term stability. Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan has earmarked the Bruce Power site to generate 6,300 MW in the coming decades as the province relies on our site to power one out of four homes, schools, businesses, farms, and hospitals with low-cost, highly reliable, clean electricity."
World Association of Nuclear Operators
The mission of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) to “Maximise the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide has been consistent throughout the organisation’s history. However, in 2015 it became clear that how WANO conducted that mission needed to evolve and grow based upon changes in the worldwide nuclear industry, marking 2015 as a year of transition. Since the Post-Fukushima Commission (PFC) report was published in 2011, the focus of WANO has been on implementing initiatives necessary to respond to the findings. Study and planning became implementation in 2014 and carried through into 2015. This progress culminated in a report to the WANO membership at the 2015 Biennial General Meeting (BGM) held in Toronto, that 10 of the 12 PFC projects were transitioning from project status to the core work of WANO."
"The growing nuclear industry in Asia and the reduction in other parts of the world signaled a shift in the center of gravity of the nuclear industry. WANO needed to adjust to recognise and engage this shift. Traditional members were shutting plants down and new members – with new designs, operating organisations, and operators – were starting up plants at a pace not seen since the early days of the nuclear industry." More information: http://www.wano.info/en-gb/library/highlightsreport/Documents/Year%20End%20Highlights%20Report%202015%20Final.pdf
Two books review the anti-nuclear movements and conclude that our only hope of replacing fossil fuels is to build more and better nuclear reactors. Beckers argues that rapid expansion of nuclear power can come close to filling our needs and avoiding the environmental disaster that will result if we continue to deceive ourselves into thinking that renewables can do it all. (Science a la carte: And the cherry picking. By: Mathijs Beckers)
Parteenen and Korhonen make a strong case that preventing dangerous climate change requires world energy production to be almost completely free from fossil fuels by 2050. With almost 87 percent of our energy produced with fossil fuels, the challenge is unprecedented in both its scale and urgency. At the same time, the global environment and energy discussion is largely dominated by a vocal opinion that climate challenge and global poverty should be conquered with nothing else than renewables, energy conservation and energy efficiency. Environmentalists, preach fear, lack valid information and act contrary to their own goal to correct global climate change by opposing nuclear energy production.(Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future? Rauli Partanen and Janne M. Korhonen) )