Posts Tagged ‘nuclear power’

A Modern Day Swords into Plowshares

January 29, 2014

How do you turn a nuclear warhead into a source of power that lights your living room? The answer came from Dr.  Thomas L. Neff who conceived of, and carried out, the atomic recycling program called Megatons to Megawatts. You can read more about Dr. Neff in this The New York Times article.  It’s quite poetic if you ask me, cold war era weapons meant to destroy our American cities if need be, in the end powering them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love hearing stories of triumph and ingenuity, embracing adversity and making the best of it.   The “sword” of nuclear warheads being repurposed into “plowshares” we could harvest light heat and cooling from in our homes, should inspire all of us. While we don’t often encounter “swords” like this in our daily energy life, we do have the opportunity to make a change.  Reduce. From the same NYT article Dr. Neff was quoted, “The lesson of the story, he remarked in an interview, is that ‘private citizens can actually do something’”.  You can too, right at home.

Reducing the need for any energy source by creating a home that is energy efficient does a few things.  It creates more affordable energy bills, makes you more comfortable and it allows our limited resources to last that much longer. The Megatons to Megawatts program expired in 2013, although there are other programs on a smaller scale in the works.  We can run out of warheads, oil, gas, coal, or any other non-renewable resource. Do something at home, we can help.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Picture from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Swords-Plowshares.jpg

NIMBY, no wait YIMBY!

July 26, 2013

Sun_PylonWe need power. We heat and cool our homes, run our devices with it, and what we use is limited to what we produce or generate.  Energy use in the summer often puts a strain on the grid, and we are redlining at times.

Some forms of power generation are less desirable than others, they come at a cost.  Nuclear power for example is great stuff, until things go wrong, or we have to find a place for the waste.  That’s when some folks cry “Not in My Back Yard”.

Fracking, the process of injecting high pressure liquids deep in the ground to release natural gas, could produce 15 million barrels of oil a day by 2050 the U.S., mentioned in this article according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.   This certainly helps liberate us from foreign oil dependency, but it has also been criticized by the NIMBY crowd.

My intentions are not to judge good or bad, or right or wrong here but I will weigh in on this from the same article:  Investing in already available technologies to increase energy efficiency can save 23 million barrels of oil a day.  This is the stuff we love.  Better Insulation, more efficient appliances, more efficient homes!   That sounds a lot like Home Performance.

Yes in my back yard. Please!

Thanks,

Jason

Sun picture from Stefan Wernli

Nuclear Power and Energy Efficiency

July 22, 2011

Ever since I got the ping from Aaron Goldfelder that this article was up, I’ve been meaning to share the link and add a few thoughts.  I think the folks at EnergySavvy, in their piece on nuclear power and energy efficiency, have done an excellent job laying out some of the advantages of putting energy-efficiency at the core of a sound energy policy.  The applies not just as the national and regional level, but all the way down to our individual homes, where part of the GreenHomes mantra is “reduce before you produce”.

For half the cost of replacing one nuclear power plant, we can retrofit 1,600,000 homes for energy efficiency and create 220,000 new jobs–that’s more than 90 times more jobs than you’d get from a power plant replacement.  –EnergySavvy.com

The following graphic that the Savvy folks put together illustrates a couple of great points.  For an equivalent base load impact, energy-efficiency is cheaper AND it has a bigger economic impact in the form of job creation–jobs that mean more more dollars for families to spend on pizza, college, or a day at the lake, or generally just more money flowing around our communities.

This mirrors the findings of the much-heralded McKinsey report which pointed out that, go figure, reducing energy use actually saves money!  It saves money in the aggregate–and it saves money in your home.

My point is not an anti-nuclear one.  We do, though, need to look at energy policy overall.  Unless we descend into silliness, this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  Left and right can agree because energy-efficiency–along with the benefits of greater energy independence, national security, and economic security–makes sense.  And thus efficiency should be the cornerstone of any good energy policy.

Cheers,
Mike


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