Thursday, April 26, 2012

8. Entreprenuclear View of PBS's "Electric Nation"

Here are my initial, shooting-from-the-hip thoughts on the program.

Only 4 and a half minutes for nuclear? Really? Nuclear provides 20% of America's electricity and it only got around 8% or 9% of this program's air time?

At one point, the program stated that Watts Bar Unit 2 is the only nuclear plant under construction, which is no longer true as of the past few months, with the approval of the combined Construction and Operating Licenses (COLs) for 4 AP1000's, 2 each at Vogtle in Georgia and VC Summer in South Carolina. They even showed site preparation work at Vogtle about a minute or two after stating that no new plants had been ordered since the 70's. Were Vogtle Units 3 & 4 not ordered, but work somehow magically got started there? Hello?

The recently announced changes to the schedule for completing Watts Bar Unit 2 were not included in the program either., but that is understandable since it was only made public a few weeks ago.

There was no mention of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the initial nuclear power section, a market segment which I will be discussing in "shallow depth" in the near future.

Had I been telling the story, I would have expounded a lot more on the reasons the first nuclear build-out didn't meet President Nixon's 1974 projection that America could have 1,000 reactors by the beginning of the 21st century (which would have been fully possible without breaking any laws of physics).  Pure obstructionism, combined with approaching of electricity market saturation/slowed demand growth rates (see Note below) and combined with interest rates shooting up above 20% played considerably bigger roles in not meeting that projection than safety concerns did.  Here is a link explaining it further.  Stating that it was safety concerns is a lazy cop-out that fails to consider the whole situation, but this did admittedly all occur long before my birth.

Aside: People using the word safety in regards to nuclear power, with nothing close to any further explanation for how something specifically relates to nuclear safety is becoming more and more a pet peeve of mine with each successive 4-1 NRC Commission vote. /End Aside

In summary 

My expectations were met for the opening segment, which did do a good job of stating just how vital electricity is to modern day American life.  On the negative ledger though, for almost every other energy source that the program covered besides nuclear, some forward-looking attributes were the main things featured.  For natural gas, fracking shale was featured.  For wind, the fancy simulations of America's wind "resources" was shown.  For solar, a church was featured.  In the coverage of nuclear power, however, the very mild folly of the first nuclear era's over-exuberance was mentioned while barely a smidgen of the really forward-moving aspects of nuclear power were featured outside of the short clip of site preparation work at Vogtle.

The way things were presented in this particular program is a prime example of precisely the information and optimism void in regards to the use of Peaceful Atomic Energy that Entreprenuclear is here to play a small role in filling.

Note: People didn't generally need more and more refrigerators, air conditioners, and other appliances after getting their first ones in the 50's, 60's, and early 70's. Therefore, electricity load growth projections from that era turned out to be unsustainable.  What would a person do with a 3rd washer and dryer?

No comments:

Post a Comment