Nuclear Power or Bust

*ring, ring* “Unknown Number”

Oh, what the hell. “Hello?”

“Hello, sir. First, I must tell you that this is not a sales call.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you mind answering some questions?”

“Depends. Do you mind hearing the answers?”

“All right, sir. Do you agree that solar power is necessary for green energy independence in Texas? Yes, or no response, please.”

“No. Solar is stupid. If you want green energy, start pushing for more nuke reactors.”

“Yes, sir. How liable are you to install solar panels on your residence?”

“I’m not. Solar is stupid. Nuclear power or bust.”

“Yes, sir. If I were to tell you that there are government programs that will off-set the cost of solar panel installation, would that change your mind?”

“Buddy, I realize that you’re working from a script, but if you don’t engage your brain, folks are going to think that you’re retarded.”

“…”

“…”

“I haven’t had my coffee yet.”

“I can tell. Any other questions that I can answer by telling you that solar is stupid?”

“No, sir. You have a good day.”

“You, too. Go get some coffee.”fox having his coffee while contemplating a nuclear power plant with approval

The Tao of Lawdog #765

12 thoughts on “Nuclear Power or Bust”

  1. A classic case of the politically correct answer being the wrong one. Snowflakes get their panties in a wad over nuclear power, but… thorium has the potential to be cleaner and more efficient, and we have a LOT of it in storage as a uranium mining byproduct. We should have made thorium reactors in the first place, but then no breeder reactors for nuke weapons purposes. Ah well. We just need to trust that the Gubmint always gets it right…. (nice portrait of you, by the way. Cedar?).

    1. Thorium power is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, what is called a thorium reactor is a uranium 233 reactor. Basically Th-232 is irradiated in a reactor and becomes Th-233 which then decays to U-233 which is fissionable. Th-232 is not fissionable unless extremely high energy neutrons (greater energy than available from fission) are used. Fission of U-233 is what powers the so-called thorium reactor and generates a similar waste stream to U-235 fusion. The thorium breeder cycle has a much longer production time than the U-238 to Pu-239 cycle.

      Also commercial power reactors are not and never have been used for nuclear weapons production. Material for nuclear weapons is produced by dedicated production reactors or enrichment facilities.

      1. India used a candu reactor and modified it to ve an enrichment reactor. It was a huge political issue years ago

  2. Never mind the increased opportunity for making micro-nukes. Rodentia, starlings. and other vermin arrive pre-skinned and already roasted.

    … I may need more coffee, first. Missing an important step …

    Oh, right. Bubba and that splendid fireworks display. The one that sets off detectors.

    Yep. File the idea. Nothing like more coffee.

  3. No one should be forced or subsidized to install solar or any other “green” energy crap.

    That being said, about a year ago I decided to try and prove my liberal extended family wrong, and I was fairly successful.

    After spending around $10k, I converted my “pumphouse” into a solar powered setup. Two batteries, two inverters (for split phase for the well pump), and 10 solar panels.

    I’m powering a well pump, a large chest freezer that stores meat, a few security cameras, and an outdoor propane hot water heater for our outdoor bathtub in the woods and for watering animals in the winter when shit’s frozen over.

    When the sun’s out, I can generate ~4,500 watts of solar power. It’s more than enough to run everything simultaneously, and on good days the batteries are charged by 11 AM ish. “Everything running” is about 2,200 watts of power….although the well pump usually runs for about 60 seconds to pressurize the tank and then sits idle for 30-60 minutes during the day. When the well pump isn’t running, we draw around 250-400 watts. That’s easy to achieve even on sunny days in the dead of winter. The battery typically lasts ~36 hours on a full charge, so it’s more than enough to get us through the night, and a cloudy day…but that’s it.

    During the winter when we might get one or two sunny days per month and the sun is only up from around 10 AM to 3 PM it’s a challenge. Batteries are always empty and we’re pulling grid power pretty much all the time.

    I have a power monitor installed, so I can track usage….and basically what it boils down to is this:

    The ~$10k install reduces utility usage to $0 for about 8 months out of the year, and offsets it somewhat for 4 months out of the year. We save an average of $500/year off our power bill because of this setup which translates into making our money back in ~20 years.

    One caveat is that we typically fill the batteries every day for 8 months…which means we could/should add more batteries. They’re not exactly cheap, but it would allow us to run much longer without sun and even further reduce our power usage during the winter or when it’s cloudy for several days.

    So yeah…invest $10k now for a return in 20 years.

    If I wanted to run my entire house off solar, I would need to invest ~$80k up front for a return in 16-18 years based on my calculations. Not many people have that amount of money.

    But here’s the thing most people on the right miss while foaming at the mouth over solar power.

    On December 22 (a day after the darkest day of the year), we had sun…but also no utility power because of a storm.

    We were able to cycle everyone in my large family over the course of a day out to the tub/shower in the woods…and I hooked a 48VDC to 12VDC inverter up to the battery and attached a bunch of car “cigarette lighter USB-C adapters” to it…so we all charged our phones and laptops…and I plugged our router and starlink connection in…

    So while pretty much everyone in my county was huddled indoors, freezing, with no TV, no internet, and no hot water…we got by just fine.

    Don’t think of solar as “No *&^#$ way, screw those liberals”. Think of it as “I can keep going during a grid-down scenario”.

    My buddy even came over and re-charged his thermal scope so he could continue hunting even though his house had no power.

    So yeah, solar is expensive and the government shouldn’t be robbing from us to pay for other people to install it….and it’s definitely not cost effective. But how many of you have generators as an emergency backup? How would you like to be able to reduce your utility bill? How would you like to tell the PUD to shove their rate increases up their ass?

    Next year I’m going to bring my solar capacity up to ~18,000 watts (currently at ~4,500) and attach a large inverter just after my meter so I can power the entire property.

    My night-time energy usage is a constant ~2,800 watts, and daytime average is ~5,000 watts with peaks up to ~25,000 watts. I’ll be paying near $0/mo during the spring, summer, and fall for power *AND* be able to run during the apocalypse. Good investment.

    1. If I wanted to run my entire house off solar, I would need to invest ~$80k up front for a return in 16-18 years based on my calculations. Not many people have that amount of money.

      And there’s the kicker right there.

      I’m happy for you, that you have a solar set-up that works and will have the cash on-hand to expand it. But as you say, not many people do.

      And what’s your plan when the PV cells wear out — probably before they’ve paid themselves off — and need to be replaced? Do you have a way to dispose of them? How about the batteries, which will probably wear out sooner?

      Speaking personally, the simple fact (i.e. not “foaming at the mouth”) is that solar is not ready for prime time. No technology will achieve 100% efficiency, but it will need to do WAY better than the (IIRC) ~30% it currently runs.

      (I recently read an article saying they’re developing a new type of PV cell that — according to the design specs — could hit 60% efficiency. If that pans out and they’re not obscenely difficult or expensive to produce or ridiculously fragile, that might be good enough. However, there’s no guarantee yet that the reality matches the on-paper calculations or that the new cells can be mass-produced at scale. We’ll have to see.)

      Solar can work in small installations — a house (like yours), or maybe a neighborhood. Nobody is credibly saying it can’t, not even on the Right. But it won’t reliably power a city, let alone a state or the country, and the up-front cost, even with gov’t subsidies, is more than most people can bear … and the subsidies won’t cover maintenance or replacement of worn-out components.

      Where we’re at, we get enough sunlight that a solar set-up would almost certainly provide enough power, but it would be safer and more cost-effective to put up a small-to-medium wind turbine. The wind blows close enough to 24/7, but we also get some impressive gusts capable of damaging PV cells either via pure force or by blowing debris into them. Another “green” technology that isn’t ready for full-scale production, but can work in small installs. I’m currently running those numbers to see if it’s feasible for us to try and when the break-even point could come.

    2. Now wait for 5 to 7 years when the solar panels will be working at about 50% efficiency and declining rapidly after that. 10 years is considered to be the absolute useful working life of a solar panel. Let us know how much it will cost to dispose of the worn out panels since they cannot be recycled and are considered toxic waste. Not something that the salesmen would highlight during the sales talk.

      Unless you paid out for top quality deep cycle marine batteries then about the same 5 year period (or maybe sooner) will see you needing to replace the batteries too. Unless you have a battery maintainer unit to keep the battery topped up and in good condition which draws power but that is extending the battery life, not eliminating the need for a new battery.

      The only “solar” system I’d install is a hot water system with the solar coils filled with antifreeze and circulated through a tank inside the house (not a total loss system) with another method of heating water during the winter months.

      If you want to run a battery bank, go to a wreckers yard and get an alternator from a car – make sure that you get the rectifier pack if it isn’t built into the alternator. Rig it up with a windmill type arrangement and mount it on a pole where the ground effect on the wind doesn’t reduce its velocity. It will supply 12 volt current without the expensive converters needed for your solar set up.

  4. About the way only wind and solar makes any sense to me is on a single dwelling scale, and then only as a backup. Something that could be used to charge batteries and give you some kind of power in the event of an extended power outage, AND when you can’t get other sources of fuel for generators.

    If I could have a fantasy setup, my property would be in a location where I had a a stream that could be used for hydro power, as well as geothermal. I would also have solar AND small wind turbines. Then I would have generators. I would want to be able to run off of natural gas from the municipal lines, as well as propane I could have trucked in. Of course I would also have diesel generators. Finally I would have a regular grid connection. The ultimate point isn’t to save money, but to assure I can run what I need to, even infrastructure fails for an extended period. If you’re doing it to “save the planet” or try to save money, it’s beyond moronic.

  5. Heh…I got that call and I must say you were MUCH more polite to them than I was. And I’d HAD coffee already!

  6. Manitoba, Canada, is planning on building a number of the new small nuclear reactors to beef up their grid. I really think that’s the best way to go. Wind chargers and solar are great for small applications, but for a city? Nuclear is the real green energy.

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