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Fast Facts

SOME CURRENT DATA: Excerpts “The Future of Energy” Guinness Atkinson Funds: Increasing demand coupled with dwindling supply . . . will drive energy prices higher, particularly the price of oil. At current consumption levels . . . the worlds “known” oil supply will be exhausted within the next 40 years . . . China and India are driving up worldwide consumption dramatically. At present rates of consumption natural gas will be exhausted in 63 years. Today we are finding fossil fuel reserves at a much lower rate than we are consuming them . . . the rate of non-OPEC production capacity is growing . . . but, OPEC supply management has still been a major driver of recent increases in world oil prices. In recent years over one-half of the growth in demand has come from Asia . . . and the will continue to be the engine of global oil demand growth. China is now producing 1 car for every 600 people . . . if they equate to the US automobile penetration in 1910 of 10 fold in the NEXT 10 years . . . they could be hitting 150 million vehicles. Fossil fuels account for about 88% of world energy consumption . . . nuclear and hydroelectric only 6% . . . wind solar and biomass, less than 1%. Until alternative energy makes meaningful inroads . . . oil will continue to drive the planet!

Energy Tech Data : Excerpts J Taylor’s Energy . . . 2005 China’s energy demand increases by 15% . . . even with current adjustments oil will increase to $100 a barrel over the next years. An average nuclear reactor uses 680,000 of uranium during annual operation . . . Japan is planning 11 new nuclear power plants by 2010 . . . China, 20 – 30 by 2020 India, 30 and Russia is planning an additional 25 new nuclear plants and Britain will need 45 plants. The US Energy Bill of 2005 has only 6 new nuclear plants planned.

What is a nuclear power reactor: A nuclear reactor is a device, that produces heat. In a nuclear power station, a reactor performs the same work as a boiler in a coal, gas or oil-fired power plant, except that the reactor uses uranium as fuel to produce heat. The heat is required to turn water into steam. This steam spins large turbines, which in turn drive the generators that produce electricity. There are different kinds of nuclear reactors, but they all operate on the same basic principle.

How many nuclear reactors are there in the world: There are 441 nuclear plants in 32 countries supplying about 21.2% of the world's electricity. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as of January 2003, there were 32 new nuclear plants under construction at the end of 2002.

Other Nuclear Facilities: More than 3,000 nuclear facilities of various kinds are operating worldwide to support medical, research, energy, agricultural and industrial needs.

Emission Free Power: Nuclear Energy supplies more emission free power then hydro, solar, and wind all combined. It is our fossil energy FUELS that emit the largest amount of atmospheric pollution and are causing the worlds "greenhouse effect" problems.

Raw Materials: 100 times more coal must be mined than uranium to produce the same amount of electrical energy.

Mass & Volume: Due to the shear mass of coal needed for fuel, transporting uranium to a nuclear reactor is is extremely safe compared to the coal MASS needed for a coal fired plant. No fatality in uranium fuel transport has been recorded.

The Three Mile Island mishap: Three Mile Island accident, there was no breach of containment, and cost no lives nor threatened the environment. “Claims” of increased cancer in the area have NEVER been scientifically connected to Three Mile Island. “If you can’t prove it, how can you accuse it”?

There has never been a nuclear meltdown: Neither Chernobyle nor Three Mile Island, the two most publicized nuclear accidents were not actual meltdowns.

Chernobyl: The Chernobyl accident “may not have occurred” if “safe nuclear technology sharing” were available to other countries, but, the distrust of repressive, radical societies and unstable governments prevents free democratic societies from “sharing technology” with nations which may have a strong tendency to mis-use it! We face the same situation TODAY with the building of a Nuclear "POWER" plant in Iran. We must figure out a way to SHARE technology BUT recover and "verify" its used nuclear material.

Power Plant Emissions: There are NO smoke stacks on nuclear power plants. One of the air pollutants from coal IS radiation, but the chemical pollutants from coal are much more toxic than the radiation amounts from
either a coal or nuclear plant. Much less is known about the toxic affects of these chemical pollutants then those of radiation.

Fast Facts per John McCarthy, Stanford University

France: 75 percent of electricity is nuclear.

Belgium: More than half its electricity is nuclear.

Japan: About 30 percent nuclear and increasing steadily.

China: A slow nuclear program is now picking up steam.

Taiwan: The nuclear program was stalled after Chernobyl, but is getting going again.

The RBMK was a bad reactor design which contributed to the Chernobyl disaster, but their newer reactors have used pressurized water.

Ukraine: The Chernobyl disaster has played an important role in Ukrainian politics. They want Western money to close down the plant. 2003 note: They got some money and closed the plant.


Lithuania: Most electricity is nuclear from two RBMK, i.e. Chernobyl type, reactors. The European Economic Commission is putting pressure on Lithuania to close them.


Austria: One nuclear plant was built, but then the citizens voted to not operate it. 1999: The Austrian government made a big fuss about a nuclear plant being built in nearby Slovakia.


U.S.: The U.S. has the most reactors and generates the most electricity from nuclear energy. However, the anti-nuclear movement succeeded in stalling new commitments to nuclear plants. There is only one reactor currently under construction. [2003: probably finished by now.] Nuclear energy generates about 20 percent of U.S. electricity. Early problems with reliability have been mainly overcome, and nuclear plants have reached an average of 75 percent availability. Republicans generally favor resuming construction, and Democrats generally oppose it. 2003: Reliability is now over 90 percent.


Lets talk power written by Nathan Aug 2004

Regular readers may have noticed that I take quite a bit of joy in looking at real life issues in terms of numbers and scientific principle. Energy is one of my personal favorites, especially the blood to oil conversion. Today in a fit of ludicrous dorkiness, I decided to give nuclear power the same treatment.


Let’s start with something everyone can relate to, gasoline. There are 130 million joules of energy in a gallon. (Theoretically enough to power a 100W light bulb for 15 days)

The Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona produces 28 million kwh of electricity per year, equal to 1.04x1017 Joules.

1.04x1017/1.30x108= 800 million gallons of gasoline per year.

But wait!  The 28 million kwh is the amount of electricity actually generated while the 130 million joules is the amount of energy in gasoline.  Since heat engines are at most 50% efficient, we'd have to burn about 1.6 billion gallons of gasoline each year to equal the power production of the Palo Verde power plant. 


Ahh, but you and I both know that we don't burn gasoline in power plants, we burn coal or natural gas.  Well the energy density of coal is about 24 million joules per kilogram (depending on the quality) and the energy density of natural gas is about 1,027 btu per cubic foot at STP.  (That is, about 1.08 million joules) 
Remembering our 50% efficiencies, we'd need to burn 4.4 million acre-feet of natural gas or 8.6 billion kg of coal (9.4 million tons) just to equal the output of a single large nuclear power plant.


Now, are you going to tell me that one nuclear power plant is worse for the environment then the millions of tons of carbon dioxide and large amounts of toxic trace elements released though traditional combustion of limited hydrocarbon resources?I'd rather live next door to Palo Verde then be within 20 miles of a comparable coal fired plant.


FAST FACTS: Nuclear Energy Institute


103 nuclear power plants in 31 states in US.


US states with largest percentage of nuclear electricity:

Vermont - 76.1% / New Hampshire - 57.6% / South Carolina - 55.5% / Illinois - 51.6% / New Jersey 51.1% / Connecticut 50.5%

Largest US Nuclear Plant: Palo Verde 3 reactors 3,733 Megawatts / 12 largest in the world.

Reactor Manufactures: General Electric me/index.htm / Westinghouse /Framatone / Ases Brown Boveri Combustion Eng. (acquired by Westinghouse May 2000.


Worldwide nuclear electricity generation 16% from 439 reactors.

Power Generation Comparisons for 1-year:

Nuclear 1000 megawatt reactor @ 90% capacity

7.9 billion kilowatt hours supply (773,000 homes)

Oil 13.5 millions barrels

1-barrel yields 594 KWh

Coal 3.8 million short tons

1-ton yields 2,070 KWh

Natural Gas 82 billion cubic feet

100 cubic feet yields 9.62 KWh

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