Nuclear Power and Other Power Sources: How Do They Stack Up?
Most everyone dreads the idea of nuclear war because of the abject devastation it would inflict on planet Earth. Yet few connect the dots between nuclear weapons and nuclear power — the same energy that makes atomic bombs and nuclear missiles so threatening is also harnessed to power electrical grids and other forms of infrastructure. When properly contained, nuclear power is the cleanest and most abundant energy source available. With all the concern over climate change and environmental degradation, it begs a huge question: why is the United States of America not generating more — much more — nuclear energy?
Capital Investment vs. Production Costs
Looking at it from one angle, a larger nuclear energy capacity is a no-brainer. Making electricity from nuclear sources is cheaper than using coal, gas or petroleum, i.e. fossil fuels. On average, using 2011 cash value, electricity cost 21.56, 3.23 and 4.51 cents per kilowatt-hour from petroleum, coal and natural gas, respectively. Nuclear power came in at 2.10 cents per kW according to data received by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Yet these simple ongoing production costs fail to tell the full story.
To up the power generating capacity of nuclear sources, additional plants are necessary. Some argue that the savings in electricity production means the nuclear utilities pay for themselves. What, though, are they paying for…and how long until the payoff? Engineering and constructing a nuclear power plant is very expensive. In fact, 74 percent of the cost of nuclear-sourced electricity is in the capital costs of creating the physical facility and technology for that purpose. Some estimates range drom six-billion to nine-billion dollars. Others estimate over $5,300 per kW before it begins paying for itself…in 20 to 30 years. These figures make the prospect cost-prohibitive to many decision makers in government and business.
Plentiful Energy at Low Costs without Nuclear Power
Were we living back during the oil shocks and embargoes of the 1970s, the urgency factor would be much higher concerning nuclear power in the US. The abundance of discoveries and advancement of technology have made fossil fuels more available at modest prices. Coal and petroleum are each low compared to their peaks. With the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” natural gas is ever more accessible and affordable. Though people may worry about the environmental effects of burning these substances, they are likely to continue usage to maintain a decent househild cash flow.
Lack of Knowledge
The absence of urgency mentioned above relates to a third factor about why Americans are not expanding their nuclear production capacity. Generations have passed that are not well-informed about the potential and reality of nuclear power. A dangerous accident at Pennsylvania’s Three-Mile Island facility in the 1970s scared public officials and policy makers into backing off of a pro-nuclear agenda. The improvements and replication found in today’s safety protocols have been ineffective in re-booting a national conversation. Granted, the United States operates 97 nuclear reactors, more than any other country. Yet only four more are under design and/or construction compared to 20 for China.
Furthermore, France relies on nuclear for three-quarters of its electricity; several eastern European nations, half; South Korea, in excess of 30 percent; while the U.S. can claim around 20 percent. Clearly, the public knowledge regarding how clean and abundant atomic energy is meager; awareness of past accidents — including the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl meltdowns of recent decades were, by contrast, reported widely by media outlets.
Advocates of nuclear power have work to do to bring Americans on board. Otherwise, dirtier, cheaper sources will continue to reign.
Redefining marine recycling through painting and sculpture
Frutos María Martínez, a self-taught visual artist, has been rescuing waste from the ocean’s waters for decades, turning it into beautiful and elegant artwork. Finishing his first painting and sculpture pieces at just fourteen, Frutos has spent his entire life guided by his passion for art. Becoming a professional artist in the mid-1980s after working at car dealerships, Frutos used his skills and expertise with metal to create sculptures and paintings, inspired by the materials he found along the Mediterranean Coast.
In his pieces, Frutos combines numerous medias to create sculptures, paintings, and collages. As part of his process, María spends time exploring the beaches and waters of Alicante, a Mediterranean city along the southeastern coast of Spain and his home since 1985.
Here, he has found all sorts of materials that have gone on to become pieces in his collections. Steel, iron, wood, nets, and textiles, among other objects, that Frutos salvaged from the ocean can all be found in his art.
By reusing and recycling these found objects, the artist is able to give new life to abandoned and forgotten waste. María recognizes the environmental issues we are facing at a global level, and his art seeks to raise awareness of these challenges. As his materials are pulled straight from the Mediterranean Sea, he is especially invested in taking care of marine life and our oceans. With each item the artist salvages from the ocean, one less piece of waste is polluting the waters.
Once the flotsam is collected, Frutos returns to his workshop where he creates works of art in different forms. While other artists may send their work to be fabricated by others, María could not imagine his pieces being created in a place other than his studio. Here, he uses his innate skills with metal and machinery to forge and construct works of beauty. His sculptures follow hard lines, both straight and curved, and his paintings exude color. When making his collages, he takes his found mixed media and creates new stories. He adds paint to wood that was floating in the sea or combines various materials together, reimagining a life for objects that were once trash.
With a true passion for his work, he creates through intuition. He explains that there is a moment when his art becomes completely emotional and personal, “each piece is imbued with my experiences and emotion, all lumped together, all conveyed by means of materials, technique, design and imagination.” The works his hands awaken and renew are the convergence of his mastery and his spirit, bringing new life to discarded objects.These fascinating pieces have been shown in numerous exhibitions, most recently at the Museum of the University of Alicante. There, the artist presented Acero y pecios del mar (Steel and Sea Wrecks), where two collections were displayed jointly, one offering sculptures focused on steel as a material and the other called Nueva Vida, or New Life, a collection whose pieces were created by recycling materials salvaged from sea wreckage. With this collection, he introduced a new layer into his work, adding an element of chaos and destruction to the backstories of his materials.
An earlier exhibition, Janus, displayed over 40 of Frutos’ sculptures on the University of Alicante’s campus. This exhibit, named for the Roman god of doors, gates and transitions, was influenced by the duality of life, of beginnings and ends, and of old and new. While his finished pieces reflect this duality, the materials used to create them manifest this theme through their first death being revived into new life, a tangible and concrete example of the contrasting polarity he was inspired by.
As with his sculpture-centered exhibitions, his shows highlighting his paintings are full of found materials. Pieces that Frutos creates hang with the weight of rescued and recycled materials, such as rusty iron, steel, and wood. This media has been taken from the ocean and included in his art, conjoining with resin, sands, and paint in bold and striking colors.
Frutos María’s ability to not only find new meaning in recycled and salvaged objects, but to clean up the oceans and make the environment less polluted, translate through his moving pieces of artwork, and because of this, he has made a name for himself in the art world.
Wind energy, the best way to invest into renewable energies
Over the last few years, wind energy has become the type of energy everyone can not stop talking about. This type of energy brings lots of benefits into the table when compared to more traditional sources of energy, like the energy proceeding from radiation or charcoal. Wind energy is cheap to produce, the most efficient renewable energy, and, most importantly, it is an ecological sensitive alternative.
Why should you invest in wind energy?
Wind energy is the energy of tomorrow. This type of energy made their big appearance during the XX century, when wind turbines would be used to bring energy to areas located far from the electricity grid, such as isolated farms, houses or factories.
During the XXI century, wind energy’s popularity kept on rising. Wind energy is as cheap to produce as traditional sources of energy, like radiation or charcoal burning, while falling into the category of renewable energies. This made wind energy become a top contender in the energy industry.
The wind industry’s future looks to be brighter than ever. The current generation is pretty aware of pollution and the effect it has on climate change. This has caused that governments all around the world start promoting new legislations and campaigns promoting renewable energy and, since wind energy is the most efficient type of renewable energy, it is expected that it will become the main source of energy by 2030. Now is the best moment to jump into the wind energy trend!
Making sure you set up an efficient wind farm
As it has been previously stated, wind energy is definitely an option you should consider if you are looking to power up any of your properties or business. However, setting up a wind farm isn’t a small investment, therefore, before starting this process we need to gather all the information we can about its viability. That is why we can not stop recommending that you consult with professional companies like Vortex FDC.
Vortex FDC is a company that has made a name for itself in the wind industry sector. Vortex assists their customers with all the information regarding wind resource they could need.
For example, an important factor we need to consider before setting our wind farm is the terrain. Not all terrains are appropriate to locate a wind farm, therefore, the terrain would need to be assessed before an installation that could result in a waste of assets if the terrain is not appropriate for it. Vortex FDC helps their customers evaluate where the wind farm is going to be placed, and providing information about the wind to choose the type of turbines that would yield better results in that area. Factors like the type of wind (extreme winds, turbulences, etc) or the temperature need to be taken into account when deciding which type of turbine would be more suitable for our wind farm. For example, if we plan to build a wind farm in an area that gets freezing and snowy in winter, we would need to get a turbine system that is cold resistant.
Vortex FDC runs a numerical weather model to feature all the variables that could affect the production levels of your wind farm, regardless of it being situated off-shore or in-shore. Thanks to their always up-to-date technology, you will be able to avoid unpleasant surprises regarding the energy production of your wind farm.
Overall, opting to use wind energy is an amazing idea that will benefit not only our budget, but also the planet. But, in order to do so, we need to make sure that wind farms are viable, and for that, we need to rely on professionals like Vortex FDC.
Saving the Planet? It Is a Local Issue
When we get caught up in common environmental issues, we start to think that it’s a bigger problem, that is down to centralised areas and big cities. And while urban areas are expanding, the route to sustainability as a solution comes from an approach beyond urbanism. Because urban areas bear the brunt because they have more CO2 emissions and larger carbon footprints, the thing to note in this respect that saving the planet is not necessarily a large-scale issue. In fact, it is a local issue.
The largest cities require urban developments, and this is a part of modern life. But when we go back to the 1990s, when sustainable city initiatives began emerging, we can see where the argument for the compact city began. This can have a positive impact on sustainability in a variety of ways but also improves greenhouse gas emissions. But this is where smaller communities can become invaluable.
Smaller communities have more power in many respects. From the perspective of local councils, it can be easier to incorporate an initiative that benefits the community, rather than having to go all the way to Westminster. Now, it can be easier to sign up for a local initiative, such as a solar community, rather than having to get permission from a higher power. And from the perspective of a community, it is far more controllable.
Saving the planet in an urban sense is about changing the infrastructure, which can take years, if not decades. However, smaller communities are able to utilise the location for the benefit of their immediate surroundings. This is something very important to note. Whenever you want to make a significant impact, be it in charity, or in the environment, it starts at home. As saving the planet is a local issue in this respect, it’s far easier to communicate the message. Smaller communities are in close contact. This means the message is easily spread. Throw into the mix community meetings, and how businesses look to develop on local issues, rather than spearheading initiatives overseas or in big cities, and it provides a tactical methodology to help on a small scale.
When you combine this with the fact that smaller organisations such as schools, naturally have a lower carbon footprint, this is the perfect opportunity to teach the younger generations how they can positively impact the world. Saving the planet is a local issue. We have to remember that if we are to make any impact, we have to look after our own. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t rely on large organisations or big cities to do the job, but if you want to do something right, do it yourself.
Saving the planet is something that we can control from our own home. From the practices that we preach to the examples we set, saving the planet is about keeping it close to home before you start to spread yourself far and wide. If every small town started to look after its own carbon emissions, this would pay for the country, and the world, several times over.
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