Japan is Restarting their Nuclear Reactors to avoid Rolling Outages and High Electric Bills

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

Japan is facing the economic reality of energy in the modern economy.  And is restarting their nuclear reactors (see Japan approves 2 reactor restarts, more seen ahead by Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka posted 6/16/2012 on Reuters).

Japan on Saturday approved the resumption of nuclear power operations at two reactors despite mass public opposition, the first to come back on line after they were all shut down following the Fukushima crisis…

The decision, despite public concerns over safety after the big earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, could open the door to more restarts among Japan’s 50 nuclear power reactors…

The push to restart the two Ohi reactors, before a potential summer power crunch, also underscores the premier’s eagerness to win backing from businesses worried about high electricity costs that could push factories offshore…

Nuclear power supplied almost 30 percent of electricity needs before the March 2011 disaster, which triggered meltdowns at Fukushima, spewing radiation and forcing mass evacuations…

Like it or not the modern economy runs on energy.  And the clean energy the environmentalists so like that powers the Toyota Prius has to be generated from something.  They hate coal and oil.  They’re against building dams.  Which only leaves natural gas and nuclear as only viable options.  Japan is not a country rich in fossil fuels.  So they turned to nuclear power for 30% of their electric generation mix.  There have been some bumps along the way but Japan is still there.  They even survived the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. 

Public trust in regulators was tattered by evidence that cosy ties with utilities were a key reason Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co was unprepared for the tsunami, and subsequent signs that relations remain far too snug…

“We can no longer go back to a life that depends on candles,” ruling party heavyweight Yoshito Sengoku said in an interview with the Sankei newspaper this week.

The Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, the current watchdog, has approved stress tests for Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc’s 890-megawatt No.3 reactor in Ikata, southern Japan. Next on the list for possible approval are two Hokkaido Electric Power reactors in Tomari, northern Japan and Hokuriku Electric’s two in Shika, western Japan.

The Fukushima plant survived an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale.  An earthquake that was so powerful that it moved the earth.  The New York Times reported “NASA scientists calculated that the redistribution of mass by the earthquake might have shortened the day by a couple of millionths of a second and tilted the Earth’s axis slightly.”  The earth may have moved.  But the Fukushima plant did not.  And probably would have emerged unscathed had it not been for the tsunami that followed.  Which submerged the electrical distribution equipment that powered the cooling pumps.  And because this distribution equipment was not rated to operate submerged in water it failed.  Causing the Fukushima disaster.

Fault nuclear power all you want but the plant survived most of the worst the earth could throw at it.  It only failed when the ocean moved inland.  It withstood the powerful force of that wave (it swept some buildings away whole).  But not the effect of water entering the electrical gear.  Highly conductive saltwater.  Which just shorted out the works.  And stopped everything electrical from working.  Making it even impossible for the backup generators to power the cooling pumps.

Note how much power they will connect to the grid by connecting one reactor.  The No.3 reactor in Ikata can produce 890-megawatt.  Let’s compare that to wind power.  In Texas on the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center they have 421 windmills on nearly 47,000 acres with a nameplate rating of 735.5 MW of installed capacity.  With a capacity factor of 20-40% for wind power on the high end that reduces the actual power to 294.2 MW.  And that’s only when the wind is blowing.  The capacity factor for nuclear power is 60-100+%.  At the LOW end the No.3 reactor in Ikata will put 534 MW onto the grid.  In short nuclear power blows wind power away.  And you don’t need 47,000 acres to build a nuclear power plant.  Which is good because Japan doesn’t have land to spare being one of the most congested nations in the world. 

How can Japan not restart their reactors?  There are just no better alternatives.  Unless they want to suffer through rolling blackouts during the summer, pay higher electric bills and lose businesses seeking cheaper power.  Which is the alternative.

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New Zealand is Actively Looking for new Petroleum Deposits while President Obama Remains in a State of Denial

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 9th, 2012

Week in Review

Petroleum fuels the modern world.  It’s what drives our trains (at least the diesel-electric ones).  It makes our airplanes fly.  Our cars drive (the vast majority of them).  And our trucks.  For the trains and cars that don’t use petroleum the electric generating plants do use it or another fossil fuel (like coal or natural gas) to make the electricity that moves the things petroleum doesn’t.  Life as we know it couldn’t exist without petroleum oil.  Sadly, though, the leader of the world’s largest economy doesn’t like petroleum.  And his administration is working aggressively against oil.  Wherever they can they have prevented new petroleum from coming to market.  Unlike they’re doing in New Zealand (see NZ puts 23 oil and gas exploration permits up for tender posted 6/8/2012 on Share Chat).

The government department is looking for companies to explore the onshore and offshore areas from 2013. The blocks cover over 40 kilometers of offshore seabed and 3 kilometers of land in the Waikato, Taranaki, Tasman, the West Coast and Southland. Tenders close on Oct. 15.

“The blocks cover a number of petroleum basins and a variety of environmental settings and resource types to attract a range of potential explorers with different expertise and interests,” David Binnie, general manager of New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, said in a statement.

The New Zealand government understands that petroleum fuels the modern economy.  So they are inviting companies to come to their national lands and seas to explore for petroleum.  Meanwhile President Obama is shutting down oil exploration where he can.  (And if he could on private land he would do that, too.)  He said ‘no’ to the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada.  And he’s pouring hundreds of billions of tax dollars into green energy businesses that have a penchant for going bankrupt.  And yet the modern economy still runs on Petroleum.  What is wrong with this picture?

President Obama.

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Universities are more Interested in Government Grant Money than Teaching their Pesky Students

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 6th, 2012

Week in Review

Education is sacred.  For in all the budget debates.  In all the class warfare.  One field is exempt from that one most disparaging label.  Greedy.  Everyone is greedy in Western Civilization.  Except the universities and the professors.  Who make more and more while working less and less.  And hand out degrees that have little value in the modern economy.  No.  Their greed is never called out.  These people who add little to our economic wellbeing.  While those who do are called every filthy and vile name in the book.  Because education is sacred.  Apparently.  No matter how substandard it is (see Professors should teach more classes: Experts by Antonella Artuso posted 5/6/2012 on the Toronto Sun).

Ontario’s post-secondary system could improve the quality of students’ education and save money by sending more professors back to class, some experts say.

There is rising concern that hundreds of thousands of Ontario undergraduate students are being short changed by a university system that values research ahead of teaching…

Ontario undergraduate university students learn in ever larger classes and often emerge from their pricey education without the skills they need to find work in a modern economy, he said…

There has long been an informal working ratio for professors — 40% of their time spent on research, 40% on teaching and 20% on administrative duties.

Economist Don Drummond, who chaired the Dalton McGuinty government’s Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, concluded universities — and even a few colleges — now aggressively chase provincial and federal research grants with some institutions using undergraduate tuition fees to pursue government funds…

University of Toronto Professor Ian Clark, co-author of Academic Reform, said the Ontario and federal governments have ramped up research grants in the hope — one that’s shared by most developed nations — that the investment will stimulate the economy.

Professors now spend more time on research, teaching an average of two courses a term, down from three courses a term about 20 years ago, Clark said.

At the same time, there’s been a strong public push to increase the number of Ontarians with a post-secondary education, leading to a 50% jump in undergraduate students over a decade.

“You’re getting less than half as much time per student per faculty member as there used to be. Inevitably, it’s leading to bigger classes and more use of teaching assistants,” said Clark, a former president of the Council of Ontario Universities. “That, we assert — and so do many, many others — is leading to a decline in the quality of the undergraduate education that Ontario students receive…”

Constance Adamson, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), said professors are aware that class sizes are getting larger, but the fault lies not with the focus on research, but with chronic underfunding of the post-secondary system.

Really?  The problem is chronic underfunding?  It has nothing to do with universities running after all that free government money?  The professors are teaching one less course a term.  Why?  Because they’re too busy chasing all of that free government money.  No wonder these kids are graduating lacking the necessary skills to make it in the modern economy.  Their education is only a distraction to these professors.  Who spend as little time involved in it as possible.  Why?  Because that’s why God made graduate students.

This isn’t a problem unique to the Canadians.  Throughout the world a university degree is becoming a birthright.  More and more kids are going to university.  Because we tell them it’s the gateway to success and wealth.  The problem is that not only are we giving them a part-time, half-hearted education, a lot of the degrees we’re giving them are worthless in the modern economy.  Liberal arts.  Social sciences.  Women studies.  Etc.  None of which are in high demand in the modern high-tech economy.

Perhaps these are the reasons those angry unemployed university graduates are protesting capitalism in all of those occupy movements.  They borrowed a fortune for those degrees.   That were supposed to give them success and wealth.  Only to find that they got huge student loan debts.  For a worthless, part-time, half-hearted education.  Worse, these university graduates don’t even understand capitalism.  For it isn’t capitalism that failed them.  It was their leftist universities that failed them.  Who gave them a substandard education.  While charging them a premium for it.  But do these kids protest these universities or their professors?  No.  They’re protesting the businesses that can’t hire these graduates without spending a fortune on them.  To give them a useful education.  That their university was supposed to provide them.

That’s how bad our education systems have become.  Our universities draw these kids in.  These pesky students.  Selling them a useless degree.  That these kids should have known were worthless.  I mean, exactly what kind of high-paying job do these kids think their degrees in the liberal arts, social sciences, women studies, etc., will prepare them for?  Stock analyst?  Investment banker?  Research engineer?  Doctor?  The truth is that many of these degrees these kids are graduating with have very little if any value in the market place.  In fact the only thing they’re qualified for is to teach these worthless degrees to other unsuspecting students. 

And yet they protest capitalism.  Not the people who made them unfit to enter the world of capitalism.  Which is yet another sad commentary on today’s educational standards.

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The Canadians have a Healthy Economy and Housing Sector thanks to Energy Resources they Bring to Market

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2012

Week in Review

The United States still wallows in recession.  For all the talk of the improving economy more people are out of work than ever before.  The Democrats blame George W. Bush for this.  Like they blame him for everything.  But President Obama is about to close out his 4th year in office.  And if you count the 2 years Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats controlled both houses of Congress that’s 6 years of Democrat control of the economy.  Which means the last time anyone can blame George W. Bush for things economic was 2006.  So you can’t blame the last three and a half years on Bush.  Unless President Obama wasn’t the president for the last three and a half years.  But the last time I checked he was.  So is it Obama’s fault?  Or is it simply beyond anyone’s control to fix this economy?  Perhaps we should ask the Canadians (see Resources fuelling B.C. economy and housing demand: economist by Gerry Kahrmann posted 4/11/2012 on The Vancouver Sun).

The resources sector is not only fuelling British Columbia’s economy but also its housing market, the Vancouver Real Estate Forum heard Wednesday…

It’s true that house prices have gone up much faster in Canada than in the United States, where prices are still 25- to 30-per-cent lower than when the recession began, Jestin said…

“Why is the Canadian market red hot? Record levels of employment, lifetime lows in interest rates, more confidence that the Canadian economy can continue in a buoyant way over the next few years,” he said…

“The resource story translates very very clearly into the gains in the housing market,” Jestin said. It’s those provinces too where economic growth will be the greatest over the next few years because of continued demand for resources, he said.

The resources sector covers things like mining, natural gas, oil and other energy and mineral extraction.  Such as all that oil the Canadians are fracking out of their shale deposits.  A nation that, although green, is not stupid.  They know the world runs on energy.  As does a modern economy.  So they are bringing their energy resources to market.  Creating jobs.  Saving the housing industry.  And giving people confidence.  None of which they’re doing in the United States.

The Obama administration is a green administration, also.  But a childlike naive one.  Unlike the Canadians.  That refuses to accept that the modern economy requires energy.   And that America has energy resources.  As proven on private lands where energy jobs are a plenty.  Where they’re fracking oil out of our shale deposits like there is no tomorrow.  And so much natural gas that it’s dirt cheap these days.  Which is what happens when you flood the market with these energy resources.  But they shut down that industry on all federal land.  And in the Gulf of Mexico.  Foolishly believing that windmills and solar panels will power a modern economy.  Not understanding what it takes to move a train or an airplane from point A to point B.  Oil.  Fossil fuels.  Energy resources.  For no amount of wind or solar energy will get a fully loaded 747 off of the ground.  

So, yes, it’s President Obama’s fault.  And his foolish naive green energy policies.  For if we brought our energy resources to market like the Canadians we could have a healthy economy like the Canadians have.  But no.  We have to pour billions of dollars into green energy initiatives and watch them go bankrupt.  Sort of like putting parsley on the people’s plates.  Just so the people can through it away.  And that concept bothered Fred Flintstone.  He got it.  And he was from the Stone Age.  Pity President Obama didn’t get it.  For he will continue to put tax dollars into failed green energy initiatives.  Just so these people can through it away.

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Flint Tools, Levers, Wheels, Animal Power, Water Power, Wind Power, Steam Power, Electrical Power, Nuclear Power and Solar Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 22nd, 2012

Technology 101

Man harnessed the Energy in Moving Water with a Water Wheel

When prehistoric man first chipped a piece of flint to make a sharp edge he learned something.  It made work easier.  And his life better.  This tool concentrated his energy into that sharp edge.  Increasing the amount of energy he could put to work.  Allowing him to skin an animal quickly and efficiently like never before.  Making better hides to protect him from the elements.  Yes, he said, this tool is good.  But in a somewhat less sophisticated manner of speech.

From that moment forward it has been man’s singular desire to improve on this first tool.  To find ways to concentrate energy and put it to work.  Levers allowed him to move heavier things.  Wheels allowed him to move heavier loads.  The block and tackle allowed him to lift or pull heavier weights.  Harnessing animals allowed him to do all of these things even better.  And we would use animal power for millennia.  Even today they still provide the primary source of power for some less developed countries.

But animals have their limitations.  They’re big, they eat, drink, pee and poop.  Which doesn’t make them an ideal source of power to turn a mill wheel.  A big wheel that grinds grain into flour.  It’s heavy.  But it doesn’t have to spin fast.  Just for long periods of time.  Then man had another moment like he did when he chipped a piece of flint.  He noticed in his environment that things moved.  The wind.  And the water in a river.  The wind could blow fast or slow.  Or not at all.  But the water flow was steady.  And reliable.  So man harnessed the energy in the moving water with a water wheel.  And connected it to his mill wheel via some belts and pulleys.  And where there was no water available he harnessed the less reliable wind.

The Steam Engine eliminated the Major Drawbacks of Water Power and Wind Power 

The water flowed day and night.  You didn’t have to feed it or clean up after it.  And a strong current had a lot of concentrated energy.  Which could do a lot of work.  Far more than a sharpened piece of flint.  Which was ideal for our first factories.  The water wheel shaft became a main drive shaft that drove other machines via belts and pulleys.  The main drive shaft ran the length of the factory.  Workers could operate machinery underneath it by engaging it to the main drive shaft through a belt and pulley.  Take a trip to the past and visit a working apple mill powered by a water wheel.  It’s fascinating.  And you’ll be able to enjoy some fresh donuts and hot cider.  During the harvest, of course.

While we built factories along rivers we used that other less reliable source of energy to cross oceans.  Wind power.  It wasn’t very reliable.  And it wasn’t very concentrated.  But it was the only way you could cross an ocean.  Which made it the best way to cross an ocean.  Sailors used everything on a sailing ship from the deck up to catch the wind and put it to work.  Masts, rigging and sails.  Which were costly.  Required a large crew.  And took up a lot of space and added a lot of weight.  Space and weight that displaced revenue-earning cargo.

The steam engine eliminated the major drawbacks of water power and wind power.  By replacing the water wheel with a steam engine we could build factories anywhere.  Not just on rivers.  And the steam engine let ships cross the oceans whenever they wanted to.  Even when the wind didn’t blow.  And more space was available for revenue-earning cargo.  When these ships reached land we transferred their cargoes to trains.  Pulled by steam locomotives.  That could carry this revenue-earning cargo across continents.   This was a huge step forward.  Boiling water by burning coal to make steam.  A highly concentrated energy source.  A little of it went a long way.  And did more work for us than ever.  Far more than a water wheel.  It increased the amount of work we could do so much that it kicked off the Industrial Revolution.

With Nuclear Power our Quest to find more Concentrated Forms of Energy came to an End 

We replaced coal with oil in our ships and locomotives.  Because it was easier to transport.  Store.  And didn’t need people to shovel it into a boiler.  Oil burners were more efficient.  We even used it to generate a new source of power.  Electrical power.  We used it to boil water at electrical generating plants to spin turbines that turned electrical generators.  We could run pipelines to feed these plants.  Making the electricity they generated even more efficient.  And reliable.  Soon diesel engines replaced the oil burners in ships and trains.  Allowed trucks and buses to run where the trains didn’t.  And gasoline allowed people to go anywhere the trains and buses didn’t go.

The modern economy ran on petroleum.  And electricity.  We even returned to the water wheel to generate electricity.  By building dams to build huge reservoirs of water at elevations.  Creating huge headwater forces.  Concentrating more energy in water.  Which we funneled down to the lower elevation.  Making it flow through high-speed water turbines connected to electrical generators.  That spun far faster than their water wheel ancestors.  Producing huge amounts of reliable electrical power.  We even came up with a more reliable means to create electrical power.  With an even more concentrated fuel.  Fissile material gave us nuclear power.  During the oil shocks of the Seventies the Japanese made a policy change to expand their use of nuclear power.  To insulate them from future oil supply shocks.  Which it did.  While in America the movie The China Syndrome came out around the time of the incident at Three Mile Island.  And killed nuclear power in America.  (But as a consolation prize we disproved the idea of Keynesian stimulus.  When the government created massive inflation with Keynesian policy.  Printing money.  Which raised prices without providing any new economic activity.  Causing instead high inflation and high unemployment.  What we call stagflation.  The Japanese got a big Keynesian lesson about a decade later.  When their massive asset bubble began to deflate giving them their Lost Decade.)

And with nuclear power that quest to find more ways to make better and more efficient use of concentrated energy from that first day we used a flint tool came to an end.  Global warming alarmists are killing sensible sources of energy that have given us the modern world.  Even animal rights activists are fighting against one of the cleanest sources of power we’ve ever used.  Water power.  Because damming rivers harms ecosystems in the rivers we dam.  Instead political pressures have turned the hands of time backwards by using less concentrated and less efficient sources of energy.  Wind power.  And solar power.  Requiring far greater infrastructure installations to capture far less amounts of energy from these sources.  Power plants using wind power and solar power will require acres of land for windmills and solar panels.  And it will take many of these power plants to produce what a single power plant using coal, oil, natural gas or fissile material can generate.  Making power more costly than it ever has been.  Despite wind and sunshine being free.  And when the great civilizations become bankrupt chasing bankrupt energy policies we will return to a simpler world.  A world where we don’t make and use power.  Or machinery.  Much like our flint-tool using ancestors.  Albeit with a more sophisticated way of expressing ourselves.

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