Thursday, July 26, 2007

Uranium Savages

No, not the band.

Apparently, a professor in New York has discovered that using renewable energy will take land. And in the case of biomass and hydropower, lots of land.

Here's part of the story from The Guardian:

Renewable energy projects will devour huge amounts of land,
warns researcher·

Analyst argues wind farms and biofuels are not green·
Report's look at negative aspects aims to end 'taboo'

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Wednesday July 25, 2007
The Guardian

Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce substantial amounts of power.

Jesse Ausubel, a professor of environmental science and director of the Human Environment programme at Rockefeller University in New York, found that enormous stretches of countryside would have to be converted into intensive farmland or developed with buildings and access roads for renewable energy plants to make a significant contribution to global energy demands.

Prof Ausubel reached his conclusions by ranking renewable energies according to the amount of power they produce for each square metre of land. The assessment allows direct comparison between the different approaches, based on the impact they will have on the surrounding landscape.


The report, which appears in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology today, also criticises plans for widespread farming of biofuels. (clip)

Prof Ausubel said that despite technical and political concerns, nuclear power plants still ranked as the most environmentally-friendly for large conurbations. "The good news about nuclear is that over the past 50 years all of the forms of waste storage seem to have worked."

Reminds me of the joke about the falling man.

When asked how things are going,

his reply was, "Everything's fine so far"

In the report, he gives a energy/land use numbers for solar and wind.

Wind energy

Wind farms generate around 1.2 watts for every square metre of land.

Solar power

Photovoltaic cells covering an area of 150,000 square kilometres would be needed to meet US electricity needs for a year. To power New York city would take 12,000 square kilometres, about the size of Connecticut."

Here is the report in Inderscience Publishers . I did not pay to read it yet, but I will bet that the author will have shaped his research, given the other work he has published . In the other paper, he discusses how to release less cadmium into the environment.

Something tells me that he doesn't mention that:

You can farm or raise cattle under the wind turbines.

You can live and work and park under photovoltaics.

Neither of which would qualify as "devour"

He doesn't mention that nuclear plants take huge amounts of land.

He doesn't mention that power plants often need huge cooling lakes.

He doesn't talk about the footprints of the nuclear mines.

He doesn't talk about the area dedicated to provide secure storage.

And I know he didn't tally up all the land that is currently used by power plants, mines, roads, storage, shipping, and switch stations to get a fair comparison of the present system's commitment of land vs. the commitment we would need with a unified photonic energy web.

At my shop, (an electric utility)we could cover the cooling pond of our existing nuclear plant with solar and provide all of the energy we will need for the next 20 years or so.

If we decide to provide all of the energy for the city, we will need 66 sections of land.

That's 6 miles by 11 miles.

If we decide to provide solar energy for the whole world, we would need an area about the size of Texas.

Texas fits pretty well into the Sahara.

The author is not all wet though. He accurately shows that biomass crops are probably not such a keen idea.

But his love for nuclear energy is down right Kookie.

Oh, and I wonder if he looked up peak uranium.

These guys are just savages from a prior age.

The Age of Fire.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a feeling Oz wld jump on this one!


11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Oz.

The Japanese must feel a bit like the fallen man who's landed after the earthquake and the leaks from their power plant into their lakes and water last week.

Wonder how much land that contamination is taking up... and how many years before it will be clean.

7:18 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

I fixed the broken link and made a correction to the post on Friday morning.

5:17 AM  

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