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Renewable Energy is a Scam

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Aug 03, 2019

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  • This is Hornsea Project One, a wind farm currently under construction off the coast of Yorkshire.
  • When it is completed in 2020 it will be the largest wind farm in the world.
  • It will power 1 million homes.
  • But this project will collectively cost consumers in the UK an additional £4.2 billion on their
  • energy bills.
  • That’s fine, I guess if it’s going to save the planet.
  • But is it, really?
  • It turns out that renewable energy isn’t as rosy as we have all been sold.
  • 97% of scientists believe that climate change is real and it’s an issue we need to face
  • today.
  • It’s estimated that the effects of climate change will kill at least 150 million people
  • this century.
  • All of these premature deaths could be avoided if the average global temperature could be
  • reduced by just 1.5 degrees.
  • Professional hippies spend their lives doing two things, dying their hair and getting angry
  • at governments for their apparent lack of action on climate change.
  • There are a very small number of countries, however, that have heard the message loud
  • and clear and are leading the way on fixing the planet’s thermostat by investing billions
  • into Renewable Energy.
  • The most prominent is Germany.
  • Today between 40 to 50 percent of Germany’s energy comes from renewables such as wind,
  • solar and hydro.
  • Germany is making an exemplary move in the right direction, aren’t they?
  • Well, let’s take a closer look at Germany’s most popular renewable choice, wind power.
  • Wind turbines are fantastic for reducing CO2 emissions, we all know that.
  • Building wind turbines, on the other hand, does actually produce a huge amount of CO2,
  • to smelt and manufacture the humongous steel bodies and aluminium blades.
  • But once it’s up and running a wind turbine pays off its CO2 debt within 5 months, so
  • it’s not really an issue.
  • No, the issue is that a low carbon footprint is just about the only benefit of Wind Turbines.
  • They kill endangered species of birds quicker than the Duke of Wellington on New Year’s
  • Day.
  • Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed by wind turbines every year and thousands
  • of those are rare species of large birds like eagles.
  • Over a million bats are also killed each year by wind turbine blades.
  • And solar has its own unique issues, mainly toxic waste.
  • Well-made solar panels have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.
  • But with their huge and growing popularity cheaply made Chinese solar panels are flooding
  • global markets.
  • These can break down in as little as five years.
  • And many of them contain highly toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and can cause
  • cancer such as lead, cadmium and chromium, unlike nuclear waste the toxicity of these
  • elements never decays.
  • All solar panels can break and do with some degree of regularity; when the glass is smashed,
  • toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and thus public water supplies.
  • Also we have no plan to dispose of them safely, the vast majority of solar panels will be
  • shipped off to countries that have no safe way of dealing with their toxicity, countries
  • where we already send millions of tonnes of our tech waste to such as Africa and other
  • developing regions.
  • These are teething issues that will hopefully be fixed by better-decommissioning protocols
  • and pipelines and improved solar technology.
  • Both solar and wind, however, have an inescapable issue that no amount of technology can fix:
  • they only produce energy when the wind blows or the sun shines.
  • In some locations thats as little as 10% of the time.
  • Even the most efficient wind and solar farms only work optimally 30% of the time.
  • Although to be clear most solar and wind farms produce some amount of energy around 75% of
  • the time, even if just a little.
  • This means we will always need a more consistent energy source, such as fossil or nuclear to
  • cover renewable’s downtimes.
  • Perhaps in the future battery technology will reach a point where it becomes feasible to
  • store copious amounts of excess power from renewable sources and the grid can be fed
  • off those whilst the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
  • But currently, the technology isn’t even close, as it stands, no battery array in the
  • world can hold even a fraction of the power needed to sustain a city for more than a few
  • minutes.
  • The current largest, built by Tesla in Australia, is a 100-megawatt array that can sustain 30,000
  • homes for an hour.
  • In fact without having huge and expensive battery arrays dotted around every country,
  • which would be an eyesore, solar and wind have seemingly insurmountable redundancy issues.
  • Fossil and Nuclear power plants both work within a similar framework, the fuel produces
  • heat which is used to create steam which turns a large turbine, which turns a generator which
  • creates electricity.
  • When I say large turbine I mean stupidly large - these goliaths usually weigh in at over
  • 100 tonnes of solid steel.
  • Its immense mass has some benefits.
  • Primarily, redundancy.
  • Nuclear power plants produce energy 24/7, 365 days of the year, they are only shut down
  • once every two years to refuel.
  • But what if it has to shut down in an emergency, what if it fails and stops producing steam
  • to turn the turbine.
  • Actually, what if every single fossil fuel and nuclear power plant in the country all
  • shut down at the same time.
  • The power would go out, right?
  • Well not quite.
  • You see, because of the immense inertial mass of a spinning turbine, there is enough centrifugal
  • force to maintain its rotation and continue to generate power as normal, for a couple
  • of minutes without any steam input.
  • This gives the national grid a small but crucial time to restart the power plant and get it
  • back online.
  • Because of this crucial redundancy window, unplanned power outages due to hiccups at
  • power plants are extremely rare, most power cuts happen due to weather affecting other
  • parts of the infrastructure such as overhead cables.
  • Wind turbines don’t have a large turbine to rely on if it fails, it stops producing
  • power instantaneously, so does a solar farm.
  • Although there is currently hype surrounding new hybrid wind turbines that have a backup
  • battery in the base of the tower which will help overcome this issue.
  • But then there’s an issue of land usage and the environment.
  • To build these huge arrays of wind turbines and solar panels an area of over 5,000 square
  • metres usually has to be cleared of all vegetation and wildlife.
  • This is disastrous for the ecosystem, the local environment and the various species
  • that may call it home.
  • To power a country such as the United Kingdom using exclusively wind and solar power it
  • is estimated that up to 25% of the country’s land surface would need to be cleared and
  • transformed into wind or solar farms.
  • Wind farms only return 2.5 Watts per square metre.
  • Compare that to nuclear which produces 1,000 Watts per square metre and it’s clear how
  • inefficient renewables are when it comes to land usage.
  • We could mitigate some of this disastrous loss of nature by building all these wind
  • farms offshore, although we still don’t fully understand the long term effects of
  • offshore wind farms on marine species.
  • But this isn’t the plan.
  • The UK currently has 271 wind farms planned over the next decade, about half of them are
  • currently under construction.
  • But only 25 of these will be offshore, although the offshore arrays do tend to be far larger
  • than their land counterparts.
  • There’s an important philosophical question to be answered here - by destroying huge swathes
  • of nature to build renewables aren’t we destroying the very natural world the renewables
  • are intended to save?
  • But, what about the cost of human life caused by direct accidents, such as reactor meltdowns?
  • Surely this is one area in which renewables can win hands down.
  • Well, the figures may shock you, as they shocked me.
  • The most dangerous are, as to be expected, the fossil fuels.
  • Coal tops the figures with 100,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour, then oil at 36,000, then
  • biomass with 24,000 deaths, natural gas at 4,000, and that’s not factoring in the millions
  • of deaths each year as a result of the air pollution from all these sources.
  • But it’s the carbon-neutral energy sources that have the most interesting figures.
  • Hydro 1,400 (also, hydro secretly produces quite a large amount of CO2), solar 440 deaths
  • and wind 150 (although there are no completely reliable data sources for wind turbine deaths,
  • more data is needed here).
  • It’s what’s at the very bottom of the list, however, that may surprise you.
  • Nuclear is just 90 deaths per Petawatt Hour, and that includes Chernobyl, Fukushima and
  • Three Mile Island.
  • Nuclear energy has a really bad public image.
  • It’s no surprise, with its association with nuclear warheads and Chernobyl.
  • But you can’t ignore statistics and it is statistically the safest form of reliable
  • power production we have today.
  • Nuclear energy and negative press go together like Greenpeace and propaganda, and so many
  • countries have been decommissioning nuclear reactors in favour of renewable sources, but
  • in an ironic twist of fate, nuclear may just be the energy source that could save our planet.
  • Nuclear fission is big and scary, but it has so many benefits that cannot simply be ignored.
  • Nuclear power plants produce zero carbon emissions.
  • Their only byproduct is nuclear waste, but unlike byproducts of all other forms of energy
  • production, this is 100% contained and doesn’t leak out into the environment, nuclear waste
  • can also be recycled and reused in reactors multiple times.
  • It’s important to note however that the Uranium mining and enrichment processes do
  • use fossil fuels and this does produce CO2.
  • But when we average it out over a power plant’s life cycle a single nuclear reactor and all
  • its related industries produce a median of 65g of CO2 per kWh - that’s roughly the
  • same amount of CO2 produced by wind farms over their life cycle, taking their manufacturing
  • and regular maintenance into consideration too.
  • But nuclear’s carbon footprint could be even lower than wind.
  • Allow me to expand.
  • Since 1987, Russia and the US have been mutually decommissioning their nuclear weapons, even
  • if recent political hiccups have put a spanner in this process, every year old nuclear warheads
  • are still regularly retired and decommissioned.
  • This creates a steady influx of already highly-enriched Uranium fuel that can be used by nuclear power
  • plants to create energy, completely bypassing uranium mining and enrichment and thus bypassing
  • CO2 emissions.
  • Sceptics believe that nuclear power plants lead to nuclear weapon proliferation, but
  • in fact, it’s the complete opposite - the absolute best way to reduce the number of
  • nuclear weapons in the world is by building more nuclear reactors.
  • In 2013, 19% of the world’s nuclear energy needs were fueled by Uranium 235 from decommissioned
  • nuclear warheads.
  • Take a look at two real-life countries that have taken completely opposite paths.
  • Germany has invested heavily into renewables and decommissioned 17 of their nuclear reactors
  • and Merkel’s government pledged to remove all of their nuclear reactors by 2022.
  • Today only 6% of Germany’s power comes from nuclear.
  • At the opposite end of the scale, France has invested heavily in nuclear as its primary
  • source of power - they currently have 58 active reactors and more than 80% of France’s energy
  • needs are met by nuclear, by far the highest per capita in the world.
  • The result?
  • Germany’s CO2 emissions per capita are more than double that of France.
  • And French households enjoy a much lower energy cost, they pay only 0.1799 EUR per kWh, Germans
  • pay almost double that for their electricity, 0.3 EUR per kWh, the second-highest in Europe.
  • Notably, Germany’s energy costs have increased by 50% since starting their big push towards
  • renewables.
  • I’m not trying to disparage renewables, I think they have an important part to play
  • in saving the planet, but I believe it should be a far smaller part than what we are currently
  • aiming for.
  • If for no other reason than to not see our world’s beautiful landscape littered with
  • gigantic, obnoxious windmills, not if there is no overwhelming benefit over the alternative.
  • Humanity’s cleanest, cheapest form of energy has been right in front of us since the 40s.
  • And until nuclear fusion comes along, we should be investing more in nuclear fission to reduce
  • greenhouse gasses without needing to destroy thousands of square miles of our beautiful
  • planet to litter it with bird blenders.
  • But what if nuclear energy can be improved even more.
  • What if it could produce little to no waste and be completely safe and meltdown proof?
  • Well, maybe it can.
  • In 1950 Indian Physicist Homi Bhabha postulated that perhaps another fuel from the typical
  • Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239 could be used for nuclear fission, Thorium.
  • Thorium is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal that is four times as abundant on Earth
  • as Uranium.
  • After World War II a reactor design that used Thorium as its fuel, a Molten Salt Reactor
  • was created by the US government and the first experimental reactor of its kind was built
  • at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and it successfully generated electricity between 1965 and 1969.
  • But the US government decided the future of nuclear energy was in Uranium not Thorium
  • and so pretty much every reactor in the world since the 60s has used Uranium fuel.
  • There were many reasons for Uranium being chosen as the de facto fission fuel over Thorium,
  • but one of the most prominent was that Uranium makes much better bombs.
  • Uranium enrichment plants produce highly enriched Uranium that can either be used in nuclear
  • warheads or power peoples homes.
  • Thorium on the other hand can be used to make nuclear weapons but it’s a lot more difficult
  • and inefficient.
  • But that’s not the only benefit of Thorium-based power over Uranium.
  • Thorium reactors produce much less nuclear waste.
  • One chinese scientist claims that there will be a thousand times less nuclear waste from
  • Thorium reactors.
  • Also, since natural Thorium can be used as fuel it does not need to be enriched.
  • And it gets better, another Thorium reactor design known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor
  • or LFTR has a unique design that its proponents claim is meltdown-proof.
  • The most common cause of reactor meltdowns in current Uranium plants is excessively high
  • and runaway temperatures, usually due to power failures which can lead to insufficient cooling.
  • But LFTRs contains a plug at the bottom of the reactor that is designed to melt if the
  • temperature gets too high, this causes all the fuel to drain into an underground safe-storage
  • tank which in theory should completely avert a catastrophic meltdown.
  • It all seems too good to believe.
  • Science writer Richard Martin writes: ‘Thorium could provide a clean and effectively limitless
  • source of power while allaying all public concern—weapons proliferation, radioactive
  • pollution, toxic waste, and fuel that is both costly and complicated to process’ But like
  • everything in life, Thorium isn’t short of its detractors.
  • There are some who argue that because Thorium is still highly experimental and it hasn’t
  • been operational on a large scale like Uranium reactors, it can’t yet be trusted and it
  • may not be all it’s made out to be.
  • But I guess the only way we can find out for certain whether Thorium is the golden goose
  • of clean energy is by putting it into use, producing energy for consumers.
  • And that’s exactly what India is doing right now.
  • India has one of the largest natural supplies of Thorium and they have pledged to meet 30%
  • of their energy demands with Thorium reactors by 2050.
  • Britain, France, Canada, America, China and a few others are currently looking into Thorium
  • as a potential energy source but India is currently the only country that has a well
  • thought out, government approved and funded plan to ramp up Thorium-based energy production.
  • India plans to have over 60 functional Thorium reactors by 2025.
  • And since India is the world’s third largest polluter it seems like a necessary step that
  • could help preserve the planet for a little while longer.
  • But it’s going to require action from more than just one country to save it.
  • To be completely honest, the world needs to look to China to stop burning dinosaurs for
  • fun.
  • Just under 30% of the world’s carbon emissions come from China.
  • It’s not surprising since a staggering 55% of power production in China is coal based.
  • A tiny 4% of China’s power comes from Nuclear, as of 2018.
  • I’m not saying we should abandon all forms of energy except nuclear, wind and solar renewables
  • have a huge and beneficial part to play in saving the planet.
  • But all nations should be looking to eradicating coal-based energy production, it’s horrendously
  • inefficient, you have to burn a lot of coal and release a ton of CO2 for a pathetic amount
  • of energy, it kills millions of people each year from pollution and it’s quickly killing
  • the planet too.
  • But perhaps as most developed nations are looking to replace coal power, nuclear shouldn’t
  • simply be swept aside for renewables.
  • Renewables may be the fashionable and popular option, but that doesn’t necessarily make
  • it the better option.
  • Thanks for watching.

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