Wind and Solar Power Not the Answer

Wind and Solar Power Not the Answer
by JBS President John F. McManus

In France, 80 percent of electricity is generated by nuclear power. In the United States, the figure hovers around 20 percent, and it’s declining. Anti-nuclear power partisans point to supposed dangers in this form of acquiring electric power. But history shows their error. The only nuclear power plant accident in the U.S., occurring in 1979 at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island facility, actually demonstrated how safe this form of generating power truly is. There were no deaths, no injuries, and no nearby inhabitants adversely affected – except for the few who were seriously frightened by irresponsible propaganda.

The anti-nukes like to refer to the Chernobyl “meltdown.” Yes, that Soviet-built power plant did spew large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and it harmed some people. But, unlike plants in the West, it had no containment shield around it that would have minimized or even completely prevented any accidental discharge of radiation. Then questions arise about the harm caused in 2011 when a huge tsunami crashed into Japan and severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It now turns out, however, that the harmful health effects caused at the plant by that wall of water were nearly non-existent and two Stanford University experts who studied the event concluded that mandatory evacuations around the plant killed more people than are supposed to have died because of leaking radiation.

Environmentally charged individuals (they like to be called “Greens”) continue to insist that wind and solar power should replace not only nuclear plants but coal and gas-fired plants as well. They want less carbon sent into the atmosphere by burning coal and gas. Getting rid of burning coal and gas, they insist, will slow or eliminate global warming. But claims by the Greens that carbon emissions lead to a warming of the planet are dubious to say the least.

Journalist Barbara Hollingsworth recently noted that even after “receiving an estimated $39 billion in annual government subsidies over the past five years,” the solar energy industry accounted for a meager “one-half of one percent of all the electricity” generated during 2014 in the United States. TIME magazine reported that the largest solar farm in America, California’s Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, received billions in federal loans and incentives while producing a minimal amount of electricity. Wind farms, once thought by Greens to be a replacement for fossil fuel-burning plants, have proven to many that they are expensive boondoggles.

Over in Europe, Germany’s Greens have so discredited nuclear power that plans are being laid to shut down existing plants. But other Germans have found out that turning to wind and solar isn’t a good alternative. Instead, these people have learned the hard way that wind and solar power occasionally go dead – as when weather doesn’t cooperate. The result? New coal and gas-fired plants are being built to stave off blackouts, just the opposite of turning away from sending carbon into the air. And France, the world’s leader in the use of nuclear power, is bowing to the demands of her own Greens and planning to close nuclear plans in favor of what Germans are discovering isn’t the answer.

Three conclusions arise from this admittedly brief survey of the problems of electric power generation. These are: 1) Much of the noise coming from Greens should be ignored. 2) If expensive subsidies given to solar and wind power generation interests were cancelled, there would be far fewer opting for it. And, (3) Generating power from the atom is one of the greatest inventions of modern times. As a supplier of clean and plentiful electricity, its usage should be increasing not declining everywhere, even in America.

Learn more about how America’s current energy program is being driven into the ground by the federal government.

Then get involved to join the battle for less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world.

Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.

2 Comments on “Wind and Solar Power Not the Answer”

  1. marcjeric32 says:

    Let me mention here the Chernobyl disaster. Chernobyl is a nuclear power station, classified as such at the Soviet insistence by the International Atomic Agency (IAA) in Vienna. It has or had four nuclear units, and there are a total of 14 such units in operation in the former Soviet Union. These units were built on the basis of a stolen set of American plans for joint production of bomb-grade plutonium and electricity. When the Americans were deciding on which type of bomb-grade plutonium producing facility to adopt, they had some 16 reactor types to choose from. All but two were rejected; the one at Savannah River Site was producing nothing but plutonium and tritium (no electricity) in low-temperature, low-pressure type of reactors, and the one at that Washington State site (its name escapes me for the moment – Henford Reservation?) produced the bomb materials as well as electricity. The other 14 types were rejected for not being considered safe enough. The one that served as the basis of the Chernobyl design was one of those considered not safe enough. Why exactly was it considered as not safe enough? Because that type of reactor might go out of control when in low power ranges due to the phenomenon of the so-called positive reactivity factor. In simpler words, when in a power range of 20% or lower, the nuclear reaction becomes self-propagating and leads eventually to a steam explosion breaking the reactor vessel and spewing the nuclear material into the atmosphere. Such a reactor to be safely in the negative reactivity region must operate close to its 100% power rating. That is not a problem usually with nuclear power stations which are normally used as base-loaded, meaning that nuclear power runs all the time at 100% capacity whereas oil, gas, and coal-fired stations provide electricity for peak load periods only.
    Everybody in the business of designing and building nuclear power stations knew (I was one of them) that the 14 Chernobyl type reactors served dual purpose role – production of bomb materials and electricity; it was just a matter of what was put as nuclear fuel in the reactors. The Soviets found themselves with a surplus of nuclear bomb materials and wanted the excess units to be reclassified as solely electricity-producing in order to profit by technology “exchanges” with the West. To obtain that reclassification they had to subject those units to the IAEA (that is the International Atomic Energy Agency headquartered in Vienna) inspections which included American inspectors among others. And so one day, after many negotiations including the IAA acceptance of pre-announced inspections (normally these are unannounced), the IAEA team showed up at the Chernobyl station. Among other things the team found was the fact that emergency power generators at Chernobyl were of the slow-starting marine diesel type which take about two minutes to reach their full power. The American standard calls for fast-starting specially designed diesel-generators that reach full power in 10 seconds. The Soviets argued, correctly, that this 10-second requirement was unnecessary since upon a reactor trip (sudden stoppage due to an accident) the inertia of the main turbine-generator would produce enough power for several minutes (more than two) to feed emergency equipment, so that a two-minute delay while waiting to switch to those emergency diesel-generators was quite all right. The American inspector (probably one of those bureaucratic types rejected by private industry in the US as incompetent and who then found his place in the government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission) insisted that the US regulations called for diesels with a 10-second response. The Soviets would not agree to that superfluous requirement and there was a technical impasse. They finally all agreed that, if a specially conducted experiment where an artificial reactor trip showed that the predicted inertia of the main turbine-generator could provide sufficient emergency power until those slow Soviet diesels cut in, the Chernobyl-type reactors would be declared safe enough and their reclassification as commercial type reactors would be approved.
    And so the Soviets waited for a good moment to trip the reactor and do that experiment – a good moment when electricity demand was low. The good moment was a Sunday evening after midnight when the city of Kiev in Ukraine would mostly be asleep. They did start the experiment by tripping the reactor when suddenly they received a panic call from the dispatcher. He told them to restart the reactor immediately because the just ended meeting of high Soviet officials, including their big boss the Minister of Energy, continued with a wild partying through the night and they needed electricity for that. What could the poor fellows operating Chernobyl do? They restarted the reactor at low power, below 20% of its rating, through the night, waiting for the signal that the Commies’ partying was over, so they could continue with that IAEA-imposed experiment. What they could not have known (that was known only to the original designers of that type of reactor, at that time either dead or retired in the US) was that the reactor in that low range of power was getting in the area of positive reactivity. When they finally tripped it around 5 AM, it produced an uncontrolled nuclear reaction with such high temperatures that the cooling water in the reactor went into a steam explosion. The reactor did not have a concrete enclosure around it – the Soviets did not consider it necessary and also it was too expensive for them – and that water vapor explosion resulted in a wide dispersal of deadly radioactive hot materials. It was not a nuclear explosion but a steam explosion produced by overheating – contrary to the widespread opinion spread by press ignoramuses.
    What a fantastic combination of events! First: the American design rejected for being unsafe and then stolen by American Communist spies which the Soviet copyists did not and could not understand. Second: the stupid insistence by the IAEA ignoramuses who blindly followed the vastly exaggerated American standards. Third: the Soviet Communist Party bosses whose drunken partying overruled its own technicians. Fourth: false and panic-producing reporting by ignorant leftist journalists. Fifth, exaggerated and ignorant reaction by the West, where for example the Swedish Socialist government killed off about a million caribou (or whatever these are called there) under the totally false assumption that their meat might become radioactive and so finally reduced their so far independent Lap tribes to perpetual welfare. All meat is naturally radioactive – but let me stop here, since this looks like overkill. I will talk about “environmentalists” and the so-called Delaney Amendment later on.
    Now the reaction of panicky Party bosses to this accident produced many unnecessary deaths – but then murdering innocents is their most normal practice. They sent unshielded helicopters to hover over the open and broken reactor to try to bury it with tons of dirt. The crews got deadly direct exposure to open nuclear materials and died in a matter of weeks. There are 13 more reactor units of this type still operating in the former Soviet Union, where a simple change of nuclear fuel can transform them into producers of nuclear bomb materials. They are now classified officially as “commercial” power reactors.


  2. Douglas A. Logan says:

    What is your point Marcjeric32 ?


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