Energy Issues

Jun 182013


Marine renewable energy sources such as wave and tidal power are poised to become an important part of the U.S. future clean energy mix. Recent Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Georgia Institute of Technology studies have measured the annual technically recoverable energy from U.S. wave and tidal resources at 1,170 terawatt-hours (TWh) and 66 TWh respectively–a significant proportion of the 4,000 TWh of U.S. electricity demand. In practice, the realities of project development likely will result in a much smaller realized resource, but if 10 percent extraction can be reached, this would be equivalent to the output of 37 large fossil fuel plants.

Thorium reactors are usually considered not to be weapons proliferation risks, but this article from the Nuclear Threat Intitiative’s Global Security Newsletter suggests otherwise.  They report on an article appearing in Nature pointing out weapons proliferation risks connected to Thorium.

Aug 162012


This article, by Michael Richardson, on August 8, 2012, in Japan Times, questions whether the US should approve a new laser enrichment plant.  The argument is that laser enrichment could more easily be done secretly compared to centrifuge enrichment which requires large, industrial, not easily hidden, facilities.  The ability to secretly enrich uranium could enable secret production of highly enriched uranium for weapons.

Read more:

The boom in natural gas production has undeniable benefits for the United States. But two policy analysts argue that embracing a monolithic energy future dominated by gas will mean the loss of a golden opportunity: Leveraging cheap, abundant gas to create a sustainable future based on renewable power.

by kevin doran and adam reed

13 Aug 2012   yale 360

Aug 152012

The folks at Energy Informative have a nice set of DOE renewable energy videos at this website:

What about Thorium?

Posted by Dot Sulock at 2:27 pm
Aug 142012

August 13, 2012  FAS Roundup

There is four times as much thorium on Earth as there is uranium, and that less than 1 percent of uranium consists of U-235. In the past few years, there has been discussion in the United States, China and India regarding thorium power. What exactly is thorium power, and what are the pros and cons of it?

This is a useful, objective, and  authoritative presentation of the costs of energy from various sources.

June 12, 2012

“Last Friday, in a major environmental victory, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit three-judge panel unanimously ruled against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) “Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision.” Plaintiffs, including the States of CT, NJ, NY, and VT — as well as an environmental coalition comprised of BREDL (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League), NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Riverkeeper, and SACE (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy), represented by NRDC’s Geoff Fettus and Diane Curran of the law firm Harmon, Curran, Speilberg + Eisenberg, LLP — successfully argued that NRC’s environmental assessment of the safety and security risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste at atomic reactors has been woefully inadequate for decades. Proposed new reactor licenses, and old reactor license extensions, could now face major delays, as NRC is forced, under court order, to carry out the long overdue environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”

Read more and access court ruling, plaintiff’s statements, and media coverage at Beyond Nuclear:

Jun 142012

“… we have estimated the total EGS resource base to be more than 13 million exajoules (EJ). Using reasonable assumptions regarding how heat would be mined from stimulated EGS reservoirs, we also estimated the extractable portion to exceed 200,000 EJ or about 2,000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the United States in 2005. With technology improvements, the economically extractable amount of useful energy could increase by a factor of 10 or more, thus making EGS sustainable for centuries.”      Read the entire MIT report:  The Future of Geothermal Energy (November 2006) here:

Exajoules are actually a pretty useful energy measure.  1 Exajoule is about 278 TWh.  Earth always needs a steady flow of something between 12 and 18 TW of energy from all sources.  Estimates vary from source to source but are always within this range.  1 TW = 1 (24) (365) = 8760 TWh

So the planet needs something like 15 x 8760 = 130,000 TWh of energy from all sources annually or about 470 Exajoules.  Nice small numbers because EJ is a very big unit.

Does this  agree with 200,000 EJ being 2000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the US in 2005?

Primary energy consumption was about 27,000 TWh for the US in 2005 which is about 97 EJ.

So, yes, 200,000 EJ is about 2000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the US in 2005.

The US can access 200,000 EJ of geothermal energy using Enhanced Geothermal Systems and we need 100 EJ of energy from all sources per year.  EGS will last a while!