Friday 19 August 2022

Celebrating Nuclear Power

Ain’t she pretty? Daya Bay Nuclear Plant, just NE of Hong Kong
Just back from the coffee shop, chatting with my mate, who I’ll call “Clam”, a Chinese-American guy with houses in San Francisco and here in Discovery Bay. We got talking about nuclear energy and were quickly in violent agreement that it’s the best, safest and quickest way to get to “Zero Carbon” electricity goals.

I’d got us onto the subject, as I’m reading Bill Gates’ latest book “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic”, and I said that apart from being a major health and vaccines guy, via his Gates Foundation, Gates was also funding Terrapower, the pilot new-tech nuclear via a demonstration site in Wyoming. Gates is an autodidact, like Elon Musk, who has learned about nuclear power, to a high level, by reading. Clam knew all about it, and tells me that his own “first degree” is in nuclear engineering! Gates didn’t need the degree. Nuclear engineers and scientists say he can talk on any aspect of it.

Clam’s first comment -- thinking perhaps that he had to convince me -- that nuclear is the safest energy out there -- I readily agreed. It’s also the greenest: see below. 

Fukushima was ancient technology, and even then no-one was killed by the explosions of 2011. That could not -- literally could not -- happen to the new tech. 

We also chatted about Small Modular Reactors that are coming on stream. Clam says the latest ones are mobile! A couple in a city like HK, could do us, for all the electricity we need. Rather more quickly than what’s going on now -- the government paying us to put PV solar panels on our roof (which are paying us money at a rate of 25% ROI).

Clam was envious that I’d been able to visit the Daya Bay nuclear station close to us, just over the border of NE Hong Kong and which supplies us with 30% of our power. I was with the Hong Kong Classic Car Club, we were doing a rally around Guangdong, back around 2015, and ended up at Daya Bay, where China Light and Power (HK) owns 25% equity and CLP chairman, Lord Kadoorie, is patron of the Classic Car Club, and showed us around his facility. Great stuff. First question was about safety and they had a guy explaining what happens to this modern facility if the power shuts off (as it had with Fukushima, coz of the tsunami). Satisfied us all, that the tech is such that if power fails, the rods drop into the core and turn off the plant, the opposite of what happened in Fukushima, where it heated up, overheated and blew up.

We both blamed the green movement of the 1960s and 1970s and especially Greenpeace, for the scare tactics on nuclear. Which continue to this day. Such that we get the idiocy of Germany closing all its nuclear stations-- all operating perfectly well, and super-clean -- the day after Fukushima, with Germany now running out of electricity and having to re-open coal mines and coal-fired power stations. At least they’ve put the closure of the last three nuclear plants on hold, as Russia squeezes their gas supply. All of this was easily predictable, was predicted; it’s not hind-sight. Blind Freddy saw it; Angela Merkel and the German Greens didn’t.

Here in Hong Kong, we could be carbon neutral by 2035 if we built just two more Daya Bay sized stations.  Here or just over the border. Keep on with the rooftop PV solar policy, by all means (we love it!). But it’s not going to get us reliably carbon-free without baseload power, which can only be coal, gas, or ... Nuke baby!

Clam and I fist-bumped “Yay nuclear!” Next chat: Fusion!

ADDED: Nuclear is also the Greenest, according the the United Nations: