An interesting experiment on LinkedIn

From time to time it’s interesting to post news of a success story from one industry into a LinkedIn group which caters for a rival industry. You can learn a lot from the cynicism that story generates.

Red rag to a bull you might say!

In a way, yes, you are looking to provoke reaction, and of course some of the response might be motivated more by hostility than sound judgement.

However, a lot of the time within the power sector, there is too much cheerleading and too little critical self-appraisal so it sometimes helps to get the views of the competing interests.

Without getting into specifics, a new innovation from the wind sector prompted some withering criticism from the members of one particular nuclear power group.

Here is a list of the criticisms heaped upon that sector:

1. “There is no country which has not invested in wind energy which does not seem to have substantially larger power costs after replacing fractional portions of its generation capability.”

2. “So far I have not seen a country that can generate a substantial amount of its energy from wind. I can see it being useful in areas that are remote, windy, and depend on diesel generation. The Canadian arctic is one example. Here generation costs are reported to be $1.50 / kw hr so the typical wind turbine costs are insignificant.”

3. “Apart from hydropower, green energy is a huge waste of time, effort and money.”

4. “Because they are intermittent, wind and solar power imposes additional costs on the power system for providing backup generation that the farms do not pay for. In addition, because the capacity factor is very low, they require much more transmission capacity per unit of energy generated than a conventional power station. “

5. “On many occasions, they generate power when it is not needed and virtually no power when it is needed. And crazy governments pay them for the power that the system cannot afford and the system does not want. As a result of all this, power prices in many countries have nearly doubled.”
Nuclear and wind energies
6. “All of this wind generation is directly dependent upon an artificially supported electricity price and preferential grid treatment for wind generation. Remove any of these conditions, and the industry collapses, just as it did in 1981. Being dependent upon government largesse means that the collapse can happen at any time there’s a change in political outlook. Just ask the solar manufacturers how they feel after the collapse of Spain’s socialist government in the last elections. “

… and on it goes. Some of these assertions are valid; some are highly contestable.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of the issues engineers in the nuclear sector can pinpoint in the wind power field. Naturally many of a partisan bent feel there is no alternative but for the world to completely embrace nuclear power and the world only needs to wake up to this.

However all power technologies have their problems and as another contributor pointed out, nuclear has big decommissioning, waste disposal and expense issues of its own, fossil fuels have serious health and costs issues and are, of course, finite resources.

Luckily this particular LinkedIn group is a democratic one and one (neutral) member was quick to remind contributors of the failings of their own technology, while posting the more positive developments associated with their green cousins.

Among that member’s more telling points is that battery storage development can in time make the present intermittency problems associated with renewables redundant.

Until then and because of the environmental and expense issues associated with other power generation, we have little option but to increase the use of renewables for the generation of electricity as well as coming up with the means of increasing energy efficiency along with the reduction of energy consumption.

Almost as offering a right of reply I intend to try posting some nuclear success news on a wind forum to see if similar insights can be gleaned, whether negative or positive.

The last line on this nuclear thread went uncontested by contributors and I think most fair-minded from across the divides would concur.

“What is important is to select the best combination of different energy sources in order to achieve the best possible result, from the economic and environmental point of view.”

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