Monday, May 26, 2008

All Methods of Power Generation have Their Trade-Offs

Occasionally there are articles done by others that are important, and right in line with the focus and purpose of the near-death experience in the sense of “afterward” and how to make sense of the various challenges present in our world. This is one such article done by Glenn Mingo. He had become concerned with all the public bickering and arguing about power generation and what is the best source. This is his answer – what he did we can all do. –PMH

The power grid is a complex system of production and use. There is no one best method of power generation but a system with components that complement each other. We have heard much about the negatives of different fuel choices and this is why a system of diverse methods of generation works best.

For example atomic energy cannot be quickly and easily varied. The grid can only accept the power that it uses. If more power is generated than is used problems can occur. The grid users make more demands on the system during the day so nuclear energy made at night has to be cut somewhere else in the system. Virginia has the Bath County Pump Storage Facility to use this power to move water uphill at night and releasing it to produce power during high peak usage in the day. Nuclear power does produce huge quantities of radioactive waste. This waste can be recycled making this method more desirable but some people with political power would make less money if this is done.

Aside from coal's better know negatives, when it is burned it releases a significant amount of radioactivity naturally occurring in it. In fact if an atomic reactor released as much radioactivity as coal fired power plants do they would be shut down.

As for solar power, a benefit is that it generates the most power at peak usage periods near its point of use. I think that the best way solar and wind can be implemented is by giving individual property owners the same tax breaks that the major producers get. Not only would it make renewable less expensive than some other sources it would diversify the source of power.

Diversity is natures way of providing redundancy to strengthen a system. If one nuclear power plant goes off line from failure or attack it is a big, dangerous event. Several thousand homes with solar or wind power would have to be destroyed to accomplish an equal loss of power. In terms of national defense this strategy is more sound in protecting our country.

I have, in the last fives years, reduced my energy use to the point of selling power to my cooperative through conservation and solar power generation. I have the security of knowing that I have a reliable source of power from the grid that is backed up by my own generation and storage. This system required substantial sacrifice on my part and I think that it should not be this way. Again, a fair incentive system to encourage individual citizens to strengthen our power generation system helps all of us with a stronger grid, less pollution and less environmental destruction from using the Earth's resources.

Glenn Mingo
Churchville, VA

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