This anthropologist (by training) Michael Shellengerger makes the point that nuclear power generators are less carbon-intensive to construct than are massive solar or wind farms. It takes consume less steel and concrete to build them. His other big point is the environmental impact that massive wind and solar farms have: degradation of the landscape, birds killed in wind turbines, rare species threatened. Nukes have a much smaller geographic footprint (when they’re operating correctly, I guess he means.)
He claims that as solar and wind generation increase as a percentage of the total they will cause require an increasing amount electricity from natural gas generation in order to quickly ramp up when the sun and wind die down. That explains to him why some fossil fuel companies are promoting wind and solar “solutions”.
He explains (too briefly) how the waste from the reactors is much lower in volume than the millions of solar panels that will have to be recycled.
The comments on YouTube are pretty negative – “nothing new here”, but it was news to me.
“It’s foreseeable that insurance is a much less consumer-facing industry in the future,” …. That’s because the driver won’t be the risky part.
Source: Autonomous Vehicles May One Day Kill Car Insurance as We Know It – Bloomberg
It hadn’t occurred to me that there might not be enough acreage to support utility-scale solar electricity. It turns out that not everyone wants a PV farm in their backyard. And I hadn’t considered the trade-off between lots of available sunshine (Death Valley) and lots of electricity users (not Death Valley). So….PV site developers have figured out some ways of making their installations more neighbor-friendly.
“Conventional solar installation techniques typically involve turf grass and gravel as ground cover, which removes vegetation and flattens landscapes, according …. These methods lead to high preparation and labor costs, expected to account for 20% of the price of photovoltaic installations by 2020.
“Conversely, seeding solar grounds with native plant species provides agricultural and ecological benefits that gravel and turf cannot, such as better stormwater control because of plants’ deeper roots. Seeding can also boost solar efficiency by creating a cooler microclimate around the panels, which boosts solar efficiency, said Gavin Meinschein, a lead civil engineer at ENGIE Distributed Solar.Although the upfront costs for seeding are higher than installation of turf grass, the maintenance over projects’ 25-30 year lifespan is cheaper because it’s less involved, Meinschein said.Native plant sites can double as pollinator-friendly sites, an “irresistible synergy,” said John Jacob, who founded Old Sol Apiairies in 1997 and now works with solar developers to integrate bee farms and solar developments.The pollinator benefit is a specific twist to the story that has gotten buzz in local and national media.” ….Story continues…..
Source: Pollinator habitats: The bees’ knees of rural solar development | Utility Dive
In the midst of so many nice tributes and celebrations of Stephen Hawking’s life I found this quirky video.
Stephen Hawking – not your average physicist.
Source: Stephen Hawking (kottke.org)
There’s a video embedded in article – about a fast-growing company in Cleveland that makes vinyl records. Lots and lots of vinyl records.
The video shows the techniques that go into producing limited-run vinyl records and it also shows the human contribution that goes into each record. There’s no room for robots in this plant.
Source: See How Gotta Groove Presses Gorgeous Vinyl Records