The Global Energy Crunch, by Charles Hugh Smith

With a little imagination, a lot of energy could be conserved. Like for instance, Washington D.C. could go dark for an extended period and nobody would even notice. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

If we insist on doing the transition the hard, slow, costly way rather than the easy, fast, cheap way, it’s going to be a needlessly arduous, soul-crushing slog.

Let’s cover a few common-sense points and ask a few questions about the Global Energy Crunch. Let’s start with the high-tech, super-costly solutions that many promote as the surefire source of abundant, affordable energy: thorium reactors, mini/modular-reactors, clean coal plants and fusion.

Every one of these may turn out to be a solution, but in the here and now they take many years to build and huge sums of money. Full-scale functioning examples of these technologies do not yet exist. Various prototypes are in development, but the timelines are long and uncertain.

For example, one modular nuclear reactor design recently gained approval, and the first prototype will hopefully be ready for testing in 2030. As for when we can expect the first full-scale modular nuclear reactor to start producing electricity, nobody knows. How many units can be manufactured per year is also unknown. Any practical guess is decades.

Nuclear reactors are costly to build, regardless of their fuel cycle. Cost and time over-runs are the norm. Five years becomes nine years and $1 billion becomes $3 billion. New technologies are especially prone to over-runs. There are about 440 functioning nuclear reactors on the planet and about 55 under construction in 19 countries. The existing reactors supply about 10% of global electricity–in other words, a fraction of total energy consumption.

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