Thursday, November 12, 2009

Was it Lots of Wind or Lots of Hot Air in Spain Last Sunday Night?


Fast Fission Podcast #16 – mp3 file

Renewable energy supporters were spreading the word today that this past Sunday wind energy in Spain produced 53% of the country’s electrical demand.
The Spanish wind power industry broke a record on Sunday morning, when turbines nationwide met 53% of the nation's demand for electricity with production of around 10,170 megawatts (MW), according to La Asociacion Empresarial Eolica (AEE), the Spanish wind industry alliance.

This was certainly an achievement, but before we get too excited we need to read carefully and consider the situation. This was an intermittent peak in wind energy output that happened to achieve 53% of the electricity demand when the total demand was very low. This occurred during a 5 ½ hour window in the early morning hours of a Sunday morning in November. Everyone was asleep, there virtually no lighting load, no cooking, few factories were running, no air conditioning, and probably very little heat. As a result, total demand was relatively low.

Before we declare renewables a resounding success, take a look at a more telling statistic: the 11.5% overall contribution of wind to Spain’s grid during all of 2008. That means that day in and day out 88.5% of Spain’s electricity came from nuclear, gas, oil, and coal. Of that, the only carbon-free source was nuclear.

John Wheeler

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Small Reactors May Reduce Combat Casualties


This Week in Nuclear #79 – MP3 File

A Special note from John Wheeler:

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States - the day we stop to reflect about the men and women of our armed forces, to acknowledge their many sacrifices, and to thank them for their service to our country. The day holds special significance for me personally because of the many, many members of my family and close friends who are currently serving in the military or who have served in the past. I have close family members who have served during every armed conflict since World War II, and probably earlier ones too if I knew that history. So to the veterans in my family; Mark, Elizabeth, Jake, and Bill, if you happen to listen to this show – this is a shout out to you and to all of your fellow soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, coast guardsmen, and merchant mariners – THANK YOU for your service. The world is a safer place because of your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. And to my father Johnny and step-father Charlie who are no longer with us, you’re in my thoughts today.

Because it’s Veteran’s Day, I thought it fitting for this show to focus on nuclear energy as it relates to potential uses in the military. At the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in October I had the pleasure to meet Col. Paul Roege from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. He spoke about the military’s rising use of energy in combat and the problems this energy intensity creates for soldiers tasked with protecting the our supply chains. By using a more dense energy source the military can reduce the amount of material they need to transport, and that will in turn save lives, lots of lives! This is why the military is considering small mobile reactors.

The Un-Scientific American

podcast-150x150Fast Fission Podcast #15 – MP3 File

This story will come as no big surprise for my pro-nuclear blogger friends, but for those of you who are not quite as engaged with the online energy debate, you really need to know about this.

Since I was a teenager I’ve enjoyed the magazine Scientific American. I’ve viewed them as informative and a good source of credible, accurate information about emerging trends in many fields of science and technology. The periodical began in 1845 and over the years its contributors have included, according to their website, more than 120 Nobel laureates and such amazing thinkers as Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk.

cover_2009-11_thumbThis it way it pains me so much that this magazine has deteriorated to the level of utter trash and garbage. I will think long and hard before I ever again purchase a copy of the magazine. In this podcast I discuss why.

When I first read the Scientific American article I was outraged and angry, but now I’m just sad. Sad that a respected journal and a source of information for more than 100 years has deteriorated to the point that it is willfully being used as a platform to push a political agenda with total disregard to fundamentals of research and sound science.


  1. A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables by Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi at the Scientific American

  2. Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′ by Barry Brooks at

John Wheeler