Ausubel has analysed the amount of energy that each so-called renewable source can produce in terms of Watts of power output per square metre of land disturbed. He also compares the destruction of nature by renewables with the demand for space of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is green," he claims, "Considered in Watts per square metre, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors."
On this basis, he argues that technologies succeed when economies of scale form part of their evolution. No economies of scale benefit renewables. More renewable kilowatts require more land in a constant or even worsening ratio, because land good for wind, hydropower, biomass, or solar power may get used first.
A consideration of each so-called renewable in turn, paints a grim picture of the environmental impact of renewables. Hypothetically flooding the entire province of Ontario, Canada, about 900,000 square km, with its entire 680,000 billion litres of rainfall, and storing it behind a 60 metre dam would only generate 80% of the total power output of Canada's 25 nuclear power stations, he explains. Put another way, each square kilometre of dammed land would provide the electricity for just 12 Canadians.
Biomass energy is also horribly inefficient and destructive of nature. To power a large proportion of the USA, vast areas would need to be shaved or harvested annually. To obtain the same electricity from biomass as from a single nuclear power plant would require 2500 square kilometres of prime Iowa land. "Increased use of biomass fuel in any form is criminal," remarks Ausubel. "Humans must spare land for nature. Every automobile would require a pasture of 1-2 hectares."
Turning to wind Ausubel points out that while wind farms are between three to ten times more compact than a biomass farm, a 770 square kilometre area is needed to produce as much energy as one 1000 Megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear plant. To meet 2005 US electricity demand and assuming round-the-clock wind at the right speed, an area the size of Texas, approximately 780,000 square kilometres, would need to be covered with structures to extract, store, and transport the energy.
One hundred windy square metres, a good size for a Manhattan apartment, could power an electric lamp or two, but not the laundry equipment, microwave oven, plasma TV, and computer. New York City would require every square metre of Connecticut to become a wind farm to fully power all its electrical equipment and gadgets.
Solar power also comes in for criticism. A photovoltaic solar cell plant would require painting black about than 150 square kilometres plus land for storage and retrieval to equal a 1000 MWe nuclear plant. Moreover, every form of renewable energy involves vast infrastructure, such as concrete, steel, and access roads. "As a Green, one of my credos is 'no new structures' but renewables all involve ten times or more stuff per kilowatt as natural gas or nuclear," Ausubel says.
While the full footprint of uranium mining might add a few hundred square kilometres and there are considerations of waste storage, safety and security, the dense heart of the atom offers far the smallest footprint in nature of any energy source. Benefiting from economies of scale, nuclear energy could multiply its power output and even shrink the energy system, in the same way that computers have become both more powerful and smaller.
"Renewables may be renewable but they are not green," asserts Ausubel", If we want to minimize new structures and the rape of nature, nuclear energy is the best option."
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy