• Future power
    December 18,2012
     

    Future power

    2012 was a record setting year relative to electrical power. For just four hours on May 27, in Germany, solar power provided more electricity than any other source (coal, gas, nuclear). That was history making but has not been repeated since. Of course, power delivery reverted to the coal, gas and nuclear generation sources as soon as the sun went down. Germany has more solar production and renewable energy investments than any other country in the world, however, not one coal, gas or nuclear power plant has been taken offline because renewable generation sources can’t supply the large and fluctuating base load needed.

    Another event may portend our energy future. The largest blackout in world history — more than 1.2 billion people lost power in India as a result of a much weaker than normal monsoon season. India uses a lot of hydropower and the lighter than normal rainfall left the water resources so low that they could not use them for power generation.

    Coincident with that, the US experienced the hottest summer on record with more than 2,200 record temperatures set and one of the worst droughts on record covering 80 percent of the United States plus Mexico and Eastern Canada. Interestingly, this occurred during a La Nina which has traditionally been a period of increased rainfall. This is noteworthy as we begin an El Nino phase in 2013 and expect less snow and rain in North America. Look up “2012 drought” and “El Nino” in Wikipedia for more details.

    Once Vermont Yankee is gone, we will get a lot of our power from Quebec Hydro but that might not be as reliable as we think.

    Isn’t it time to consider a whole new source.

    Tom Watkins

    Montpelier

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