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originally posted by: Cinrad
originally posted by: mwood
We will NEVER get knocked back to the stone age, never.
There has been so much metal won from the ground in the last 100 years that we would never get knocked back to the Stone age too, for that matter. You only have to go to the nearest stop sign to get enough metal to make knives, pots, hooks, traps, combs, etc. to last you for years. They didnt have this only a few hundred years ago. So to be anal about this, it wold be the Iron age. But we also know more about germs than they did then.
We have found the information about the EROI of nuclear power to be mostly as disparate, widespread, idiosyncratic, prejudiced and poorly documented as information about the nuclear power industry itself. Much, perhaps most, of the information that is available seems to have been prepared by someone who has made up his or her mind one-way or another (i.e. a large or trivial supplier of net energy) before the analysis is given. As is usually the case, the largest issue is often what the appropriate boundaries of analysis should be. The following diagram, which should be considered conceptually if not necessarily quantitatively appropriate, illustrates the main issues. The diagram indicates from left to right the timeline of a power plant, with the initial negative values (“phase 1”) indicating the initial energy costs of plant construction, the large positive value generated over the reactor’s lifetime (with a correction for the energy to get/refine the fuel) and phase 3 indicating the energy required for dismantling the plant and sequestering the dangerous by products.
What does this get you, two years ago something could have happened but it didn't..
Even more ominous is a natural counterpart — think of it as a solar tsunami — that will come our way at some point in the foreseeable future: an intense geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) caused by one of the sun’s periodic, huge coronal mass ejections (solar flares). Such GMDs are known as Carrington Events, and they occur roughly every 150 years. The last one took place 155 years ago.
The difference is that in 1859, the only thing remotely equivalent to modern electric systems and the things they power were telegraph offices, equipment, and wires. And during the Carrington Event of that year, many of them caught fire.
A solar storm of such magnitude these days would, among other things, seriously damage, if not destroy outright, high-voltage transformers that constitute the backbone of the nation’s grid. It is, as a practical matter, impossible promptly to replace these critical pieces of equipment if large numbers of them are taken down at once — ensuring that the power will be off for many months, and probably years, in the affected areas.
Without power for pumped cooling and water replenishment, the spent fuel pools will boil off and the still-hot fuel rods will overheat, catch fire, and disseminate radioactive fallout downwind. The effect would be simply devastating, especially when combined with other, horrific environmental and societal repercussions of blackouts that could last a year or longer.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged the implications of the threat posed by intense solar storms, declaring in 2012, “The NRC believes that it is possible that a geomagnetic storm-induced outage could be long-lasting and could last long enough that the onsite supply of fuel for the emergency generators would be exhausted … Accordingly, it is appropriate for the NRC to consider regulatory actions that could be needed to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety during and after a severe geomagnetic storm.”
The bad news is that — despite the evidence revealed in the Center’s compendium entitled Guilty Knowledge, which presents the executive summaries of 11 different government-sponsored studies of grid vulnerability conducted since 2004 — federal authorities have failed to do anything appreciable to protect us from such disasters.