Candles Kill Many More Than Nuclear Power

Killed more people than nuclear power.

Japan’s earthquake has unleashed a massive wave of hysteria throughout Germany as media outlets hyperventilate over the danger of a meltdown at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plant. Sure nuclear power is deadly dangerous if not properly used, and the situation in Japan is critical. But listening to the media, you’d think nothing could be more dangerous.

Now activists are demanding we switch immediately over to the-planet saving renewable energy sources, like wind power for example.

But just how safe is wind energy? Just how “safe” are many things out there? What about public transportation?

It turns out that nuclear power is a minor killer when the big picture is examined.

Zero nuclear power plant deaths in the USA
Wind energy has killed more

The Japanese earthquake and nuclear reactor accidents is yet another example of the media’s distorted perception. It turns out that wind power has been a bigger killer than nuclear power in the USA. Here’s what treehugger reported awhile back:

According to one viewpoint of reports offering the comparison between wind versus nuclear energy, there has not been one single injury to a nuclear plant worker in all its 104 power plants and 40 years of service in the United States… not one!

The Wind Turbine Industry on the other hand, has quite a treacherous track record as you can see by the summary below:

Summary of Wind Turbine Incidents (December 2008):
41 worker fatalities –  includes falling from turbine towers and transporting turbines on the highway.
39 Incidents of blade failure – failed blades can travel over 400 meters, killing any unfortunate bystanders.
110 Incidents of fire – When a wind turbine fire occurs, local fire departments can do little but watch due to the 30-story height of these turbine units. The falling debris are then carried across the distance and cause new fires.
60 Incidents of structural failure- As turbines become more prevalent, these breakages will become more common in public areas, thereby causing more deaths and dismemberment’s from falling debris.
24 incidents of “hurling ice”- Ice forms on these giant blades and is reportedly hurled at deathly speeds in all directions. Author reports that some 880 ice incidents having occurred over Germany’s 13-years of harnessing wind power.”

Another way to save the planet and to “live safely” is to ride your bicycle. Well it turns out that bike-riding is far deadlier than nuclear power. In the USA in 2008, 716 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents. About 53,000 bicyclists have died in traffic crashes in the United States since 1932. Compare that to the deaths caused by nuclear power in the United States – or even globally.

Candles kill more than nuclear

Indeed many things are far more dangerous than nuclear power plants, at least they have caused far more deaths and mayhem. Here are some annual death statistics from the USA that cause many more deaths, taken from here and here at Arthur Hu’s site. Why don’t we ban all of these menacing products?

Nuclear power plants – 0 deaths per year
Candles  – 126
Bicycles 1995  – 800
Agriculture  – 1,300
Motorcycles  – 2,500
Car Phones 2002   – 2,500
Alcohol – 100,000
Tobacco – 500,000

Candles kill 126 – in just a single year and in a single country! Having a reliable supply of electricity would mean less use of candles, and so lives would be saved. As far as I know, all of the above killer items are being sold without protest.  Here are some other killers:

Roller skates  – 10 
Window blind cords  – 13
Drawstring hoods  – 17
Dog Bites  – 20       
Skiing deaths  – 34       

Yes, even the lowly blind cord has killed more than U.S. nuclear power plants have.

Green transportation is a killer too

Let’s go green and hop on public transport. But wait, they cause more deaths than nuclear power too. Admittedly these US statistics aren’t so up-to-date, but they give you an idea of the risks involved.

1999 bus deaths  – 58
1999 railroad – 805
1999  struck by trains – 530

Dangerous occupations

And let’s move to ban all the following potentially catastrophic occupations. Actually they are not potentially – they simply just are! They are destroying the planet and kill humans. Occupations in USA; deaths/100,000:

Timber cutters  – 117.8 
Fishers    – 71.1 
Pilots and navigators  –  69.8 
Structural metal workers  – 58.2 
Drivers-sales workers   – 37.9 
Roofers – 37.0
Electrical power installers   – 32.5 
Farm occupations  – 28.0
Construction laborers –  27.7 
Truck drivers  – 25.0

We accept many of the risks these products and occupations pose because their benefits far outweigh the harm they do.

Automobiles are far more dangerous

If zero deaths in the United States from nuclear power is too much to take, then take a look at what the automobile claims every year:

Traffic deaths per year global: 1.27 million

Nuclear power has an excellent record

One thing that constantly gets ignored is the cost-benefit analysis of nuclear power. It has a far better track record than many other products or systems out there and it vastly improves our lives as a whole. Of course, there is a risk in generating power with nuclear reactions, but the benefits it offers are immense.

Sure accidents will happen. But as technology improves, these accidents will become rarer. It is indeed difficult to find a product that has given us so much for so little in terms of lives lost. Even if the worst happens in Japan, the loss of life will be relatively small.

I recall a few years ago 4 workers getting killed in a biogas plant here in northern Germany. Yet, the incident went practically unreported in the media. Imagine if these four workers had been killed in a nuclear plant.

The issue has little to do with safety, and much more so to do with politics and power.


76 responses to “Candles Kill Many More Than Nuclear Power”

  1. DirkH

    You’re right, Pierre. Greens would happily go into the forest and cut down a tree to heat their home – we think we can manage falling branches or avoid being run over by a rolling trunk because we can see it coming. In fact, deadly accidents with timber happen all the time but they don’t make big news. We can’t feel radioactivity, so people fear it more than the real risks.

    Today, i told a colleague that every nuclear power station gets practically disassembled every 2 years when the refueling happens; that 2,000 workers and engineers arrive for a few weeks and inspect, repair and replace everything that needs it… that these people travel from one nuclear plant to the next… he knew nothing about it – he thougt we just let these plants rot. Such is the level of “information” our ubiquitious public media gives us.

    And even if they reported about it, a lot of people would still prefer to believe any “expert” from Greenpeace. It’s crazy that Germany can function with this population and these charlatans.

  2. R. de Haan

    Watched the discussion at Das Erste, Beckman.
    Only a single sane person (Hamer ?) at the table.

    Heinz Schmital, Greenpeace, Latif (wearing dark sunglasses) and a lady
    (I didn’t catch her name but she was an expert in energy economics).

    Terrible discussion.
    Stashing one lie on the other.

    If these people stay in control this country will go down the drain.

  3. Edward

    I watched [half watched] a discussion on Newsnight on the beeb [aka Global Warming television] tonight, where the nuclear industry was being trashed by Jeremy Leggett of all people, a eco-fascist who should know better, having been a Geology grad’ and who worked in the Oil industry………………………..OH yeah, now he has a concern in the solar power industry ‘SolarCentury’ that’s why the beeb invited him.

    If we can’t have coal, oil, Nuclear, there will be no need of somebody to switch the lights out in EUROPE, dark ages………..oh yes and coming soon.

  4. Bernd Felsche

    From Russia Today TV:

    “Shaun Burnie, an independent atomic energy consultant”

    After less than 30 seconds of listen to him getting even the basics wrong, I paused the video and searched the WWW for his name.


  5. mindert eiting

    Some of your statistics are a bit dubious: being hit by burning debris of a windmill, causing your death, is not the same as the use of tobacco. Very few people die while smoking a cigarette. It seems that after a certain age the death of everybody who is a smoker, is registered as tobacco-related death. So you can easily get the required impressive numbers. Missing in the lists is one of the most dangerous things people can do, being in a hospital. Parachute diving is also quite dangerous.

    1. Liam S

      That’s not how tobacco deaths are calculated. We know what fraction die because they have followed up smoking and non-smoking cohorts and after controlling for other factors you can determine what your increased risk of dying is if you smoke. According to the WHO, smoking is currently the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, responsible for about 10% of all deaths. 50% of smokers die from it. The numbers don’t lie.

      1. Delfin J Beltran MD

        We have been overcome by government sponsored “reasoned” tools of arguement ranging from statistics of the average to statistics of the future with class statistics from ” ideal” validated inadequate data. When that doesn’t arrive at the desired answer then the “selected” samples are re-selected for analysis. A recently published article in the medical literature appeared on a webpage for the medical profession that discussed the value of clinical trials for the application of clinical therapy. The medical statistician’s conslustion that there was no value. I suspect that the pseudoscientific statistics generated for use by social scientists and the various activist causes and higher educational challenges in granstmanship have a similar value to that medical discussion on treatments and research and certainly any prediction of the future beyond the next five microseconds has a similar quality and verity.

  6. Fredrik

    This is an excellent example of confirmation bias. When you cite Treehugger you take it one step further. Follow the chain back to the original source and read them properly. The jump from “no deaths from radiation” to “there has not been one single injury” is amazing, but if you’re a believer then maybe it doesn’t matter.

  7. R. de Haan

    There has been a lot of hog wash information about the developments at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

    This afternoon however I watched an interview on Dutch television with a radiation expert and a nuclear expert who obviously had up to date information about the recent developments at the plant.

    Dutch nuclear experts are involved in the global inspection teams and they have been involved in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster and they have direct contacts with the operators of the Fukushima plant.

    I just give you the information as discussed in the interview:

    There has been an explosion in of the “donut ring” of Fukushima Number 2, one of the first GE reactor designs.

    You can see a picture of the reactor here:
    Fukushima NO. 2, the most vulnerable design.

    The “donut ring” runs under the vessel and is designed to capture access over pressure/steam.

    This is the second explosion at number 2 and it was said that the first explosion damaged the pressure release vent allowing the pressure to rise to the level where where the “donut” gave way.

    Because the donut ring is the lowest point of the reactor it will be difficult to fill it up with water. Water and radioactive material will simply flow out of the vessel.

    In the mean time there has been a fire in Fukushima 4, the plant that was shut down 1 month previous to the quake/tsunami disaster.
    However, the stored fuel stag, which after one month out of use, still producing heat, had caught fire and the smoke release further contributed to the rising radiation levels.
    Te fire is under control now.

    What also effects the radiation levels strongly is the wind direction which is not favorable for the moment.
    Within 24 hours a strong wind system is predicted that will transport the contaminated air away from the land.

    Let it be clear that the failure of the donut/vessel is a serious breach of security.

    Measured radiation in and near the building No. 2 has risen to 400 MS per hour!
    (1 MS per year additional radiation per year is regarded acceptable in terms of human health).

    50 km from Tokyo the background radiation level has risen 50 times above background level (2.5 x 50 = 125 MS)

    According to a Dutch radiation expert Jean Savelkoul who in the past was involved with the radiation treatment of Chernobyl radiation victims, the current radiation levels will force the Japanese government to further expand the safety zone from 20 km to at least 80 km.

    For now they ordered people within the 20 – 30 km sector to stay inside and close windows and doors.

    Merkel today, pressured by the hysterical anti nuclear lobby and protests and the upcoming elections, decided to close down seven nuclear plants build before 1980.

    Dutch nuclear and radiation specialists said Merkel’s decision is premature and without merit because there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to close down the plants.

    Although we had a 5.0 quake in Germany las month near the town of Koblenz we don’t suffer from Tsunami’s.

    Another reason why the closure of the plants is a zealous affair is the fact that all the neighboring countries leave their pants on the grid.

    End of posting.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      Japanese Earthquake Update (15 March 14:10 UTC)

      The IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) continues to monitor the status of the nuclear power plants in Japan that were affected by the devastating earthquake and consequent tsunami.

      All units at the Fukushima Daini, Onagawa, and Tokai nuclear power plants are in a safe and stable condition (i.e. cold shutdown).

      The IAEA remains concerned over the status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where sea water injections to cool the reactors in units 1, 2 and 3 are continuing. Attempts to return power to the entire Daiichi site are also continuing.

      After explosions at both units 1 and 3, the primary containment vessels of both units are reported to be intact. However, the explosion that occurred at 04:25 UTC on 14 March at the Fukushima Daiichi unit 2 may have affected the integrity of its primary containment vessel. All three explosions were due to an accumulation of hydrogen gas. A fire at unit 4 occurred on 14 March 23:54 UTC and lasted two hours. The IAEA is seeking clarification on the nature and consequences of the fire. The IAEA continues to seek details about the status of all workers, reactors and spent fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

    2. DirkH

      Thanks, Ron. The Germans are world champions in hysteria and irrationality.

    3. J McE

      m = milli
      M = Mega

      400 MS/hr is probably approaching the point that biological materials would be vaporizing. Accuracy and precision in technical language matter. Being off by nine orders of magnitude doesn’t help the conversation.

  8. R. de Haan

    Business as usual!
    Russia, Belarus sign 9 billion nuclear deal

  9. Jean Rochefort

    In France, the alarmist media has been absolutely hysterical about the Fukushima “escalading catastrophe” with the complicity of the greens. But judging how they have toned down over the last 2 days, I think they are being afraid of a big backlash which will undoubtedly occur.
    In a heavily nuclearized country, you can’t trash nuclear without consequences.

  10.» Blog Archive » Kernongelukje röntgent angstindustrie

    […] – zo weten we van de voorpublicatie van bovenstaand boek). Pierre Gosselin geeft in zijn Candles Kill More than Nuclear Power keurig weer hoeveel doden de verschillende energiedragers met zich mee brengen (windenergie zeer […]

  11. John

    I think it’s good not to fall for hysteria and take time to look at facts and data and make a rational decision.
    However, the way you choose your data isn’t balanced. You equate the number of fatal accidents for nuclear plant workers in the US with saying that nuclear plants are save, which just isn’t the case. Yes, they are save for employees of nuclear plants if you look at those statistics, but that doesn’t mean nuclear plants are save for humanity.
    Apart of that – death isn’t the only thing. Radiation related diseases might not always be deadly, but if they affect tens of thousands of people in serious ways, that could be considered more harmful than a couple of worker deaths.
    However, I do agree that shutting down nuclear plants as a knee jerk reaction is a rather unreasonable decision.

    1. DirkH

      You are partially right. Pierre should not have looked at deaths but at lost life-years, that’s how you properly compare risk. So, when comparing a death through radiation exposure with a bicycle accident, we must take into account that the bicycle driver was a healthy 20 year old (losing about 60 life years) and the radiation exposure related cancer death mostly happens to the elderly, say with 60, losing only 20 life years (in both cases compared with the average life expectancy).

      Ooops. I made nukes look even better again by a factor of three.

  12. pj

    Not an opponent of nukes, but proponents seem to be drinking a little too much of their own kool-aid. This disaster shows serious design flaws: 1) under built sea wall, 2) apparently all backup power and switchgear in floodable area, 3) close proximity of reactors allowed one to damage another, and makes response difficult, 4) reported today that the pool in #4 is believed to have cracked (per nytimes), so under-designed, 5) design allows for H2 explosions in outer containnment, which cripple the plant, 6) apparently little ability to connect emergency water to the pools, 7) fuel stored on top of reactor, 8) no offsite equipment available, truly designed to deal with this accident. Not exactly a design flaw, but also appears to be poor crisis management capability.

    This level of under engineering suggests that maybe we should be less confident that we have the ability to engineer reasonably fail safe reactors. Proof is in the pudding, and I certainly would not choose to live next to a BWR-4 now. Certainly, the old reactors maybe need another look. The worst case scenario is that large swaths of populated areas are uninhabitable, which is a little different than the risk posed by candles and bicycles.

    1. DirkH

      pj, i don’t know whether the Japanese constantly improve their nuclear plants’ safety measures, but in Germany this has always been the case. And the nuclear people give new safety upgrades nicknames named after the corresponding environment minister.

      So, every German nuke has, for instance, a “Töpfer-Kerze” – a “Töpfer candle” – when Töpfer was federal minister for the environment, it was decided that every nuke has to have a catalytic device that destroys H2 accumulations. Maybe this device was lacking at Fukushima, or it went defunct through power disruption.

      You are right when you say that “we need to take another look”. But at least in Germany, this is being done by the industry, by the environment ministries, by the SSK (Strahlenschutzkommission – radiation protection committee).

  13. Richard Bramwell

    The Model T Ford would have been banned by these people: no air bags.
    What are air bags? Ford should have known. Ban the Model T

    What will an 8.9 quake do to a nuclear facility? Nuclear plant designers should have known, even as they designed for 8.0. Ban nuclear plants.


    Haiti’s quake was smaller by a factor of almost a thousand (7.0 Mw)! 316,000 people were identified as dead, an estimated 300,000 were injured, and an estimated 1,000,000 were homeless. Why? Because they LACKED such modern technology as sensible construction, because of medieval politics and values.

    Even polite concern over nuclear energy because of Fukushima is ridiculously stupid/uninformed.

  14. Instapundit » Blog Archive » OF COURSE, PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING DOES: Candles Kill Many More People Than Nuclear Power. Insert…

    […] OF COURSE, PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING DOES: Candles Kill Many More People Than Nuclear Power. […]

  15. BobSledd

    In 2005, the World Health Organization (in conjunction with the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency) published a report on the actual and expected death toll from Chernobyl.
    Less than 50 deaths by 2005 (over 20 years later) directly attributed to the accident.
    Most were fire and resecue personnel who died the 1st few months.
    It is true that thyroid cancer spiked, but they achieved a 99% survival rate.

    here is the link to the WHO 2005 Report on Chernobyl:

  16. FriendOfGreg

    Ah, the irony.

    Greg McMullan, a friend of mine and a Nuclear Engineering major at MIT, died in a fire started by a candle in 2008.

  17. Bob

    Don’t forget that Ted Kennedy’s car has killed more people than nuclear power has.

  18. Nike Herk jc

    If nuclear pewer is in doubt, we should move fast rail to the stop action catagory. More Japanese have been killed from train disasters than from radiation. JC

  19. Wellington

    How rude, Pierre!

    Please stop interrupting the people’s emotional outbursts by appeals to reason.

  20. R. Keyes

    I agree that anti-nuke activists and the media are stupid and wrong, I don’t like the particular tone of this article. The world is a dangerous place, and we know that people die from mundane accidents which receive no attention. The problem is not the number of accidents, it is the fear of the unknown potential fatalities that scare people. Until the facts are laid bare, this will continue to be the problem. Today, I saw a very well designed chart showing relative doses of radiation. see .

  21. I can see the protest…”No flames of oil” they’ll cry « DPGI

    […] Candles Kill Many More Than Nuclear Power. […]

  22. JohnT

    Candles might kill more people, but they don’t leave huge areas of land virtually unusable for half a millenia if things go wrong with them. That’s kind of the point behind the “hysteria.” Not to mention that when something goes wrong with nuclear, it’s compounding another major catastrophe – like a massive earthquake and a tsunami. It makes it really hard on the people of the region.

    I wouldn’t want to be a representative with a nuclear bill on my desk right now, that’s for sure. I’d be boning up on a natural gas platform if I were in that situation. Voters are going to be a lot more interested in hearing about your natural gas ideas for their region than your nuclear ones.

    1. haddock

      “but they don’t leave huge areas of land virtually unusable for half a millenia if things go wrong with them.”

      can we expect people to move back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 434 years time ?

  23. Hannes

    We need 1 mistake/malfunction in nuclear power plant and we have global catastrophy. We don’t need that.

    Then again, everybody loves electricity.

    So I guess we would need to give up on everything to have a greener world.


  24. Stefan Grabowski

    I wonder how many people die going to global warming conferences in stretch limousines or Lear jets (or are hit by the same) or are sent to certain doom by the carbon emissions of the same, or are killed or injured by being hit by the same. I wonder how many poor fish were injured by the Calypso. I wonder how many people and animals will be killed or injured by the mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulbs the liberals are making us use in the USA (it doesn’t matter to them, they made us shut down the incandescent light bulb factories, destroying thousands of jobs so that more poor people will join the revolution. They can shut down the fluorescent factories later, creating the same effect – and then they can blame it on greedy businessmen.)

  25. Candles, Roller Skates And Window Blind Cords Kill Many More Than Nuclear Power, Only A Total Of 3 Deaths In US After 60 Yeras | Car Insure Site

    […] brings me to this article via Instapundit: Candles Kill Many More Than Nuclear Power Japan’s earthquake has unleashed a massive wave of hysteria throughout Germany as media outlets […]

  26. Dale Wilson

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors

    If all the Nuclear Reactors in Japan were Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors there would not be any radiation leaking to worry about. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors shut down automatically any time they overheat.

    In addition to the full exploitation of our vast reserves of hydrocarbons we need to look at the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. (LFTR) Producing energy cheaper than from coal it can solve more crises than just global warming. The LFTR is an alternative energy source that is not well known to the public. The LFTR uses inexpensive thorium as a fuel, transforming it to uranium-233 which fissions, producing heat and electric power at a cost less than that from coal power plants. The LFTR is virtually pollution free and Produces minimal waste. Operating at atmospheric pressure it is absolutely safe and can be built on a scale from small backup units to mega watt systems. All we need is the will to proceed with this energy producing option.
    We can solve our world’s environmental–energy crises by launching a NASA-style “shoot the moon” or a “Manhattan Project” to complete LFTR development and deploy LFTR technology for inexpensive, safe, clean power.

    Thorium LFTRs do produce waste (just much less of it than conventional Light Water Reactors).
    It is not necessary to leave a mountain full of spent nuclear fuel as a legacy to our children’s children. Thorium LFTRs use their nuclear… fuel more efficiently (>99% typical fuel utilization) and the fission product waste is more than a thousand times less long term radiotoxic [1]. Thorium LFTRs are sustainable nuclear energy.

  27. Not a Right vs Left Issue

    First of all, this issue is NOT a left vs right political issue.

    The media has been covering up for GE more than being “hysterical”.

    Proof: Very few media reports mention that Reactor #3 has plutonium MOX fuel rods. Do a quick check. I’ll wait. You will see that the MSM is trying not to panic anyone, relatively speaking.

    Anyone redneck and stupid enough to think so is dying to lose the 2012 elections for the GOP – dying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    There is ZERO chance for the GOP if it is stupid enough to go against any Democrat initiatives to, for instance, shut down all the 23 Mark I reactors in the USA right now (Merkel of Germany correctly shut 7 of these down last week and the liberals in Germany got angry basically saying “That’s unfair. You’re supposed to be pro-nuclear because you’re conservative.”)

    Merkel was smart. She cut the liberals off at the pass, not by being “hysterical” (which is what the nuclear industry wants tools to repeat as if they are conservative for using the word), but being an intelligent conservative leader.

    What’s ironic is that the nuclear industry has sponsored most of the global warming websites in a bizarre attempt to get lefties to prefer the possibility of Cesium and Plutonium pollution rather than have the world polluted by Carbon Dioxide.

    So STOP IT if you think you’re “conservative” while being dismissive of Chernobyl’s uninhabitable zone being larger than most west European countries.

    If Chernobyl had happened in Czechoslovakia, there would be no Czech Republic today because it would all be an uninhabitable zone (along with maybe Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Regensburg, Linz and/or Vienna).

    If Chernobyl had happened in England, nobody would be living in England anymore.

    The jury is still out on whether high IQ people will abandon Tokyo. It depends literally on which way the wind blows in the next few days. The total fool who mentioned Nagasaki above doesn’t realize that a bomb’s fallout is nothing compared to a reactor’s fallout.

    And it’s brain dead to compare the danger of a candle to one person compared to the danger of a leaky old upwind nuclear plant destroying one’s property value in the next 10 years and maybe giving one of the people in your family cancer (your quality of life is lowered as well by the uncertainty, especially if you know you “better not drink the milk” in your area because of high Strontium 90 levels.

    There is NOTHING “conservative” about supporting a toxic industry. At the far reaches of your mind, a nuclear lobbyist might say “Small government theory says you should let businesses do what they want”.

    But they can’t do what they want with YOUR airspace. They can’t do something that has ANY likelihood at all of spreading Cesium 137 on your lawn or cow pasture. Look up the “Law of the Commons”. Too many redneck fools think of preserving the commons as “communism”. Anyone who thinks that way really is a tool of “big business” as the lefties would say (correctly – as stopped clock is right twice per day).

    Don’t even begin to link a pro-Cesium-sprinkling attitude should be incorporated into the 2012 GOP platform in the US.

    We Republicans WILL LOSE if we do that.

    It’s a lot like the smoking laws issue. Clinton won in 1996 because Dole was seen, correctly, as being in the pocket of Big Tobacco.

    At least half of “small government” advocates like myself would agree with me that blowing smoke in other people’s faces doesn’t represent an “individual right.” Smart Republicans have learned “Not to go there” because you just aren’t going to win elections by pretending that smoking in other’s airspace is an individual right to champion above all the more serious individual rights.

    So “Don’t Go There” with this dismissal of the tragedy of Tokyo possibly becoming a place where you won’t want to raise a family anymore because you won’t want your kids to grow up with Strontium 90 radiating in their bones.

    1. DirkH

      You watched too much of what goes for Journalism these days. Current radiation levels, if they would be sustained for one year, near Fukushima correspond to one breast CT scan a year (that is, the highest reading reported); but they will doubtlessly decay quickly. This has been measured by a crowdsourcing project in Japan, with citizens measurement devices.

      Second, the forbidden zone around Chernobyl has an area of 4887 km^2.

      That’s enough for Luxembourg or Lichtenstein of Andorra or the Republic of San Marino. Or for the Vatican. Or for Monaco. These are the “dwarf states” of Europe. Czechia is way larger. Please check the CIA factbook. We have small states, but not that small. Germany is slightly smaller than Michigan IIRC but don’t sue me if i’m wrong.

      Third. The containments of the reactors or the reactors have not been breached and no uranium or Plutonium entered the atmosphere as far as we know, so comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl can only result in the assessment “Fukushima was a very harmless incident compared to Chernobyl.”

      It’s getting tiresome correcting the misconceptions of people… Please inform yourself before spreading misinformation. I’m surrounded by rabidly anti nuclear Germans in my daily life who have NOT gotten ANY information about the actual radiation measurements by their beloved public media.

      Fourth. There will be no “tragedy of Tokyo”.

      1. DirkH

        “Not a Right vs Left Issue”
        “We Republicans WILL LOSE if we do that.”

        Oh, and nice try, American Liberal.

        1. Not a Right vs Left Issue

          No Dirk – You are very wrong to make the claim that only liberals are concerned about irresponsible nuclear pollution.

          It won’t work to try this. You can’t even get Angela Merkel to think the way you do. The FDP in Germany is going anti-nuclear and they include a lot of real conservatives (libertarian small government types are often the real conservatives).

          So don’t think that a German, who may or may not be getting paid by the industry, is going to influence the American GOP to shoot itself in the foot by apologizing for Tchernobyl and Fukushima.

          That said, the nuclear industry is paying a lot of people to go around the Internet to say what you’re saying now.

          And the movement to apologize for Fukushima got started via websites like Better Climate which is for liberals who believe in man-made global warming.

          Real liberals are more scared of carbon dioxide pollution than plutonium pollution.

          Check it out. The Global Warming idiots agree with you on this issue.

          This is not a right vs left issue Dirk.

        2. Not a Right vs Left Issue

          Wait a second.


          Are you seriously trying to imply that this actually IS a right vs left issue?

          Are you seriously trying to imply that the US Republican Party can win by siding more or less on the side of the nuclear industry about the continued operation of GE Mark I reactors which were obsolete 40 years ago?

          You think it would be a winning political issue in the US or Germany to think like you?


          Never mind the fact that you have zero ideological standing to claim any conservatism in your attitude.

          Never mind that the CIA maps show much more than the area of several Lichtensteins was wrecked in 1986.

          I would like to hear your informed opinion on how any political party can win by taking your attitude.

          It will be great if the reactors weren’t breached. But those old GE Mark Is will be taken offline around the world as a result of this.

          The question to you is: do you really feel that an attitude about keeping the old technology running is politically viable and scientifically sound?

  28. Not a Right vs Left Issue

    If there is no breach in the containment vessel, then that will be very good news!

    Believe me, I really want for this to have been all over-hyped hysteria.

    Bild nebenbei ist angeblich Konservativ (A German neocon paper actually). They are hyping more than anyone else.

    Most people are assuming that there was a breach in one of the Japanese reactors. If there was none in reactor 3 and that MOX fuel has not been spread around, that would make everyone in Japan a lot happier.

    Merkel was smart to at least temporarily shut down the old reactors. I don’t think she will politically get away with starting those up again. Better to build new ones with newer, safer technology.

    The CIA factbook on Tchernobyl shows a massive region equal to the size of the Czech Republic. I can get the link but anyone can Google it.

    I’m not planning to buy South Belorussian forest real estate anytime soon (in my lifetime or the lifetimes of my great grandchildren).

    The 3 or 4 Plutonium infested areas may each be the size of Lichtenstein. Those are the areas that will never be inhabitable for thousands of years.

    But the areas soaked in Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 will be OK to live and farm in again within 150-450 years. That’s not too bad overall. 😉

    I assume German milk is OK to drink now? Is there data on the Strontium 90 levels in German milk? Polish milk?

    I really don’t want to believe that milk in Germany or Poland is now dangerous.

    Only a gloomy pessimist wants to believe the sky fell for everyone after Tchernobyl.

    1. DirkH

      Bild is a tabloid, as interested in hyping up any glimpse of disaster as all the other papers to sell more units.

      “The CIA factbook on Tchernobyl shows a massive region equal to the size of the Czech Republic. I can get the link but anyone can Google it.”

      Then that is probably not the Exlusion Zone but a province called Chernobyl.

      “I assume German milk is OK to drink now? Is there data on the Strontium 90 levels in German milk? Polish milk?
      I really don’t want to believe that milk in Germany or Poland is now dangerous.”

      All through the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 to this day i drank milk and ate eggs and didn’t care a wit where it came from. It is not the country that is irradiated nor its agricultural products, it is the minds of 70% of the population who are filled with Angst.

      German Angst attaches to many things. Radioactivity, Genetically manipulated food, cell phone radiation, EM sensitivity, Xenophobia, Euro crash scenarios, surveillance state paranoia, Biofuel (might wreck your beloved engine!!!). We have one panic a week, and our media play it for all its worth.

      At the moment, 70% of the population are following the left rat catchers. The Greens use the fear of radiation to catch more souls.

      But really, i don’t know if you want to fool me or if you just have no knowledge about Europe, and about radioactivity at all. The radioactive threat from Chernobyl has long gone, except for in the Exclusion Zone where the ground is still irradiated. It is 25 years ago. And Germany is far away from the Ukraine, and has only been slightly affected, and only because the graphite fire in the open reactor core of Chernobyl carried many particles high up into the atmosphere.

  29. DirkH

    One more word. Plutonium and Uranium are heavy metals; they don’t vaporize easily and are too heavy to be carried far. What was carried over 1000s of miles was radioactive Caesium and Iod; both with half-lifes of about 30 years.

    So no, Europe is in general not plutonium-poisoned.

    1. Not a Right vs Left Issue

      True. Plutonium is heavy and has a half life of 40,000 years.

      Iodine (Jod) has a half life of 8 days.

      Cesium-137 has a half life of 30 years. It will take 150 years to clear up across Europe.

      But it was diluted enough by the wind that there isn’t so much of it in Germany.

      Strontium-90 is apparently very much more in the teeth of Germans as a result of Tchernobyl. It has a half life of 90 years and won’t be considered “gone” for 450 years. There is less of that in Germany than Poland.

      But I will agree that Germany is still a great place to live because of its people.

      And I agree that lefties are hard to deal with on issues such as taxes and political correctness.

  30. Not a Right vs Left Issue

    Yes, the Green Party in Germany has skillfully taken up issues that are not all inherently left vs right and stressed a popular position on some of them.

    It was smart for them to do this before conservatives did the same.

    Concern about man-made global warming may be stupid (globalist) but concern about high tension wires over your apartment building is not (individual rights).

    Taking a globalist position where you need to pay taxes to “save the polar bears” is left wing.

    Taking an individual rights position where you say “the hell that I am paying taxes to have my property invaded by wires and cell phone towers and nearby nuclear power plants” would be more of a conservative stance.

    The Green Party should not have been allowed to claim leadership on issues regarding local pollution.

    1. DirkH

      As i quoted the other day,… a lot of the initial members of the Greens, founded in the beginning of the 80ies, were communists from the various small communist parties (called K-Gruppen) in Western Germany of the 70ies. They recognized that they could instrumentalize the Anti Nuclear movement for their purposes. One of them is Jürgen Trittin, today one of the bosses of the party.

      The K-Gruppen members were, of course, well-versed in agitation & propaganda and the various social sabotage techniques developed by the Soviet Union. Originally they were students during the 1968 student revolts; people like Prof. Adorno, one of the founders of the Franfurt School – the driving philosophical force of anticapitalism in the West – were their professors.

      So, these people are anticapitalist since 1968, and the thing that itches them the most is the free market. They all believe in Marx’ misconception that the value of a product is not defined by its use-value but by the value of the worktime. That’s why they love fixing prizes, for instance with the German feed-in tariff for renewables. Introduced while the Greens were part of a coalition.

      They don’t even understand that they’re doing it wrong.

      The old communist caders have from the start dominated the Green party and neutralized competing elements, all the while hiding their agenda (albeit badly).

      1. DirkH

        And a fun story. One time, a belarusian guest student in my hometown, Braunschweig, had to read a book by Adorno to prepare for her studies. I couldn’t help her – i can’t find out the meaning of the gibberish Adorno writes even though i’m a native German. You gotta have a seriously deformed mind to even try to understand him. Normal people just give up.

  31. mamooth

    The Army SL-1 reactor exploded in 1961 in the east Idaho desert, killing the 3 operators. It was a small power plant, but a power plant nonetheless. So more correctly, the death toll is “3” instead of “0”, and American nuclear power has killed more people than Ted Kennedy’s car.

    They dug a hole nearby and buried all of the radioactive debris. It wasn’t even a particularly deep hole. It occasionally gets rained on. The nuclear waste hasn’t migrated out of the shallow hole.

  32. DirkH

    To put the Chernobyl dangers in perspective:
    “Following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, levels of caesium-137 increased by more than tenfold throughout Europe, and wild mushrooms in the area contained radiation with up to an effective dose of 20 μSv/kg.[8] Thus, eating 1 kg of these mushrooms would have given the same dose as about 200 bananas.”

  33. Igor

    It is true that people die less from nuclear accidents than from other accidents. What we have to take into consideration is the fact that after nuclear accidents wide areas around are not suitable for life for long period. In case of Chernobyl it is area almost as big as Switzerland. And for about 300 years.

  34. Larry

    In reading the article and checking with the source the statement there has not been one single injury to a nuclear plant worker in all its 104 power plants and 40 years of service in the United States… not one! was misquoted and should have read there has not been a single case of injury to any member of the public. I imagine there have been some industrial accidents at nuclear power plants in the past 40 yrs.

    There seems to be once critical concern missing, however. The duration of the hazard after a wind turbine blade gone wild comes to rest and radiation/contamination hazards from a nuclear accident that keeps on giving.

  35. Hernán

    Thanks. Figures is what is necessary when debating with uninformed people. Excellent article.

  36. Bob

    These comparisons are meaningless. Banana peels may kill more than do hand grenades in your country, but does that mean you think it is OK if you have hand grenades in your house?

    This is about POTENTIAL problems. Would you live beside a reactor? Would you trust your life to what a few cash strapped engineers and politicians have deemed safe?

    Be honest – this is about human error, which ALWAYS happens.
    A windmill will never kill a million and leave a million more homeless.

    1. DirkH

      Granted, but to replace one nuclear plant you need at least 6000 windmills, covering about 2000 km^2, making 500,000 people permanently homeless even before anything goes wrong (estimates. Largest wind park in scotland has an area of 80 km^2 and about 200 wind turbines. I assume a typical European population density of about 250/km^2).

  37. Just another guy

    I am not sure what is more of a joke here….the crossing the t’s and i’s by making sure your references to Cesium 137 are accurate, so you can attempt to argue some point that a nuclear power plant is safe, or whether you are trying to argue that the wind industy displaces people, as a case and point to why wind can’t replace nuclear…what about the ridiculous comparison of worker safety being top notch…well duh! Obviously it is a safe industry to work in – could you imagine if the nuclear industry had the Occupational Health and Safety Record of the oil and gas industry….would that change anything???

    And here is a great quote: “Granted, but to replace one nuclear plant you need at least 6000 windmills, covering about 2000 km^2, making 500,000 people permanently homeless even before anything goes wrong (estimates. Largest wind park in scotland has an area of 80 km^2 and about 200 wind turbines. I assume a typical European population density of about 250/km^2).” – this is possibly the most ludicrous generalization I have ever seen – are you honestly thinking that everyone who lives within and around a wind park, even if your nubmers were correct, are permanently displaced? My god man – where do you get this nonsense from??? Either you are paid to right garbage, or you truly are blind and ignorant….

    I guess the near 200,000 people now evacuated from near the crippled Japan plant don’t count by means of comparison -after all, the premise of this blog is a comparison, or did you forget about those people? Are you that absolutely blind? A single incident on the other side of the world is causing elevated radiation levels in Ontario Canada! Albeit that radiation is going to cause wide-spread damage, however, if conditions were slightly different, like say, i don’t know, a reactor core meltdown, would we be saying the same thing? Wind turbines may be annoying to a small percentage of generally annoyed people in the first place, but there is absolutely no evidence that they cause wide spread property damage, disease, near-permanent environmental disaster refugees, long term contamination…need I go on? Why don’t we compare water use between the nuclear industry and the wind industry?

    Take the blinders off or just stop blogging this dribble and do us all a favour – I guess you are going to turn this into a right vs. left debate again? And before you try to counter this with the typical “what are you doing to conserve energy?” counter point – I will answer for you. I power my home with 75% PV power, and we are working on the remaing bit. I heat my home with wood that is harvested from sick, dying or dead trees, that are collected from around my home. When I go to bed at night, my entire house (when my fridge is not running a cooling cycle) consumes 100-Watts per hour….what are you doing?

    1. DirkH

      “A single incident on the other side of the world is causing elevated radiation levels in Ontario Canada! ”

      Which is in itself quite irrelevant, as long as we don’t know the dose – the fact that you find it remarkable without even caring for a number tells me that you could be a journalist, for whom a story that he can tell is more important than the facts.

      And yes, of course land around wind turbines becomes unsuitable for humans to live there. The noise and the risk of ice throw or (rather unlikely, but does happen) blade throw make it impossible to live within about a km around the turbines.

      Granted, it is possible to leave small spots within the turbine field where you can cram people together into a tight settlement.

      “I power my home with 75% PV power, and we are working on the remaing bit.”

      So i take it you plan on not using electricity on cloudy days and in the night. I hope the flickering shadows of a wind turbine will never fall on your PV panels for you would have a strong power oscillation.

      1. Bernd Felsche

        Atomicinsights blog provides a reference to Washington State’s elevated radiation levels that graphically illustrates the elevated levels.

        Just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean that it’s important.

  38. Just another guy

    Ok. I actually thought I was debating someone who understood renewable energy, but clearly I am not…so let’s bring things back a little so you can understand what renewable energy is, and how it works.

    Let’s start with wind energy, and then we can move onto solar photovoltaics. After that, perhaps you will be in a more informed position from which you can debate others on the other sources of energy for which you clearly think provide benefits that outweigh the clear negative attributes – if you wish to speak from an informed position, maybe you should research a bit yourself, as you have suggested to many others on this blog. So, please consider reviewing some of the following articles.

    – Update of UK Shadow Flicker Evidence Base; 2011; Prepared for the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change

    This authoritative study examined policy and research from all over the world, including Germany and the Netherlands, both of which have dense populations and dense wind plant build outs. As shown in this study, and confirmed not only by sophisticated models, but by decades of operational experience, shadow flicker beyond 10 rotor diameters is generally considered to be minimal, and that the risk of significant flicker affecting quality of life is minimal, as the environmental and operational parameters that must be aligned to actually cause flicker are remote at best. Within 10 rotor diameters, flicker can cause annoyance, when those environmental and operational parameters align. Generally, absent of any mechanisms employed to mitigate the flicker, 30 hours per year is considered to be acceptable by most jurisdictions around the world. When flicker is found to exceed this threshold, operational constraints can be used to reduce the impact to near nil – this can include curtailing an offending wind turbine for small periods of time, until the flicker goes away (e.g., wind direction changes, sun angle climbs too high, etc.). Still in other cases, selective window treatments, blinds and shades, addition of porches and roof overhangs, or planting screening vegetation may also work, however that is more case by case, and may not work in all scenarios.

    Ice Throw/Ice Shed –

    Recommendations for Risk Assessments of Ice Throw and Blade Failure in Ontario, 2007, Prepared by Garrad Hassan

    GH is the largest renewable consultancy in the world, and prepared a risk assessment that essentially found that the risk of ice shed, when NO operational mechanisms are employed is very small, primarily because ice typically does not get thrown more than 200 metres. The fact remains, most, if not all wind plants are at least 400 metres from participating land owners. Even with this setback, the operators are trained to recognize conditions that may lead to ice build up, the wind turbines have sophisticated monitoring systems to detect vibration, and will automatically shut down. Furthermore, wind plants constructed in regions known to have ice build up, will be installed with cold weather packages. Finally, operators will often prevent public access to the wind parks, and, most people, at the end of the day, tend to not walk in and around wind turbines in the type of weather that leads to ice build up.

    Next let’s deal with Solar PV. I have a wife and two kids – i doubt they would be impressed with a system that goes completely dead everytime the sun goes down! So – we use batteries to store energy, and they batteries, before you go there, are nearly 95% recyclable. The biggest difference in my system and your grid tied home, is that I can take real, tangible and measureable steps to affect and adjust where my energy comes from. And lastly, speaking of wind, see above, re., shadow flicker. I probably wouldn’t be a very good engineer (I’m not a journalist) if I located my wind turbine so that shadows would affect the performance of the rest of my system…just sayin’.

    And to your point on radiation showing up in Ontario – naturally I understand dose is important – the point I was making, was that a nuclear accident in Japan has worldwide implications. A wind turbine that falls down in Oklahoma….well, I think you know where I am going with that…..

    And to counter other arguments that you will probably throw at the debate, if you want to learn about integration of wind energy, and the variable nature of renewables in general, I suggest you pick up the IEEE 2009 Special Edition which speaks to the State of the Art in Wind Integration and Forecasting…If you want something else to read, go to for everything and anything related to wind integration into the Bulk Power Transmission.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      Well, for somebody who reckons he understands renewable energy systems, how would you classify this statement?
      “When I go to bed at night, my entire house (when my fridge is not running a cooling cycle) consumes 100-Watts per hour….what are you doing?”

      So 8 hours after you go to bed, you’re using 800W more power than when you went to bed, having consumed 3.2kWh in the intervening 8 hours?

      What about the sustainability of:
      “I heat my home with wood that is harvested from sick, dying or dead trees, that are collected from around my home.”

      How does that scale to a global population of nearly 7000 million people?

    2. DirkH

      “Finally, operators will often prevent public access to the wind parks, and, most people, at the end of the day, tend to not walk in and around wind turbines in the type of weather that leads to ice build up.”

      Thanks for confirming my position that wind “parks” make the land that they occupy practically unusable for other purposes, and thus confirming my position that a few thousand wind turbines, theoretically (if they were a reliable power source) replacing one nuke, would thus display hundreds of thousands of people.

      1. Just another guy

        you are confusing setbacks, associated with safety issues, with use. We have setbacks for many things. Take for instance buffer distances between landfills and residential areas. Those buffer areas are not used for houses (harken to the days of the “Love Canal”, albeit a different monster in many ways), but they certainly have use.

        Your assumption is that a setback implies NO use. I am simply saying yes, it is prudent that we don’t build a home underneath a wind turbine, or within, say 300 – 500 m of one. That doesn’t mean the land is not suited for anything….it is, just not for a home.

        The other point is that we aren’t building wind parks in neighbourhoods where people live. We are building them on tracts of land that are typically used for agriculture, and it has been shown the world over, that agricultural uses and wind park operation work very well together, without affecting the ability of the farmer to continue working the land. Also keep in mind that the very small amount of land that is taken out of production (and the loss of revenue from this) for the wind plant (1 – 5% as a range), used for roads, foundation, etc., is more than made up for in the revenue the farmer receives from land leasing, which offsets the loss of revenue from the land that can not be used for farming due to the presence of wind plant infrastructure. Furthermore, host communities often reap significant benefits from hosting wind plants within their municipal borders, from tax revenue, to host community agreements, payment in lieu of taxes, etc.

  39. Just another guy

    by the way….have you factored in other, possibly less tangible impacts? The Globe and Mail has just reported that Toyota is possibly going to shut down for an undisclosed period of time all of its manufacturing in North America….why you ask? I suspect you know the answer – Japanese quake and continual power issues (from lack of reliable power)….go figure.

  40. Just another guy

    re. Bernd Felsche….

    I am not sure what you are getting at. Yes – I still need electricity to run my home, and I still require a heat source in winter.

    I should have been more accurate though in my energy consumption statement, and your poor math has provided me an opportunity to correct my mistake. I should have said that the home consumes an instantaneous 100 W at any given time during the night (when we aren’t watching TV, running internet, (fridge cycling) or running our dishwasher), so in 1 hour, we consume approximately 100-Wh. Over the course of one night’s rest, say, 8 hours, the home would therefore consume 800 Wh. This was intended to provide an example of energy conservation, and how affective it can be. The average home in North America consumes anywhere from 20 – 40 kWh per day, some dipping below, and many large ones dipping up to 100+ kWh per day on average. I am not sure how you came up with 3.2 kWh, or what you are referring to. The house itself is designed to consume about 3 – 5 kWh per day, and the battery bank holds sufficient capacity for about 2 – 4 days, depending on how much sunshine we get and how much laundry, etc., we do.

    As for the wood – sustainability is based on inputs and outputs. If these are balanced, something is sustainable, by very definition. With wood, trees regrow. We ensure to take wood that is dead, sick or dying, and we burn these in energy woodstoves that are maintained on an annual basis. We also ensure that we primarily burn “good wood” – dry, and of hardwood species. I never claimed to live in a glass house, nor do I (or likely will ever be able to) claim to live in a manner that leaves zero impact on the environment – i can however try to minimize that impact wherever achievable and practical. However, as you say, what about the other 7000 billion other people? While it is true that my immediate actions will have no measureable impact on the quality of the environment (regardless of how you measure “quality”), I hope that my actions will provide an evidence for other people that conserving significant amounts of electricity does not need to affect ones quality of life, contrary to popular misconceptions. Therefore, I try to lead through example, and not simply preach something without actually acting on those same values and ethics.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      Your stated “100-Watts per hour” is a rate of increasing power consumption.

      No flawed arithmetic on my part. If you started at 0W when you started, increasing at 100W per hour as you stated, then you’d have consumed 3.2kWh 8 hours later. It’s the area of the right triangle which is 8 hours long and 800W high at the end.

    2. DirkH

      Boy, you turned “7000 million people” by Bernd into 7000 billion in your reply. Watch them fingers when doing numbers. Journalist?

      1. Just another guy

        good catch…oops! no – not a journalist…just typed to fast. sorry 🙁

  41. Just another guy

    As I said in my original post, I made an error in the way I presented my information – did you read my correction? If you did, and you still don’t get it, then let me break this down for you, because you clearly are getting bogged down in nonsense math that does not apply to energy and power consumption. We are not talking pythagorean theorem here. We are talking about energy consumption over a period of time, based on the power requirements of the house.

    Power = Resistance x Current (P = IR, or Ohm’s law)

    Current x Volts = Watts (power draw in Watts)

    Watts x time (in hours) = Watt-hours. (energy consumption)

    This is a measure of energy consumption – when you look at the back of your television, it may provide you with several pieces of information – volts, amps, frequency, etc. In order to determine the effect of watching TV on your energy bill, or, more simply, how much it costs to run your television, you have to determine how much ENERGY it will consume over a period of time. You take the power consumption (watts or amps) and multiply that by the amount of time you will be watching television – that provides you with an energy consumption value. You multiply this by the cost of energy (usually about 10 c/kWh, depending on where you live) and that will provide you with the total cost to run that television, based on the total amount of energy it consumed in a period of time, which is based on it’s instantaneous power consumption.

    Let’s try this another way, just to make sure you get it….if this doesn’t work then go and read a grade 12 physics text book and then come back and post.

    When you have something that consumes 100 Watts of power, and you leave it on for one hour, then you have consumed, within that one hour, 100 Watt-hours of energy. A 100 Watt lighbulb, operating for one hour, will consume 100 Watt-hours of energy. If you were to leave that same lighbulb on for 8 hours, it will have consumed a total of 800-Watt hours.

    Again – I acknowledged that I erred in my statement – 100 Watts per hour was an incorrect statement – I meant to say, as in my correction note back to you, that the house consumes 100 watts, at any given time (i.e., that is the power required to run the home at any given time, thorughout the night). Over an 8 hour period of time that would mean that my battery bank provided a total of 800 -Watt hours worth of energy to the house….

    What exactly are you not getting here? Perhaps you should stop trying to over examine and poke holes, and get to your point?

    1. DirkH

      You mention a battery bank. Fine. Are these Lead-Acid batteries? Now, that’s quite a load of lead you need, then. Make sure that they are not discharged too much, it shortens the lifetime. Also watch the less than optimal energy efficiency, i think it’s 85% for the complete charge-discharge cycle.

      You could get 95% with Li-Ion.

      How many charge-discharge cycles do you plan your batteries to last, and are they Lead-acid or Li-Ion? Have you made a lifetime calculation to find out how much more expensive this makes your renewable energy?

      At least you’re trying to buffer the PV fluctuations with a battery which i find an honest try to go the full distance.

      1. Just another guy

        Re., Dirk at 21:03.

        Yes – the batteries are lead-acid: the bane of off gridding, to be honest….Although they can and will be re-cycled, you are correct about the lead…it HAS to be managed responsibly. The day someone invents a replacement for lead-acid batteries for deep cycling, we will all be better off.

        Li-ion, although more efficient, are simply too expensive – lead acid remains the most cost effective solution, albeit, with some efficiency issues, but these are reasonable in and of themselves.

        They are not permitted to go below 60 – 50% discharge, and they have about 3,000 cycles, but point taken on taking care to not allow them to go too low, even if they are deep cycle…

        To speak of economics when off-gridding is tough – partly because it simply is not economical in modern, economic-investment returns (people often seek 20% IRR for even common investments over a modest period), and partly because the economic payback is a moving target, heavily influenced by energy prices in general. I would say that the return on investment is on the order of 15 years to positive payback, so if people are doing this for a “windfall of cash”, they should invest in McDonalds or something with a better return. There are many reasons to go off grid….for me, as an engineer, I felt an overwhelming need to show my peers, colleagues and others that a family of four can conserve a significant amount of energy, to the point where it becomes relatively economical to power a typical home.

        It begins and ends with energy conservation – we have reduced our electricity consumption to about 3 – 5 kWh per day (75 – 90% electricity reduction when compared to an average home)….we have sacrificed no quality of life in doing so.

        1. DirkH

          Thanks for the info. I’m tracking all the storage solutions as i see a big need for it (created by Wind and Solar Power of course). Personally i think it’s too early to switch a country’s infrastructure, though Germany will probably throw some billions at it when the Greens come to power. Maybe they will subsidize solutions like yours; i heard SMA builds a product using Lead-Acid batteries.

          The solution for large scale storage that will become viable first will be Methane synthesis IMHO. Don’t know about the time scale, though. Good luck with your batteries. Think about turning it into a product.

          1. Just another guy

            storage is certainly the key to huge renewable energy penetrations. Right now, places like Denmark have up to 20% penetration (as a function of energy demand), but rely heavily on large hydro (water) storage in Norway.

            NREL in the US is conducting a study that is examining what 80% renewables would require from a transmission perspective. Preliminary results suggest that absent of storage, we could not accommodate such a large amount of renewables efficiently. However, at present penetration levels, models and experience (Germany, Spain, Denmark, parts of the US) shows us that existing infrastructure can more than accommodate, with the addition of some new operational requirements (forecasting, telemetry, sub-hourly markets, etc.). Essentially, existing “reserves” are sufficient at renewable penetrations less than 30%. Check out the NREL studies:

            – Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study
            – Western Wind and Solar Integration Study
            – DOE 20% Study


  42. awarthurhu

    Thanks for mentioning my death rate spectrum, do ya think you could mention me by name and not “here”, I mentioned this article there, interesting. However I added up Fukushima deaths including the 14 who died fleeing the nuclear evacuation area, and including the six who supposedly died at the explosion no. 3 it’s on the same order of people as Chernoybol (30 killed)

  43. Erik

    the most important thing to consider is deaths per killowat hour. if we generate more of our power from one source than another, than it can reasonably be assumed that there will be more deaths from the larger source. So the only real way to compare Deaths as a Negative Cost of power generation is to look at deaths per kilowat hour of power. even if nuclear had killed 100 people in America, it would have generated a much greater amount of power per dead worker than coal or wind. Wind has not generated very much power and already has a higher death toll. and with coal, we have plenty of people dying in mining accidents or lung diseases, and not nearly as much power generation as with nuclear.

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