Experts Found Wanting By Stephen Heiser: Russians Go To Sea With Reactors, We Go To Water With Wind Mills?

 A little competition is a healthy thing for BOTH sides, so let’s start competing

 - Stephen Heiser -

Russian energy engineers looked out at the ocean and said, “Hey, that would be a great place to put a reactor.  There are no other generation assets close by and it could supply power right where it is needed.  It would be surrounded by the world’s best moderator and it could float.  That way if we needed to work on it we could sail it to a dry dock.”

U.S. energy engineers looked out at the waves off of Cape Cod and said, “Hey that would be a great place for a permanent windmill farm.  Even though Cape Cod exports power, we could generate a modest amount more and strain the local grid.  We could really irritate stuffy politicians and show the world what hypocrites they really are.  We could try to keep the bearings from corroding in constant salt spray (a somewhat corrosive environment) and try to perform routine maintenance at sea and at dizzying heights.  And our return on all of this effort would be less reliability and electricity than a coal-fired plant.”

Well I feel sheepish. I guess we just are not as smart as the Russians; or as capable.  But wait, haven’t we gone back and forth with the Russians in wholesale scientific achievement before?  If my modest study of 20th Century history is accurate, the U.S. and Russia have gone toe-to-toe in the ring of pushing science and industry in the past.  And if memory serves, the winner was,…everybody.  The entire human race profited from the U.S./Russian competition in the space race, the Olympics, the pursuit of superior medicine, physics, math, astronomy, and about a thousand other things.

This competition was usually for bragging rights.  The reward for the winner was usually the ability to say, “See our political landscape fosters ingenuity, genius, and productivity better than yours does!”

But each victory usually led to raising the stakes and getting back into the game.  And to the people went the spoils.  Satellites that made communications faster, clearer, and cheaper.  Compact Discs, GPS, cell phones, plasma TVs, safer planes, microwave ovens, video games, computers, and of course,…the internet.

Let's face it, offshore reactors are a great idea, particularly floating reactors.  Threatening to sail them into international  waters (to avoid political nonsense) will finally get politicians to stop some of their political nonsense.  They can be designed with much more safety than land based units.  They will never run out of water. They will be far away from populated areas, and much easier to defend from terrorists.

So let’s stop being wimps and get into the game again.

Russia beat us into space unmanned and manned, but when we got serious we beat them to the moon (a feat which no nation has yet been able to do).  Then they got serious and beat us with space stations and boosters, and then we got serious and built the first and only reusable space shuttle.  We actually built the first nuclear powered submarines, aircraft carriers and even a civil ocean freight liner. We were serious when we achieved all of these accomplishments, let’s get serious again.

About the Author:

Stephen Heiser has been writing and editing energy news for a variety of publications including: Wilson's Business Abstracts, Individual Inc., Newspage, Newsedge, Andover News Network, VerticalNet, PowerOnline, ElectricNet, and Live Power News.  In December of 2008, Stephen was hired by industry veteran and Nuclear Street Publisher Cam Abernethy to become Nuclear Street’s Managing Editor. Stephen is a member of AEE, ASME, and NEM.

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