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Podcasts September 19, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to the person who saw this, the WP has a podcast, available at this link and Spotify and Apple.

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1. yourcousin - September 19, 2021

So I listened to it. As someone with, as my history here leaves no doubt…skepticism, shall we say of their views on the subject matter at hand. I must say the human life to energy created ratio was particularly cringe worthy for a group calling themselves the Worker’s Party (AC).

I should say, “kudos” to them for making a podcast, I will listen to them all. That being said I find their first topic to be odd, or even tone deaf considering the issues surrounding climate emergency facing humanity, especially in regards to the working class.

Without digging too deep on their claims I must say that the idea of uranium mining in Ireland as a doable and positive thing to be…questionable. There seemed to be a lot of futuring so to speak about how the transition to nuclear power would take place. Much like the national question, it seems predicated on working class revolution taking prior to any “real” progress being made. Just to bring something to the table about renewables are not a magic pill, especially in terms of working class/left wing politics, I’ll leave this article here.

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2. alanmyler - September 20, 2021

I gave this a listen at the weekend. Unlike YC above I suppose I’m politically more inclined towards the sort of “big statism”, for want of a better description, that this would require. Also as an engineer I suppose I share some of the techno-enthusiasm that Gavin brings to the discussion. Anyway yes, I’d agree that it might seem to be a bit of a strange topic for the first podcast from a political party, but one of the things that I found very attractive about the WP even before joining it was that the party has never been afraid of asking difficult questions and voicing well-argued and rational long-term perspectives on those questions. One might not always agree with the detail of the perspectives in every respect, but I certainly admire the political maturity that allows the long-term to triumph over opportunistic and populist short-term thinking. Just specifically about nuclear power, there is no question in my mind that if one is serious about really engaging with the pending catastrophe of global climate change then one really has to consider nuclear power as one piece in the jigsaw of perhaps difficult realities that need to be embraced, as a lesser evil at the very least. The podcast doesn’t claim that nuclear power is a silver bullet, it recognises that there cannot be a silver bullet technological single point remedy to that complex problem. Perhaps the speaker appears a little bit over-enthusiastic and makes some very bold claims on how future developments could change the nuclear landscape, but if he does so he does it in the spirit of perhaps countering the ill-informed cultural and political perceptions around nuclear energy. It’s a debate that I’d like to see become more mainstream, not just in Ireland, but globally. Again not as a silver bullet proposal, and unfortunately because of it’s headline-grabbing contentiousness it does have the possibility of taking over the broader climate catastrophe aversion debate and allowing that to become simplified and derailed as a pro- or anti- nuclear debate, when what is really required is the development of a far deeper and more nuanced public debate about all aspects of averting climate catastrophe.

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yourcousin - September 22, 2021

Thanks for the reply. Sorry, been working seven days a week for a bit now. So my time is a little limited. But am very interest to respond from my computer because working from the phone can be a bit, well short, so to speak.

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yourcousin - September 27, 2021

Sorry for the delayed response, but this conversation interests me so please bear with me.

A large part of my skepticism is derived from a few assumptions, that while seemingly small, strike me as fundamental. Almost all the key issues are futured (we just need to…). Right now in the US alone there are almost a 100,000 metric tons of nuclear waste which have accumulated since the 1940s. A lot of it in various states of decay in “temporary” containments which have sat there for decades. The idea that you can just take all of this different material and burn it all at superhigh efficiency to reduce its foot print seems simplistically optimistic at best, and down right cynical at worst considering that we don’t have the reactors to do that right now.
________________________________________

We talk about climate catastrophe, but we’re not acknowledging the reality that nuclear power is not that resilient to extreme weather events (thinking of Fukishima here). The “all of the above” option for energy which is essentially an Obama era spin off is fine. Lets have the conversation, but lets also be realistic about where we’re at. If the WP wants to support nuclear power then that’s their right, but it is condescending to see the same old arguments levelled against renewables (which I’ve acknowledged are not a magic bullet) from a “left” position that were developed and honed by a massively subsidized fossil fuel industry. Extreme weather is going to be the new norm. So while no technology is immune from it, I don’t see a great convincing argument for something like a Fukishima or Chernobyl when things go wrong.

Not trying to fear monger, but can you think of a wind farm or solar farm accident that has had the impact of of one of those? It is a valid concern that deserves to be addressed in the same manner that your (recognizing that it’s not you specifically) proposals would like to be taken.

The anti nuclear movement was neither populist nor short sighted, to pretend that the folks who are uneasy or opposed to nuclear power are guilty of, “over opportunistic and populist short-term thinking”. My home state is not new to the nuclear world and uranium mining and processing. If any side in the nuclear debate can be called guilty of short sightedness it is the folks who left toxic waste dumps in our mountains and murdered thousands of American workers with their shoddy treatment of uranium workers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Superfund_sites_in_Colorado

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_mining_and_the_Navajo_people

A little something local.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Flats_Plant

My master carpenter when I was an apprentice worked on the decommissioning there for thirty years. All the team, to a man (and some women) who worked in the beryllium area died of cancer.

Do we think that hard rock mining is a carbon neutral venture? Shit I even knew guys who worked in some of those mines when they were still running, good union jobs.

______________________________________

As for the grand statist designs for solving problems. I would agree that you being an engineer might engender some “techno-enthusiasm” or some “over-enthusiastic and…very bold claims on…future developments”. Again, recognizing that your not Gleason. I’ve spent my entire adult life turning what engineers imagine into reality. So I take a dim view on folks thinking things up in the abstract for others to sort out. Also when when folks are overly enthusiastic on things it’s the workers on the sharp end of the stick usually (as highlighted by a few of my very hastily assembled links).

For me there won’t be a one size fits all approach. I’m not even entirely opposed to nuclear power in and of itself. In a place like France where there’s a institutional system in place I could be convinced to keep it running. But to expand it to new areas, “just because” seems ill advised. The climate emergency is real and it is happening now. Solar panels and wind farms are no the answer alone, but pie in the sky technocratic fantasies do us no favors either.

That being said, I enjoyed listening to the podcast and this exchange. Apologies again for the delayed response.

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banjoagbeanjoe - October 1, 2021

“Sorry, been working seven days a week for a bit now.”

How many times do I have to tell you, son? JOIN A UNION.

Liked by 1 person

yourcousin - October 1, 2021

🤣

Not the issue at play da’. More an issue of not impacting operating rooms in an active hospital.

Liked by 1 person

alanmyler - October 1, 2021

Thanks for the response there YC. It’s a conversation that needs to be had, so good to get opposing opinions. I might come back to your substantive points in due course, it’s Friday evening here and I’ve had a busy week, but just on your point about engineers I’d contend that engineers are the ones who both design and get the things to work. Perhaps it’s different in civil engineering but in electronics at least, which is my area, the buck stops with the engineers, there’s nobody downstream of them (us) that is tasked with turning the concept into a reality. I always say that scientists come up with the theories, engineers make them happen in the real world, reliably, cost effectively, easy to manufacture, etc etc.

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yourcousin - October 1, 2021

I look forward to it. Enjoy your weekend. Whenever I think about engineers, I think of this scene. 😉

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EWI - October 2, 2021

but just on your point about engineers I’d contend that engineers are the ones who both design and get the things to work.

Engineers are essentially glorified tradesmen, and civil engineers most of all. Therefore the preponderance of the profession among the ranks of climate denialists.

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alanmyler - October 2, 2021

Well I think it’s fair enough to place engineers in the space between the scientists / renaissance men (& women) and the craftsmen (&women) through the ages as the world moved from artisan production through to industrial mass production. These days there’s a wide spectrum of jobs that fall into the category, from the people who design the internet and all the hi tech stuff we use daily without even realizing what’s going on under the hood, through to the guy who shows up to fix your central heating. I’m different countries there are different perspectives on that spectrum, attempts to professionalise by moving towards the same sort of career trajectories that apply to other longer established professions with continuing professional development as gates on that trajectory etc. In the UK it’s pretty much that anyone with a screwdriver is an engineer, which is probably in part due to the fact that the UK had massive industrialisation until recently, so engineers were everywhere, combined with resistance to encroachment onto their turf by the very deeply embedded old professions. In Ireland the perception of engineering is highly skewed in past decades because of the civil engineering boom which is by far the largest sector. Again due historically to our absence of industry by and large. That’s changing of course, with the hi tech sector now being economically and politically weighty, but that’s mostly FDI based and still hasn’t really overtaken the concrete guys in terms of weight in Irish society.

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alanmyler - October 2, 2021

And yes, no surprise that a sector whose business relies on externalising environmental costs is going to be averse to all climate concerns, whether the concrete based industries, farming, hi tech data centres etc. Name me any sector of the economy that embraces including those costs into its business model. Even the bamboo toothbrush and organic quinoa producers are at best pretending.

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yourcousin - October 2, 2021

Very quickly on engineers. For folks like me it’s very simple and there is obviously a large cultural disconnect. I went through an apprenticeship. Engineers went through college and have a “PE” (professional engineer) next to their name in their emails. So an HVAC tech, or Tinner, would not be an engineer.

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yourcousin - October 2, 2021

No surprise here, but to call engineers “glorified tradesmen”, strikes me as insult to tradesmen.

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alanmyler - October 2, 2021

YC yeah it’s different over here, certainly in the hi tech and electronics sector at least. Anyone parading letters after their name would be scoffed at. I take the point about the different routes through education, apprenticeship vs college. That’s the same here. The college I went to was set up for both full time degree and diploma courses and also part time incl the electrical apprenticeships who attended the college as block release from their work. I did the full time degree myself. DIT or TUD as it is now is the only college which does that afaik. It was part of the city of Dublin vocational education system. Anyway I’m avoiding taking any offence at the slagging off of engineers here. You’d all be fucked without us, as much as tradesmen. Definitely socially necessary stuff for a large part. Ok, that’s debatable of course, but what Ieam is that engineering keeps the wheels turning in civilisation. It’s a much misunderstood role. Especially on the Left where there seems to be an abundance of social science and arts background people, fewer technical whether engineers or trades.

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2021

Very true re ‘we’d all be fucked without engineers’. Slightly off topic but I’m always a bit leery about the way tradesmen is used as a dismissive or diminutive – that seems to me to be a class thing and it makes me laugh given how well paid workers in those areas can be.

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yourcousin - October 2, 2021

Alan,
You are right that we’re speaking over a cultural gulf here. That is part of it, and were we speaking face to face in lieu of typing into a screen it would be easier to read tonality and derive better intent. In my world, if you’re not getting some shit thrown your way, that’s when you need to worry.

That’s my way of saying, no offense intended.

I don’t disagree that every role in the building process is needed, but I’ll stick with the rabble and the boys from the hall.

But look what a rabbit hole we’ve gone down. Totally getting lost to the larger question at hand which I will try to return to at some point. It for the time being, enjoy your weekend.

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alanmyler - October 2, 2021

No worries YC, I knew you weren’t being nasty, just a bit of friendly banter going on.

WBS you’re spot on about the irony of people looking down on the trades given the wages involved. I’d mentioned before that the youngster is working as a software engineer in London and is on a decent starting wage there, better than his peers here which is fair enough given London cost of living. But I was over chatting to a near neighbour here last month and his own young lad had sat the LC this year and was trying to decide whether to go to college to study engineering or not. The lad isn’t the academic sort, but I was trying to tell him that’s not necessarily a hindrance in engineering, but anyway his other option was to do an electrical apprenticeship. The neighbour mentioned the money the lad would be on after completing the 4 year apprenticeship. A good chunk more than my son is on in London. So yeah, misplaced superiority going on out there for sure. Ok, there are questions around long term wage trajectories of course, and whether at our age you’d want to be still hands on doing demanding physical work installing electrics or would be better off at a desk, but of course neither avenue completely fits those stereotypes either.

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WorldbyStorm - October 2, 2021

Perfect way of putting it ‘misplaced superiority’. Very much agree. And you’re right. There are downsides – I’ve a friend in NYC who is a plasterer and a couple of years younger and as he says the back goes in the late 40s, tilers knees too, but financially highly remunerative.

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yourcousin - October 2, 2021

There’s a reason flooring guys wear 200+ knee pads. Problem is that too many guys in their 20s are t thinking about doing this until they’re 60+.

https://www.tools4flooring.com/proknee-0714-custom-professional-knee-pads.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwhuCKBhADEiwA1HegOZJbSk5CcqOJqDPhF-aot6WIp6vp9-V6qkPRqpB52QP5c9Z-hZbvWhoCUbkQAvD_BwE

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Michael Carley - October 3, 2021

@AM You’d expect me to agree on the importance of (graduate) engineers but they do labour under one big disadvantage compared to the electrical apprentice: their work can be moved anywhere in the world. Given the facilities (a suitable computer mostly) you can design aeroplanes anywhere; you have to install electrical systems where they’re needed.

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3. Liberius - October 1, 2021

A bit late to this, a point made above by YC bothers me as I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that any development of nuclear power here in Ireland would leverage knowledge and expertise from states like France with long histories of running nuclear industries. Given the recent stuff about keeping coal and oil burning power stations going I don’t think it’s outragous to be considering nuclear, and if anyone thinks it’s pie in the sky stuff for a small state like Ireland then consider than Finland continues to be interested in building more nuclear, though the problems with Olkiluoto 3 (the EPR design reactor by Framatome) have seen them move to the Russians and their VVER-1200 design for the proposed plant at Hanhiviki 1. I don’t think an investment like €7.5 billion for a 60 year lifespan and 1200 MWh of usage power is a bad idea, certainly not with the massive increase in electricity usage necessary to transition us away from direct burning of gas in home.

During the last two years, the design and licensing work for the Hanhikivi 1 project has progressed well. However, bringing the design and licensing material to the level of Finnish requirements, including the regulatory review times, has taken slightly longer than expected. In the update, Fennovoima estimates that it could obtain the construction license by summer 2022 and that construction of the power plant would begin in the summer 2023. Commercial operation of the plant would thus begin in 2029.

Fennovoima also specifies the total investment costs of the project. Instead of the previously announced € 6.5–7 billion, the estimated total cost is currently € 7–7.5 billion. As the plant supply contract with RAOS Project Oy is a fixed-priced contract, the excess additional costs are due to expenses from Fennovoima’s own operations, and in particular, expenses from the Fennovoima organization.

https://www.hanhikivi1.fi/en/press-releases/fennovoima-updates-construction-license-application-0

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Liberius - October 1, 2021

*usable power…

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2021

I’ve mixed views on nuclear power. I’m not entirely antagonistic to it. In extremis, perhaps that’s a way forward. Otherwise if possible to avoid well and good. Obviously it exists, some states will use it, but if we can avoid doing so good.

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alanmyler - October 1, 2021

This is where we need hard facts. Monibot did some reasonable back of envelope calculations in his book Heat in 2005. His conclusion then was that nuclear has to be part of the equation. And of course the world’s energy consumption has increased since 2005. So we need it even more. But there’s a fundamental question here which is one of degrowth or not. I don’t mean an abstract political question, but one of global energy budgeting. It seems to me that we in the developed world need to slash our energy budgets if there is to be any global equality of use in order to allow the undeveloped world to expand their use and play some catch up. Maybe that’s possible without nuclear being part of the equation but it seems logical that during the decades of adjustment required that nuclear could provide some CO2 friendly buffering to allow that global transition to occur, by allowing us to ramp down without collapsing and them to ramp up without destroying the planet in the process. I can’t see this happening seamlessly while simultaneously shrinking global energy production.

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Liberius - October 1, 2021

In terms of hard facts, in 2019 the overall energy consumption in Ireland was 12,414 ktoe, of that only 488 was renewable (page 17 of the below SEAI report) ,the share of fossil fuels has only dropped from 81.9% in 2005 to 75.9% in 2019. Much of This energy usage direct is direct burning in transport and residential, there might be greater efficiency to be had with retrofitting but that comes with it’s own problems including cost and the sheer disruption that such large works on Ireland poorly designed housing would cause. Along with that the projection for 2028 all-island electricity demand (including a fair chunk of data centres) is 50.2 TWh (page 59 Eirgrid report below)

Personally I’m not a de-growth person and tend towards the view that a massive increase in electricity production is the path of least resistance allowing people to quickly and cheaply replace gas and oil boilers along with gas cookers with electric options without the disruption and inevitably person costs of retrofitting. Electrified transport also adds to the demand, never mind the data centres.

These are views which won’t endear me to some, I don’t care, these are the numbers and the real situations, I don’t think there is any positive future that involves the level of power reduction de-growth would need to decarbonise before 2050.

Click to access Energy-in-Ireland-2020.pdf

Click to access EirGrid-Group-All-Island-Generation-Capacity-Statement-2019-2028.pdf

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alanmyler - October 1, 2021

Yeah I agree that energy production / consumption isn’t going to degrow in a hurry. Hence my suggestion that nuclear could ease that pain. Unfortunately I don’t see any political will to start on that difficult journey. Greta Thunberg is correct about blah blah blah. Pretending to do something but unwilling to do anything meaningful. It’s a model doomed to failure by construction. We can’t negotiate with the climate. It’s going to do what it’s going to do, and our options for a soft landing are all but gone. I’m also not enamoured by degrowth as an idea, although Jason Hickels interview on Colm O’ Regan’s podcast (the function room) was actually useful in clarifying some of the fog around degrowth for me. It’s worth a listen. Google it.

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Liberius - October 1, 2021

I’ll have a look for that podcast, and yeah there is no political will to go in this direction in Ireland, or indeed to build any form of infrastructure whatsoever. Though on the Thunberg’s blah blah blah comment I’d be of the view that you could say that of much of the self-described environmental movement itself, unwilling to face reality as they are. Personally I’m near resigned to the future being a fucking catastrophe.

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alanmyler - October 1, 2021

Yeah I agree that the environmental movement has too many anarchists and hippies in its DNA. Unfortunately at this stage I’m beyond having ideological arguments about this. This shitheap is already starting to happen and it doesn’t care about the nuances of human political strategy. I think we’re pretty much fucked too unless China leads the way by shortcutting all the niceties of democratic decision making and acts unilaterally in the timeframe and scale that is required to tilt world opinion, by example / demonstration, towards accepting that actual meaningful reversal or containment of damage is possible. We can argue over the politics once we’re out if the crisis, of we get to survive it.

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banjoagbeanjoe - October 1, 2021

Personally I’m near resigned to the future being a fucking catastrophe.

Hats off Liberius. What a line! Chef, take Ní Dieu Ní maitre down from the mast. Put up Liberius’s gem.

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Liberius - October 1, 2021

Honoured Joe, though since the chopping and changing of the banner slogan started with Archon’s ill tempered jibe at the CLR I’d vote for returning to the old “for lefties too stubborn to quit” as looking at the Southern Star site there hasn’t been an Archon column since the start of February, coinciding with a change in editorship, we’ve seen him off!

And +1 Alan, the Chinese do seem to be the only ones engaging in the sort of industrial development that might, might offer some hope, plenty of new nuclear going in there, not that that makes up for other aspects of the PRC.

https://www.southernstar.ie/archon

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2021

Well I’m signed up for your camp – there’s no political will for nuclear and no popular appetite and other mitigation measures are insufficient – the gap between energy needs and resources too great – yeah we’re screwed.

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4. Liberius - October 5, 2021

France aims to produce hydrogen without creating any CO2 emissions using electrolysis, a process by which an electric current extracts hydrogen from the H2O water molecule. 90% of hydrogen production still generates greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 9 million tons of CO2 per year, according to the French government.

The government is aiming by 2030 to develop the industrial potential of electrolysis to a capacity of 6.5GW. “We can perfectly imagine totally integrated ecosystems in which you would have the nuclear power plant, the production of decarbonised electricity which would be put into electrolysis plants in which electrolysis would take place, and an industrial site nearby where industry would be decarbonised,” Le Maire added.

There is a cynic in me that thinks the trajectory of Ireland’s energy policy is that gas turbines will continue indefinitely to be the backbone of the grid with them (hopefully, fingers crossed, etcetera) being decarbonised by importing hydrogen from France or elsewhere (hopefully, fingers crossed, etcetera). And the inter-connectors, though that Celtic one to France is still a good few years off and who knows what objections there will be to it, being out here in Fingal I’m reminded of the protests and objections over the EWIC one to Wales.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/france-hopes-to-become-world-leader-in-green-hydrogen/

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5. yourcousin - October 18, 2021

Been meaning to get back to this thread, so with 19 minutes left before I leave for work seems as good a time as any to throw something up.

I feel that any thing that contributes to societal resilience in the face of climate crisis is a good thing. Much like politics I’d argue for advancing in diversity. To me that means going local. Schemes to insulate houses so that they’re more able to withstand extremes which would require power to either heat or cool. Now for me, this would go beyond the simple stuff like caulking windows, but up the insulation demands and incorporate Passivehaus standards into the International building codes etc. Localized grids that could help offset any extreme weather etc. These schemes aren’t sexy, nor are they guaranteed to all work, but they would definitely help. And at this point harm reduction is at least something.

Read this article recently which brought this post to mind in fact.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-pm-says-fukushima-wastewater-125248800.html

This piece highlights the need to prioritize resilience in our energy creation as extremes become the new norm.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/triple-jeopardy-children-face-dark-future-climate-disasters-rcna2304

I would also note with a raised eyebrow, this story.

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/chinas-top-coal-region-tells-mines-boost-output-immediately-sources-2021-10-08/

I guess my point is that big, sexy designs, and all island power grids sound great on paper. IE it’s a big math problem, the nuclear sounds great. But when looking at more and more extreme weather events then diversification and resilience take the lead.

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