The Nuclear Economy

The Nuclear Economy: Why Only Nuclear Power Can Revitalize The Economy And Environment” by Zachary Moitoza, Xlibris, Sept 2009.

This is a book well worth getting. First, as a basic spruik, I’ll reproduce the press release and some details about the author, to give the basic background. I’ll then offer some personal perspectives on the book, and consider how it compares to other material out there on the future energy economy.

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With the release of author Zachary Moitoza’s informative and expedient The Nuclear Economy, readers will now find the answers to the numerous questions concerning the screeching halt of the global economy, the extremely volatile oil prices, and other seemingly unchanged distressing conditions.

The Nuclear Economy provides readers with absolute awareness about the Earth, its ecological conditions, the global economic downfall, the energy problem, and other crucial issues affecting human existence. The Earth is finite and fossil fuels are not renewable. As these fuels approach depletion, the global economic system will need to find an alternative source of energy or it will completely collapse. Equally disturbing is the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel combustion. This greenhouse gas scientists are warning about could lead to mass drought, famine, and further climate change. Could the entire world be facing the most catastrophic culmination of events in human history?

In this book, Moitoza articulately explains in great detail that none of the purported solutions to the energy problem will work-except one. Readers will plunge into this pool of knowledge and discover the solution to the energy problem that Moitoza believes will actually work, end the world’s economic and environmental odyssey, and lead to a sustainable era of clean air and “post-scarcity” for all.

The Nuclear Economy is enrolled in Xlibris’ Bookstore Returnability Program, which gives booksellers the convenient option of returning excess stocks through Ingram Distribution. For more information on this book, log on to www.Xlibris.com.

About the Author: Zachary Moitoza holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon, with a minor in English. Fascinated by America’s energy odyssey, this book is the culmination of years of detective work spent searching the internet for information as his primary pastime. He is in no way affiliated with the nuclear power industry, but simply wants to help make the world a better place through public awareness. Aged twenty-five, he lives in Eugene, Oregon. This is Moitoza’s first book.

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The Nuclear Economy [TNE] is an interesting, well-written and easily understood book. Indeed, if you want a straightforward digest on the energy problem, coupled with a cogent advocacy statement in support of next generation nuclear power — the energy source that I (and many others who regularly visit this blog) have concluded is our best prospect at displacing fossil fuels — then TNE is a great start. Or, if you’re looking to chip a few rough edges off your understanding of various alternative energy options, then TNE will also serve you pretty well. I’d certainly never recommend that people read this and nothing else on energy, but as a primer, it rates highly.

As you might have guessed from the previous declarations, TNE is a relatively short book (173 pages). It has a mix of some very brief chapters and other more extended discussions; you can finish it in four or five hours.  The first phase (chapters 1 to 7) deal with energy and the economy (the GFC, peak oil, global warming, economic growth, the nature of electricity), the middle section of the book (chapters 8 to 21) reviews a whole raft of energy generation and storage technologies (from standard stuff such as coal, natural gas, solar, wind, wave, hydro, biomass, through to more ‘out there’ options like space-based solar arrays, methane hydrates and fusion). The final section (chapters 22 to 27 plus conclusion) — energy phase five — describes nuclear power with an emphasis on the IFR.

Now I have to admit I didn’t learn much that was new to me, but I’m hardly coming at this from a fresh perspective. In the last year I’ve read books such as Prescription for the Planet, Terrestrial Energy, SEWTHA and The Solar Fraud, which collectively cover much the same ground as TNE, but in more detail. The few novel parts for a grizzled energy veteran like me (well, it’s all relative) were the chapters dealing with the steady-state economy and the global financial crisis. Part II: The Rules of the Game (chapters 4 to 6) was a terrific read, and the case for linking economic prosperity and energy security was made here as well as I’ve ever seen it argued. The coverage of some energy techs was fairly superficial (wave and tidal, geothermal and methane hydrates barely get a page each), but this is adequately compensated by a strong coverage of fossil fuels and an extended treatment of fast spectrum nuclear reactors (which is a decent précis of the extended material that you’ll find in P4TP — which itself only gives a glimpse of the depth of research behind this technology).

No prizes for guessing what that yellowish powder in the hand is on the cover artwork. It’s the amount of yellowcake that you’d need to provide all of your stationary energy needs for your entire life (I’ve previously used the golf ball analogy — 1 kg of uranium or thorium metal — which would be sufficient for everything [stationary electricity, synthetic fuels, agricultural inputs, water desal, etc., etc.]). And the title of the book? It’s pretty obviously a play on the well-used ‘Hydrogen Economy‘: but whereas the hydrogen economy cannot logically be considered a useful description (because hydrogen, on Earth at least, is only an energy carrier, not an energy source), the nuclear economy could certainly be an apt description of society’s future energetic underpinning. Fission is the highest energy density technology we’ve ever unleashed, and will be sustainable for as long as we care to make use of it. As Dr Charles E. Till said (and is quoted on pg 53, in the introduction to the section of ‘The Alternatives’),

To be blunt, there are fossil fuels and then there is nuclear.

What’s missing? There’s no real discussion of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, which is also a great concept design based on liquid fuels dissolved in a molten salt eutectic/moderator. To read more about this, visit Energy from Thorium, Nuclear Green and the new information pages on LFTR set up by Joomla. There is also relatively little attention given in TNE to issues of energy storage and scalability challenges faced in making use of any new energy technology (be it Gen IV nuclear or technosolar). I guess I’ll need to keep working on those TCASE posts

Let me conclude by quoting from the book’s final paragraphs:

In the face of economic and environmental collapse, and so-called “renewables” not measuring up, people are finally starting to realize the little secret that only nuclear power can revitalize the economy and the environment… In June 2009, at an annual shareholder meeting in DAllas, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said that the age of fossil fuels would last 100 years because there is no alternative. Conveniently, this is just long enough for most of the fossil fuels to be burnt, even coal. This book was written precisely to show that there is one alternative, which the fossil fuel industries rarely seem to mention. Petroleum man may be nearing extinction, but uranium man must rise to take his place… Energy can be a tough subject to understand, and the fossil fuel industries have benefited from an uninformed public… the time to end energy ignorance is now…

As Admiral Hyman G. Rickover remarked in 1957, “If we give thought to the problem of energy resources, if we act wisely and in time to conserve what we have and prepare well for necessary future changes, we shall insure the dominant position for our own country“. Instead, the United States squandered the world’s resources and the IFR project that could have saved itself without directing a whim of though towards the future. It may be too late to ensure that the United States remains a world leader, but if steps are taken to commercially demonstrate IFR technology quickly and deploy it around the world, the United States may once again emerge as a generous nation with leadership on the desperate issues facing the world of the twenty-first century. Energy is the basis of our prosperity. The warnings of Hirsch and Lovelock should not be taken lightly. If action is not taken as quickly as possible, this century will become very different from the last.

I’d like to thank Zac for sending me a copy of his excellent little book. If you have further questions TNE’s content, or the author’s motivation for writing it, fire away. Zac will be happy to engage with you.

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8 Comments

  1. Sorry for being a tad off topic, but next Thursday 3rd Dec WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Dr Irene Kirczenow will debate Liberal Senator Matthias Cormann and Prof Manfred Lenzen on nuclear power at the Perth Town Hall from 6pm. Of interest to West Australian readers.

    Quote Senator Ludlam “We’ve had the debate over and over again and the ‘no’ case has strengthened over time.” hmm

  2. What a refreshing change! Ten years ago, even five, a book with that title would have been a dire warning about the nefarious plans of shadowy figures to impose this dangerous regime on an unsuspecting population.

    We have come a long way.

  3. On Matt’s off-topic comment: BraveNewClimate could be a great forum if it posted an open thread with perhaps a few news links every day. Like Leanan’s Drumbeat at theoildrum.com, but not as big. Not that I’m keen to volunteer…

    Anyway, if I might be off-comment. I can’t believe the Libs have blown themselves up like this. If the ETS was adopted then its a brick wall and then it is Labor and the Greens who are in trouble because they have no plan that will work to get over it. Plan A is wind+solar+CCS+etc, and a good Senate enquiry will demolish these (as the book described apparently does). Plan B is to keep burning coal and buy carbon credits from 3rd world countries. Plan B will be massacred at the polls. It will be portrayed as sending money overseas for nothing. And it won’t solve the voters concern that they don’t want Australia to be the world’s worst per-capita polluters. That will leave nuclear power, which has been a dream of Lib leaders from Menzies to Howard. And Nuclear Power will tear Labor and the Greens to shreds. Can’t the Libs see more than one move ahead in the game of politics?

  4. I second Robert’s suggestion – it would be great if there were some general discussion area aside from the article comments, not necessarily in the form he suggests. It would save eg. threadjacking discussion of Zachary’s welcome contribution.

  5. I agree that it would be good to have a forum that goes a bit wider than the biophysical world view of BNC. A lot of us have done Econ 101 and see the virtues in market based approaches, as in incentives to make it work. I like BNC because it is a nuclear ‘speak easy’. I mentioned nuclear in a comment on another website (no name but it was about peak energy) and I got a sharp rebuke from the owner.

    Also random developments occur that relate to general lines of argument . I put the link to the pro-nuclear comments by the BHP chairman in yesterday’s article since there seemed nowhere else to put it.

  6. Leanan’s been posting nuclear news items on TOD.
    TOD seems divided – pro-nukes, as seen not happy with Dittmar’s posts, and doomers, planning solar thermal stirling engines made from old Model-T Ford parts.
    TOD may already be doing the job of accommodating nuke news as well as anyone.
    It was pointed out to me that this is a climate blog not a nuke blog.
    Hard core pro nukers already visit talk-polywell, thoriumenergy, nucleargreen, etc.
    Having said all that, this could be the downunder place. I certainly think that in the end we’re going to have to go nuclear, even in anti-nuke NZ. The more talk about it the better.
    Speaking of news, did anyone see this:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/27/nuclear-power-reactor-design
    I don’t understand how the Westinghouse AP-1000 could have problems, I thought this was an approved design.

  7. Are Russian and China going together win the energy game and leaving the ancient US of America a collapsing civilization?

    I have thought this issue thoroughly and come to the conclusion that the US is lost, and because of IFR.

  8. I’ve been fascinated by the energy debate since 2000. I came into it via the Peak oil route rather than Global warming but even so realised about 4 years ago renewables were unlikely to cut it. I also discovered the LFTR about 3 years ago, IFR and Polywell 2 years ago. What I don’t get is, why is progress so slow? Even this site plenty of talk but I’m kinda done on talk now. This situation and answers are glaringly obvious. I want to see some good news now and plenty of progress. I can’t say I expect Copenhagen to change much, I hope im wrong.

    I think we all thought that Obama was going to bring forth an era of rational progress but im kinda feeling dissapointed by that too.

    So where is the Nuclear Economy?

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