Hydroelectrics

The Fat Guy wandered off onto a Niagra tangent. Seems that Niagra powers eighteen states and half of Canada. Seems about right to me.

I haven’t been to Niagra, but I’ve been to Hoover Dam twice. There aren’t too many things awe inspiring to a Texan, but Hoover Dam is one of them. That place powers most of California and Nevada. It doesn’t, however, power Las Vegas, despite the myth. The power goes to the people with the water rights, and those are the people upstream. It is still a hell of a lot of power, and it is all completely clean (except for the environmental impact of the resevoir, and I would say even that is a boon in the desert.)

I like nuclear power. It gives me warm fuzzies. I’m not worried about radiation. The hippies and soccer moms have hyped smoking, drinking, fat, red meat, drugs, and every other kind of bullshit reactionary psuedo-science so much that I just can’t believe that they are the ones erring on the side of caution when it comes to worst-case scenarios. Give me a plot of land next to Comanche Peak and I’ll gladly homestead it. But nukes still don’t beat hydro.

Hydro does more than nukes, it lasts longer, and it is nearly free. I may be anti-environment, but I am even more pro-cheap and pro-free.

Besides, there is a visceral difference. When you go to a nuke plant, it is eerie. There is a big concrete… thing. And it makes steam. And that steam turns turbines. That is too close to magic for my lizard brain. At Hoover, you feel the power. I heard that the hard hat tour was shut down after 9/11/01, but if it ever starts up and you have a chance to take it, take it. There is nothing like standing on that generating floor, and feeling it rumble with the rush of water going through. There is little like walking under those massive generators and seeing power being harnessed. Even the elevator down through the old pinstock is amazing. That is power.

2 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Hydro power is great, until a drought hits. Ask China.

    The only truly RELIABLE renewable energy source, day in and day out, comes from wind-driven turbines, like are increasingly lining the mesas of West Texas. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone out here pray for wind!

  2. Phelps says:

    Wind turbine is terrible for power. A drought can effect a poorly designed plant, but it doesn’t sneak up on you. Wind power is too unreliable for anything, and is usually a liability.For most base load plants, like nuke or coal, you have to build up steam. It doesn’t happen all at once. You know about what your load is going to be. If the wind is up, you have to either continue to burn fuel and vent the steam (because you can’t save electricity — you just lose it as heat) or you stop burning fuel and lose your head of steam.Then, the wind dips. Or it dies out. At that point, you have to bring the steam back up, but that doesn’t happen all at once. You have two choices at that point — you can fire up some peak demand LNG plants, and burn more gas while you bring the base load plants back up, or you can brown-out areas. Either one sucks.Wind power is a gimmick, and it is one that is going to bite us in the ass when it gets too widespread. The market will give us any energy production that works. The only way wind will survive is on government subsidies, and that is a pretty good indicator that it sucks donkey balls.