The Zwentendorf Power Plant in Austria was built in the early 1970’s with one nuclear reactor rated at about 700 MWe. At the time, the Austrian government hoped to expand it after it began operation. Unfortunately it was not to be, as a combination of scare tactics and political muscle forced a popular vote on the topic of nuclear energy, resulting in a near tie, in which nuclear energy won by just half a percent. The anti-nukes managed to time things very well, cashing in on the ridiculous amount of panic and scaremongering in the media that occurred at the time of the Three Mile Island incident.
Since that time, the plant has been sitting idle and countless lives have been lost to the exhaust from coal power plants that could have been prevented had the plant been open. The Greens love something like Zwentendorf, where they can hold it up as an example of an expensive power plant that never produced a watt of electricity. (Don’t bother mentioning that it’s their fault that this happened.)
Now they’re all giddy again because the plant now hosts a pathetically puny and absurdly expensive solar power station. And yes, this is getting TONS of press, with no mention of the relative energy produced, just the fact that it is now converted to 100% solar, implying that it somehow is equivalent.
Austria Ă˘âŹâ Last night Greenpeace was invited by the Austrian authorities to hang a banner from a nuclear power station, unlikely but true. The Zwentendorf nuclear plant was never operated and has been mothballed since the 70’s. Today it is to open as a solar power station: our banner simply stated: Ă˘âŹĹEnergy Revolution Ă˘âŹâ Climate Solution.Ă˘âŹ
The plant’s operation was fiercely contested and in 1978 a national referendum sealed its fate. Nuclear fuel rods were never inserted into the reactor and the concrete plant on the edge of the Danube River in western Austria never produced electricity. It has stood dormant as a testament to Austrian concerns over nuclear energy. Now, a 1.2 million Euro project has turned the nuclear power plant into the largest solar power station in Austria.
A testament to the fact that the only safe nuclear power comes from the sun.
At a ceremony hosted by the State of Lower Austria, the head of our climate campaign, Thomas Henningsen, received an award presented by American actress Andie MacDowell, for our work to raise alarm over climate change and the promotion of climate solutions. The Ă˘âŹËSave the World AwardsĂ˘âŹâ˘ are the first international awards that honour exceptional individuals and organisations working toward a sustainable future.
If a nuclear power station can go solar, then why canĂ˘âŹâ˘t our entire energy system be diverted to clean and safe renewable energy sources, backed by energy efficiency and conservation? If we can bail out the banks, then why canĂ˘âŹâ˘t we provide the 140 billion US dollars a year needed to help the developing world adapt to and mitigate climate change: that includes 40 billion US dollars needed to end tropical deforestation which is responsible for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Well, I will tell you why our entire energy system can’t go solar. It’s pretty simple actually. Before the installation of the solar panels, the plant produced zero watts. Now it produces… just slightly more than zero. It still produces approximately zero in utility terms or as compared to the actual energy a country like Austria consumes.
The average amount of power that this 1.5 million Euro project will produce is about twenty kilowatts. That is assuming that it meets the 180,000 kWh/year target that it is suppose to. In general such estimates are more likely to be too high than too low. But lets give them the benefit of the doubt: Roughly 20 kilowatts.
If you were to produce that much power in a fossil fuel power plant, your power plant would look something like this:
No, this solar project won’t be replacing any power plants, but it could replace a generator about the size of a large beach cooler.
A few things which are more powerful than this project:
- My car (by about seven times)
- A professional grade riding lawnmower
- A modestly sized outboard motor
But what could this power anyway? Every time they build a solar power system or a wind farm, they always like to talk about how it could power X number of homes. This tends to be pretty deceptive, since the amount of power a home needs can vary quite a lot. So here it is in terms of some common appliances and end uses of electricity:
Today a high power hair dryer can easily go up to 1800 watts. Some even go up to 2000 watts. So if you were using this power plant for drying hair, you’d be able to run roughly twelve of them.
A good sized air conditioner can draw more than three kilowatts of power. If you have a window unit intended for a large room then you’re going to be using a very significant portion of the power this thing produces. If it were used to run air conditioners, you could run about eight good sized ones.
A small electric space heater will use an even larger portion of the output of these solar cells. On a cold Austrian night, one might break out a four thousand watt heater to heat up a garage, workshop or augment a home’s heating system. Four kilowatts is a fairly standard size for an electric room heater. The plant’s capacity will be maxed out if more than five are in use at once.
Portable flood light towers are used for construction or for various events. You may have seen them lighting up the parking lot at a concert or along the side of the highway during night work. A good sized construction site might use several. Good thing they come with their own generator, because the above solar power system could barely power two of them.
Finally, the Austrians are going to have to get their power from some other source if they plan on having pizza on a regular basis. That’s because if this system were used to power restaurant sized pizza ovens, they’d only have the capacity to run one of them and there wouldn’t even be enough power left over for the lighting and the cash register or anything else in the pizza parlor.
Well, at least they got to use the event to give themselves an award. After all, isn’t environmentalism really all about patting yourself on the back for what you’ve done?
Am I the only one who sees irony in this picture? (Think energy use versus energy production)
This entry was posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 8:31 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, Nuclear, Obfuscation, Politics, media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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