Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Looking and Diversifying More Than Nuke Energy

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear energy crisis and the memories of the Chernobyl disaster (approaching the 25th maybe it might be a worthwhile to dissect the problems with sticking to one source of energy - nuclear energy that is.

Pretty Unsafe Nuclear

I went to a forum in Hilton hours ago, and it seems that Malaysia has yet to understand the problem of miscalculating the risk of having nuclear reactors planned. A nuclear reactor can last maybe up to 40 years or so before it has to be stopped and decommissioned. Extending it by another few more years was very risky. Japan made the a mistake of miscalculating the risk. The risk that they put in is that a quake scale will not exceed 7.9 Richter scale and a potential tsunami will not go beyond 7 meters. Instead the quake that happened went above it and it caught Fukushima with the pants down.

We used to learn Physics in school that tells us of half-life term. The term of how long the radiation will last if there is nuclear problem. It will not go off very easily but instead will take thousands of years to go off. In view of the disaster, many nuclear-power existing countries will be rethinking about decommissioning those plants who are already past the prime and proceed with green technology. It's easy to know that if you're caught in radiation, there's no instant cure to that, it will affect subsequent generations of mankind in terms of disabilities, raw mutations and so forth.

At this point of time, people are kept being mislead about nuclear energy is renewable. But it is wrong. Nuclear is not renewable. There's is this nuclear waste - whatever remains after being processed. You can't just simply dump it or bury it in the ground. There's no suitable place to discard it without affecting the environment. It will be a tough challenge. And there's a problem of sanitized information. There are insiders and government officials who actually know the high risks that will happen but chose to sanitize information. There is the fear of people panicking around if they choose to reveal grim information there, but to give something that is providing false, inaccurate misleading hope is much more worse in actual nature than telling truth.

For example, the most common lie statements that the government would tell people would be:
"Keep calm", "Not dangerous", "Nothing to worry about"...but is it really worthwhile at the expense of risking people's lives?. But TEPCO got a bad record of false reporting, cover-up and downplaying risk. If these attitudes are the government is saying, (take Max Ongkili's latest statement as example) mirror to what TEPCO did before, it would be too late if there is an unexpected problem happening and finally the blood will be on the BN hands.

Don't forget that the government of the day cannot simply just act on their whim as they have forgotten that they are answerable to the people. I know that some would deny this, but actually it does except that they would lie behind the truth just to keep people from panicking and freaking out. 

Just Like Business Diversification

There are actually other renewable energies that we have yet to dig into or diversify, but the nuclear pandemic is here due to many excuses such as climate change. And look around, people have been bombarded with news in the past few weeks talking about the virtues and the necessity of having nuclear energy, as if the media is being a slave to government propaganda.

I understand that because of the Paka substation incident that happened in 1999 that blackout the entire peninsular, there is the need to have a 40 percent reserve of energy as to avoid future incidents. But in actual calculations, the amount of reserved at least needed is 15% but if to give a win-win case and to save money to subsidizing IPPs then the amount of reserve energy can be at 28% will do.

Recently there has been a discovery in Sabah of potential geothermal energy in a trench that can generate almost 50000 kilowatts of power that if build, it is much equivalent to building two nuclear plants and it can be a worthwhile sale to sell geothermal energy to whoever they want. Another way of good income money. For solar power, it is also possible, but the limitation is that the amount of energy that could be stored and at this point of time, the cost of buying solar panels is very expensive due to manufacturing costs.

It is actually possible to sell solar energy locally but I was told that MIDA will not allow it as it is only meant to be exported. If they claim to say that we don't have enough renewable energy, then why is solar energy not for sale locally? Something not right, isn't it? It's also part of green technology, right? Note: Malaysia is 3rd largest exported of solar energy in the world as of now.

Then what about wind? Simply generate it by placing at places have been identified by Meteorological Department to generate strong winds and they can at least have a healthy but small percentage of renewable energy.
I do not understand what is in their mind that the government is still pushing for nuclear energy. Perhaps it is because of the monies and the Mr. 10 percent commission attitude that those in interest wish to get from the 16 billion amount. The real danger from that is that they is a likelihood of people not interested to invest in this thing, and lack of interest could be a key to the ETP delay  / failure.

It's a good thing that there's a plan of having a Renewable Energy Bill. Let's see how things would go on that.

Unplanned: No Energy Policy

One criticism that is well spelt out during the talk is that the Energy ministry, including the last 3 ministers do not have a clear energy policy defined. In this case about nuclear, it was suddenly thought out of nowhere, perhaps having seen developed nations. This is a bad case of unplanned things. And I was wondering why suddenly go nuclear when there is still big energy reserves that have yet to be used for? All we have is just electric generation policy that's all. 
Who's actually deciding on the energy policy? The public?

Turns out that the answer was not public people. From what I heard off, Peter Chin, the Energy minister doesn't have the authority of deciding the energy policy. The decision once past the initial stages of his ministry is at the hands of the PM's department. So the PM and his own inner echelon, not Peter Chin will have the final say. Well, there are resurrected talks about Bukit Merah radiation still around, and there's still silence over this case? 

I don't really recall of ASEAN being a nuclear-proliferation weapon or energy region, so I was wondering whether if Najib is violating the original tenets and the ASEAN charter of having a a nuclear power plant building near the sea coast. As mentioned earlier, anything bad can happen and that even if we have taken various risks - a miscalculated would be disastrous. If the ASEAN charter does not allow doing so, then the nuclear idea will have to be ditched. Period.

The Rumor Mill

There is the adamant of proceeding with nuclear power even if the public says no. There's the feeling of some pro-nuclear lobbyists from other countries are pushing for the Najib administration to build the two mentioned plants. There those involved in that are wanting for a quick buck out it - 1.6 billion total out of 16 billion on the table.

Of course, there is a tender now of $50 million consultancy contract to be given out to the successful nuclear power consultant that wins the open tender bid to advise the Najib administration on that. But before even the bid starts out, it seems that the PM's department had interests in the French technology and consultancy. Does it sound familiar to buying submarines and jets from France? It was also mentioned that Peter Chin's choice was Korean technology as it was much performance efficient and wins on the lowest of cost factor. But as mentioned, Chin was powerless on the final say.

There are also rumors that the $16 billion thing is just for show and nuclear project being ended up as another white-elephant with the money being stashed somewhere else. This part, is something I am very doubtful of. Let's take that our public views are totally ignored for at the expense of those who lobbied for nuclear. They know the implications but yet to go for it? 

Do you think we could see a "nuclear radiation" Malaysians in the next 70 years if we don't do anything about it? You'll just decide.

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