Bermuda Fables

"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." – Charles De Gaulle

Green Politics – the newest global political buzzphrase August 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 12:39 pm

Green politics, green party… these are definite signs of the times. For those that have never heard of this, the green denotes environmentalism and conservationalism. A good friend said to me recently that the economy is a huge proponent of who holds the power, ie, the gov’t. You save me money, you make me money and in most cases, I will vote for you. It’s sounds horribly materialistic but we live in a world that is run by money, whether we like it or not. Ideals are great on paper but they don’t feed our families. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as or more idealistic than the next person but I also have to be a realist. And the reality of the matter is that “money makes the world go ’round…”

But back to my point, there is a big push for “green parties” around the world due to, partially, the spiraling cost of oil and the juxtaposition of increased need for oil and quite simply, less of it. It is a finite and non-renewable energy source that the majority of the world depends on to a huge degree. Enter green energy. Wave, wind, sun. To a certain extent nuclear energy (more on this later). It suddenly has become fiscally responsible to seek out, produce and encourage more environmentally friendly energy sources. And thusly, more politically friendly. There are an interesting crop of new politicians in the US who are using green party as their platform, Kathleen Sebelius is one. She actually just spoke at the DNC (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/26/kathleen-sebelius-democra_n_121636.html – the text if you are interested). A whole new industry is evolving from green policies, a whole new way of life. It’s rather intriguing.

 

There are two types of green energy that I am particularly interested in, as it pertains to Bermuda. They are wave energy and nuclear energy. Okay, I know that nuclear word strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who is old enough to have studied Chernobyl in high school, but consider this, France gets 80% of its energy from nuclear plants (so approx. 50m people).  It doesn’t pollute the earth much, new technologies have been created to make it as safe as a microwave (even more so really) and it SAVES money 🙂

 

Wave Energy

Basically, you have these buoys floating on the water which are tethered to a wave engine below the water. The higher the waves, the more the buoy moves, the more energy is produced and thus can be harnessed. This energy must then be transported to land. There are a few bugs still in the systems, I’ll admit but where better to start work on something like this? Okay, well , Portugal actually beat us to it, being the first place to have a commercial wave farm but I call seconds! Anyway, it is a feasible option for a clean energy source, making use of the one commodity we have a crap load of – ocean.

 

Nuclear Energy

Ah!!!! Yep, this one gets me all wobbly. I’m a severe geek and just the word gets me all giggly. I mean, we’ve all seen the movies, read the books and comics, studied the great accidents of the 70s/80s (?). There just was a tv series called Jericho on last season which alluded to a great nuclear bomb/accident. I’ll admit it, when you think about it as the small and short-lived human beings that we are, the actual concept of messing with atoms – breaking them apart, fusing them together – to release exorbinate amounts of energy seems like a really really bad idea.

Graphite Pebble for Reactor

That’s no longer the case. Sure nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous, but no more so than any other type of power station (Belco blackouts) with the correct safety procedures. The picture embedded above is the main component of my particular favourite reactor, the Pebble Bed Reactor. Just as the name says, it’s a reactor that uses graphite (among other fuels) “pebbles”. Each of these pebbles are effectively mini-reactors whose life span is two to three years. They are cooled using inert gas. This reactor is one of the safest ones out there today, using passive safety systems based on temperature – the lower the temperature, the higher the energy output, being thusly inherently self controlling. Created in Germany, you can find PBRs at MIT and certain other commercial nuclear companies in the US, in South Africa and in China. There are even places testing PBRs vehicle engines! The waste is less hazardous and easier to dispose of than other reactors, I mean, it’s a pebble. It does need to be stored but there are people working on ways to recycle the pebbles. It’s an interesting concept indeed. If you’re interested in learning more detail, check out the wikipedia site, which can lead you to more if you want. Also, if you might want to check out the grist.com website, an information site on green policies.

 

 

Are both types of these energies the answer? I don’t know but i do think it’s about time that we start looking at them. We are too small an island with too little resources to not worry about our own dependence on oil and petroleum products, never mind the rest of the world. Especially for those is strong support of our Independence. Dependence on a product to such a degree that we neither make no have any way of trading for can be something that will bite us in the arse later on down the road. So let’s start looking at using what we do have.

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9 Responses to “Green Politics – the newest global political buzzphrase”

  1. Bermuda already has a wave power project in the pipeline by private enterprise and it isn’t even the first attempt at launching wave power here.

    http://renewableenergydev.com/red/wave-power-bermuda-ceto-wave-farm/

  2. alsys31 Says:

    They beat me by a week! Damn them, don’t they know I’m blogging here?!? 🙂

    Thanks for the link, I will definitely follow that closely.

  3. Also, when considering the viability of Nuclear power it is worthwhile to consider the implications of a lack of fuel due to lack of exploration and the tendency to live off of long standing government inventories)

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/fuel-supply.html

    While I’m not specifically familiar with the enrichment needs of pebble bed reactors specifically, questions of supply would need to be addressed as part of any consideration

  4. alsys31 Says:

    Indeed they would. I would love to see the government spend much more time on reasearching green energy sources. I do know they have to some extent but bipartisan committees tasked with research and development would be great.

    I have heard of a few companies/individuals that are interested in producing said types of energy but I think more can be done. That being said, research and preliminary implementation costs on this new technologies are, from what I can tell, huge and perhaps the governemnt could encourage this type of growth through grants and decreased duty taxes on items used for this.

    Denis, do you know if solar panels (great idea but spatially not pratical on this small island) and other such items are duty-free?

  5. If you take a look at the CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT ACT 1994 available via bermudalaws.bm

    Click to access customs%20tariff%20amendment%20act%201994.pdf

    Page 42, Schedule 5, section F, paragraph 3 of the table of exemptions from duty suggests:

    F APPARATUS AND MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT – certified by the
    Director of Works and Engineering:

    3 Solar panels, photo-voltaic cells and component parts.

    Unless that has been amended in later updates to the act it would suggest to me that solar panels certified by the Director of Works and Engineering are applicable to be exempted from duty.

    However, if you’re looking at saving energy the first thing to consider is solar hot water heaters as approx 30% of our energy use is in heating water and these are typically quite efficient in comparison to the combination of photovoltaic solar panels and traditional hot water heaters.

  6. Actually, the Government has been researching green energy initiatives. There have been a series of Town Hall style meetings bi-weekly since the start of the summer. This has been a public-private initiative, as any solution will have to be economically feasible.

    If anyone took the time to meet with the staff of the Department of Energy, they would find a bunch of smart, passionate people committed to improving our island. I have the utmost respect for them.

    Nuclear will never be economically feasible for Bermuda. Our demand is too small for even a small reactor, and these cost many hundreds of millions of dollars. A blend of wind, wave, and solar, along with efficient fossil fuel use is the best solution.

  7. Martin Says:

    Don’t want to derail the thread (heaven forbid), but Re Man’s info re: Town Hall site meetings is interesting per se.

    Where is this type of information available? Indeed, where is any Govt info available?

  8. Wednesday, September 17th , 2008 from 6:00 p.m. at the Goodwin C. Smith Hall of the New Testament Church of God on Dundonald and Union Street in Hamilton is the next one. It is on solar power.

    Once you have attended one and signed the attendance sheet you will be on the email list for the future ones.

    Or, you could just read the Gazette or the Sun. They have been publishing the info on each presentation.

    There will be a Green Paper published after the final presentation, and this will lead to a White Paper and future legislation governing the generation of power, pollution control, duty exemption, etc.

  9. alsys31 Says:

    Thanks for the info, Renaissance Man.


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