Tuesday, May 11, 2010

hamster wheel

Last week, the government announced the intention of constructing a nuclear power plant in the fairly distant future. Cue the horror, cue the outrage, and cue the inane ramblings of every random bloke on the street.

OH NO! Nuclear! That's dangerous, isn't it?! Didn't a nuclear meltdown occur in Cernoby or what's-that-name-in-Russia? Oh no, we're doomed, how are we going to dispose all that nuclear waste?

You know, everytime I read something related to power plants in this country, I get very annoyed. I get cheesed off because nobody seems to know what they are talking about, yet they all feel that their opinions count for something.

Tell me? What do you think our power plants should run on? What is your vision of our country's energy policy in the next 20 years or so?

If you said something along the likes of wind/solar dominating our energy requirements, please, seriously do everybody a favour and educate yourself. Yes, it is clean energy, but what do we do in the monsoon months of December/January when we don't see the sun for days (if not weeks)? And do you think it is cheap? Are you willing to pay a premium for your electricity bill? A small TNB tariff hike two years ago and the kiamsiap people up and down the country have their knickers in a twist. Are we prepared to pay through our nose for the 'clean' energy?

Now, putting the tree huggers' fantasies aside, we are left to decide between the traditional energy sources - gas, coal, hydro and now, nuclear.

But wait!

This is where the silliness kicks in.

60% of our current energy supply comes from gas. We need to diversify and reduce dependency on gas. Here's something you definitely didn't already know - while Malaysia is a net exporter of natural gas, msot of the exports come out of East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia is actually importing gas from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Building more gas power plants on the Peninsular should be out of the question.

Then we come to coal - which is what they are trying to build in Sabah, meeting strong opposition from politicians and tree huggers. Technology has come a long way, coal fired power plants are much cleaner than they were years ago. But hey, we were taught in school all those years ago that coal is dirty, coal is bad, we should not use coal!

Of course there are hydro plants, but hydro plants involve building dams and flooding a great big land area, displacing thousands of orang asli and flooding countless acres of million year old rainforests. So of course the human rights activists and tree huggers get annoyed.

So, let's summarise, shall we?

They say we can't use nuclear because it's dangerous.

Can't use gas - we don't have enough.

Solar/Wind is out of the question because too expensive.

Hydro dams displace people and wildlife, so evil!

Coal is dirty, dirty, dirty!

So what the heck shall we use??!!?

Shall we build a great big hamster wheel and get the politicians and tree huggers (and the general public) to run on it all day long to generate power? It seems that would be the only reasonable choice after the public had shot down every other option!

Look people, nuclear power is dangerous. But are petrol stations, if you think about it. You can point to Chernobyl and you can point to shoddy construction work done in our country. But I can also point to the fact that our oil refineries have amongst the lowest rates of plant fires anywhere in the world. You can point to risks associated with a nuclear plant, but I can also tell you that our LNG complex in Bintulu, up until 2 years ago was the largest such facility in the world and an explosion could have flattened Bintulu, but that plant has been running for almost 30 years and Bintulu is still standing.

We take our precautions, we conduct proper risk analysis and we put the right people in charge of it. You don't just rule something out just because you have an irrational fear of the unknown.

5 comments:

KJ Wong said...

I just realised your posts light up when my mouse scrolls over them. Neato.

Someone needs to figure out how to convert the naysayers' opinions into energy. I'm sure it's possible.

chris said...

ask ironman share that little thing that powers his suit

Anonymous said...

LOL! :) nice one vincent. nice to finally have put a face to the words. altho i'm sorry it took time for two and two to click. i never was very bright anyway. ;)

keep safe and God speed,

reeza

lishun said...

i guess conspiracy theorists will say that nuclear energy can provide a front for more sinister activities but looking at the rate things are going in malaysia (and the rest of the world) in terms of energy, we will have to go nuclear sometime soon.

unless you find some way to engineer that hamster wheel into a reality la vincent. at least then our politicians will be put to good use.

vincent said...

kj: i assure you, that was not in any way due to non-existent knowledge of html


reeza: T'was nice meeting you too, and like you said, nice to finally put a face to the name