venerdì 20 febbraio 2009

Nuclear or renewable energies?

In the province where I live (central Italy) the relation between energy and sustainability is a very sensitive issue. The energy hub in Montalto di Castro and Civitavecchia (province of Viterbo) is one of the most polluted area in Italy.

The thermo-electrical plant in Montalto di Castro produces 2.815 tons/year nitrogen oxide emissions (the limit is 100 tons/year). The same plant produces 7.920 tons/year suphur oxide emissions (the limit is 150 tons/year).

From the data of Legambiente (environmental association) it emerges that the Montalto di Castro plant highly exceedes the limits also for nickel (437 kg/year instead of the limit of 50kg/year). Negative data result also for water pollution in terms of arsenic, cadmium, chrome, copper and zinc. Other negative data for Btex, "total organic carbon", phenols and phosphorus.

To this it must be added the pollution charge from the Coal Plant in Civitavecchia. This plant, according to Legambiente data, should produce 10.3 million ton of CO2 (like Estonia): this means that this plant is one of the mos polluting energy plant in Italy. This plant should produce 1980 Megawatt with an efficiency of 45%.

On these premises, the present governmental energy choices are based on, which also are directed toward nuclear energy. And about this, Montalto di Castro is involved again.

It is clear enough that within this discussion the concept of sustainability has remained completely taken apart. Also the concept of "energy cost of energy" is unlikely to be clearly understood: this value, not considering the externalities' costs (i.e. pollution), is actually exceeding the energy return as in the case of uranium. Also "clean coal" won't be a sustainable option.

Solar or wind energies show no problems of "energy return" because no energy is required to make the sun shine or the wind blow.

Conversely, in our province the implementation of renewable energies still lag behind. Considering the characteristics of this territory, small energy plants (solar or wind) will be more suitable to satisfy diffused users (small villages, farms, etc.)

Furthermore, it is necessary to definitively support energy saving, reduce energy waste and improve infrastructures and energy efficiency.

A meeting has been organized in Viterbo today to discuss these issues with the title "Alternative or nuclear energy?"

The meeting's programme (in italian) can be downloaded at this link

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