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Alternative Energy doesn't mean Nuclear Energy.

Recently in Australia there has been much debate about the need to find alternative energy sources to fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. In terms of generating electricity the so called environmentally friendly Nuclear Power is often put forward as the one, clear and sensible alternative energy choice.

However I've always maintained that Nuclear Energy isn't environmentally friendly because no company has found a viable use for the nuclear waste it produces. Nuclear waste is usually stored which, given its radioactive nature and inability to biodegrade safely within a time period of less than before Armageddon, doesn't seem all that friendly to me.


People like me usually look towards the obvious solar and wind energy as a better alternative but that's largely because I'm not a scientist. I lack the knowledge to look beyond the main stream options.

Thankfully the children's science show, Scope, presented a highly informative show on Alternative Energy giving hope that there really are alternatives to Nuclear energy. To be honest this particular episode should be required viewing for anyone wanting a heads up on where science is taking us with regard to environmentally sustainable/friendly energy sources.

What really impressed me during this episode was an alternative energy source known as Hot Rocks being developed by Australian company Geodynamics Limited.

In layman's terms this energy source sends water 5-6 kilometres below the earth's surface where it uses the heat stored in a naturally occurring, special kind of granite rock to heat the water. The water is then bought to the surface where it can be converted to steam. This steam is used to drive a turbine that produces electricity. The best part is that the water is reused meaning that this system is not a great burden on water supplies.

For a more detailed explanation read Geodynamics FAQs page.

Geodynamics makes the following claims about this energy source which I think puts the lid on Nuclear Energy once an for all:
One cubic kilometre of hot granite at 250 degrees Celsius has the stored energy equivalent of 40 million barrels of oil when the heat is extracted to a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius.

Australia is known to have several thousand cubic kilometres of identified high heat producing granites and these have the potential to meet the total electricity demand of the country for hundreds of years.

The only thing Hot Rocks has against it is that it is still in development. This is why I believe Nuclear is often touted as the way forward. Nuclear is ready to go. It's an established power source with powerful investors driving it forward. These investors have a real vested interest in establishing Nuclear energy in new markets so they can make more profit.

Governments often look towards established businesses willing to pay big money to install technology that will ultimately return a profit for everyone. It's economically cheaper than backing an in development, concept that won't return a dollar for several years. Even if that concept is a better alternative in the long term.

Having seen Scope's show on Alternative Energy I'm totally convinced that Nuclear Energy is not the way to go. Anyone supporting such a venture must have a vested interested in the companies involved. Nuclear is not an alternative and it is even less environmentally friendly than non biodegradable plastic shopping bags.

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